The Earl’s Lady Geologist
by Alissa Baxter
Publication Date: February 28, 2021
Series: Linfield Ladies Series, Book One
Genre: Regency Romance
Cassandra Linfield is a lady fossil collector who declares she will never marry as no man will ever take her studies seriously. When circumstances force her to travel to Town for the Season, Cassy infiltrates the hallowed portals of the Geological Society from which she has been banned. She is horrified when she comes face to face with her nemesis, the infuriating Earl of Rothbury.
Lord Rothbury is a gentleman-geologist with a turbulent romantic past. After a youthful disappointment he vows never to fall in love again, and makes the decision, instead, to seek out a convenient wife when he returns to England from his geological travels abroad.
Brought together by their close family ties, Cassy and Rothbury collaborate on a geological paper and discover a powerful attraction. Marriage, however, is the one subject they cannot agree upon. But when Cassy’s life is threatened, the two realise that love matters more than their objections.
Mary Anning’s connection to Jane Austen
The Earl’s Lady Geologist features a lady geologist, Cassandra Linfield, who lives in Lyme Regis during the Regency period. I was intrigued a few years ago when I stumbled across an article about palaeontologist Mary Anning, and determined to find out more about her as well as other Regency women who devoted themselves to this emerging scientific field.
Despite her low social station, Mary Anning (1799 –1847) has become the most celebrated of the 19th century British women who worked in the field of geology and palaeontology. She was a collector and seller of fossils, and other than a few letters and one short note on the details of Hybodus, a fossil shark (Anning, 1839), Anning left no written record of her discoveries, and the men of science, who published descriptions of the fossils she sold, seldom gave her credit.
She was born on 20 May 1799, in the coastal town of Lyme Regis in southwestern England. While professionals, as well as amateurs, visited Lyme Regis to collect fossils, many found Mary Anning and her fossil shop the main attraction (Edmonds, 1976). Her discoveries included the first ichthyosaur skeleton that was correctly identified. Her brother Joseph discovered the skull and, a few months later, Mary discovered the rest of the skeleton.
Mary searched for fossils in the area’s Blue Lias cliffs, particularly during the winter months when landslides exposed new fossils that had to be collected quickly before they were lost to the sea.
Mary Anning also had a connection to Jane Austen. In 1804, Austen asked a cabinetmaker named Richard Anning (Mary’s father) to bid on repairing a broken lid. He went to where the Austens were staying in Broad Street, but Jane wouldn’t accept his bid as she thought the quote of five shillings was too expensive.
Part of Jane Austen’s novel Persuasion is set in Lyme Regis. It is tempting to wonder if Mary Anning (a celebrated female scientist who wasn’t properly recognised in her time) and Jane Austen (a celebrated English writer who wasn’t celebrated while she was alive) ever crossed paths in this beautiful seaside town.
Both Jane Austen and Mary Anning feature in my Regency romance The Earl’s Lady Geologist. It was fascinating to discover the connection between the two legendary ladies, even though it was quite tenuous.
Davis, Larry E. (2009) “Mary Anning of Lyme Regis: 19th Century Pioneer in British Palaeontology,”
Headwaters: Vol. 26, 96-126.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.csbsju.edu/headwaters/vol26/iss1/14
Further reading: http://austenmarriage.com/clarkson-anning-austen-ring/
Praise for The Earl’s Lady Geologist
“A gentle Regency romance, full of sweetness and intelligence. Alissa Baxter’s writing is period perfect.” -Mimi Matthews, USA Today bestselling author of The Matrimonial Advertisement
“The Earl’s Lady Geologist by Alissa Baxter deftly weaves together the charm of a traditional Regency romance, fascinating information on scientific society of the time, with a quiet subtext about the challenges faced by women interested in pursuing science. This first book in a new series is wonderfully satisfying on many levels!” -Mary Jo Putney, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today bestselling author
“While immersing the reader in the mores and life of the Regency era, Alissa Baxter manages to write strong, independent heroines whom modern-day women will cheer and root for. Plus the addition of little details that wrap around the plot and the characters make reading her books all the more special because you never know when you might land on a little Easter egg morsel in the beautiful and engaging prose. Historicals with heart and engaging characters that read real—that’s what you get in Ms. Baxter’s books.” -Zee Monodee, USA Today bestselling author
“A truly traditional Regency romance, with lots of witty banter, very reminiscent of Georgette Heyer. Recommended for anyone who likes a completely clean traditional Regency, with strongly authentic writing, historical accuracy and a satisfying romance. Baxter’s writing is excellent, and her dialogue, manners and settings are true to the era. A spirited heroine, a brooding hero, lots of sparkling banter and an authentic Regency setting—with added fossils! Great fun. From Lyme Regis to the drawing rooms of London, Alissa Baxter takes the reader back to the time of Jane Austen.”
Mary Kingswood, author of traditional Regency romances
About the Author
Alissa Baxter was born in a small town in South Africa, and grew up with her nose in a book on a poultry and cattle farm. At the age of eleven she discovered her mother’s collection of Georgette Heyer novels. The first Heyer novel she ever read was Sylvester and she was hooked on Georgette Heyer after that. She read and reread her novels, and fell totally in love with the Regency period and Heyer’s grey-eyed heroes! After school and university, where she majored in Political Science and French, she published her first Regency novel, The Dashing Debutante.
Alissa travelled overseas and worked as a flight attendant in Dubai before she moved to England, where she did an odd assortment of jobs while researching her second novel, Lord Fenmore’s Wager, which she wrote when she moved back to South Africa. Alissa’s third Regency novel, A Marchioness Below Stairs, is the sequel to Lord Fenmore’s Wager.
Alissa has lived in Durban and Cape Town but she eventually settled in Johannesburg where she lives with her husband and two sons. Alissa is also the author of two chick-lit novels, Send and Receive and The Blog Affair, which have been re-released as The Truth About Series: The Truth about Clicking Send and Receive and The Truth About Cats and Bees.
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The Earl’s Lady Geologist