Someone Irresistible was an interesting and very sensual read. I suspect that Ashworth fans will not be disappointed in this latest offering.
Professor Nathan Price suffered an extremely humiliating setback to his career two and a half years ago. An up-and-coming paleontologist, Nathan expected that he would receive accolades and a cushy scientific appointment after the unveiling of his wonderful discovery – the intact fossil of a Megalosaurus jawbone. Unfortunately for him, right before the unveiling the jawbone was stolen, and as a result, Nathan was ridiculed and lost his hopes for any kind of respected position in the British science world. Now, after three years of doing mostly grunt work on other dinosaur digs, he’s earned enough money to try and restore his honor. He has a plan. He will hire someone to make a model of the stolen jawbone, and he will reveal it at an important scientific reception. From the reactions of his peers to his model, he hopes to be able to tell who ruined him, and then he can get his revenge.
Mimi Marsh has always had a thing for Nathan even though socially he is far, far below her. Two and a half years ago, at the unveiling party, Mimi threw out all of her lures to try and catch Nathan’s attention, but then the theft of the Megalosaurus jawbone nipped her hopes for romance in the bud. She married Carter Sinclair, an anatomist, soon after and became a widow almost immediately. When Nathan returns and asks her to sculpt his reproduction jawbone, Mimi is put in a very difficult position. She wants to help Nathan restore his career, but she also wants to protect her family. Since she knows that her father, the famous dinosaur sculptor Sir Harold Marsh, is Nathan’s number one suspect in the theft, she doesn’t know what to do. But for her, staying away from Nathan is not an option, so she decides to muddle her way through as best she can.
There were a number of things that I liked about this book. The dinosaur angle was very interesting. Dinosaurs are fascinating period, but by setting her novel in the 1850s, Ashworth is able to show the reader 1) what it was like in the days of early dinosaur science and 2) just how far we’ve come in our understanding of these ancient beasts. Fun stuff. I also liked the fact that Nathan is stepped-up working class. He is not a Duke or a Marquis or even a nobly birthed mister. Nathan is the son of a coal miner who by intelligence and determination breached the barriers of his class. Ashworth makes a point of equating his situation with Mimi’s. Mimi fate is not determined by her class, but by her sex. No one knows that she is a sculptor, let alone that she sculpts dinosaurs. She finds the expectations of society incredibly confining, and part of the reason she loves Nathan so much is that he sees her for who she is not for who she should be.
The sexual tension between Mimi and Nathan is also very well done. I enjoyed it, and I am someone who does not like a lot of “lust think.” In fact, I think I enjoyed the build-up more than I enjoyed the actual love scenes. You could just feel the heat smoldering between these two.
But I had a few problems with Someone Irresistible as well. The largest problem I had was that I felt that the sexual side of Nathan and Mimi’s relationship was more developed than the emotional side. They spent more time smoldering than really connecting. It isn’t that Ashworth didn’t explain the basis of their love. She did. But I never felt convinced that their love for each other was much deeper than sexual attraction.
There appear to be some problems with the time frame of the story as well. I think most of these were typos and may not appear in the finished copy at all. I did get confused about the length of time of Mimi’s mourning. I am no expert on mourning customs, and so I am not questioning the novel’s historical accuracy. It would have helped, however, if Ashworth had included a short tutorial paragraph on mourning customs to help me along. I kept wondering how long Mimi would have to wear lavender half mourning. Her mourning period just seemed to go on and on until it abruptly ended at about the two and a half year mark. This is not very important, really, and didn’t destroy the book for me by any means, but I did frown over it several times trying to figure it out.
Someone Irresistible was not a keeper for me, but it was a pretty good read. I liked it quite a bit better than My Darling Caroline or Winter Garden, both of which received Desert Isle Keeper status here at AAR. Ashworth seems to be going in the right direction in terms of quality, and I will be interested to see what she produces next.