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A Bad Beginning and Weak Plot Detract
on December 8, 2001
Having read all of Ashworth's books, I have to say I think this is her worst to date. Not that that makes the book bad, exactly--Ashworth is a good writer, and it shines through; but the beginning is so rough and uninteresting, and the plot is so incredibly weak, that the romance overall seemed a little silly.
The premise is that Professor Nathan Price, at the opening of the Crystal Palace in 1851, is poised to wow the world with his ultra-super megalosaurus jaw bone. A jaw bone. Gosh golly. But when he proudly lifts the velvet draperies to reveal his discovery, there's nothing there! Meanwhile, all the greatest scientists in the world, who have gathered for the event, jump to the logical (?) conclusion, that Professor Price was lying about the whole thing to begin with and there never was a jaw bone. Disgraced, Nathan leaves for the Continent.
Two and a half years later, he's come up with a not-so-brilliant plan to catch the thief who ruined his career by blackmailing Mimi Sinclaire--nee Marsh--into sculpting a reproduction of the jaw bone. Mimi, whose husband conveniently died only two months after they were married, decides life is short and why not seduce the poor sod?
My problems with the plot is this: why do the scientists assume he was making up his discovery of the megalosaurus jaw bone? That would be stupid, not to mention professional suicide. To me the logical assumption would be that it was stolen. Also, I fail to see how constructing a sculpture of the jaw bone would prove to anyone that it actually existed, considering that no one has ever seen it or any other megalosaurus jaw bone. The conclusion of the mystery as to who stole the jaw bone and why also didn't make much sense, although I did guess who the thief was less than fifty pages into the book--it's pretty obvious.
The scenes between Nathan and Mimi are very compelling and hot, but the sheer unbelievabitiy of the plot detracted from the whole novel and made me not like it very much. It's worth checking out, but it's not that great.