London is the place to be in 1851. The crisp spring air is vibrant and alive with excitement in anticipation of the unveiling of the magnificent Crystal Palace. But can a star-crossed love finally bloom in the midst of the tumult?
Mimi Marsh has adored the brilliant and dashing Nathan Price in secret for years. One brief, rapturous moment is all they have shared, and she yearns passionately for more. But since that night, Nathan has known the exhilaration of triumph...and the pain of personal ruin. How can Mimi hope to win back his trust and affection in light of all Nathan has been through? With her soft gaze and gentle words she invites him back into her soul -- and Mimi sees the desire that burns in his eyes whenever she enters the room. The only woman ever to have captured this wounded man's love, Mimi is now the only one who can save him. But will proud, wronged Nathan ever embrace the power of her passion -- and open his guarded heart to a miraculous, once-in-a-lifetime romance?
A showing of dinosaur bones, dubbed The Great Exhibition of 1851, serves as the catalyst for Ashworth's latest novel (after Winter Garden), a tangled romance between a blue-collar paleontologist and a young, high society widow. Professor Nathan Price has made the discovery of a lifetime an intact Megalosaurus jawbone fossil. Before he has the chance to reveal the treasure to his peers, however, he's distracted by Mimi Marsh, the golden-haired daughter of a famous dinosaur sculptor. The two take a stroll outside and share a brief kiss, but when Nathan returns to his senses and to his precious jawbone, he discovers that the fossil is missing. Two years later, Nathan comes to Mimi with a plan to reestablish himself in the field and discover the identity of the person who ruined him. A talented dinosaur sculptor in her own right, Mimi never stopped loving the disgraced professor, and she agrees to help him in the hopes of rekindling their romance. Though highly sensual, their romance is impeded by Nathan's perennial mistrust of Mimi, who had a strong motive to steal the fossil, and by Mimi's tiresome seduction attempts. Ashworth aptly conveys the impact that fossil discoveries had on Victorian society, but her characters lack the sympathetic dimensions and intelligence of those of her previous novels.