Author: Elin Gregory
Publisher: Manifold Press
Summary: Malcolm Bright, brand new museum curator in a small Welsh Border town, is a little lonely until – acting as emergency archaeological consultant on a new housing development – he crosses the path of Rob Escley, aka Dirty Rob, who makes Mal’s earth move in more ways than one.
Then Rob discovers something wonderful, and together they must combat greedy developers and a treasure hunter determined to get his hands on the find. Are desperate measures justified to save the bones of our fathers? Will Dirty Rob live up to his reputation? Do museum curators really do it meticulously?
Answers must be found for the sake of Mal’s future, his happiness and his heart.
What an utterly delightful time I had reading this! Another new-to-me-author, Elin Gregory completely lived up to the glowing reviews I’d seen for other books. She transported this Florida lady into the middle of a small Welsh village and if it wasn’t so cold, I’d move there. Malcolm, the new curator of the local museum, meets Rob, aka “Dirty Rob”, a heavy equipment operator, during the opening of a housing development. Besides Rob, there’s a rich cast of local residents, often related, all with a lifetime knowing each other’s heritage, history, and current goings-on. Told entirely from Malcolm’s viewpoint, with a character driven plot, he and Rob pursue one of the more natural, organically written romances I’ve read in a while. Mal is a rather typical academic type, wrapped up in his work, still plagued by memories of an unworthy ex and too often self-absorbed. But he’s captivated by Rob’s comfortable, open nature. Rob is the product of an unhappy home life, living in hope of a stable and brighter future, thinking he might find it with Mal.
Betty, Mal’s colorful receptionist at the museum, is his guide in navigating the complexities of village life. It’s a learning process, as Mal has never experienced the tight-knit loyalties of friends sharing a common cause. After the unusual find at the development site, Mal calls in a friend to help with the archaeology and Harvey is far more able to fit himself into the pattern of village life.
Every thread and twist of the plot is balanced; the romantic elements, villager shenanigans, the shifting events around the unearthed treasure, and all mixed with subtle informational details of running a museum and an archaeological dig. I was engrossed in this, rooting for Mal and Rob, and the village residents desire to keep the historical find, with its ancestral significance, for themselves. For those looking for steam, it’s quite minimal in this story, because it just wasn’t needed to make this tale more complete. I’d recommend this to almost anyone. It’s a warm, if not always tender romance, with a focus on family and friends, seasoned with humor and a light touch of suspense. You don’t need to be an archaeologist to find lots to treasure in this one!