Rating: 4.75 stars
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Paleontologist Nick Eisenberg is working in a museum in London when he is called to Alberta to examine another scientist’s find. Nick knows Eric White hasn’t actually found a velociraptor in North America, but Nick agrees to go and check out the dig and see what is going on. When he gets there, he finds things are a disorganized mess and ends up sticking around, helping out and doing some digging of his own. And when Eric is brutally attacked and severely injured, Nick ends up being put in charge of the dig.
Nick is excited to be back digging again, especially as the site is turning out to be a great spot for finding dinosaur bones. He has his best friend Boner helping out, as well as other friends and colleagues. And he has gotten the dig site back into shape and everything seems to be going well. That is until eco-conservationist Hunter Joseph shows up.
Hunter has made it is his mission to raise awareness of the damage he believes paleontologists are doing to the environment around their dig sites. He is trying to stir up trouble and stop the dig. Hunter and Nick immediately clash, finding themselves at opposite ends of the fight. Nick believes the benefits of scientific discovery mitigate the small damage he agrees may be done to the land. And Hunter believes that the conservation of the environment is more important than digging up dinosaur bones. The two clash from the start, but Nick must admit that he feels an attraction to Hunter despite himself. And over time, as the men get to know one another, they also begin to see the other’s perspective. Slowly they become friends and lovers, even if they don’t always see eye to eye.
Although things are going smoother with Hunter, there are still big problems with the dig. Nick receives threatening notes, vandals are breaking in at night and causing damage, and things are escalating. And when Nick makes a big find, the stakes become even higher to protect their discoveries and keep the dig site safe. Just as Nick has finally come to a great place with Hunter, his career and even his life may be at risk.
So I’ll admit that I’m an old school Michael Crighton fan, and I didn’t miss the play on Jurassic Park in this title. Combined with the cover and my fondness for Martin’s writing, I couldn’t wait to pick this up and I am so glad I did. There is so much to like here, from a great story with lots of fun, geeky science, to a fabulous romance with a steamy enemies to lovers plot.
Ok, so first off let’s talk dinosaurs, shall we? Although I have never been a dino junkie, this story definitely called out to my geeky side. Martin manages to pack this book with so much detail about paleontology, dig sites, and dinosaur discovery that I found it just fascinating. The first part of the book is especially focused on these topics as Nick goes to Eric’s dig and ultimately sets it up as his own. It is clear this is a topic for which Martin has a fondness and the story is such a lovely celebration of both dinosaurs specifically, and the wonder of scientific discovery more generally. I will say if you hate dinosaurs this may not be the book for you, as they are a major focus. But personally I love stories where I can learn about history or science or art, while at the same time being immersed in a wonderful romance. And I really think Martin succeeds with that here.
This story is also a classic enemies-to-lovers tale, one of my favorite tropes. Nick and Hunter pretty much hate each other before they even meet. They are on totally opposite sides of a battle both of them believe passionately about. I love how even as these men get to know one another and open their minds up to the other’s viewpoint, there is still a lot of sharp edges between them. They banter and bicker and squabble, and then have hot, crazy sex. It is everything I love about this theme and I appreciate that they don’t immediately just soften towards each other when they start feeling an attraction. Instead it is a slow and steady progression of getting to know one another and beginning to appreciate the other’s views.
I loved Nick and Hunter as a couple, with banter and feistiness and tons of sexual tension and heat. I also appreciated that Martin makes them such interesting, layered characters rather than solely relying on their conflict to carry the story. They both had interesting backgrounds and fascinating jobs and lives and that made me root for them all the more. I also loved the rest of the dinosaur gang and appreciated the way they have built such a close knit group. Nick’s best friend Boner in particular is such a fabulous characters (and yes, the nickname comes from more than the fact that he digs up dinosaur bones). I loved the relationship he has with Nick. They are best friends, but have also been occasional lovers in the past. Even though there is nothing sexual between them now, they are super close and touchy feely with each other. I found them a fascinating pair and their friendship is portrayed in a way I don’t see often.
The third layer to this story is the suspense plot. Someone is stirring up trouble around the dig and the threats are escalating. This plot sort of weaves in and out of the story, coming to a crisis toward the end. I think the balance is good here as this isn’t really a thriller so we don’t overly focus on that part of the plot. At the same time, it add a layer of suspense to the story, and honestly, I never saw the culprit coming.
I think my only real point of hesitation here is that I wanted a bit more clarity on how these guys were ultimately going to make it work. We do get some explanation on what the future holds for Nick and Hunter, but we never really see clearly how they are reconciling their differences. The fact that both men have valid and understandable positions is one of the things I really like about the book. But those positions are largely incompatible. And while we are told briefly how they have made it work together, I would have liked just a bit more detail on how they are moving past these views and into a long-term relationship.
So overall I just loved this one. It hit so many high points for me. Fascinating heroes that I loved, a sexy romance, great enemies-to-lovers tension, and some good old fashioned geekery. I really enjoyed Jurassic Heart and would definitely recommend it.
P.S. Anna was here earlier in the week to talk more about the book and share a great except and giveaway. So be sure to stop by!
A review copy of this book was provided by Dreamspinner Press.