Title: The Bones of Our Fathers
Author: Elin Gregory
Publisher: Manifold Press
Length: 231 Pages
At a Glance: A low-key character driven story with a slow but steady paced romance revolving around archeological find in a small town.
Reviewed By: Lindsey
Blurb: 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
Review: I enjoy books which take place in small towns where everyone knows everyone and is all up in each other business, and Bones of our Fathers definitely delivers that with all kinds of shenanigans and a variety of interesting characters with the charm I have come to expect in stories with this particular setting.
This was a low-key, slow and steady paced romance involving Mal, a newbie Museum curator and hired archeology consultant, and Dirty Rob, the construction worker. During a new development Rob stumbles upon a Bronze Age cist, which then becomes the center of attention as the town gets swept up in what it means for them, and struggles to keep the find.
The relationship is leisurely paced with low heat level. It progresses naturally with flirting, dating and getting to know one another. They have little misunderstandings and differences of opinions (mostly because Mal is so new he doesn’t fully understand the significance of family and friends in a small village, and how it all operates—where everyone is connected to everyone else), and eventually the two find love. It was all done charmingly, and both MCs complement each other in behavior. Rob is an extrovert with strong feelings about heritage. He is a little rash in his decisions, acting without always thinking first, but his actions are based on the best intentions and often in defense of someone he cares about. All in all, Rob follows his heart, first and foremost, and I love characters that mess up, but it comes from a genuine place. Mal is more logical in thinking; he thinks things through, analyzes situations and outcomes, his head oftentimes fueling his decisions. It balances each other out.
For my fully Californian self, it did take me a while to get into the writing style because it’s full-on English, and many of the terms and dialogue were a little rough for me to understand. Which is also why I am not positive where the village is located, since the connections seem to be both English and Welsh and it was confusing for me. Granted, I have read enough English-based books that I had at least some comprehension of what was happening, but other times it wasn’t the easiest thing for me to follow, and more than likely some of the subtler humor went right over my head.
Most of this story is character driven, so there are a lot of secondary characters with little quirks and interactions. It’s one of my favorite things about stories in small town settings, the people in the village and their connections drive the story more so than the archeological dig; though the cist and its excavation adds a little bit of angst and a dash of mystery, it wasn’t the focal point. I adore the setting, and the author did a fabulous job of creating a charmingly dysfunctional group of family and friends whose interactions kept me engaged.
At the end I felt a little let down though, and I’ll do my best to explain. Mal being the newcomer is sort of on the outside but is learning how it all operates, and while somewhat being accepted. I love reading a character learning to navigate his new life, watching them fall in love with the town and become part of those connections, eventually finding they are home. Generally, in this trope, the people pull through in the end, showing the newcomer what it truly means to belong, and I love it. I’ve also come to expect it, which is why I was let down. I didn’t feel it really happened that way here, IMO. Even though he was liked by the people, it was clear Mal wasn’t really one of them. Since everyone is in everyone else’s business, pretty much the whole population knows when Mal and Rob’s relationship hits a stumbling block—one that the people of Pemberland helped create once the pieces all come together. Unfortunately for Mal, the town takes Rob’s side. What sucks more is that it seems they do so, probably without even knowing Rob’s side of what happened, or bothering to even figure out Mal’s perspective. All they see is Rob upset and they flock to his defense. Poor Mal gets the lectures, and the “tough love” speeches, and is treated somewhat crappily, if you ask me. Was Mal perfect? No. But, I personally understood where Mal was coming from, and since I am very much like Mal, IMO his actions were more-or-less justified based on what he knew and what was going on around him. I would have had a similar reaction, but no one tries to look at anything from his standpoint, leaving him feeling as though he screwed up. They backed up their own, and Mal clearly wasn’t one of them—at least not yet. That left me with a bit of a sour taste, to be honest.
Despite my negative reaction towards how it all gets resolved, and the actions of the townspeople, most of the story was that feel-good, lowkey comfort read which kept me engaged. If you love fully fleshed out, character driven stories set in small town, complete with cute banter, sweet MCs, and an interesting backstory, give this one a shot.
You can buy The Bones of Our Fathers here: