Tessa Dare: A WEEK TO BE WICKED

A Week to Be Wicked by Tessa Dare
Avon 2012
353 pages
4/5 stars

A Week to Be Wicked is the second book in the Spindle Cove series, and my feelings about it in relation to the first one (A Night to Surrender) are mixed.

Let’s start by explaining my main qualm. This is, in its bare essentials, a hate-to-love relationship. And that really, really isn’t my trope. I considered not reading this because of the trope. Minerva, the heroine, is plain compared to her sisters and a bluestocking to boot (excuse the pun), and therefore entertains few dreams of marriage. Colin, the viscount hero, is a charmer who can talk his way through anything and is liked wherever he goes. You can guess that they clash, she resents his lifestyle and he very deliberately calls her every first name beginning with an M apart from her actual name. As a premise, this just puts me off for some reason.

I’m so glad I gave it the benefit of doubt. Because this book was really good. It’s not black and white when it comes to hate and love; Minerva and Colin don’t actually hate each other. This is made obvious through little things, my favourite being the way he calls her “Min” when things are serious, even though he will return to “Melissa” and “Marianne” as soon as the situation allows. She, on the other hand, is torn in a way that sort of reminds me of Emma Woodhouse in especially the Kate Beckinsale adaptation of the novel – Minerva’s surface reason for building distance to Colin is their mother’s wish that he marry Min’s beautiful sister. Although a woman of great character, bravery, and enterprise, Minerva also craves love and affection; although a laissez-faire, cheerful charmer, Colin also carries a trauma from his childhood and is desperate to be helpful and do good. The love-to-hate setting is very superficial and Dare constructs their relationship so well that it stays believable.

And little as I like the trope, boy, the arguing allows for excellent dialogue! I laughed out loud several times, and I’m especially entertained by Minerva’s bluntness. You should read this book if only to see a seduction conducted in geological terms. It’s vastly entertaining, I promise. There is also a nice dose of adventure, as Minerva and Colin “elope” to Edinburgh and things don’t quite go as smoothly as they might have hoped.

I would also like to draw attention to the use made of the scientific community of the time. It’s not very central, and if you want to read a romance novel more concentrated on that I can recommend Courtney Milan’s The Countess Conspiracy, but it creates a little tension and jealousy in Minerva and Colin’s developing relationship. Minerva is in correspondence with another geologist who has no idea that she’s female but expresses his deep admiration for her. Now, this is where I really want to put my commendation: although there is this Other Man and a hint of jealousy on Colin’s side, it’s not overpowering or irrational. In fact, I find it to be just right; he recognises that Minerva has other prospects, but does not claim any right to her, and neither does he doubt her once their relationship is established. Beautifully balanced!

You will notice that I refuse to give five stars. This is largely because I still don’t like the premise, although it is so well executed. I haven’t given Dare five stars so far because I’m still waiting for the one that leaves me in a reading slump. I know she’s capable of it, and I’m just waiting for it to hit me. Hopefully it will be the third book in this series – which has been very nicely grounded in this one, for the record!

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