Thoughts After Reading:
After being rather disappointed with the first novel in Tessa Dare’s “Spindle Cove” series, I had no plans to read any of the sequels. Fast forward eight months: I stumble upon the second installment, A Week to Be Wicked, and the reviews portray it as precisely my type of book. It turns out the reviewers spoke truly – I found Dare’s A Week to Be Wicked to be a nearly flawless on-the-road romance between a tortured hero and diamond in the rough heroine. A poignant relationship is woven into a fairly lighthearted and comical storyline. Both protagonists stay true to their stereotypes, while remaining characters with whom the reader can fully engage. The rakish hero is made almost worthy of empathy, and the ugly duckling transformation of the heroine is taken in believably small steps. In my mind the romance was done to perfection, escalating on both an emotional and physical front as the novel progressed. I also found it delightful that the external conflicts – rather than the romantic conflicts – took centerstage as the novel reached its conclusion.
The heroine is the quintessential bluestocking: she resolves her lack of social graces by sticking her head in a book, hides her womanly curves by wearing unflattering clothing, and – as a result of her mother’s frequent derogatory remarks – redirects her efforts towards a goal other than being married. In this case, the heroine has developed a great love of geology. She is a very intelligent and sensible young woman, yet she also has the passions and dreams of anyone else. The heroine initially seeks the hero out because she is afraid he is going to offer for her older sister simply so that he can get access to his inheritance more quickly. She does not want her sister to be wasted on a rake, and approaches him with a counter-offer: if he can get her to a geological symposium, she can present her discovery and win the monetary prize. The hero can use the money until he gets his inheritance. The hero has no plans to marry the older sister or accept the heroine’s offer. He has embraced his lifestyle of being a wastrel, because he feels that he fails at doing anything worthwhile. It turns out that the hero also has somewhat of an ulterior reason for having a different woman in his bed each night: he uses the nighttime company as a coping mechanism for his traumatic memories. Despite the hero’s intentions, events transition so that the heroine becomes determined to present her discovery and make a name for herself. The hero, of course, is unable to let her go alone.
There has been a spark of romance between the hero and the heroine from even before the book begins. The hero has teased the heroine at any opportunity he got, and he realizes some of her beauty the first night she makes her offer. The heroine, in turn, has always been a bit infatuated with the devilishly handsome hero. As the two characters journey on their adventure, this spark turns into a flame. The hero slowly but surely helps the heroine out of her shell, forcing her to recognize her own value and teaching her to enjoy life in the present. The heroine, meanwhile, helps the hero with his fears and gives him a reason to be a better man. The lovemaking starts with kisses and chaste sleeping arrangements, and builds gradually as the couple finds it increasingly difficult to keep their hands off each other. There is a bit of romantic conflict, as the hero doubts his ability to be a worthy husband and the heroine refuses to a proposal made out of a sense of honor. But there are no silly misunderstandings, no annoyingly painful angst. The protagonists maintain a reasonable and understanding stance of each other, all of which leads to a very authentic HEA.
I’m so glad I took another look at Tessa Dare’s A Week to Be Wicked, because it is an exceptionally well written book. I enjoyed every aspect of the novel: the fully developed characters, the lighthearted comedy, the on-the-road adventure storyline, the consistent romantic progression, and even the major conflicts. The occasionally placed foreshadowing has me eager to read the next installment in the series, which I plan to do as soon as possible.