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Review: A Week to Be Wicked by Tessa Dare

A Week to Be Wicked by Tessa Dare
Historical romance released by Avon on March 27, 2012

When a devilish lord and a bluestocking set off on the road to ruin…
Time is not on their side.

Minerva Highwood, one of Spindle Cove’s confirmed spinsters, needs to be in Scotland.
Colin Sandhurst, Lord Payne, a rake of the first order, needs to be… anywhere but Spindle Cove.

These unlikely partners have one week
to fake an elopement
to convince family and friends they’re in “love”
to outrun armed robbers
to survive their worst nightmares
to travel four hundred miles without killing each other
All while sharing a very small carriage by day and an even smaller bed by night.

What they don’t have time for is their growing attraction. Much less wild passion. And heaven forbid they spend precious hours baring their hearts and souls.

Suddenly one week seems like exactly enough time to find a world of trouble.
And maybe…just maybe…love.

I really liked this book. A lot. Lot. I generally enjoy Tessa Dare’s writing, although I’m behind on her books. I didn’t feel lost at all, however. I love that each of Ms. Dare’s books stand alone. I think that’s really important in books, especially in series, but even in ones that are “spinoffs” or loosely connected.

Minerva is a lovely and fantastic heroine. In fact, she’s not “traditionally lovely.” She doesn’t turn heads or make people walk into things – but that’s inconsequential. Miranda is a complex character that you like from the start. She’s plucky, loyal, unconventional, and determined. How can you not like a woman with those characteristics? Not to mention smart. And she stands up for herself. Minerva calls Colin on all his bullshit. She doesn’t harp on him – when space is needed she gives it to him, but when it’s important to work through an issue, she presses. Minerva is the type of girl you want to be friends with, and simply want to be.

Colin is charming, to put it simply. He’s a jerk… but not an asshole. You know the guy that all the girls like, and he’s kinda blase about it, and not quite aware of the implications of his actions, but he isn’t malicious. Colin is actually a tiny bit clueless. Simply because he doesn’t have to be – or hasn’t had to be. In a way Colin is a bit hapless. He’s just existing, but without a purpose. He’s also displeased with how his life is, but doesn’t know how to go about changing it and more, at the moment the book begins, doesn’t quite care to. He’s a flawed hero, but definitely not irredeemable. He’s also got a subtle sense of humor. As long as he’s amused, his purpose is achieved.

I think a major part that I appreciated was that the characters talked to each other! I cannot express how much I appreciated that, and how grateful I am to Ms. Dare for the utter lack of head banging moments. I didn’t miss being frustrated at all. I didn’t think that Ms. Dare relied on any sort of crutches or stereotypes, or blatant (easily solvable) misunderstandings to further the plot. She actually had plot. It was fantastic.Then there’s the witty writing and dialogue. I don’t normally do this, but it seems trite to just talk about how refreshing and enjoyable Ms. Dare’s writing is – so I’m giving you examples.

[Colin] watched, incredulous, as the stark raving mad girl sank into the water. Knee-deep. Then waist-deep. Then all the way to her neck.

“Come out of there,” he said, sounding distressingly like a nursemaid, even to his own ears. “This instant.”


“Because it’s April. And freezing.” And because I’m suddenly curious to see you wit, without the mud. I didn’t even have a chance to appreciate the view the other night. Her shoulders lifted in a shrug. “It’s not so bad, once you grow used to it.”

For God’s sake, look at the girl. Teeth chattering, lips turning blue. Beneath that horrid garment, her nipples probably freezing to little icicles. And she seriously expected him to join her? Him, and all his precious, highly-susceptible-to-extreme-temperature bits?

“Listen, Madeline. There’s been some misunderstanding. I’m not here for a swim. We need to talk.”

“And I need to show you an inlet, around those rocks. There’s no other way to get there but to swim. We’ll talk when we arrive.” She cocked her head. “You’re not frightened, are you?”

Frightened. Ha. What was that he heard, splashing into the water? Must have been a gauntlet.

And then this.

“Jesus,” he finally managed, pushing water off his face.

“Jesus Christ and John the Baptist. For that matter, Matthew, Mark, Luke, John.” Still not enough. He needed to reach back to the Old Testament for this. “Obidiah. Nebuchadnezzar. Methuselah and Job.”

“Be calm,” she said, taking him by the shoulders. “Be calm. And there are women in the Bible, you know.”

And because it fits with a tie in – and shows the great writing as well…

And just like that, his control was gone. He reached for her, gripping her by the thighs. Holding her close and tight as she plundered his mouth with bold, innocent abandon. With her kiss, his whole body came alive. Not just his body. Something stirred in the region of his heart, as well.

Jesus. Jesus Christ and Mary Magdalene. Delilah, Jezebel, Salome, Judith, Eve. Trouble, every last one. Add Minerva Highwood to the list.

I think what really works with this romance is that Colin and Minerva are forced to spend so much time with each other in close quarters. It really makes the romance believable, even though they’re only together for less than a fortnight – you know it’ll work. Not just that, but how Colin took the time to think up all sorts of other “M” names to tease Minerva with. It shows that even though nobody realized it, she registered on his radar long ago.

It’s good because this isn’t just the journey of Colin and Minerva’s relationship developing, but Minerva’s self discovery. She learns there’s so much more to her beyond her learning, and that she’s been pigeonholed by her mother and family – however right or wrong, intentionally, or not. It was also fun to see the mad cap journey and things Minerva and Colin do. There are of course darker moments too, that are emotional and just kill you.  It’s the full package.

My only complaint would be two minor things. First the format. Maybe it was that I was reading an ARC and the formatting was a tiny bit distracting at times. I really really tried to not hold it against the book, so maybe I shouldn’t even have mentioned it. Ah well. Next… the tie in for the next book. It wasn’t necessary to the story, and the book would not have suffered for it had the entire scene been cut. It was patently obvious to me it was written for the next book. I did love the blurb for it though, so I’m more inclined to forgive that. If you like historical romances, you definitely need to read this book. If you like quality writing with reasonable, yet interesting characters, A Week to be Wicked should make it to your TBR. I also have started re-reading the book again, and I might even be liking it more the second time.So… instead of a B+ I’m going with…

Grade: A-

You can also read an excerpt here, and buy the book here.

*ETA: Tessa Dare is running a contest for A Week to Be Wicked! See?
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