Monday, May 7, 2012

A Week to be Wicked by Tessa Dare

Minerva Highwood needs to go to Scotland to present her findings to the Royal Geological Society of Scotland. She also needs to prevent Colin Sandhurst, Lord Payne, from marrying her sister. Ever efficient, she comes up with an excellent solution: Take Colin with her to Scotland.

Colin never had any intentions of courting or marrying Minerva's sister, Diana -- or to go along with Minerva's harebrained scheme to go to Scotland so she could talk about rocks.

But there's something so delightfully endearing about Minerva when she's being teased that Colin just can't resist.

Despite his better judgment, he goes along with Minerva -- but, as is the story of Lord Payne's life, things go awry.

What should have been a 4-day trip by mail coach turns into a week-long ordeal for the two -- proving to be a volatile combination, Minerva and Colin experience adventure and trouble that tests the limits of what they are willing to do for each other.

Minerva Highwood is the middle sister and is the misfit of her family. Spindle Cover has become a refuge for her -- for once in her life, she doesn't feel out of place. And Spindle Cove has also offered Minerva a chance to leave her mark in the world -- she discovers "Francine" (the fossil of a giant lizard) in one of the caves in Spindle Cove and knows that her discovery ensures her the top prize from the Royal Geological Society and will secure her place in science.

...this was why the symposium was so important to her. Why Francine meant everything. This was why, a few mornings ago, she'd opened up the trunk that held her trousseau and swapped out those bridal fantasies for new, scientific goals. Minerva had never been the daughter her mother would have wished. She was different from her sisters... She could live with being a hopeless excuse for a fashionable, elegant lady ... so long as someone, somewhere, respected and admired her just for being her. Minerva Highwood, geologist and bookworm ...
- p. 133

What she doesn't count on is her growing feelings for Colin. Minerva is a realist and knows that Colin would never fall for a girl like her -- but as their week together progresses, she allows herself to pretend -- just for this time -- that he just might surprise her.

She trusted this man. He was a known liar and a shameless rake, but she trusted him.
- p. 206

One either loves Colin Sandhurst or hates him -- this was Minerva's dilemma early on and this also becomes the reader's dilemma. Colin is unapologetic about the wild life he lived in London and he doesn't regret how he's been living in Spindle Cove, either. He's too carefree and too flippant and he doesn't seem to take things seriously -- but, even as early as the first book (A Night to Surrender) one can see glimpses of a decent Colin who can be trusted (sometimes) to get the job done.

Minerva compares Colin to Bristol Diamonds and it's a perfect description of him:

"They're a kind of rock formation. On the outside, they look like ordinary pebbles. Round, brownish gray. But when you crack them open, inside they're filled with crystals in a hundred different shades."
- Minerva, p. 89-90

Geology is at the heart of this story -- and our characters are like the rocks that Minerva studies. Both Minerva and Colin are formed by natural and "chemical" events: Colin's being orphaned at a young age and his insomnia; Minerva's lack of acceptance from her mother; Minerva's farsightedness and childhood, etc -- the crags and textures of their personalities and decisions have been shaped by their past and the pressures they had withstood in order to be where they are.

Tessa Dare demonstrates that, as rock are not just rocks, Colin and Minerva invite a closer look and a deeper study. They are not the "main event" as Bram and Susanna are (characters of the first book in the series) -- but their story is one worthy of telling and one worthy of reading.

A Week to be Wicked is part of Tessa Dare's Spindle Cove series. The next book, A Lady by Midnight is set for release Fall 2012. (Can you say, "auto buy?" ^_^)



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