In A Week to Be Wicked, Tessa Dare’s second Regency-era romance set in the spinster haven of Spindle Cove, a charming, worldly rake falls for an ambitious but socially awkward bluestocking.

What inspired you to make Minerva a geologist?

I love to write historical heroines who push against the social constraints of their time. In Minerva’s case, she’s not only pushing against the idea that women couldn’t be scholars, she’s part of a new and controversial field of study in the early 19th century—geology. The identification and study of fossils in Minerva’s time represented a true paradigm shift. Moreover, I’d set the series on the Sussex coast, an area rife with fossils. I couldn’t resist making Minerva a part of that revolution.

How did you make Colin and Minerva’s unlikely connection believable?

Over the course of their wild, eventful journey from Sussex to Scotland, Colin and Minerva discover that they’ve been inhabiting “shells”—personalities constructed from their own desires and fears, mixed with society’s expectations. Those shells are sometimes protective, sometimes restrictive. My job was to create wild, extreme situations that would serve as hammers and smash those artificial constructs to bits. Once a couple has outrun an angry mob with nothing but a still-smoking pistol, the clothes on their backs, and a dinosaur footprint, there’s not much room left for pretense.

Intentional role playing also shows up a lot.

On their travels, Colin and Minerva need a lot of help. To ingratiate themselves with fellow travelers and the occasional highwayman, they pose as missionaries, long-lost royalty, circus performers, cold-blooded assassins... pretty much anything and everything except their true identities. The irony, of course, is that in adopting this series of increasingly absurd disguises, they are becoming more honest and real with each other. Colin was already established as a charmer who’ll say just about anything, and giving him full rein was some of the most fun I’ve had as a writer.

Why mix so much humor in with the serious emotion?

My own romance with Mr. Dare was an exhilarating, whirlwind courtship across two continents, but on one of our very first dates, I ran into a flagpole, face-first. More than a decade later, we’re still laughing about it. So the juxtaposition of comic absurdity and deeply felt emotion just seems real to me, because it mirrors my own life.

You dedicated this book “To all the girls who walk and read at the same time.” What does that mean for you?

When I was a girl, my family moved frequently. Books were my refuge, my entertainment, my source of information on all sorts of topics... in a way, they were my home. Whenever I felt lonely or uprooted, opening a familiar book gave me comfort. I would read through dinner, read through classes, read into the wee hours of the night, and, yes, I even read while walking! Minerva has that kind of relationship with books, and I know we’re not alone.