Oct 9 2017 2:00pm

Unearthing Geologist, Paleontologist & Archaeologist Heroines

In Her Court by Tamsen Parker

We Dig Heroines in STEM!

Today we're thrilled to welcome Tamsen Parker (In Her Court) to Heroes and Heartbreakers as she dons her author hat. We've loved Tamsen's series on heroines in STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics) and with this edition she's unearthing some of our favorite heroines who are geologists, paleontologists, and archaeologists. Thanks, Tamsen!

STEM professions offer so many opportunities to make good puns, no bones about it. I promise I’ll stop and we can get to the books, which is what I know you’re really here for. Let’s rock and roll…

Unless you’ve got a serious thing for competence porn, academics might not be super high on your list of sexy professions. But Harrison Ford as Indiana Jones had a bunch of us swooning over an archaeology professor. And if you think about it, archaeology is about as close to treasure hunting as academics can get. Of course the Lara Crofts of the world may have us thinking it’s all tight tank tops, alluring sweat, and adventures. While the reality for most archaeologists is much more staid, it’s still pretty cool to unearth the secrets of the past.

And if you like rough and tumble, dirt-under-the-nails kinds of heroines, what could be better than geologists, paleontologists, and volcanologists? I feel like space exploration gets a lot of credit for being sexy, but a lot of the adventures to be had right here—in our own soil, our own rock, under our own seas—get ignored. And why is that? Is it because we think of these things as known?

I traveled with my family to Grand Caverns in Virginia last summer, and while wandering through the seemingly endless tunnels with their incredible formations—and perhaps most exciting, finally learning the difference between stalactites and stalagmites—I decided to write a geologist heroine. Mind you, that ninety-minute tour that was frequently interrupted by my five-year-old was about the extent of my geological knowledge. But I was still sold on the idea, and I managed to work in a geologist heroine into In Her Court.

Willa is passionate about rocks, particularly about cave formations, and her enthusiasm is so infectious she could probably get just about anyone excited about speleothems. She sure manages to get her heroine, Van, excited. Van is also an academic, a physics professor to Willa’s geology grad student, and together they make some sweet and sexy cosplay happen.

If you’d like to get down and dirty with some heroines who get down and dirty professionally, here are a few recs:

A Week to be Wicked by Tessa Dare

A Week to be Wicked by Tessa Dare

(Amazon | B&N | Kobo)

The second book in the Spindle Cove series, A Week to Be Wicked can easily be read as a standalone. It’s basically an enemies-to-lovers regency road trip romance with lots of machinations and some very strange cargo consisting of a plaster cast of a dinosaur foot wrapped in Minerva’s—our bluestocking heroine’s—trousseau trunk. For reasons. Add to that a sexy math word competition and s sexy rake of a hero in Colin and you’ve got a fun and nerdy read, complete with bespectacled heroine.

Digging Up Danger by Alexis Anne

(Amazon | B&N | Kobo)

One of the things I liked about this book was that it’s sort of a mash-up. There’s romance, suspense, science, geopolitical intrigue, and military-style bad-assery. The romance has a bit of a marriage-in-trouble flavor, which is difficult to pull off when the other characters in the book don’t know that the heroine and hero are married. I also appreciated that both Antonia and Cole were incredibly good at their jobs and while they weren’t always thrilled with each other for the professional choices they made, they were equally passionate and unapologetic at being at the tops of their respective fields.

Running Back by Allison Parr

(Amazon | B&N | Kobo)

An athlete and an academic thrown together in a forced proximity romance? Yes, please. Natalie, a driven archaeology student, asks Mike, a pro football player—to let her dig on his newly inherited land in Ireland. And because this is romance and the road to true love never does run smooth, he says no. Another thing I liked about this book is that while I love a geeky heroine with no fashion sense and glasses, it’s nice to see a woman who’s a knockout in looks and brains. You don’t have to sacrifice 20/20 vision for an advanced degree, and I am in favor of all the permutations of desirable heroines.  

Other books that were recommended when I put the call out on social media:

  • The Professor's Student by Bronwyn Green
  • The Evidence Series by Rachel Grant
  • Mr. Impossible by Loretta Chase
  • Stolen Fury by Elisabeth Naughton
  • The Reef by Nora Roberts
  • Birthright by Nora Roberts
  • The Spire by Kate Canterbary
  • Chase Me by Tamara Hogan
  • Quakes by R.L. Ugolini
  • Pitfall by Kelli Jae Baeli
  • The Copper Egg by Catherine Friend
  • Footsteps of Shadows by PJ Ramsay
  • The Countess Conspiracy by Courtney Milan
  • Undiscovered by Anna Hackett

I hope you’ll give Van and Willa to shake your foundations, but in the meantime, did I miss any heroines who rock? Or maybe unearthed your passion for science or exploring your own world? Let me know below! (And please don’t hold my terrible puns against me)


Learn more about or order a copy of In Her Court by Tamsen Parker, available now:

Buy at Amazon

Buy at B&N

Buy at iTunes

Buy at Kobo



Tamsen Parker is a stay-at-home mom by day, erotic romance writer by naptime. She lives with her family outside of Boston, where she tweets too much, sleeps too little and is always in the middle of a book. Aside from good food, sweet rieslings and gin cocktails, she has a fondness for monograms and subway maps. She should really start drinking coffee.

H&H Editor Picks:

Geeky Friendships Are the Best Kind in Susannah Nix’s Remedial Rocket Science

Heroines in STEM: Gamers, Hackers, and Coders Edition

October 2017 Romance Novels New Releases Shopping List






Subscribe to this conversation (must be logged in):
1. Kareni
I'm all for puns -- good or bad. My first thought for archaelogist heroines was Rachel Grant whose name I see on your list. Some of Laura Griffin's heroines from her Tracers series might also fit the bill.
Carmen Pinzon
3. bungluna
How about an oldie? "Ravished" by Amanda Quick has a heroine whose fascination with fossils reaches extremes.
4. TamsenParker
@Kareni: I love puns, and so does my kid. There a LOT of puns in my house. I had a Laura Griffin in my Gamers, Hackers, and Coders post, I'll have to look at the rest of the series!

@bungluna: Oh, I haven't read the Amanda Quick--or, embarrassingly, any of her books! Maybe Ravished should be my first : )
5. Kareni
Tamsen, you might better know Amanda Quick as Jayne Ann Krentz who has also written as Amanda Glass and Jayne Castle and Stephanie James and ....
6. willaful
For some reason, I really went off Archeology-related romance -- I may have to make an exception for a Willa! -- but one of my old favorites is Summer of the Dragon by Elizabeth Peters. The heroine is chubby and an excellent debunker of nonsense theories. :-)
7. TamsenParker
@Kareni: You'd think so wouldn't you? lol But there are so many well-known authors I haven't read! Please don't revoke my membership to Romancelandia...

@Willaful: Sometimes after I gorge on a certain trope or subgenre I need a break, and I never end up being able to glom the same way. But I hope you enjoy Willa if you end up giving In Her Court a shot. I mean, when's the last time you read the word "speleothems" in romance? And with a heroine who's your name twin? ; ) And oh, I love chubby heroines, especially smart ones! Thanks for the rec : )
Jennifer Proffitt
8. JenniferProffitt
@Kareni, I knew that Amanda Quick wrote under a few different names but I didn't know about Amanda Glass or Stephanie James! Thanks for the fun fact!
9. Kareni
Jennifer, I've been reading romances for a (cough, cough) long time. It's amazing the tidbits one collects!
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