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Lucy, you got some ‘splainin’ to do!

Posted by Wanderer on August 16, 2009

Short version review of Tessa Dare’s Goddess of the Hunt can be summed up in the lyrics to Vanessa Williams’ “Save the Best for Last”:

All of the nights you came to me
When some silly [boy] had set you free
You wondered how you’d make it through
I wondered what was wrong with you

Cause how could you give your love to someone else
And share your dreams with me
Sometimes the very thing you’re looking for
Is the one thing you can’t see

And now we’re standing face to face
Isn’t this world a crazy place
Just when I thought our chance had passed
You go and save the best for last

Read on for the special extended edition 😉

Ever the bold adventuress, Lucy Waltham has decided to go hunting for a husband. But first she needs some target practice. So she turns to her brother’s best friend, Jeremy Trescott, the Earl of Kendall, to hone her seductive wiles on him before setting her sights on another man. But her practice kisses spark a smoldering passion—one that could send all her plans up in smoke.

Jeremy has an influential title, a vast fortune, and a painful past, full of long-buried secrets. He keeps a safe distance from his own emotions, but to distract Lucy from her reckless scheming, he must give his passions free rein. Their sensual battle of wills is as maddening as it is delicious, but the longer he succeeds in managing the headstrong temptress, the closer Jeremy comes to losing control. When scandal breaks, can he bring himself to abandon Lucy to her ruin? Or will he risk his heart, and claim her for his own?

Where or where should I begin? I guess I should start with the first thing that really caught my attention. Yes, the opening scene is a good one. It drops you right in the middle of something life-changing but the first moment that really hooked me was in chapter two. It occurs when Lucy (a tomboy) comes to breakfast all dolled up to impress Toby, one of her older brother’s best friends, and something happens to one of the heavy opal earrings she’s wearing. I was not expecting that and it got an audible response from me – sort of a combination laugh-gasp-oh response. I’ve had that response in the past, after reading the “the one eating the shrubs” line from Julie Garwood’s The Lion’s Lady. Considering I’m practically a JG fangurl, I knew it was a good sign for this book.

Lucy is convinced she’s in love with Toby and does her best to attract his attention after finding out about his upcoming engagement to another woman. She plots and schemes to come up with a way for him to notice her as a woman and no longer Henry’s little sister, however, her schemes fail every time. In the beginning, I could see past Lucy’s scheming as I saw her more through Jeremy’s eyes and thoughts. She is a young girl with no experience in dating or even friendship for that matter. Her parents died leaving her to the care of her brother who is pretty much clueless to the kind of guidance a girl Lucy’s age needs so with no exposure to any other company, it’s no surprise that her first major crush is on one of Henry’s best friends. Someone who has come to the manor every summer for the past 8 years and the only one who has shown her the slightest bit of kind attention (btw, I loved the idea of where the title of the book comes from). With all that in mind I began to see Lucy’s behavior more as emotional growing pains. We all go through them and we all are different in our reactions to them. However, later in the book there were moments were she seemed to take 1 step towards maturity but then Toby came within hearing distance and she took 2 steps back. Very aggravating considering how much progress she and Jeremy had made, not just in the physical sense, but I thought he was finally reaching her emotionally. Particularly after Lucy witnessed Toby giving Sophia, his future betrothed, a crown of ivory. I felt since that was what started Lucy’s crush in the first place, seeing Toby give the same gift to someone else would surely snap her out of her daze. Unfortunately, it did not.

As for Jeremy, I really liked him from the start. First, because of the way he handled the situation with Lucy coming to his room in the middle of the night for a ridiculous practice session. Secondly, because he was upfront in telling her how foolish her behavior was yet every time her plans went awry, he was there to pick her back up. I liked that he tried to warn Henry and Toby about Lucy but for all his good intentions they only gave him more reasons to be closer to Lucy. As his fondness for Lucy grows, even as she continues her pursuit of Toby, you can’t help but feel for him. Especially when his efforts are thwarted in the name of Toby….literally in the name of Toby (end of wardrobe scene anyone?). Speaking of the wardrobe scene….yes, it is hot and sensual (it is up there with the scene in front of the mirror from Stephanie Laurens’ Devil’s Bride) but for me the part that gave it that extra oomph, what made it more powerful, was Jeremy’s internal dialogue. His desperate need for Lucy to acknowledge it was him and no other that was with her in that precise moment.

Who was he to her, here in the dark? Was he himself, or some stranger, or – most terrible to contemplate and altogether probable – someone else known to them both?

That extra oomph factor can be found throughout the book. It’s hard to explain exactly but there is so much given to us not only in the dialogue between the characters but also in the internal struggles they’re experiencing. I felt all that internal insight made the emotions that much stronger and Ms. Dare’s writing…I found it to be a bit lyrical and poetic. The way she describes things sort of paints an emotional picture for the reader.

I also liked the supporting characters and the relationships they had with the main characters. In fact, I would count Henry as one of my favorites. Yes, he is the fumbling brother that is out of sorts when it comes to what a girl needs but he is still a funny and caring character. From the song he sings in the beginning to some of the comments he makes (something about frozen stones? 😛 ) to the confrontations he has with Jeremy regarding Lucy. The brother/sister relationship between Henry and Lucy felt very real to me. Especially when he cracks on her being considered a ‘lady’ and also in the descriptions of the letters he sends her towards the end. I was glad that Sophia wasn’t made out to be a villain. She isn’t some stuck up, beautiful yet brainless twit, but a sweet and lonely young lady not unlike Lucy. She’s also learning her way in the world and thinks she’s doing the right thing by marrying Toby but still has her doubts throughout the book. I liked that Lucy and Sophia grew to be friends which also helped Lucy to realize what she truly wanted. As for Toby, I thought he was a jerk in the beginning for knowing how Lucy felt about him but being too chicken to let her down easy. But later on when he’s in London talking to Jeremy, he redeemed himself in my eyes. Then we have the ever-wandering Aunt Matilda. She could have become an annoying character but it was actually very sweet to see how they all cared for her and how some of her wandering aided Lucy and Jeremy’s relationship. I loved the part when they’re departing Waltham Manor and Jeremy sees she’s bringing Aunt Matilda with her. That’s actually one of the main things I liked about GotH – the humor. From the Look, to the Book, to the Letter, to their first ‘completed’ love scene, the humor is sprinkled throughout the story and amongst the characters and is definitely one of the reasons I read GotH as fast as I did.

I have to admit, though, that there was an interesting turn in the book for me. For the most part, I was always Team Jeremy. Then after the wedding and they moved to Jeremy’s estate, I found myself gradually going towards Team Lucy. Where before, Jeremy was always upfront with Lucy and told her what’s what, when they got back to his home and all the memories of his past came at him full force, he became the avoidance king. On the other hand, Lucy finally seemed to grow up and care about the well being of others. I even began to feel sorry for her when Jeremy was avoiding her or away on business. I think I truly joined Lucy’s side when he criticized her for not being a ‘lady’. I thought, “Hey dude that’s the Lucy you fell in lust/love with – the one with the adventurous spirit. You can’t expect her to change just because you put a ring on her finger and a title next to her name.” But this time it was seeing Jeremy through Lucy’s eyes and thoughts that reminded me that yes, it’s still the same, caring Jeremy from before but he has some pretty big demons from the past he needs help in defeating. When they finally come together emotionally in the end, it’s a solid and sweet reunion.

So aside from Lucy’s somewhat childish behavior (which I think could have been remedied had the quantity of foolish schemes been cut back a tad) and the over-use of “dusky red lips”, I found GotH to be a fun and fast read. I was also left with one question regarding a minor character, the doctor’s daughter, Henna. When she is first introduced in GotH, I immediately felt she’d have a very interesting tale to tell. I wonder if there are any plans for her book.

Goddess of the Hunt is the first book in Ms. Dare’s trilogy and I eagerly await the next two of the series, Surrender of a Siren coming August 25th and A Lady of Persuasion coming September 29th.

Final Grade:
A very high

Is everything I hoped it would be and not a pinch more. Better than average, it hit the spot like a tall drink on a hot summer’s day. While it didn’t quite dazzle me with unique or transcendent content, in no way is it a stale retelling.

Around The Net:
Monkey Bear Reviews: B
KatieBabs: A-
Dear Author: B+
All About Romance: B
Smart Bitches, Trashy Books: C
Mrs. Giggles: 84
Romantic Times: 4 ½ stars
Romance Novel TV: 5 stars


2 Responses to “Lucy, you got some ‘splainin’ to do!”

  1. Reader said

    Great review Wanderer! I enjoyed Goddess Of The Hunt too (as I did Surrender of a Siren) and am eagerly awaiting A Lady Of Persuasion. ITA with what you said about Tessa Dare's writing, that's how I felt when I read her short, Legend Of The Werestag (hilarious). Couldn't wait to get my hands on her books after that one.

  2. Wanderer said

    Reader – I haven't read Surrender of a Siren yet but it's definitely near the top of the TBR pile. It's been a long time since I read through a book as fast as I did GotH and I attribute that to Tessa Dare's writing.

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