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REVIEW: Goddess of the Hunt by Tessa Dare

Dear Ms. Dare:

I would not have read this book had it not been for the April Fool’s Day joke that led to my getting a copy of Legend of a Werestag in my inbox. Legend of a Werestag is a novella you published through Samhain and your writing in that novella made me hungry for a full length novel which you so conveniently were able to provide to me shortly after I finished LofaW.

The covers for the series and the blurbs made the stories inside seem very ordinary when, in fact, the writing is exquisite. This book doesn’t have a unique setting. Lucy and Jeremy meet and spend most of their time in pastoral England. This book doesn’t have unique characters. Jeremy is an Earl and Lucy is the daughter of the gentry.

It’s a romance and so the plot is terribly unique either.   But that is what makes the book so wonderful. It takes familiar characters and a familiar plot and delivers a story that reads like its fresher than morning dew on the grass. (It’s that too trite? I’m not terribly good at the simile).   Frankly I think the best recommendation is the excerpt because a small snippet can’t really describe the deftness of the writing.

Lucy Waltham has had an infatuation for Sir Toby Aldridge for as long as she can remember, an infatuation fostered by Toby and overlooked by her guardian and brother, Henry. Toby has all but engaged himself to Sophia Hathaway, a dark haired exotic girl that Lucy might have liked in another life-one that didn’t involve the words Toby and Sophia being used in the same breath. Lucy childishly decides that Toby must love her because she loves him but he has just not awoken to that fact. She decides she will seduce Toby but as she has never seduced any one, she must gain some practice.

Fortunately, Jeremy Trescott, the newly minted Earl of Kendall, is present at her home to be her test subject. She has no romantic designs on her friend but she can’t very well practice her wiles on her brother or the object of her seduction. Of course, Lucy is up front with Jeremy.

Jeremy doesn’t view Lucy in a romantic way initially, but he does love her as a sister and doesn’t want to see her hurt. Toby can’t marry Lucy as she has no money and Sophia does. It’s perfectly clear to Jeremy that Lucy’s pursuit of Toby will only end badly. What’s worse is that Lucy is attempting to suppress the very traits that make her Lucy, in order to win Toby’s attention.

Jeremy intentionally interferes with each attempt of Lucy’s to flirt with Toby, placing the two of them in closer and more intimate proximity until Lucy’s shenanigans end up landing her in a pickle. Lucy’s brashness affected not only her but those around here. You can see her maturation as she sees her responses to Jeremy having depth that was not present with her crush on Toby.   There’s a great scene toward the end of the book when Lucy gains a true understanding of having responsibility, of growing up.

Lucy’s immaturity is not totally her fault. Her brother Henry had the raising of her and while he did the best he could, Lucy was allowed to run free in the country. Henry’s way of parenting was the path of least resistance. So long as Lucy didn’t cry, she could do about anything she wanted. It’s hard to have self control under those circumstances. Jeremy suffered from neglect as well, but it wasn’t careless like Lucy’s upbringing but intentional. A childhood deed turned his father from him, his mother into a basketcase, and forced Jeremy to learn to live without love.

I really adored Lucy. She was irrepressible and full of joy. She ate with gusto, pursued what she thought was her dream shamelessly, loved with a big heart. Everything about her was expansive, inclusive, and bright. Jeremy plays the dark straight man and does it well. His childhood was full of bitterness, neglect, and guilt. Jeremy needs Lucy’s light and Lucy needs Jeremy’s gravitas. They truly were a perfect match. B+

Best regards,

Jane

This book can be purchased at Amazon, Barnes and Noble or in ebook format from Sony or other etailers.

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com

28 Comments

  1. Louisa Edwards
    Jul 28, 2009 @ 15:11:26

    I cannot wait to read this book! It sounds like exactly the sort of historical I adore.

  2. Maureen McGowan
    Jul 28, 2009 @ 15:20:31

    I read the excerpt from the booklet handed out during Ms. Dare’s workshop at RWA Nationals and if it continues as great as it starts, this will be a fabulous, fresh read.

  3. hapax
    Jul 28, 2009 @ 15:48:34

    Oh, my. This sounds like just my sort of book — two people that I am happy to have in my head, who are even better together than apart.

    I shall look for this one.

  4. Jane O
    Jul 28, 2009 @ 15:57:43

    Sounds like a terrific book. I LOVE books that rely on writing and character rather than bizarre contrivances and idiotic behavior to create a story.

  5. Kalen Hughes
    Jul 28, 2009 @ 16:15:12

    I read the original draft a while ago after judging a partial in a contest. It was amazing (fantastic voice). I can’t wait to see the final version!

  6. katiebabs
    Jul 28, 2009 @ 16:59:55

    I can’t wait for the next two books from Tessa. She is one author to keep your eye on.

  7. kirsten saell
    Jul 28, 2009 @ 17:21:32

    I want this book, went to buy it from Sony, and lo and behold, it’s yet another “U.S. only” title. Why why why do they do this? This just pisses me off to no end. Makes me not want to buy another book from Ballantine. Idiots.

  8. Anonymous
    Jul 28, 2009 @ 18:22:34

    Kirsten, it’s not Ballantine’s fault if no foreign publisher has picked up the rights.

  9. anon
    Jul 28, 2009 @ 19:48:32

    The first steps in winning me over, a good review and an attractive cover. She has a face! I hope this means we’re moving in the direction of no more headless covers. I hate those with undying passion.

  10. Kaetrin
    Jul 28, 2009 @ 20:03:26

    @ Jane

    What is the sensuality level of this book?

  11. Lynz
    Jul 28, 2009 @ 20:10:17

    I managed to get digital ARCs of Goddess of the Hunt, as well as Siren of a Siren, back in May in fell in love right off the bat. I’ve finally received an ARC of A Lady of Persuasion and can’t wait to read it, too. I always love it when a series comes out so quickly – three books in three months is enough to make me a very, very happy girl.

    I think you’re right in that what makes this book work is the writing. If Dare’s voice wasn’t so strong, it would be rather stereotypical, and probably somewhat boring. But the way she brings her characters to life makes the novel soar. (And the sex is HOT, which is, of course, the most important part. Who cares about emotions and growth when there’s hot sex to be had?)

    Btw, you spelt “angst” wrong in the tags.

  12. Jane
    Jul 28, 2009 @ 21:16:59

    @Kaetrin: There are two sex scenes and both are explicit.

  13. Babs
    Jul 29, 2009 @ 02:16:09

    I was lucky enough to receive an ARC of this title — I highly highly recommend it. One of the best things is the humor and wit…honestly, the characters are vastly entertaining and you will laugh while you fall in love with them and then root for them to sort it all out!

  14. Jessica
    Jul 29, 2009 @ 05:54:01

    Yes, the cover is ordinary, but I’m chiming in to say I prefer this ordinary cover to the ordinary clinch cover. Thanks for the review — this is (yet another) an author I will have to check out!

  15. Cathy
    Jul 29, 2009 @ 07:03:27

    I downloaded this yesterday, but decided to start Written on Your Skin first. I will hopefully get to Goddess this weekend. So many good books, so little reading time!

  16. Julia Quinn
    Jul 29, 2009 @ 10:18:16

    This issue of foreign digital rights is a complicated one. For example two of my books (and only two) currently cannot be (legally) downloaded outside the US and Canada. This is getting addressed and they’ll be available soon, but it has to do with the various ways that English language rights can be structured in a contract.

    In general, the author can grant the US publisher three types of rights: World; US, Canada, Overseas Markets; and World English.

    World means that the publisher has the translation rights and then goes out and sells those to other markets. The publisher also has the right to sell the English language rights to other English language markets (generally the UK, occasionally Ausralia/NZ).

    World English means that the publisher has the world English rights as outlined above but not the translation rights.

    USCOM is the most restrictive. In that case the publisher has the right to sell your books (in their edition) in the US, Canada, and basically anywhere else in the world that would like to sell imported US editions.

    Now here is where it gets complicated. If the publisher has USCOM, they can sell their editions (including, presumably, digital, although I can certainly imagine that there could be contracts structured not to allow this) around the world unless and until the author/agent sells other English rights. Then the UK publisher may insist upon digital rights for their market. In which case, the US publisher has to stop selling them outside of their designated areas.

    Or you may have it structured so that the US publisher retains the digital rights worldwide even as they/the author grant printed English rights to a UK publisher.

    What happened with me is that two of my books were released in the UK on a different type of contract than the rest, and the digital rights were given to my UK publisher. Except they never released them digitally (frankly, I think it just wasn’t on their radar, chances are they never even realized they had the digital rights since they didn’t have them for any other of my books). So everyone in the UK was out of luck. Once we realized what happened, we set the ball rolling to rectify the situation, and now those ebooks will be available but you have to get them through my UK pub.

    Oh, and I read Tessa’s first two books—I think she’s just wonderful.

    JQ

  17. kirsten saell
    Jul 29, 2009 @ 10:22:38

    Kirsten, it's not Ballantine's fault if no foreign publisher has picked up the rights.

    I had this problem with Beyond Heaving Bosoms–even though the hard copy was available in Canada, the ebook wasn’t.

    I’m sorry but it’s ridiculous. Digital rights ought to be negotiated worldwide.

  18. Ashwinder
    Jul 29, 2009 @ 14:57:30

    I had this problem with Beyond Heaving Bosoms-even though the hard copy was available in Canada, the ebook wasn't.

    I live in Canada and I was able to download it from Books on Board.

  19. Trish
    Jul 29, 2009 @ 15:22:28

    I am soooo excited about this trilogy and I love the covers. In addition to the B+ here, the book has also garnered starred reviews at both Publisher’s Weekly and the Library Journal and 4 1/2 stars at Romantic Times. Can’t wait to read it . . .

  20. Rachel
    Jul 30, 2009 @ 02:49:35

    Hi – I live in teh UK and I’ve been able to download from Diesel ebooks (often the way where BoB & FW don’t allow it). So pleased, now I can take it away on holiday – just missing Eloisa James’ A Duke of Her Own now which doesn’t seem to have a digital edition at all.

  21. SonomaLass
    Jul 30, 2009 @ 08:51:35

    I’m not reading the review yet, b/c I decided to try letting this book be as much of a surprise as possible. I really liked The Legend of the Werestag (thanks again, Jane, for the introduction), so I knew I would buy Tessa’s first full-length book. I decided to experiment with the blinders/no spoilers approach, apropos of recent discussions on the subject, since although I had heard a lot of advance buzz on this book, none of it was specific about plot or characters.

    I’m fascinated by the digital rights discussion, though, and I appreciate the clarification Julia Quinn provided (Julia IS the best name in the world, btw). This is a frustrating subject for the overseas readers I know, and not just in the romance genre.

  22. votermom
    Aug 11, 2009 @ 09:45:54

    I liked this overall, specially Jeremy’s POV, but I think it went on too long. The misunderstandings and random sulking towards the end were tiresome, imo.

  23. GrowlyCub
    Aug 16, 2009 @ 12:27:31

    I really like the cover.

    I also liked the book when I read it yesterday. It wasn’t fabulous, but it didn’t annoy me like the Duran I finished today. Probably a B overall, though there were bits and pieces that *really* worked for me and if it had been that good throughout it would have gotten a higher grade. I did laugh out loud several times, which doesn’t happen very often and is usually something I do not want from my romance reading, but it worked for this book.

    I’m curious about the next one in the trilogy, but turned off by the blurb for the third since I dislike revenge plots. Also disappointed a bit for 2, because I thought there was plenty to work with between S and T and it would have been interesting to see them make a relationship work.

    I went to buy LoaW at Fictionwise because I liked GotH and I have microrebate money available, but they don’t sell it. So, no sale. :(

  24. SonomaLass
    Aug 19, 2009 @ 16:29:22

    Can’t believe I’m just now getting around to commenting on this! I enjoyed GotH very much — like others, I enjoy Tessa’s voice, and I found a freshness in a lot of the standard romance elements. I enjoyed Lucy a lot as a heroine, and I appreciated how she grew and learned without caving in or losing her essential self. Tessa does excellent characterization, and I really enjoy the depth with which both characters reflect on their actions and feelings, without it feeling ego-centric or getting dull.

    I’m eager for the sequel, although the preview chapter was a little disappointing for me, too. I kinda like Toby….

  25. SonomaLass
    Aug 19, 2009 @ 19:48:03

    Oh, and I forgot to say that I also LOVE these covers! Look, Lucy has a HEAD, and her hair is the right color, and the focus is on her face, not some other objectified portion of her anatomy. And there they are as a couple, in the lower picture. Which, BTW, could be a Pride and Prejudice cover, and in my mind there’s no higher praise.

    So excited for SoaS next week!!!

  26. raine
    Sep 01, 2009 @ 07:48:38

    loved this book, read it in one sitting.. three hours tops :)

  27. LaurieF
    Sep 07, 2009 @ 11:26:21

    Was a DNF. I know, shocking, after seeing all the reviews I bought it, read half the book and put it down. Lucy…. I found cringe worthy. I thought she was childish and selfish. No matter what I read I have to really like the heroine (too a much lesser extent the hero) and I didn’t like Lucy at all. I was not drawn into the world created by Ms.Dare. I cancelled my order for book 2 in the trilogy. Maybe too much of a build up …. but who knows? Didn’t work for me.

  28. Lucy, you got some ’splainin’ to do! « The Scarlet Corset
    Oct 14, 2009 @ 21:36:28

    […] 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 […]

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