Lucy Waltham is an orphan who is under the guardianship of her older brother, Henry. Henry adores her, but admittedly has no clue on how to raise a proper young lady. So instead of playing piano, learning to paint, and any other myriad of useless Regency female endeavors, she's tagging along with Henry and his friends while they ride, shoot, and traipse through the woods. Having never had a season, where she could fall in and out of love with a bevy of potential suitors, Lucy latches on to Henry's friend Toby. She's hopelessly in love with him. The problem being that Toby, having left a string of broken hearts along the way, is going to propose any day now to Miss Sophia Hathaway. Well Lucy just cannot have that! She's going to have to practice her feminine wiles on some other poor helpless schmuck so she can learn to effectively seduce Toby.
Jeremy Trescott, the Earl of Kendall, is more than a little surprised when Lucy launches herself into his arms and plants a very ardent, but frankly terrible, kiss on his lips. Not exactly what he expected when he opened his bedroom door in the dead of night. He's never thought of Lucy as more than his best friend's little sister, and now with that kiss, he's thinking about her in a whole different light. However, the chit fancies herself in love with Toby. He tries to reason with her, but Lucy is nothing if not headstrong and mule-headed. Oh well. He's just going to have to keep an eye on her, won't he?
Goddess Of The Hunt is the type of book that requires patience on the part of the reader. I wouldn't necessarily call Lucy too-stupid-to-live, but she's young and very immature. Reading about Lucy is like looking back on your own impetuous teenage self. You know, when you fancied yourself in lurve with that handsome boy in your algebra class, yet he didn't know you existed because he was mooning over the snotty, blonde, popular cheerleader who had bigger boobs than you did. Of course you eventually realize you're not in love with algebra boy at all, it's just puppy love, an infatuation. And that's what Lucy must learn about Toby. In the meantime, the reader has to wait for her to learn it, and it takes the first half the book.
It's also during the first half that Lucy, and the reader, is falling under the spell of the aloof, borderline chilly, Jeremy. A man who has kept his distance in all personal affairs, and who Lucy has always seen as a cold fish, practically incapable of love. Not true of course. Like all good, solid, romance heroes, the poor guy has a fair amount of personal baggage he's failed to address. Lucy, with all her impetuous, improper, and unladylike behavior, sinks this guy so fast that he has no idea what has hit him.
This is honestly a second half book for me. Lucy, while not stupid, is definitely young - and the older I get, the harder it is to read about "young" heroines. It's too easy for me to want to smack them, even if I can totally "get" where they are coming from. Where this book really begins to cook for me is when Jeremy has to make a decision about Lucy. Should he just leave her to fend for herself, or damn it all the Hell, should he do what he desperately wants to do, and never let her out of his sight again?
There was a lot I liked here. I liked that Jeremy didn't sugarcoat the truth to Lucy in regards to Toby's plans and affections. I liked that in the latter half of the story, the shoe is on the other foot and Lucy is calling Jeremy out. I liked the fact that here were two characters who had no intention or desire to fall for each other - but they do anyway. In part because of circumstances that throw them together, and part because they're perfect for each other. If anything, the only fault I find with this story was I wanted a lot more of what I got in the second half and less time devoted to Lucy's girlish infatuation with some other guy. But, quibbles. This was an excellent debut novel, that was an enjoyable read once I got past my own
Final Grade = B