Goddess of the Hunt (Wanton Dairymaid Trilogy #1)

Goddess of the Hunt (Wanton Dairymaid Trilogy #1)

by Tessa Dare

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780345515117
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 07/28/2009
Series: Wanton Dairymaid Trilogy Series , #1
Sold by: Random House
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 384
Sales rank: 33,447
File size: 4 MB

About the Author

Tessa Dare is a part-time librarian, full-time mommy, and swing-shift writer. She makes her home in Southern California, where she shares a cozy, cluttered bungalow with her husband, their two children, and a dog.

From the Paperback edition.

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

Autumn, 1817

A knock on the door in the dead of night could only mean disaster.

Jeremy pulled a pair of worn breeches on under his nightshirt and stumbled toward the bedchamber door. A fire? He didn’t smell smoke. Perhaps a Waltham family emergency? An urgent message from his steward, maybe—unrest at Corbinsdale would not come as a surprise.

A memory assailed him, unbidden. Unnerving. His heart thudded wildly in his chest. He paused, clutching the door handle, cursing his body for recalling so quickly what he’d worked long years to forget.

Logic caught up to his racing pulse, reining it in. The dim glow of banked coals cast ominous shadows, but Jeremy forced the room into focus. This was not that night. He was in his usual bedchamber at Waltham Manor, not wandering Corbinsdale Woods. More than twenty years had passed, and he was no longer a boy. Whatever surprise awaited him on the other side of the door, he was fully equipped to face it.

When he slid back the rusted bolt and wrenched open the door, Jeremy was prepared for the worst.

“Hold still,” came the whispered command.

He had an instant to register a feminine silhouette, a tangle of dark curls, and two hands grasping his shoulders. Then Lucy Waltham, the younger sister of his oldest friend, popped up on her toes and pressed her lips to his with such force, he stumbled against the doorjamb.

Good Lord. The girl was kissing him.

Well, he thought ironically, he’d been prepared for the worst. And of the many kisses Jeremy Trescott had experienced in his nine-and-twenty years, this was, undoubtedly, the worst.

Lucy kissed with her lips perfectly puckered and her eyes open wide. And if she lacked in finesse, she compensated with bold enthusiasm. Her hands were everywhere at once—tangling in his hair, skimming his shoulders, exploring the broad expanse of his chest.

This wasn’t a kiss. It was a siege.

Furthermore, it was incomprehensible, wholly illogical, and a dozen different shades of wrong.

Somehow Jeremy’s hands found their way to her elbows, and he wrested himself from her eager embrace. “Lucy! What the devil do you think you’re doing?”

“Shhhh.” Her eyes darted to either side, scanning the darkened corridor. Then her gaze tilted back up to his, narrowing with a disturbing intensity, and Jeremy fancied briefly—absurdly—that someone had painted a target on his face.

“I’m practicing,” she whispered, her fingers tightening over his arms. “Let me try one more time.”

She swooped up for another kiss, and he instinctively ducked, pulling her into the room and shutting the door behind them. In a more rational moment, it might have occurred to him that the impropriety of kissing his host’s sister in the corridor would only be compounded by yanking her into his bedchamber. But Jeremy’s faculties of reason had temporarily vacated Waltham Manor.

Lucy had, quite literally, kissed him witless.

“Did it work, then?”

He stared at her, mute with confusion. Did what work? At the moment, it seemed that nothing worked, least of all his brain. Shock had frozen his limbs. He certainly couldn’t force an answer from his lips.

Stepping back, she crossed her arms over her crimson velvet dressing gown and surveyed his form boldly. As her gaze traveled downward, Jeremy grew uncomfortably aware of his own dishabille, from nightshirt to worn breeches to bare feet.

A satisfied smile spread across her face. “It must have worked. You did pull me into your bedchamber.” She reached for the door handle. “Very well, Jemmy. I suppose that’s enough practice. I’ll see you at breakfast.”

She cracked open the door. Jeremy put out a hand and slammed it shut.

Shooting him a glare, she grasped the handle with both hands and tugged. “I beg your pardon. I’ll be on my way, then.”

“No, you won’t.” He leaned his weight on the door, effectively bolting it closed. Lucy might be used to flouting her brother’s half-hearted attempts at guardianship, but Jeremy had four inches and two stone on Henry Waltham, not to mention an iron will. Lucy did not walk all over him.

He mustered his most autocratic, Earl-of-Kendall tone. “You are not going anywhere. You’re going to sit down and explain yourself.” She opened her mouth to object. He grabbed her by the elbow and steered her toward a chair. “But first,” he said, “I am going to have a drink.”

She stopped struggling under his grip and dropped gracelessly into the chair. “A drink,” she repeated. “Why didn’t I think of that? A drink would be just the thing, thank you.”

Shaking his head, Jeremy strode to the bar and poured a single glass of whiskey. He downed half the liquor in one greedy swallow, closing his eyes to savor the burn spreading down his throat. When he opened them again, he looked around to assure himself this was, indeed, the same Waltham Manor he’d been visiting each autumn since Cambridge. Roughhewn beams scored the sloping ceiling. Muted tapestries covered the walls, and an unfussy, timeworn carpet obliged his bare feet. The room had not altered in the past eight years, any more than it likely had in the past one hundred.

In decor, in landscape, in the quartet of old friends enjoying their annual sporting holiday—Waltham Manor had remained a welcome constant in Jeremy’s life. Until this year, when everything had changed.

“Why couldn’t everything just go on as it was?” Lucy stirred the fire with a poker, sending swirls of agitated sparks into the air. “Why did Felix have to go and get married? He’s ruined everything.”

Jeremy drowned his reply with a sip of his drink. He would not have admitted it, but he rather agreed.

“It was all right when Henry got married,” she continued. “Marianne’s so busy with the children, at least she stays out of the way. But that shrew Felix married is going to expect to be entertained. And to make it all worse, she’s brought along her sister, that Sophia.”

“Mrs. Crowley-Cumberbatch and Miss Hathaway are, by all accounts, charming young ladies. One would think you’d be glad of their company.”

She threw him an incredulous look.

“Or not.” Truth be told, Jeremy wasn’t glad of their presence, either. There was nothing precisely offensive about Felix’s wife, Kitty, or her sister, Sophia. To the contrary, Sophia Hathaway was the epitome of an inoffensive, well-bred society beauty. A bit of meringue— insubstantial, but pleasing enough, if one’s tastes ran to sweet. As Toby’s apparently did.

Jeremy tossed back another swallow of whiskey and tasted the irony. Henry and Felix married, Toby on the verge . . . their bachelor’s retreat had become a family house party. Well, if all his friends were determined to shackle themselves in marriage, at least he would be in no imminent danger of joining them. All three ladies at Waltham Manor were safely accounted for.

The sound of fingers drumming wood interrupted his thoughts. “Do you intend to drink the whole bottle yourself?”

Unless, of course, one counted Lucy.

And he did not count Lucy. She was neither eligible nor a lady. She was Henry’s much younger sister and ward, and she was Jeremy’s personal version of a biblical plague. She’d spent years devising ways to get under his skin. Now she was charging into his bedchamber and . . . and practicing.

Much as he wished to erase that kiss from his memory, he couldn’t ignore it. Neither could he ignore the obvious implications of that word, “practicing.”

He could, however, ignore her request for a drink. Jer?emy refilled his own glass and carried it toward the hearth, dropping into the chair opposite hers. Raking a hand through his hair, he exhaled slowly. “I don’t like to ask this. I dread your response. But for what, exactly, are you practicing?”

“Not ‘what,’?” she answered. “Who.”

Oh, it only got worse. “For whom are you practicing, then? Some local youth? The vicar’s boy?”

“For Toby, of course.”

He gave a wry laugh. “For Toby? Why would you be kissing Toby? He’s all but engaged to Miss Hathaway.”

She hugged her knees to her chest, curling into a ball of red velvet and chestnut curls. The chair’s masculine proportions dwarfed her, and her green eyes brimmed with raw, undisguised hurt. “Then it’s true.”

Bloody hell. Suddenly this bizarre nighttime visit made sense. Jeremy punched the arm of his chair. Of all the irretrievably stupid things to say.

“My maid said she heard it from Toby’s valet. I didn’t want to believe her. I couldn’t believe her. But it’s true.”

Jeremy had to look away. It was a matter of self-preservation. Lucy’s countenance was a collection of pixie features set within a heart-shaped face—a face designed to display, unfiltered, every emotion of the heart within. One couldn’t look at her without knowing exactly how she was feeling, and Jeremy didn’t wish to know how Lucy was feeling. He preferred to keep a respectful distance from even his own emotions.

“How could he?” she squeaked.

Jeremy winced. Lucy sniffed loudly, and he took another slow sip of whiskey. She could not cry, he wanted to remind her. That was the rule—Henry’s single exercise in authority. He’d allowed the chit to run rough?shod over them every autumn, tagging along on their hunting and fishing excursions, parroting their curses, even taking nips off their flasks—under one condition. Lucy was not to cry. In eight years, he had never seen her shed a single tear. He prayed she wasn’t about to start now. If there was one thing he couldn’t abide, it was a crying woman.

He stole a glance at her. Damn it, her chin was quivering. “You’re not going to start weeping, are you?”

“No.” Her voice quivered, too.

Jeremy busied himself adding wood to the fire, stall?ing for time.

Curse Toby. This was all his fault. He’d always made such a pet of the girl. Every autumn, Lucy clung to Toby like a tick on a hound. He baited her hooks and taught her bawdy Latin conjugations. He brought her flowers and wove her crowns of ivy that went straight to her head. His Diana, Toby called her. Goddess of the hunt.

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Goddess of the Hunt 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 75 reviews.
srbSH More than 1 year ago
Lucinda (Lucy) Waltham has been the little sister to her brothers and their hunting friends for ten years, tagging after them in fields and streams, getting into scrapes, teasing, showing off her marksmanship with a bow and arrow, etc. She's never had a London debut, but is content with living in the country at Waltham Manor until life starts changing: her two brothers have married; her aged aunt is wandering about; and now she's fallen in love with the handsome Sir Toby who has always been charming and sweet to her. But Toby is taken with the very proper heiress Miss Sophia Hathaway who has come to visit, and Lucy wants to seduce him before he proposes. Her impulsive late-night plans to 'practice' seduction on the handsome Jeremy Trescott have unexpected results for both of them. In the course of their quick marriage and move to Jeremy's home, they face and overcome many hurdles, many of which are Jeremy's (his coldness, the tenants who hate him, etc.). But their deep love conquers all. A most enjoyable first novel of a trilogy of romantic heroines.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It started out awesome but the last three chapters were hard to finish.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I didn't want the story to end and I couldn't wait to read Tessa Dare's next book!
honeylips More than 1 year ago
I really loved the main male character in this story he was intense. The female character was interesting also. Overall it was a very enjoyable book.
flemmily on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is the best of the trilogy. It's a little quirky and the characters have more emotional authenticity. It starts strong but finishes a little weak and meandering.
doxiemomx2 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Tessa Dare is an excellent writer. She has a wonderful lyrical flair with language. I liked this book a lot. Good characters, interesting story. The misunderstanding were a little stretched out.
butterflybaby on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I'm a sucker for romance novels. The cheesey male adoration, and unquestionable attractiveness. I just couldn't put the book down once I started it. I couldn't get enough, in my opinion the hero is always the best written character in a romance novel. He always ends up worming his way into your heart by the end.
allthesedarnbooks on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This historical romance is mostly good, but not great. Dare shows a lot of promise. The characters are well-drawn, in spite of being somewhat cliched. The heroine, Lucy, is a young tomboy, and the hero, Jeremy, an older friend of her brother's who suddenly sees her as the woman she has become. The first half of the book, in spite of the familiar premise, is pretty good. The relationship develops realistically, and the two main characters are both likable, and the sexuality is pretty steamy. The second half of the book devolves, however, as the conflict that separates the now married couple appears. Their problems are nothing that wouldn't be cured by the smallest attempt at communication, and for the last two hundred pages or so, I was practically yelling aloud at them to just talk to each other already, for Pete's sake! I liked it enough that I will probably read more by Ms. Dare, in the hopes that her storytelling abilities will rise to the level of her style. Three stars.
Sugarbeat on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Tomboy Lucy Waltham has imagined herself in love with her older brother¿s friend, Sir Toby ,since she was 11 years old and he crowned her ¿Diana, Goddess of the Hunt¿ with a crown of ivy. Like many younger sisters, she bidded her time until she was older and the object of her affections would take her seriously. Our story starts 8 years later when Lucy is all grown and her brother and his friends arrive for their annual hunt. For the first time, Sir Toby is interested in another woman. The gossip is, that Sir Toby is going to ask this other woman to marry him. Lucy feels she has no option but to seduce him before he becomes engaged. She has a instructional book, but no practical knowledge. So she turns to her brother¿s friend, Jeremy Trescott, Earl of Kendall, to practice kissing and other seduction techniques.Jeremy has always treasured his visits to Waltham Manor and his time with his friends. He has grown up in a home where his parents show no love for him or each other and because of this he has shut his emotions off. The only person who has been able to get a rise out of him over the years has been Lucy. Imagine his surprise when he opens his bedroom door one evening to a kiss from Lucy followed by the request to help her practice seduction techniques.The story that follows leaps from the pages. The characters are wonderfully written. I can absolutely imagine Lucy as a tag along little sister, trying desperately to be taken seriously. This book is a ¿fall in love with brother¿s best friend¿ story, but no where is it mundane or seemingly following a formula.I found the following review on Amazon and it sums up my feelings of this book. ¿Every year there seems to be one debut author who bursts upon the scene and absolutely knocks my socks off with her superb writing skill. This year, that author is Tessa Dare. ...Dare showcases her command of the English language with exquisite prose that sings across the pages with a lyrical quality that is a joy to read. Her characters are so vividly drawn that they practically leap from the pages and her story unerringly hits all the right notes.¿Tessa Dare is a relatively new author, with Goddess of the Hunt being her first book. It was well received and reviewed.I also, am looking forward to reading not only the next books in this series, but some of the other books she has written. She is currently on my 'must buy' list! Look for reviews of the rest of this series!
kayceel on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This was sexy and sweet, though I certainly tire of the romance novels (like this one) which gallop along, man and woman lusting merrily into marriage (often as a result of compromising situations, but, hey, whaddya do?), then suddenly running into a problem that makes them ignore each other while secretly longing for the other.I did rather like both the heroine and hero, as the woman is strong, independent and feisty and the guy is strong, handsome and a bit brooding (oh, and RICH). It's also sweet and quite sexy! Yum!
readinggeek451 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
An emotionally wounded hero, a hoydenish young woman who thinks she's in love with someone else, entirely too much sex to be plausible for the period--haven't we all read this book before?This has it's moments, but it just didn't engage me.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Thoroughly enjoyable! Could not put it down! A keeper! On to the next in the series! LORRAINE
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I had a tough time with this book which is unusual for me with a book of Tessa Dares. It was a real struggle with this one. The main character is self centered, annoying, and lacking in common sense which made for a lot of uncomfortable scenes. She did get a little less annoying towards the end of the book but too little too late for me to want to continue this series
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Good book
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Enjoyed every word.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Loved the writing style. This is a new author for me & i will be reading more!
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Truly one of the best written Regency Romances around! Lucy was an absolute firecracker. And Jeremy had to have been one if the sweetest heroes around. So stern and cold on the outside, but so needing of Lucy's warmth and vitality. Really touching and fine in the end. Well done Ms. Dare!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved this story. Loved!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Loved this book from the first chapter; The characters were all delightful. A fun read.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was ok. In the beginning there are so many new characters its kind of hard to keep track of them all. I started to love it toward the middle but then toward the end it kind of lost me again. I like reading books more about romance, whereas this was a little more sad at parts. I couldn't wait for the happy ending.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago