Friday, June 18, 2010

What I Learned From Tessa Dare's GODDESS OF THE HUNT

The Story

The main story centers on the relationship of the Jeremy Trescott, Earl of Kendall and 19-year-old Lucy Waltham. Jeremy's watched Lucy, the young sister and ward of a close friend,  grow from a young girl of 11 to a young lady. Though Lucy spent most of her teen years infatuated with another of her brother's friends, Toby, she finds herself engaged and married to Jeremy. Suddenly, Lucy finds herself in a privileged world far different from the country life she previously lead.

My Thoughts As a Reader

I struggled with the book initially as it didn't quite follow the path I expected the story to take: I thought the story would follow the courtship between Jeremy and Lucy, but instead Dare chose to take the reader through the relationship post-wedding. This threw me off and I needed to restart the book with the idea that Dare followed a different path than what other writers do. 

I found myself greatly interested in the description of the expectations of behavior for a Countess. All of the people surrounding Lucy expressed very different expectations and she struggled trying to find her own way. On top of her struggling in understanding her new role, Jeremy also found himself in trying to find his way as a husband and Earl. His late father, overly harsh and very unapproachable, left a negative legacy that leaves Jeremy feeling almost overwhelmed as he tries to define his own style of leadership. 

The characters drive the story and pull me through. I root for Lucy's unique take on life and I sympathize with Jeremy as he tries to show his love for her without losing sight of his responsibility to his people. 

Once I realized that Dare writes about relationships in which romance blooms versus romances that relationships grow out of, I inhaled her book and quickly purchased the other two in the series. 

What I Learned As a Writer

Lesson learned? Grow relationships, not just characters.

Lucy, as a ward of her clueless brother, never attended finishing school, never experienced a Season. Left to her own devices, she grew willy nilly and received treatment by all around her as more of a pet than a person. Jeremy, on the other hand, had the father from hell and grew up without a lot of humor.  These two were destined for each other.

Dare never really changes the two characters: Lucy does temper her impulsiveness and Jeremy does loosen up a bit, but that's not the main purpose of her story. Instead, as Lucy and Jeremy adapt to married life, they grow as a couple and begin to complement one another. In the subsequent books, we see the two pretty much the same individually but they're now a couple: Lucy still sparkles with a lively spirit and Jeremy still quietly leads the way.

Am I making sense?

Dare hasn't written a love story of two people who meet and fall in love, she's written a story of two people whose strengths and weaknesses not only complement one another but also improves their relationship. Lucy brings light into Jeremy's life and Jeremy brings a sense of order and decorum to Lucy's. Together, they fit. 

As a writer, I need to not just focus on growing my characters individually, I need to grow their relationships. In real life, relationships grow or they just stop existing. If I truly want my couple to "live happily ever after", I must grow their relationship so that my reader knows the love isn't impulsive or for the moment. 

Thanks, Ms. Dare.


  1. Let me say what a thrill it is to have someone look at my book and analyze it for lessons! Wow. This was my first book. As I wrote it, I felt like I was making every mistake possible. And I did make a lot of mistakes, and some of them were fixed in revisions, and others... Well, we won't talk about them. :)

    There are different types of romantic conflict out there. As you've noted, I tend to write very character-driven romances, giving the hero and heroine personality traits that clash at first, but eventually make them a strong, complementary couple. How can the hero bring out the best in the heroine, and vice versa.

    Well, that's what I try to do, at any rate! I'm glad to hear it worked for you. :) Thanks so much for the post.