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book cover Limecello’s review of The Legend of the Werestag by Tessa Dare
Historical romance released by Samhain Publishing 12 May 09

I’ve been suffering from a reading slump recently (more on that later), but I heard some buzz about this book. A few people I consider to be discerning readers said they enjoyed it, and after bumping into Tessa Dare on Twitter, I was reminded that I wanted to buy this book. So I hied myself off to My Bookstore and More, and made a purchase that I am very happy with. I have to admit, the title gave me pause. A lot of it. However, everything is in the realm of normalcy, and The Legend of the Werestag is a very well written story.

The heroine, Cecily Hale, is very likable. She’s sensible, yet not, warm, real, and is someone you’d want to be friends with. I like that she’s her own person and has experienced growth, yet still harbors a tendre for Luke. I really like that she’s devious, and has a mind of her own. Cecily is able if not willing to move on with her life, but she’s also willing to fight for what she wants. This seems contradictory, but it isn’t. What Cecily does is reasonable, and shows a level of self assurance that is admirable.

Luke is a deliciously tortured romance hero. Perfect for a historical romance, and I really liked getting in his head. It’s nice that he’s not maudlin, and a little selfish. Luke is flawed, but not hopeless. I also like that he’s honest with himself, and can admit that he didn’t love Cecily four years ago. That fact really adds a lot to Luke’s character, in my opinion. It also makes the story more believable. Luke also has some great one-liners, and you have to give points to any hero for that.

I have two admissions to make. First, that Ms. Dare managed to trick me with her book. I thought that something happened, but reading it, was led to believe the situation had played out differently. Only to find out in the end, that I was initially right, but then had completely written off my original thought. Confused? Good. You can and should buy your own copy and read it, to understand. My second confession, is that Ms. Dare saying a part of why she wrote this was because she wanted to use the phrase “felty thatch” intrigued me. I admit, considering the nature of most twitter conversations, I thought it was something very dirty an wanted to know how on earth Ms. Dare could use that in context, with the book actually being as good as everyone said, and not immediately rocketing the story into the realm of patently ridiculous.

I also want to share that I approached this book with an extremely high level of trepidation. While a quick Google search informs me deer/stags are not even in the same order as horses (you know, kingdom, phylum, class, order, family, genus, then species), I was nervous. Werestag implies paranormal shifter, and my friends had recently traumatized me with Mr. Hands. In my mind, there’s a line which paranormal authors should not cross, and that is it. Happily, Ms. Dare does no such thing. In fact, she masterfully addresses the subject of the werestag, and manages to inject just the right amounts of humor and drama.

Ms. Dare’s novel has a nice Gothic feel to it, but at the same time, it’s rather satiric. Like a modernized Northanger Abbey. The tone is lighthearted and engaging, but there’s just enough character angst to give some meat to the story. While it did feel a bit busy and confusing at the start with all the characters, there are only a few of them and easily sorted. I’m wondering if the other characters get their own stories, but I don’t want to jinx myself. (Also, because I think I’ll be biased and always consider Cecily and Luke’s story the best. Other than Denny. Poor Denny does deserve a happy ending.)

The Legend of the Werestag is a really enjoyable and entertaining novella, and definitely worth the $3.50 you pay. I’m so looking forward to Ms. Dare’s upcoming books as well. However, I will say that I didn’t enjoy the story quite as much when I began re-reading it. (Yes, already. I’m a re-reader.) But that’s because I knew the plot twist. The feel of The Legend of the Werestag also reminded me of a murder mystery, which I really liked. I recommend this story to anyone looking for something new, and especially to those who enjoy historical romances. Ms. Dare has an excellent writing style, and it’s something you should experience.

LimecelloGrade: B+

To capture love, sometimes you have to grab it by the horns…
If a woman could die of humiliation, Cecily Hale would have perished three hours ago. Luke Trenton had finally returned to Swinford Manor, only to cruelly spurn her long-held love. But she couldn’t conveniently die of shame on the spot—oh, no. Instead she joined her friends on this ridiculous search for a legendary man-beast. Now she’ll die here—alone in the woods, at the tusks of a snarling boar.
Luke left for war a dashing youth and returned a man—just not the same man Cecily fell in love with. His passion for her is stronger than ever, but the ravages of battle changed him in ways she wouldn’t understand. Pushing her away was supposed to save her, not throw her into the path of another inhuman creature…or into the arms of another man.
For it is a man who rescues Cecily, just as the boar attacks. A mysterious, silent man who disappears into the woods, leaving her with just a glimpse—of a fleeing white deer. Could her rescuer be the man-beast of local lore?
A dangerous myth has captured Cecily’s imagination, putting Luke on the horns of a dilemma. Unless he summons the passion and tenderness to win her back, he could lose her forever…to the Werestag.
Warning: This is a humorous, passionate historical romance, not a paranormal shifter story. However, it does feature a harrowing encounter with a wild beast, a tortured hero who feels half-human, and the unleashing of animal urges. In other words: explicit sex, mild language.
Read an excerpt (scroll down).