I keep mentioning Dreaming of You in other reviews and it is on my overall recommendations list, so it seemed time to reread it and include it here. A classic of the genre originally published in 1994, Dreaming of You is part of the historical romance canon, if such a thing exists. It’s splendid, slightly dated, and Derek Craven is one of the greatest men in the genre. Complicated, brilliant, and intense, he is the supreme up-from-the-gutter hero. He would and did do almost anything he needed to survive and prosper. His heroine is pretty spectacular as well. The reader meets her when thugs are attacking Derek and she shoots one of them in the face.
Seemingly shy and demure, Sara Fielding writes about the underbelly of Victorian London. Her novel about a prostitute named Matilda was a great success and helps earn her the access she needs for her work on the gambling dens that straddle the worlds of the poor and the elite. Saving Derek’s life gains her permission to visit his luxurious gaming establishment for research as long as she stays out of his way. She doesn’t. She is brave, kind, and quietly relentless in both her literary pursuits and in encouraging Derek to allow himself to share his life with her. In coming together, neither one in any way compromises who they are, rather they are able to come more fully into themselves and fit together.
Dreaming of You has everything: a tortured hero; the reformation of a rake; opposites attracting; a wallflower who becomes a victim of circumstance; self-made characters defying society to enter its upper echelons; and an absolute bitch of a villain. Kleypas is able to balance it, ALL OF IT, because of the sincere love story and her, as always, exceptional smolder. I don’t care if elements are dated (in my pretentious moments I wonder if this novel marks a transition for old school to new school romance), I adore the love story and cannot endorse the novel highly enough.
Dreaming of You has a follow-up novella called Against the Odds which is mostly about Derek and Sara’s daughter, but let’s be honest, one only reads it for a chance to revisit two favourite characters. It does not disappoint.
Lisa Kleypas specializes in sardonic self-made men. Below is a list of the books from her catalogue that I recommend the most highly:
Where Dreams Begin
Lady Sophia’s Lover
Again the Magic – for the secondary plot, actually
Secrets of a Summer Night
The Devil in Winter – CLASSIC, also part of the romance canon
Tempt Me at Twilight
Love in the Afternoon
Smooth Talking Stranger
The (Shameful) Tally 2014 and links to my other reviews.