9 Rated Books Book Reviews

Lisa Kleypas Week – Book Review: Dreaming of You

Title: Dreaming of You

Author: Lisa Kleypas

Genre: Historical Romance

Stand Alone or Series: Can be read as a stand alone, although is a sequel of Then Came You, following different main characters

Why did I read this book: After reading and really enjoying the first book, Ana encouraged me to try this sequel. For months it sat on my TBR shelf, until we decided to do a Lisa Kleypas appreciation week, and I had run out of stalling excuses!

Summary: (from amazon.com)
In the shelter of her country cottage, Sara Feilding puts pen to paper to create dreams. But curiosity has enticed the prim, well-bred gentlewoman out of her safe haven—and into Derek Craven’s dangerous world.

A handsome, tough and tenacious Cockney, he rose from, poverty to become lord of London’s most exclusive gambling house—a struggle that has left Derek Craven fabulously wealthy, but hardened and suspicious. And now duty demands he allow Sara Fielding into his world—with her impeccable manners and her infuriating innocence. But here, in a perilous shadow-realm of ever-shifting fortunes, even a proper “mouse” can be transformed into a breathtaking enchantress—and a world-weary gambler can be shaken to his cynical core by the power of passion. . .and the promise of love.


As Ana can testify, I am not a romantic reader at heart. I love romantic themes and a large side serving of it with my books, but it’s not really my element. So, it was with some reluctance that I read some of Ana’s suggestions. I had read some of Lisa Kleypas’s other works–the Wallflowers series, Sugar Daddy, and finally the prequel Then Came You–and loved them. But considering the “classic” label on this historical romance, and keeping in mind some of my less than completely enamored forays into the genre, I put off reading this novel. When we landed an interview with Ms. Kleypas, however, I decided that it was finally time to take this book off the shelf, peel off that Borders price tag, and get reading.

And wouldn’t you know it–I loved this book. Move over Dain, Lord of Scoundrels of Loretta Chase’s classic titled novel–you’ve got some serious competition with Derek Craven.

Sara Fielding is a sensible woman. From her sheltered country life, she lives vicariously through the characters she writes about–for Sara also is none other than S R Fielding, noted popular author. Her next book project is to be set in a gambling hall, and her extensive research takes her to the most well-renowned social club in London–and home to the infamous blackguard owner, Derek Craven. The story opens with Sara frantically scribbling away in her notebook, on a dark street outside of the club. Derek steps outside and notices the small woman by herself in the area and snickers to himself that she must be some kind of fool to be out alone in this neighborhood, especially as the hour grows late. And then, he is attacked by unknown assailants. Outnumbered, Derek’s face is slashed by one of his attackers. Sara notices the commotion and fears that the attackers mean to kill the unknown man in the street, and she produces a pistol, aiming a wide warning shot to entice the men to leave. Sara’s warning shot, however, strikes home and she kills the knife wielding assailant, shot dead in the throat. Shocked and racked by guilt, Sara still hastily makes her way to help the attacked man, trying to stop his bleeding face with her handkerchief. Derek, dazed, tells her to stop her ministrations and get him inside Craven’s. The two make it inside the club, and Sara learns that the man whose life she has just saved is none other than the man she has been anxious to meet firsthand. In return for her services, Derek scowls and offers her monetary compensation, but Sara refuses. Instead, she asks to be able to observe the club first hand, in research for her book. Derek refuses, but his Factotum Worthy takes a liking to Sara and encourages her to come back the next day so he can show her around.

And thus, Sara and Derek’s fates are intertwined.

At first glance, this seems to be another sweet Regency Romance novel, where a jaded hero from shady beginnings becomes saved by the love of an innocent, kindhearted woman. To a certain extent this is true–Derek Craven is bitter, afraid of emotions, and revels in the fact that blue-blooded women will eagerly take him into their beds while he grows ever richer from the aristocratic men that frequent his club. Similarly, Sara Fielding is sensible and empathetic; she treats everyone–from cooks to house wenches–with the utmost courtesy, and is actually a beautiful woman underneath her high necked dresses and spectacles. Derek craves and loathes acceptance; he feels that he does not deserve the love of anyone especially with his dark past. Sara offers all that she is without artifice, and despite her simple, sheltered life, craves the danger and adventure that she writes of in her books. Of course these two characters are destined to find everything they need in each other.

Granted, the story is an old one. But it would be doing Dreaming of You a gross disservice to summarily dismiss this novel as such. No–this is one of those books that has “IT”. You know, the thing. The one that makes you smile, holds you captive, both frantically eager to rush through the story and yet desperately fearing the sorrow you will feel once you finish that last final sentence. There is a reason why Dreaming of You is in so many top ten romance novels lists–it really is that good.

Ms. Kleypas’s writing is flawless–while Loretta Chase’s Lord of Scoundrels still holds the top spot in my heart as favorite romance novel, Ms. Kleypas has firmly lodged herself atop my “favorite romance author” pedestal (be it of the historical or contemporary setting). Her prose is captivating, almost effortlessly transporting readers to Regency England. I marvel at the seamless command of setting Ms. Kleypas employs. In Sugar Daddy, I was captivated by her understanding and ability to bring Texas to life. Here, in Dreaming of You, with her vivid descriptions she makes Craven’s gambling hall tangible, in all its decadence.

And the characters–truly, what characters they are. Although I prefer Ms. Kleypas’s more fiery heroines–Lawless Lily and Lillian Bowman in particular–Sara’s gentle nature, coupled with her impulsive streak, make her a heroine I could not help but love. And Derek! I have to ring in on the St. Vincent vs. Derek Craven debate here–in this reviewer’s honest opinion, Derek Craven totally kicks St. Vincent’s pretty ass. (Sorry Ana!) As a character, Derek’s troubled past, his issues with commitment, his desire to be accepted and yet his own self loathing are all beautifully penned here by the capable Ms. Kleypas. Truly, Dreaming of You is Derek’s story, his struggle with his serious demons, and finally accepting happiness when it is in front of him. Every character in this book from the leads to the hideous Martha Kingswood or vile Joyce Ashby feels wholly real. Their motivations, their actions, all of it is completely believable and beautifully written.

Dreaming of You is one of those classic novels that deserves every bit of praise it receives. I finished this novel with a big, silly smile on my face–and this is coming from the chick who at times suspects that she is missing the romantic gene.

I loved every second of it, and know this book will be one I revisit again and again.

Notable Quotes/Parts: Oh, where to start! The scene where Sara discovers where her spare glasses have been. The interlude in the wintry garden at Lily’s ball. In the interests of letting people discover these scenes for themselves, I’ll quote a sweet section where Worthy relates to Derek how he feels for Ms. Fielding:

Leaving the reticule as Sara had placed it on the desk, Derek jammed his hands into his pockets and began to walk with no particular destination in mind. He thought of the way Worthy had sung Sara Fielding’s praises yesterday. Not even the former Lily Lawson, with all her sparkling allure, had been able to elicit such devotion from the factotum.

“She is a lady of quality,” Worthy had said in response to one of Derek’s sarcastic barbs. “Ms. Fielding treats everyone she encounters with kindness and courtesy, even the house wenches. Before she leaves the club in the evenings, she voluntarily writes letters dictated to her by some of the illiterate members of the staff so that they might send word to their families. When she saw that the hem of Violet’s gown needed mending, she asked for a needle and knelt down on the floor to fix it. One of the maids told me yesterday that when she tripped with a pile of linen in her arms, Miss Fielding stopped to help her gather it up–“

“Maybe I should hire her,” Derek had interrupted sarcastically.

“Miss Fielding is the most gentle, tolerant woman who has ever set foot in this club. And perhaps I should take this opportunity to tell you sir, that the staff has been complaining.”

“Complaining,” Derek repeated without inflection.

Worthy nodded stiffly. “That you have not be according her the proper degree of respect.”

Verdict: I loved this book. Against all my preconceived prejudices against romantic classics, I can safely say that Dreaming of You is one of the best representatives of the genre. I loved every second of this book.

Rating: 9 Damn Near Perfection

Reading Next: A Wallflower Christmas by Lisa Kleypas

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  • Karen Mahoney
    September 22, 2008 at 12:47 am

    “I am not a romantic reader at heart. I love romantic themes and a large side serving of it with my books, but it’s not really my element.”

    Thea, your words could’ve been written about me. 🙂 This is me pretty much exactly. I really enjoyed this review and – yes – you actually tempted me to read the book! Maybe one day I could do one of those challenges where you set me a purely ‘romance’ book to read and review…

  • Katiebabs
    September 22, 2008 at 4:38 am

    Dreaming of You is such a book that will convert you to romance.
    Derek is just so… dreamy and larger than life. One of the most romantic scenes ever in romance has to be when Sara finds her glasses in Derek’s pocket.

  • Dev
    September 22, 2008 at 6:00 am

    Where’s Kristie(J)??? She should be here for this 🙂

    Great review of DoY. I love Sarah and Derek ~ my favorite scene is the one that happens after the fire…..

    And, I have to say if you love Derek, you’ll really love St. Vincent in Devil in Winter.

    Just sayin’.

  • Ana
    September 22, 2008 at 6:05 am

    Thea, I can not even begin to describe how HAPPY I am that you loved this book. It is one of my favorites and a perfect example of how good the genre can be. It is Julia Quinn, Loretta Chase and Lisa Kleypas up there – the holy trinity of romance.

    I heart Derek Craven, but I still am a St Vincent girl all the way! : )

    Karen – you are on!

    Dev, Thea already read Devil in Winter and turns out she prefers Derek!

  • kimmyl
    September 22, 2008 at 6:18 am

    This book was sooooo good! I love when the heroes are broken and a bit dark and the damsel comes along and redeems them. I totally fell in love with Derek Craven!

  • Pam P
    September 22, 2008 at 6:50 am

    Dreaming of You is in my alltime Top 10, love that scene with the glasses, too. I’m with Thea, Derek gets my vote.

  • Kristie (J)
    September 22, 2008 at 6:52 am

    Kristie is HERE!!

    “And Derek! I have to ring in on the St. Vincent vs. Derek Craven debate here–in this reviewer’s honest opinion, Derek Craven totally kicks St. Vincent’s pretty ass.”

    *fist pump* YES – another Cravenator to add to the list!

    As you may or may not know, you just reviewed my all time favourite book with my all time favourite hero. And you did it beautifully. I can’t put it into words really, but there is something about this book that transcends all other books I’ve read. There is no book I’ve read more than this one. It also holds special meaning for me because it was encouraging (though some might hav used the word stalking *g*) bloggers to give this book a try that helped me cope with the loss of Ron. So many wonderful bloggers did read this and reading their thoughts on it gave me a smile when I didn’t think I’d be able to. And it wouldn’t have worked if I weren’t absolutely convinced that this is a book that every read who reads romance should try.

  • Jessica
    September 22, 2008 at 8:15 am

    This one is on my keeper shelf, and can I just let my primitive self out to say, that I think this is one of the HOTTEST romances ever written. That scene when she is in costume…yikes.

  • Thea
    September 22, 2008 at 8:45 am

    Karen–I completely understand where you are coming from! Had it not been for Ana, I probably never would have picked up this book (or any romance novel, for that matter). I don’t think I’ll ever become a full-fledged romance reader, but I’m not afraid to try something different now. Dreaming of You definitely was worth it 🙂 And you my friend are on for a Dare!

    Katie–oh yes, the glasses scene! Very, very touching 🙂

    Dev–what Ana said! I’ve read Devil in Winter and was just “meh” about the whole thing. St. Vincent just isn’t for me–that’s ok, more for you and Ana 🙂

    Kimmyl–I am right there with you. I love that Lisa Kleypas’s characters really, truly have flaws and problems and are completely real. Derek’s reluctance to finally accept happiness rings very true–his character is so nicely developed throughout the book. And Sara as well! I could not help but admire the honesty Ms. Kleypas puts in this character. Really, brilliant stuff.

    Pam P–*high five* Yes, it’s all about Derek Craven.

    Kristie–woah woah, hold the phone! CRAVENATORS? Hahahahaha ohmigosh that is awesome. I love it!

    I didn’t know this was your favorite book–but I can easily see why 🙂 And I’m so happy that other bloggers and this review are able to make you smile. *hugs*

    I agree with you–this should definitely be on every reader’s list to at least try!

    Jessica–oh yes, the assembly/mask scenes were wonderful. I loved that there was that humorous aspect too–when Sara/Mathilda is rolling the dice and is oblivious to the…jiggling. LOL!

  • little alys
    September 22, 2008 at 9:37 am

    Honestly, I had pulled out of most romance years ago due to some person reasons, but one author I continued to follow above all other’s was Lisa Kleypas.

    Despite the fact in real life I’d run the other way should Derek Craven exists towards Sara Fielding *wink*, this book, honestly, was one of the first and only romance novels ever to make me tear up.

    Also, might I add, I felt Lisa Kleypas was one of the first and few authors that actually delved into the harsher world of the usually glamours regency genre. The time period had its ups, but just looking at Derek, we’re able to see rather historically accurate time period of how it was like if you didn’t have money/title. All of her heroes are more than just gentry and Derek embodies everything.

    For me, this book is more than romance. It’s history. Does that make sense?

    On the Craven vs St. Vincent. Yes they have similar traits, but isn’t better to just love both? 😉
    Granted, I’m a Cam Rohen/Nick Gentry girl at heart, but Derek…*happy sigh*

    Okay, okay. Need to save my gushing for the entire week. 😀

  • Brie
    September 22, 2008 at 9:41 am

    Excellent review, Thea. Lately, I’ve found it harder to get into romance the way I used to. Since everyone seems to love Dreaming of you, then Maybe this is the book to get me out of my romance reading funk.

  • kmont
    September 22, 2008 at 9:54 am

    Oh, this book is a classic! And it’s Kleypas Madness Week? Very awesome and good call!

    I h=just received A Wallflower Christmas form Amazon Vine, so woot! LOL, just had to share that.

    But back to Derek – definitely one of the best heroes in romance still today and his heroine was not half bad either. Like I said, an absolute classic.

  • Jennifer Y.
    September 22, 2008 at 10:39 am

    This is one of my favorite Lisa Kleypas books! I love Derek and he remains at the top of my fave hero list…him and another Lisa Kleypas hero, Nick Gentry from “Worth Any Price.”

  • Cheri2628
    September 22, 2008 at 10:47 am

    I just loved this book, and it will stay on my keeper shelf forever. I like to reread favorite parts sometimes! Derek was a wonderful character, and he really touched my heart. To me, that is the sign of a wonderful book when something about it touches you deep in your heart! (Lord of Scoundrels is another example of a heart-touching book.)

  • Carolyn Jean
    September 22, 2008 at 12:42 pm

    Move over Dain? Loved every second? Whoa, that is some recommendation. Shopping cart has another item.

  • Patty
    September 22, 2008 at 3:20 pm

    Well, it was because of Ana’s recommendation this summer that I first read Lisa Kleypas and became a convert. I have slowly but surely gathered up nearly all of her books. Dreaming of You is one of my favorites and I think I’ve read the scene following the fire at least 10 times. I tera up every time. It is very moving.

    I have to say that I am also captivated by St.Vincent. But I like who he is with Evie. I think they are a great couple. They were polar opposites and they fit together like yin and yang. They have a special chemistry for me.

    I’m a worshiper of the triumvirate: Kleypas, Chase, and Quinn. It’s all because of this blog site! When I read historicals by other authors, I find myself measuring them by these three! LOL

  • orannia
    September 22, 2008 at 6:24 pm

    WOW! What an amazingly thorough review Thea – thank you so much! I’ve never read Dreaming of You (I’m sorry, I’m sorry *ducks behind the couch*) but you completely sold me on it and once I’ve finished work I’m heading off to hunt it down!


    PS And considering I’m a St Vincent fan I’m looking forward to meeting Derek Craven *grin*

  • Kristie (J)
    September 22, 2008 at 7:04 pm

    LOL – I don’t know if you and Ana were around when I did the Dreaming of You campaign. I pretty much went on every romance blog I could find and told them they HAD to read this book!! And A LOT of them did – probably because they were scared of this crazy woman who was stalking them 🙂 And then we had The Rumble as to who was the better hero – Derek Craven or Sebastian, Lord St. Vincent. We, who preferred Derek, though Sebastian was pretty foxy, called ourselves The Cravenators.

  • Lori
    September 22, 2008 at 7:11 pm

    I’m definitely a Nick Gentry girl, but Derek is a wonderful hero. And like Dev, I love the scene after the fire. So touching.

  • Ciara
    September 22, 2008 at 9:54 pm

    I hear you on Lillian and Lily. they are two of my favourite heroines of all time. 😉 I have yet to read a Kleypas book that I don’t like. Did you know she lives here in the Pacific Northwest? We are just teh awesome. *wink*

  • Thea
    September 23, 2008 at 9:28 am

    Alice–I wholeheartedly agree with you about Lisa Kleypas taking on the less pretty side of the era, and bringing a great historical insight to her work as well. The first proper romance I ever read (at Ana’s insistance this year!) was her Secrets of A Summer Night (Wallflowers book 1)–and I was pleasantly surprised at some of the discussion of Simon Hunt's profitable ventures with interchangeable parts for railroads, etc. (I was an econ & history major in school and the importance of interchangeable parts was hammered in during classes) Again, testament to Ms. Kleypas's acumen for research and bringing her historical settings to life!

    Brie–I'd definitely give Dreaming of You a read to break out of your slump…or, I could always recommend a good fantasy or horror novel if you’re in the mood for something different 😉

    Kmont–nice score with A Wallflower Christmas! I can’t wait to see what you think 🙂

    Jennifer Y–hmm all this talk of Nick Gentry has me curious! I’ll have to save that book for a rainy day.

    Cheri–I completely agree with you. I found myself earnestly caring for these characters–especially Derek.

    CJ–*in Ben Stiller voice* Do it! Dooo it!

    Patty–That pesky Ana gets around, doesn’t she? She is the only reason I picked up a romance novel, and I’m glad for it 🙂 I’m stoked that you are loving the genre as well!

    Orannia–thank you! 🙂 let us know what you think of this book when you’re done! Hopefully you will enjoy it as much as I (and many others, from these awesome comments) did 🙂

    Kristie–I love that name: The Cravenators. LOL! It’s brilliant. Sign me up to the list!

    Lori–again with Nick Gentry! Really, I must find this book 🙂 And yes, the scene after the fire was very sweet and touching, I wholeheartedly agree.

    Ciara–*shakes fist* You with all your author contacts in the Pacific NW. I’m green with envy! And Lillian Bowman is the shiz. Easily my favorite heroine, and my favorite book of the Wallflowers series. And Lawless Lily rocks too. I loves me some spunky heroines!

  • Mariana
    September 23, 2008 at 9:36 am

    LOVE Dreaming of You. I think what sealed it for me was Derek’s love for his daughter. Where he tells Sara she’s his heart, but the baby is his flesh and blood; I think is the most touching thing I’ve ever read.

  • Jill D.
    September 24, 2008 at 5:34 am

    Muuahhhaaa *rubs hands together* Sounds like Ana is converting you to romance one book at a time.

    Seriously though, I am glad you liked the book and it was a great review.

    Brie, Read it. You won’t regret it!

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