Dreaming of You, by Lisa Kleypas

>> Monday, July 19, 2004

Dreaming of You seems to be most readers' favourite Lisa Kleypas book. The first time I read it, years ago, it simply didn't make much of an impression, so I decided to give it another try.

In the shelter of her country cottage, Sara Fielding 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.
This is good, really, really good, but "only" a B+ for me.

I think that where I differ from those who find this book the greatest romance novel ever is in my reaction to Derek. I feel sorry for his past and I admire his ability to rise above it, I even find him sexy and sweet, but I didn't completely fall in love with him, as those who adored this book seem to have done. I kind of felt at a distance to him as a character. I don't know how to explain it, really, and it frustrates me that I can't, so I'll leave it at that.

Surprisingly, I actually liked Sara quite a bit, probably because in spite of appearances, she was far from the typical naive, martyr heroines who populate historicals. She knows what she wants, she isn't afraid to ask for it, and she actually saves herself when in danger. I thought she showed great courage in throwing in her lot with Derek, because there was quite a big possibility that he wouldn't be able to feel the love she needed.

Kleypas creates really, really great chemistry between Sara and Derek, and this made for an extremely sexy and hot book. The best thing was that the love scenes were terribly emotional, for both of them, so to me, this added a lot of heat to them. The book also has some heartwrenching scenes that I loved, like near the end, when Derek thinks Sara has been killed.

I didn't really like the subplot about the crazy Lady Joyce, a former lover of Derek's who's obsessed with him, but luckily, she came into the picture only for little whiles, during the book and near the end, and so, the book wasn't about Derek and Sara trying to survive her machinations but about them falling in love and building a relationship, with this nutcase adding a couple more difficulties and actually creating circumstances that helped move their relationship forward.

So, even if I didn't think this was the best book ever, it was pretty damn good!

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