Apr 26 2011 10:30am

Craving Derek Craven: Lisa Kleypas’s Dreaming of You Hero

Dreaming of You by Lisa Kleypas

I do an annual reread of Dreaming of You by Lisa Kleypas. Derek Craven, for the uninitiated, was literally born in the gutter and raised in a brothel. His sordid climb to the top has seen him working as a climbing boy, a dockworker, a resurrection man (digging up fresh corpses for medical students), a prostitute, and eventually the owner of an exclusive gambling hall and one of the richest men in England. He is a legendary figure, equally admired, envied and feared. Now that he has gained everything in life he’d ever wanted, he finds that he has nothing left for which to strive. His cynicism has reached new levels and he is just going through the motions, dead inside. Until he meets Sara.

Sara Fielding, beloved daughter of elderly parents, small town gal with a slow-moving almost-fiancé is also an author of some note. Though she loves her home, she has always felt restless; she is an observer, always feeling a bit apart from the rest of the world. This longing for adventure shows through in her novels, as her subject matter—prostitution, alienation, tragedy—is not that of your average lady writer. Her new novel will feature gambling, so she is in London to do research when she meets Derek.

 Yes, it’s a wonderful story with great writing and steamy love scenes and true love conquering all, yada, yada, yada,  but the same could be said of many romances—been there, read that. No, I read Dreaming of You every year for one reason: Derek Craven makes my toes curl.

Ah, Derek, how do I love thee?  Let me count the Top Ten ways.

  1. I love that he was born in the—literal—gutter and made himself into one of the richest men in Regency England, for all heroes should be very rich if they possibly can be.
  2. I love that he reverts to his Cockney accent when he’s under emotional stress; it’s a wonderful hint of vulnerability.
  3. I love that he has no taste, that his gambling club is a Tower of Tackiness, drowning in enough gilt and marble to make Prinny’s Brighton Palace seem a Monument to Moderation in comparison.
  4. I love that he knows he’s not nearly good enough for the woman he loves.  Because, really, what man is, even a fictional one?
  5. I love that he is flummoxed by Sara’s unconditional acceptance of him and his appalling past.  He’s so cute when he’s flustered.
  6. I love that he steals Sara’s spare pair of glasses and keeps it in his breast pocket, next to his heart. Awwww…
  7. I love that he scares the bejesus out of Sara’s erstwhile suitor just by looking at him. A very handy talent.
  8. I love that he tortures himself with thoughts of losing Sara, for I love seeing a man suffer. I’m sure it’s a defect of my character, but there it is.  It’s good for them.
  9. I love his testosterone. I usually go for the Beta Heroes, but once in a while, an Alpha gets under my skin with his hairy chest and his carrying his woman hither and yon in his big, beefy arms.  Preferably to the bed.  Derek is welcome to carry me there anytime he wants.
  10. And, lastly, I love Derek for he is so grateful that Sara loves him.  He’s a man who’s never been loved but is so desperately in need of love.  He never takes Sara’s love for granted and he worships the ground she walks on.  As every man should.

Goodness, where’s my hartshorn?  And where’s my copy of Dreaming of You? (you can enter to win a signed copy here!)  I feel a reread coming on.

Cheryl Sneed, Rakehell.com

Subscribe to this conversation (must be logged in):
1. Yass
Oh my God, you're so right!! Derek is one of my favourite heroes, as well as Simon Hunt (from Lisa Kleypas's Secrets of a Summer night)... I love how he worships Sara and I believe that is something every man should do.. Now I want to reread it again!!!
Saundra Peck
2. sk1336
How have I never read this book? I could use a good toe curl! Thanks for a good addition to my must reads that is available NOW!
Jennifer Ma
3. Jen X
I love Derek, too.

I love DoY because it featured a non-Aristocratic hero and a heroine who has a career! And she's normal. Almost pragmatic but still romantic to the bone. DoY is incomparable in my opinion. There may be better written stories or greater romances but DoY stands on its originality.

The part where he slips back to Cockney gets me EVERY time. Fabulous! :)
Keira Soleore
4. KeiraSoleore
I really enjoyed reading this blog. That list of ten is a great way to introduce new readers to a hero and for long time fans to remember why they loved that book and that hero.
Kathie Wilson
7. KittyinVA
Lisa Kleypas is my favorite author, and Dreaming of You is my favorite book. Period. You summed up his character and "Ahhhhhhhhhh" qualities perfectly. My only regret is that Hugh Jackman never starred in a film version. I hope, hope, hope I win this book as it always should have been in hardback. My two paper copies are falling apart!
Cheryl Sneed
8. CherylSneed
@KittyinVA - "YUM!" on the Hugh Jackman idea, but for the past 10 yrs or so, the person I've seen in a Derek Craven role is Clive Owen. He's got that earthy, rough around the edges quality that fits Derek perfectly.

Julie Parrish
9. Parrish
I love historicals and I really enjoy Lisas books! Another great read
11. vidiva
I absolutely love this book as well, I just re-read it about two weeks ago. Derek is the the absolute best!
12. Sina Buckner
I loved this book! And It's on my keeper book shelf. Derek Craven is soo hot!
Susan DeWaay
13. susandw
This is 1 of my most favorite books. Derek is a wonderful character and Sara is my favorite heroine in any book.
14. Sarabetty
I agree with all the previous comments but I have dozens of Lisa Kleypas books and love them all. Her characters come to life and her plots are original and compelling . I would be hard pressed to pick an absolute favorite. I also love her modern romance series (Sugar Daddy, Blue Eyed Devil and Smooth Talking Stranger). As a voracious reader Ms Kleypas is certainly one of my top five authors and I anxiously await any and all of her new offerings. Pity that she can't write as fast as I can read.
Myretta Robens
15. Myretta
I couldn't agree more, @sarabetty. I'm a reader of historicals who moved to contemporaries, and Lisa Kleypas's blew me away. I keep waiting for that last Travis brother.
16. Diane Stewart
I agree, this is my number one fave book too! I've re-read it many times, and always enjoy it. I love how he tries to turn her away, but he loves and needs her so much, that he just can't go through with it. Carrying her glasses in his pocket really gets me every time. And how vulnerable he is when he thinks he's lost her. It's like his life was so horrible that he can only be won by the sweetest, kindest woman who can balance that out.
Jennifer Proffitt
17. JenniferProffitt
I have temporarily misplaced my copy of Dreaming of You, which I haven't read in years, hence the reason I probably misplaced it, but I'm glad I found this article to help me fulfill my craving for Derek Craven until I can find it!

I swoon with you on all these reasons to love him!
18. carmenlire
I've read most of Kleypas' books more than I care to remember, and Dreaming of You is no exception. I absolutely love Derek Craven and your post made me literally laugh out loud! I agree with everything you said, and add that I love his affinity for numbers while he self-taught himself to read. I like the fact that not only does Sarah have a career but it's as an author and Derek is barely literate but tries so hard (when he reads a list in front of Sarah and she gently corrects him makes me squeal in delight!) Sometimes in romances, it can seem that the male always has more than the heroine--money, status, education, basic rights--but I like that Sarah has this ability and is wildly successful with it.
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