Jul 8 2012 11:00am

Genre Experiment: H&H’s Tori Benson Reads Lisa Kleypas

Dreaming of You by Lisa KleypasH&H’s bloggers are all avid readers, of course, and each has their favorite genre.

So, of course, we challenged them to read outside of their favorite genre—to read a book, in fact, in a genre they never read in. And we asked another H&H blogger who does read in that genre to choose the best book for the neophyte to read.

We’ll be posting the results of the Genre Experiment as each blogger finishes—or does not finish (DNFs)—their book. Today, Tori Benson reads Lisa Kleypas’s Dreaming of You, recommended by Myretta Robens.

Any reader will tell you that in order for a story to appeal to him or her, there need to be certain components involved. For me, it’s humor. No matter the storyline, if there is a fine vein of humor running through it, I’m happy. For this reason alone, I tend to stay away from angst-filled books. Especially angst-filled historical romances. Not only are they usually devoid of humor, but there is always a high percentage of heroes who treat the heroine so terribly that you spend a majority of the book plotting a long, painful death for the hero. The kicker? The heroine will forgive said hero (and I use that term lightly) with minimal to no groveling. No groveling just makes me mad.

When the Genre Experiment was announced, I decided to give angst-filled romances another chance. Maybe another reader could recommend to me one that would not only engage me, but give me reason to to explore more selections in this genre. I was offered Lisa Kleypas’s Dreaming of You. Published in 1994, Dreaming of You (part of the Gamblers series), remains a popular, much loved historical romance. Here’s the description:

She stood at danger’s threshold—then love beckoned her in.

In the shelter of her country cottage, Sara Fielding puts pen to paper to create dreams. But curiosity has enticed the prim, well-bred gentle woman 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.

Dreaming of You is a powerful and emotional love story about two completely different people who meet and discover the missing pieces to their soul. Sara Fielding is a single, independent woman, raised in the bosom of a loving family. An author whose books are quite popular with the public, Sara happens upon our hero as he is being attacked and rescues him. When she learns he owns an infamous gambling house, she demands entrance into his world, for research, as repayment for saving his life.

Derek Craven was left to rot in a drainage ditch as a child and grew up to become a very wealthy man. Quite the curmudgeon, he reluctantly gives in to Sara and soon becomes as charmed by her as his staff is.

Sara and Derek were a joy to meet. I found it enchanting that Derek and his staff do everything they can to maintain Sara’s innocence and reputation, from Derek pushing her away from him, to footmen and prostitutes giving her etiquette and social advice. Sara listens, thanks them, then proceeds to do just what she wants. Sara isn’t a milksop; she is very intelligent, astute, vivacious, and quite stubborn when she puts her mind to something. She absolutely drives Derek insane. Watching Derek fight his attraction for her is heartbreaking, especially when you realize the reasons he is doing it: He feels deep inside that he isn’t any good for her. His past has left him cold and unable to completely trust anyone and he honestly believes he carries a taint of badness that he cannot bear to see touch Sara. Their physical attraction is slow to develop, but once it does, we are shown intense and sensual scenes that steal your breath as they struggle to put into words what they feel about one another. Especially Derek.

“Derek’s breath touched Sara’s throat in unsteady urges. “Sometimes,” he whispered, “I’m so close to you ... and I’m still not close enough. I want to share your breath ... every beat of your heart.”

He cradled her head in both his hands, his mouth hot on her neck. “Sometimes,” he murmured, “I want to punish you a little.”


“For making me want you until I ache with it. For the way I wake at night just to watch you sleeping.” His face was intense and passionate above her, his green eyes sharp in their brightness. “I want you more each time I’m with you. It’s a fever that never leaves me. I can’t be alone without wondering where you are, when I can have you again.” His lips possessed hers in a kiss that was both savage and tender, and she opened to him eagerly.”

Interesting and intricate subplots makes the story much more then a simple romance. I loved that we see some characters from the Kleypas’s Wallflower series in here. A villainess who seeks to drive our lovers apart gave me chills as we watch the lengths she will go to get what she wants. *shiver*

And then there’s the humor—it’s woven throughout the story, balancing nicely with the emotional angst.

I especially liked that our hero isn’t a jerk. Not to say he isn’t an arse at times, because he is. But he doesn’t treat our heroine like she is less than him or that she should be embarrassed by anything she does. You know when they get together that he will treasure and nurture everything about her, never breaking the vibrant spirit that originally attracted him to her.

As per most romances, our hero and heroine have to run a pretty rough gauntlet in order to overcome any objections to their being together. Our hero has a past that, for all intents and purposes, controls his present. Ms. Kleypas chooses an interesting set of circumstances that allows Derek to finally break through and to understand and accept the depths of his love for Sara.

“I didn’t want to give you the one last part of myself that I couldn’t take back. And then you were gone... And I realized it was already yours. It had been since the beginning. Except that I hadn’t told you. It drove me mad, the thought that you would never know.”

Ah l’amour. I adored this story and the wonderful hero and heroine who shed all their inhibitions and fears in order to go on the most powerful and painful journey they ever embarked on...falling in love. While I still may not claim angsty romances as my must-have genre to read, I did find myself genuinely enchanted and will probably be taking a second and third look at what’s available out there.


Tori Benson, Smexybooks and at Twitter.

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Lege Artis
1. LegeArtis
It's great review, Tori... I'm happy you chose Dreaming of You for genre experiment; I'm attached to it in a special way...
I know everybody think of Derek when this book comes to mind, and he is one of my favorite HR heroes, but I love this book because of Sara.
Derek is one beautiful mess of opposites. He is the boy from gutter among wealthiest men in England; he is dark person behind gold and glitter of his gambling house,he is someone to whom women are instantly attracted, but who is always rude to them, he is someone whom women tend to love, but who doesn't love himself that much. I adored him, because he is so flawed: how his cockney accent appears when he lose control or the fact that he doesn't have taste and can't write that good. He's grumpy, bad tempered and depraved. And he just doesn't give a damn. So, why is Sara my hero and not storm that is Derek Craven?
Comparing to him, she is so innocent and sweet that she couldn't possibly be a part of his world in any way. She is smart and simple girl,kind and gentle woman who loves to write, but above everything she is thruthfull- true to others and true to herself. Derek was described as devilishly handsome, tough and strong man, but Sara was for me the bravest person in this book. Soon as he understood that he found love, he ran away and Sara was the one who risked everything for uncertainty that is Derek because she saw something in him. She is the one who understood that if she married Perry, she will not write another book and she will not be herself. She broke her engagment because of that, and not for Derek. He may be the thing that led her to that understanding, but he was not the main reason. And that's where Sara shines. I think Lisa wrote her masterly...
I'm glad you liked it.;)
Lindsay Beeson
2. lindsayb
What a wonderful review! Kleypas is one of my favorite authors and is the main reason I went from reading only paranormals to also reading historicals. I will be loading this book onto my Nook. Can't wait to read it!
3. JVS
((Sigh))........Derek Craven....wipes drool. I love his name!
Myretta Robens
4. Myretta
I'm so glad you liked it, Tori. I thought I couldn't go too far wrong recommending Derek and Sara.
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