Jan 8 2013 9:30am

Not Just Dreaming of You: Lisa Kleypas’s Historicals

Where Dreams Begin by Lisa KleypasYou know the scenario: you meet another romance fan and discuss your favorite sub-genres and tropes. And then comes the million dollar question: “Which one is your favorite?”

My immediate response, 98% of the time, is “Lisa Kleypas,” followed by, “Have you read any of her earlier romances, before the Wallflowers or Hathaways?” 

These early Lisa Kleypas romances—she's written 29 of them!—are excellent recommendations for first-time historical romance readers as they are filled with:

1 – Sexy parts.  What I like to call “Goldilocks” sex scenes:  Not too hot, not too cold. Just right!
2 – Alpha heroes. Strong, passionate, handsome, and protective.
3 – Great heroines. She looks out for herself and loved ones, and she likes to make her own choices. Definitely not a push-over.
4 – Quintessential HEAs that we see in the majority of romances.  (Spoiler: Conflict is resolved and there is a wedding.  And possibly a visit from the stork…)

Lisa Kleypas's books also make perfect historical training wheels that keep you safely balanced while giving you a rush of excitement.  Here is a brief look at some of her earlier works:

Where Dreams Begin
This romance has the “widowed-heroine” trope:  We watch Holly overcome the loss of her husband as she falls in love with Zach, a prize fighter with a heart of gold.  The hero and heroine deserve each other so perfectly in this one because they’re both lonely and sitting on the “outer-edges” of the ton.  This one is heartwarming and sweet—keep the tissues within reach.

Then he raised her enough to whisper in her ear, and while his voice was tender, his words were savage. “You're my woman, and no man or God or ghost will ever take you from me.” – Zach Bronson, Where Dreams Begin

Suddenly You by Lisa KleypasSuddenly You

She’s an aspiring writer (and almost thirty—which is rare for historical heroines) who orders a male prostitute for her birthday. Or so she THINKS!  They fall in love. She finds out he’s WAY younger than her. Conflict occurs.  Conflict is resolved. The hero becomes the “husband who encouraged her to do exactly as she pleased.”

No one had ever said such things to her before. People were intimidated by her self-possession and no-nonsense demeanor. No man would ever dream of calling her adorable, sweet, darling... and certainly no one had ever made her feel that way. – Suddenly You

Bow Street Runner Series (Someone To Watch Over Me, Lady Sophia’s Lover, Worth Any Price)
This series is our first glimpse that proves Kleypas does the “group of characters” development extremely well.  There’s a bit of historical intrigue, and the heroines—in danger for mysterious reasons—need the help of the Bow Street Runners.  (Think super-sexy historical detectives with a small dose of historical action and a lot of steamy romance.) Worth Any Price also won the 2004 RITA for Best Short Historical Romance.

Because You’re Mine
The young heroine doesn’t want to marry the crusty old miser, so she tosses her reputation out the window and throws herself at the studly infamous womanizer.  It’s a bit fun watching her plans backfire as she realizes he’s actually a sensitive tortured-soul.  She thought it was just a scheme, but it blossoms into a desperate need for love.

“You deserve someone better than me. Someone young and idealistic…someone who can experience things for the first time along with you. I'm not always kind, and I have more faults than I'd care to name. All I can promise is that I'll want you until my last breath.” – Logan Scott, Because  You’re Mine

Then Came You by Lisa KleypasThen Came You

No wussies here—this one has a uniquely strong heroine.  She doesn't want marriage and he does. She’s overly dramatic and stubborn, while he is reserved and stoic. It's another one of Kleypas's Old Skool classics. I usually give a warning: this one has a few intense argument scenes, but the character development (including the drama that goes back and forth) is golden.

“I want to give you whatever elusive, impossible, goddamned mysterious thing it is you need in order to be happy. Does that frighten you? Well, it frightens the hell out of me. Don't you think I'd stop feeling this way if I could? It's not as if you're the easiest woman in the world to–” He checked himself suddenly. – Lord Alex Raiford, checking himself in Then Came You

Stranger in My Arms
Another dark, angsty mystery. Her jerk husband dies at sea (or does he?) and the loving man who returns claims to be her husband. The hero knows secret things that only she and her husband know…is this awesome husband-hero a changed man or a pervy imposter?  (This one is also similar to the movie Sommersby with Richard Gere and Jodie Foster.)

How long would it take for her to accept him? What the devil would she require? If only she would assign him some herculean task for him to accomplish and prove himself. Tell me what to do, he thought, emitting a slight groan, and by God, I'll do it ten times over. – Stranger in My Arms

Dreaming of You by Lisa KleypasDreaming of You (of Derek Craven fame) is always an outstanding recommendation.  It is arguably one of the most-treasured Kleypas historicals in all of Romancelandia. We could make a drinking game for every time we see him (or one of the Wallflower/Hathaway heroes) on a reader’s “My Top Romance Boyfriends” List.  And while you can always run back to Derek, Cam, or St. Vincent, try picking one of the above mentioned books for a new adventure.

Which Kleypas novel is your favorite? Or do you have a Kleypas historical that never lets you down? Have you read an earlier Kleypas?


Jena Briars is a California girl living in D.C., feeding her brain one romance novel at a time...When she's not busy at work, or being distracted (sometimes ambushed) by her cat, she reviews romances on her website Throughout the Pages.

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Heather Waters
1. HeatherWaters
My go-to historical reads are generally Lisa's and I completely agree they're a great place to start in the subgenre. Recently re-read a couple of the Hathaway books and now, after this post, I think Suddenly You will be next--I'd totally forgotten about that one! Thanks for the roundup.
Lege Artis
2. LegeArtis
Lisa Kleypas is one of those authors you can recommend without any doubt- even her less popular books are great. I'm glad you mentioned Then Came You- This is book I bought because of Derek Craven, but I eneded it up with a crush on Alex Reiford. And Suddenly You.... Awww
Lisa's contemporaries are awesome, but now I miss her HRs...
3. Torifl
Stranger In My Arms and Dreaming Of You are two of my fav Lisa Kleypas historical romances. I love that while her heroes are alpha and can be jerks, they aren't mean spritied or hateful to the heroines for the sake of being so. I have never read any of her contemps. Not sure why.

I need to read Where Dreams Begin. I seemed to have missed that one.
4. Melissa B
I SO totally agree, and actually enjoy her Bow Street Runners more than ANY of her other books. While I have true love for all historicals, they are the books that hooked me on her, and the ANGST in those books, OMG ~ they put you through the wringer, but the pay off is so totally worth it! I WISH, wish, WISH she'd go back to historicals!!
5. carmenlire
Lisa Kleypas is in my top 2 for favorite author. I love dreaming of you, along witheith suddenly you and because your mine. The Hathaway series and the wallflowers are go-tos as well.
6. LadyWesley
I've read all the LK historicals, and for my money nobody can top St. Vincent in The Devil in Winter. Derek Craven is a close, very close, second.

I certainly hope she goes back to writing historicals soon!
Jaime West
7. jaime-west@hotmail.com
Oh, I love it when you feature Lisa Kleypas books on this blog. I love her books its beyond obsession.
I have all her books but only allow myself to read one every now and then cause I dont want to run out, and so I re-read them, just cause they are soo good!
So there are still a few little gems just waiting to be read on my shelf.. *rubs hands together*. Do you see what I mean about obsession.

I first read 'The Wallflowers' series and absolutely fell head over ass in love with Simon Hunt 'Secrets of a Summer Night' and he is still my all time fave. However there are some very close seconds.
Seduce me at Sunrise - Kev was just simply mouthwatering! hmm I think I might read that one again.
Stranger in My Arms - Hunter, oh sigh!.
Love in the Afternoon - the letters to eachother they made me cry.
The Devil in Winter - St Vincent!
Again the Magic - heart wrenching
Worth Any Price - he ties her to the bed! :)

I personally prefer the HR from Lisa, but it might be as they outnumber the few contemporary ones she has done. I suppose I find her HR more romantic, and thats probably what I eat up in her stories, those bits that make you read that page over and over and over until you realise you just spent 30 mins in that moment and don't want to ever leave!

okay I think I gushed a little too much, sorry.

J-me :)
Jena Briars
8. CutMyTeethOnKleypas
(Please excuse my late response y'all!)

@Jaime-west No. It's never too much gushing when it comes to obsessing over our romances!

@redline_ & @LegeArtis & @carmenlire I can't deny that Suddenly You has a very special place in my heart. (If I had to save only one Kleypas off my self, probably by gun-point, it would be Suddenly You.)

@Torifl YES! Where Dreams Begin is so good! Definitely check it out because it has some heartbreakingly sweet moments!

@Melissa B I remember reading Someone to Watch Over Me and it was this hot fresh new discovery that the combination of Spies+Detectives+Historical Hero = amazing!

@Lady Wesley - St. Vincent IS pretty incredible. Ok, really really really incredible. I keep imagining he looks like a hot Sean Bean or David Beckham. (Damn!)
Lexie Matias
9. OtterPuff
I don't know how many times I've pimped out Dreaming of You, I think it's a perfect historical romance introduction.

Actually I kind of love most of LK's earlier work, I have read about 80% of all she has written and I love pretty much all of it. I know some are not her best books but they are so readable and fun. And the heroes she write *Sigh*
10. ninoskasua
Lisa Kleypas is one of my all time favorite romance novel writer. I am really sad that she has stop writing historical romance. My favorite classic Kleyapas book are as follows:

Dreaming of You: I just love Derek! He is a broken hero.
It Happened One Autumn: Marcus, I just love the he is so uptight. He can't resist the lovely American Lily. :)

The Devil in Winter: I just love St. Vincent. He is very sexy. I just love love him. :)
Lady Sophia’s Lover: I just love the chemistry between these two characters. A plot to discredit Ross.

If you haven't read any of Lisa's historial romance. You must do it pronto!! :)
11. booklover
Suddenly You is one of my top 5 all-time favorite historical romances. No sequel, no extraneous characters - just a really great heroine, a swoon-worthy hero who is Not a member of the Ton, and really hot sex. I have read a lot of Kleypas, but have yet to delve into The Hathaways - they are my "first half of 2013 reading goal!"
12. mcvz
I LOVE all her earlier novels..I have read my copies over and over again. I love her way of making these characters so real. ThebBow street Runners series is one of my Favorites.. Got an E-reader for Xmas and the 1st books I ordered were all Lisa Kleypas!
13. BarbaraB
I accidently stumbled on one of Lisa's books and after that I was hooked. So many historical romances are over the top and too dramatic. Her characters are always interesting and the stories are great! I like the way she does series and sometimes lets characters book hop- you get to revisit an old favorite and see how their life is going. I own all of her books and love them all although the really short ones are my least favorite- not enough meat. I have to agree with the above that it would be nice for her to write historical ones again.
Beryl Thompson
14. avalon14u
You have found my weakness! A Lisa Kleypas hero! Its with some angst that I have to choose! My favorite hero? Its a tie. Derek Craven is awesome, but since Devil in Winter is my all time favorite Kleypas book, I have to with St. Vincent. (Lord, he is HOT!). In close 2nd place is my next all time favorite - Leo, Lord Ramsay in Married by Morning. He's often overlooked because, Hey! Derek Craven! But his sense of humor is beyond amazing. I love Derek's intensity, but I think I'm attracted to the Leo/St. Vincent type. Both have a wonderful sense of humor and something just a little bit wicked! :0)
15. JanetW
Adore Where Dreams Begin. I love all the really early Kleypas historicals -- or should I say the ones that came before the Wallflower books (which to me are weaker than the books w/Derek Craven and those of that era). I wish Kleypas would write about the heroine's 2nd suitor in Where Dreams Begin -- he just seems to cry out for a story of his own.
Jena Briars
16. CutMyTeethOnKleypas
@JanetW - yeah! I forgot about him - the beta! I had to look his name up - Ravenhill - already sounds like "Hero name".

@avalon14u - Leo! Love him, too - he was so totured there for a few books... his HEA was a huge relief.

@BarbaraB - I like the character-weaving too - especially in the Wallflowers and seeing little peeks of it in the earlier books is pretty cool!

@mcvz - YEAH! My copy of Someone to Watch Over Me is all bent-up and cracked. Plus, I had to re-glue my copy of Scandal in Spring with "Gorilla Glue". (Heh - sounds like a good time to start my e-book Kleypas collection now, too!)

@booklover - oh... you will LOVE that 2013 challenge ;) (and everyone has a favorite wallflower book!)

@ninoskasua - I loved reading about uptight Marcus totally falling in love! It Happened One Autumn is my favorite wallflower!

@Darth - I know, I have to get my paws on a copy of Only With Your Love for my collection - that one is great too!
17. asdfghjk
Along with Johanna Lindsey, Lisa Kleypas is my favourite romance writer ever. She ticks all the boxes: real characters, good plot, the heart warming romance and the steamy stuff. Love the series' and the stand alones
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