books

Lisa Kleypas

Books

Dreaming of You (1994)

 

 

Dreaming of You (1994)

Set in historical London some time after pistols but before trains

There was so much I liked about this story, yet so much that I found problematic about it.

Sara Fielding is the author of a famous novel about a fallen woman, and is in London researching a gambling hell for the new book she wants to write.

Derek Craven was born in the gutter, lived as a street urchin and fought and struggled his way to become one of the richest men in London and owner of one of the most exclusive gambling hells.

First, I loved Sara–she was doing something dangerous but she wasn’t utterly stupid–she attempted to protect herself as best she could.

Second, I liked the idea of Derek very much–a self-made man mad hard by his childhood and past. But his implementation remained problematic throughout the story.

Derek describes his childhood in poverty and living on the streets. He didn’t start to make his fortune until he was a teenager at the earliest. So every time he is described, I have a tremendous disconnect: “he was a large, powerfully built man” is just never going to describe a man who grew up starving on the streets. He might have developed strength, and if both his parents had been unusually tall, he might have been lucky and achieved average height, but to be a tall and muscular man after a childhood of deprivation and disease (including being a chimney sweep)–I just can’t accept that as probable.

Then there was the sexual assault. The heroine is violently assaulted twice in the story: Once on the streets and once in her bed. Neither even seems to have any affect at all on her mental well-being. That is just simply not reality based. If the heroine wasn’t supposed to be as damaged as the hero, then having her be assaulted–I know it was a different time and all, but… no. (This actually didn’t pull me out of the story as much as the hero’s healthy physique did, but the more I think about it the more it bothers me.)

And then there was this paragraph:

“How much of Mr. Craven’s profit is earned by the house wenches?” she asked.

“He takes no profit from them, Miss Fielding. Their presence adds to the ambiance of the club, and serves as an added enticement to the patrons. All the money the house wenches make is theirs to keep. Mr. Craven also offers them protection, rent-free rooms, and a far better clientele than they’re likely to find on the streets.”

He’s a good man at heart, I can accept that. But ALL of that? That’s just over-the-top ridiculous.

Which was frustrating, because there was a lot to like: Sara’s parents were lovely. Sara managed to rescue both the hero and herself at different points in the story. The “bad guy” is obviously damaged in a way that makes their actions understandable if not acceptable. Sara’s relationship with her intended back home is also a nice touch. But the things that bothered me seem to have outweighed the good, leaving me very unsatisfied in general with this book.

Publisher: HarperCollins
Rating: 5.5/10