31 Books of Love - Dreaming of you

I can't believe that it's already December! I may be having a terrible time coming up with gifts for the people on my list...but here's the thing: I have no trouble at all coming up with romance novels that I wish the whole world has read. That said, I thought I'd spend the month of December recommending 31 Romance Novels that I love beyond measure. And maybe...just maybe...you'll love them, too! 

I will do my best to make as broad a list as possible -- historical, paranormal, contemporary, new releases, old classics, and more. Feel free to comment and tell me what you thought of the books if you've read them yourself! 

Without further ado....Book I! 

As you know, I've just finished writing an historical series set in a pre-Victorian era casino, so it should come as no surprise that some of my very favorite romances have gambling at their heart. There will be a few of these as we go forward, but I figured I should start with the one that I've read the most of all -- Lisa Kleypas's Dreaming of You

Published in 1994, Dreaming of You is one of Kleypas's early novels, and one of her most perfect, I think. The heroine, Sara Fielding, is a writer who has made a living writing fictional accounts of the life of those who live in the dark corners of London--prostitutes, thieves, etc. But she's never experienced those corners themselves--and she arrives in London eager to research them, sure that the research will make her books better. Of course, on page one of this book, Sara is in a pickle, and needs rescuing from a not-so-nice pair of gentlemen. Her rescuer is Derek Craven, who, frankly, owns my heart (don't tell my husband). 

Derek is not an aristocrat. He isn't even gentry. He's a bastard who grew up on the filthy streets of the East End, and pulled himself out of the gutter to become the owner/operator of a casino that draws its clientele from the wealthiest of Londoners. Derek has worked to lose his accent, but it comes back when he's emotional -- and boy does Sara make him emotional. He doesn't believe in love, or in happiness, or anything good, really...because the world is cruel. But when he tries to prove that to Sara, she goes ahead and proves just the opposite.

This book is amazing. And it will leave you weeping like a child in the corner when it ends, because nobody--NOBODY--tortures a hero the way Lisa Kleypas does. Nobody. After you read this, you'll know why the entire romance reading community plotzed when they heard Lisa was going to write more historicals. And you will buy her entire backlist. Be warned.

Dreaming of You, by Lisa Kleypas
Published 1994, Avon/Harpercollins
Amazon, iBooks, Barnes & Noble, Books-a-Million, Indiebound