There are countless romance novels that are either set in the rookeries of the East End or feature a main character who fought their way free of the poverty that marked their beginnings. And just as many more that explore the gambling dens and bordellos where the wealthy and privileged go to experience the pleasurable vices not afforded them in their glittering ballrooms. Choosing favorites amongst these exciting stories of love, desire, transformation, and determination is not an easy task, but there are a few I’ve read over the years that stand out.
Dreaming of You – Lisa Kleypas
Now that I’ve done a few “favorites lists”, I’ve realized this title by Kleypas somehow always manages to find itself included. That’s because it’s a fantastic story! The hero, Derek Craven, is one of my all-time favorite romance novel heroes. He is dark and dangerous and so, so sexy. Born and raised in the London rookeries, he worked his way up to become a king of his own little empire. As the owner of the most exclusive gambling hell in town, he is ruthless, heartless, and so totally in trouble when the novelist, Sarah Fielding, comes to his club to do research.
Sarah is young, idealistic, and open-hearted. A complete contrast to Derek. But when they get near each other the sparks that fly burn super-hot. Though he tries to resist the draw he feels toward the innocent young woman, Derek—for all his intensity and proven fortitude—is helpless against his attraction. This book is one that I re-read over and over. It never gets old and always manages to pull a few tears at the end. (But I’ll admit I’m a bit of a sap!) Still, an iconic romance of two people from totally different worlds who are perfect for each other.