Stanley Weber is playing him with quiet and malicious intensity: the kind that reminds me inappropriately of grouchy regency dukes and reformed rakes. I’m ready to introduce him to a saucy governess who doesn’t need a man and rides astride (ifyouknowwhatimean … I mean horses).
Grouchy regency dukes. Sigh. They are the best. I love it when my hero wakes up on the wrong side of the bed every single day of his life.
There are some great Grumpy Heroes out there:
- Jervaulx (Flowers from the Storm by Laura Kinsale)
- Ian (The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie by Jennifer Ashley)
- Rochester (Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte)
- Gabriel (Gabriel’s Woman by Robin Schone)
- Lazarus (Wicked Intentions by Elizabeth Hoyt)
But there is one grump that will always be the grumpiest grump who ever did grump: DEREK CRAVEN
Dreaming of You by Lisa Kleypas
In Dreaming of You, Lisa Kleypas has written one of the best Regency romances I’ve ever had the privilege – the pleasure – to read.
We first get to meet Derek Craven – too briefly, if you ask me – in Then Came You.
Sometimes when I’m creating a minor character, he or she just seems extra vivid to me….And every so often, they show a surprising potential to be a hero or heroine…Unlike the typical hero of a romance novel, he was a cockney-born gambling club owner . . . the son of a prostitute . . . minimally educated . . . and although he was handsome in an offbeat sort of way, he had slightly snaggly teeth, and a scar on his forehead. But something about him was so interesting to me that I eventually made him into the hero of my next book, Dreaming Of You. And he arguably became my most popular character ever. -Lisa Kleypas
We got the Craven fever and the only prescription is more Craven cowbell.
Dreaming of You has two tropes that work for me. The Grumpy Hero and the Bookish, Ugly Ducking Heroine. Two great tastes that taste great together.
The Grump: Like Kleypas said on her blog, Derek is a “cockney-born gambling club owner.” He runs a Regency Roadhouse, but instead of PBR and Carhartts, you get distilled spirits and tight breeches. He is not a Lord. Craven is all about bootstraps. He used them to build his business; he might use them to strangle yo ass if you get in his way – or if you come anywhere near someone he loves.
“He’s not easy to describe. Derek Craven is by far the most complicated individual I’ve ever met. He is capable of kindness, but…” Worth drank some brandy and contemplated the rich amber depths in the glass. “I’m afraid that all too often Mr. Craven reveals himself as a man of ruined potential. He comes from a world more savage than you could begin to comprehend, Miss Fielding.”
The Bookish Ugly Duckling: Sara Fielding is not just bookish. She writes the books the other bookish ladies read, publishing under the name S.R. Fielding. And her books are best-sellers. Sara meets Craven while she is researching the seedy underworld of St. James for her next novel about gambling. She’s an innocent who writes about passion but has never found it herself.
“Nothing ever seems to happen in Greenwood Corners,” she admitted. “I’m always writing about the things other people do. Sometimes I’m desperate to live, to have adventures and feel things, and…”
Craven is a man of questionable morals with a cockney accent. He is a dangerous man and he wants to protect Sara from himself. He wants to protect himself from Sara because wanting her means weakness and Craven is not weak.
Cue Coldplay’s Fix You.
I inhaled Dreaming of You. Craven is delightfully raunchy. He’s a damaged bad boy who uses foul language, employs croupiers and whores, and has no compassion for gamblers who lose everything. He likes hair pulling, and he will literally cut you.
Sara isn’t needy when it comes to money and that gives her freedom, even though she keeps her identity hidden. She has a career and supports her family just fine. But she needs in other ways, and when the UST goes to action..lord help.
Strange unknowable mean, who had once deliberately driven the woman he loved into someone else’s arms.
Kleypas describes the push and pull of falling in love so that the reader feels it, too. With love comes fear, and I found myself worried and rushing at the end, in desperate need of the their Happily Ever After. When I am feeling the same rush as Craven and Sara, I know I have found a wonderful story. And just to be sure this is a great book, I’ve re-read it three times. Just checking that Craven is still sexy and sinewy and vulgar. (He is…every single time.)