WHILE THE DUKE WAS SLEEPING – Sophie Jordan
The Rogue Files , Book 1
ISBN 13: 978-0-06- 222254-1
ISBN 10: 0-06-222255-4
18th Century England
Since the death of her parents, Poppy Fairchurch has taken care of her younger sister, and works in a florist shop in London. One of the shop's customers is the handsome Duke of Autenberry whom Poppy loves, although he hasn't noticed her yet. He comes into the shop once a week and is always polite. She can only hope that one day he actually sees her. One day after a purchase, Poppy watches him leave the shop through the window. He is approached by a larger man who says something Poppy can't hear. The duke slugs the man, starting a fist fight right in the street! Poppy comes to the duke's defense by jumping on the back of his opponent. Then she sees a horse and carriage barreling down on the duke and shoves him out of danger. His opponent shoves her out of the carriage's way, saving her life. However, the duke lays on the street with a head injury.
Struan Mackenzie is the duke's bastard brother. The previous duke seduced Struan's mother and then left her alone with no support to raise his child. Struan overcame his poverty-stricken childhood because of his gift with numbers. He now is an independently wealthy man. He tracks down his half-brother to show him what a cad his father was, but the new duke won't believe him and punches him. When the duke is stricken by the shop girl, Struan takes him in his carriage to the duke's residence. The shop girl insists on coming along. It is determined the duke is in a coma and probably will not wake. Struan feels guilty over this as he never meant to kill his brother. And the shop girl? All of a sudden she is the duke's fiancée and sits at the sleeping duke's bedside. Surprisingly, his father's second wife and his half-sisters seem to accept him, and for a man with no other family, it is a pleasure, even knowing the duke will ask him to leave when, and if, he wakes up. Struan realizes the person he will really miss is the blunt but truthful shop girl Poppy.
WHILE THE DUKE WAS SLEEPING is a satisfactory story which will remind readers of the plot line in the movie While You Were Sleeping with Sandra Bullock. Poppy is a unique and enjoyable character who is basically honest, except, of course, for her lie about being the fiancée of the duke, which was really a misunderstanding by another character. Struan, for all his wealth, is a tough character who seems unfeeling until Poppy gets to know him, and it is apparent to the reader that he is actually a better man morally than the duke. It is hard to tell which man is the rogue, the duke with his many trysts, or the wealthy Struan with his rough personality. Poppy and Struan's gradual awakening to each other's charms is through a series of verbal encounters that take a sensual sidetrack. It is an interesting situation, but with knowledge of the aristocracy and the common people of the time, a little unrealistic; but it works.