Pub. Date: October 25, 2016
Summary: Shop girl Poppy Fairchurch knows it’s pointless fantasizing about the Duke of Autenberry. Still, dreams can’t hurt anyone . . . unlike the carriage Poppy spies bearing down upon the unsuspecting duke. After she pulls him to safety, the duke lapses into a coma and Poppy is mistaken for his fiancée. But one person isn’t fooled: his arrogant and much too handsome half-brother, Struan Mackenzie. Soon Poppy isn’t sure what she wants more . . . the fantasy of her duke or the reality of one smoldering Scot who challenges her at every turn.
An illegitimate second son, Struan may have built an empire and established himself as one of the wealthiest men in Britain, but he knows he will always be an outsider among the ton. Just like he knows the infuriating Poppy is a liar. There’s no way the haughty Duke of Autenberry would deign to wed a working class girl. It doesn’t matter how charming she is. Or tempting. Or how much Struan wants her for himself.
Genre: Historical Romance
You might remember how, back in October, I fell head over heels for historical romance. In that post I listed several titles I had come across and was interested in…and one in particular I immediately requested at my library. That book was Sophie Jordan’s, While the Duke Was Sleeping, her latest novel and the first in a brand new series. Over Thanksgiving I devoured it and I think it’s safe to say my newfound obsession with historical romance isn’t stopping any time soon!
Poppy Fairchurch is a shop girl at a florist. Like clockwork, the handsome Duke of Autenberry comes in each week to purchase flowers and, from their few (and far too brief) interactions, Poppy has developed a terrible crush, going so far as to fantasize about the day the Duke will fall madly in love with her and whisk her off to a life of luxury. Unfortunately for Poppy, her fantasies become a stark reality after she saves the Duke’s life. After she pushes him out of the way of a carriage, Poppy accompanies him back to his manor where she learns he has fallen into a coma. Worse yet, the housekeeper overheard Poppy’s whispers and believes the two are betrothed. Even worse is that Poppy must keep up the charade: as it turns out, the Duke’s family adores her. All the while, the Duke lays in his bedchamber entirely unaware of his new fiancee.
An outlandish premise, sure, but this one was oh so fun. Poppy’s fibs and lies quickly spiral out of control and really reach a boiling point once she realizes she has feeling for the Duke’s estranged half-brother Struan. You see, Poppy witnessed the pair brawling in the street shortly before she saved the Duke’s life. In becoming immersed in the family, however, she starts to spend more and more time around Struan (begrudgingly, of course, since Poppy is convinced he’s a heartless, no-good beast). Over time, however… Let it be known that my absolute favorite romance trope is when the couple starts off as rivals or enemies.
Struan has his own battles to deal with. He and the Duke share a father, though it was made very clear who was the favorite son. Struan and his mother were left destitute in Scotland while Marcus was practically swimming in money and riches. Once his mother passed away, Struan was left to fend for himself and he made a solemn vow to get revenge on the father that abandoned him. He spent years making a name for himself, ultimately amassing even more wealth and property than the Duke. Upon returning to England where he was eager to show off, he learned his father had died, leading to a rather tense meeting with his brother. The two never got along and, in an attempt to make his brother hurt, Struan became determined to steal his future wife. Perhaps not the best way to begin a relationship, but I couldn’t put the book down.
For a romance novel there’s a surprising amount of substance. Not just with the backstories (Struan’s abandonment issues and need for revenge/acceptance, Poppy’s role as caretaker to her younger sister), but with the characters themselves. Each one had their own voice, their own personality (even the Duke who was in a coma for nearly the entire length of the novel!) and I loved that. I have read a few other novels written by Jordan and found this to be a consistent trait: she’s a MASTER at breathing life into her characters.
Longtime readers of this blog know just how stingy I am with my praise and ratings. To date, I have read 176 books in 2016 and While the Duke Was Sleeping is only my 9th 5-star read. So yeah, when I say I loved this book, I mean I really loved it. While the Duke Was Sleeping is one of those novels I could talk about FOREVER – most likely with an overabundance of exclamation points and capslock. I was completely invested in these characters, I cringed, I laughed, at times I was so overcome with secondhand embarrassment that I actually had to set the book down and walk away! I couldn’t be more thrilled that the sequel, The Scandal of It All, is due out early next year. I need more of this series!