cover image While the Duke Was Sleeping

While the Duke Was Sleeping

Sophie Jordan. Avon, $7.99 mass market (384p) ISBN 978-0-06-222254-1

In this predictable but satisfying opening to the Rogue Files Regency-era series, a shop clerk falls for a self-made man. Struan Mackenzie’s father, the previous Duke of Autenberry, abandoned his pregnant mother and died before Struan could confront him. Struan’s accumulated wealth does nothing to impress his scornful half-brother, who now holds the Autenberry title. Poppy Fairchurch and her teenage sister are barely scraping by on Poppy’s bookstore wages. Poppy moons after the duke, who’s a frequent patron at her London shop; after saving his life, she’s mistaken for his fiancée, and his best friend convinces her to keep up the ruse. Struan sees an opportunity to take a dig at his brother by stealing Poppy’s affections. His ignoble motives change when he falls in love with her. The feeling’s mutual, but she’s afraid he’ll hate her when he learns of her deception. The novel hews very closely to the plot of its namesake film, including replicating some of its flaws, but Jordan (Hell Breaks Loose) has added both disdain and heat to the familiar story. The complex characterization and eccentricities of Struan’s relatives refreshingly diverge from typical portrayals of Regency gentry. Agent: Maura Kye-Casella, Don Congdon Associates. (Nov.)