Review: While the Duke Was Sleeping by Sophie Jordan


While the Duke Was Sleeping represents the beginning of a new series for Sophie Jordan. Let’s see what we like and don’t like about it.

Halloween is coming, and so I could see where it would be appropriate to review something a bit more apropos. However, fall is also the second-best season for curling up with a feel-good, fluffy book (second only to winter), and so this week, we’ll take a look at While the Duke Was Sleeping, which is a romance novel.

Although the title would cause one to assume that Jordan has conjured up another Historical Romance Duke out of nowhere, do not be fooled! This book actually goes for a different standard romance novel hero: the Scotsman.

Struan Mackenzie happens to be the Scottish half-brother of the Duke of Autenberry. Meanwhile, our heroine, Poppy Fairchurch, is a shopgirl with the biggest crush on the duke. When the duke falls into a coma, Poppy passes herself off as his fiancée. However, she finds herself attracted to Struan.

Although the title would cause one to assume that Jordan has conjured up another Historical Romance Duke out of nowhere, do not be fooled!

Overall, the book’s strengths lie in its characters, but some prose issues take it down a notch. I’ll give it a solid 2.5/5 stars. Let’s break that down.

The Good

Poppy and Struan are good together. Their dialogue actually shows their chemistry off, with Struan often deploying ‘kitten’ as a nickname for his new paramour. In fact, the love scenes (and of course there are love scenes) effectively do the same. Jordan’s prose actually does make us believe that these people really are attracted to each other, even when they butt heads.

The supporting cast also shines, particularly with the Dowager Duchess of Autenberry, the current duke’s stepmother, and with Lord Strickland. Some throwaway lines indicate that they may feature in a later novel, since this is a series. (The second book has a listing on Goodreads already.) I actually found myself wanting to know more about the two of them and about Enid, one of the duke’s sisters, as well.

The Not-So-Good

However, just because the prose makes its characters interesting doesn’t mean it also doesn’t have issues. It will occasionally beat us over the head with things. For example, in chapter 4, we’re told no less than four times in succession that Poppy knows Struan just insulted her by implying she’s slept with the duke. This salvo also employs plenty of fragments. However, the fragment issue persists throughout the book. While yours truly has given up on raging every time she sees one, I prefer them to be deployed sparingly.

The plot may also make some readers uncomfortable. Much of the romance takes place while the Duke of Autenberry is still in his coma. As far as Struan knows, he is attempting to seduce and/or romance his half-brother’s fiancée while said half-brother may die. It doesn’t necessarily ruin the plot of the book for me, but I certainly cringed a few times when said half-brother came up during love scenes.

This book is also apparently a re-imagining of the film While You Were Sleeping. Having never seen the movie, I cannot comment as to its accuracy.

The Recommendation

Although Jordan’s new hero and heroine share some sizzling chemistry, the prose and plot may leave some readers feeling cold. However, the side characters are interesting enough, and so I’ll dutifully add the second book to my reading list for next year. Pick it up to satisfy your objectified Scotsman needs.

Next: Celebrating 100 Years of Poirot

You can find While the Duke Was Sleeping wherever books are sold.