Sometimes the man of your dreams . . .
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.
. . . is not who you think.
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.
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 fianc e, 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.
suspend reality to enjoy the building romance
I read and enjoyed the first in Jordan’s Debutante Files series, and was curious about this one. I’ll be perfectly honest in revealing my questions: would adapting the film While You Were Sleeping work in a period piece and, how much blame will the heroine take for her dishonesty, let alone the improbability of a flower girl and a Duke ever being wed. But, let’s dive in despite the questions and see just what I thought…..
Poppy is a shopgirl – a flowergirl with dreams of more. It was hard to dislike her at first, her motives weren’t decided, and no mistakes had been made. But, she did have a huge crush on the Duke of Autenberry, a regular customer, and hoped that he would notice her and ‘take her away’. OK, firstly, notice may have been taken (and I say MAY in a very generous sense) as tradespeople were little more than furniture when not required FOR something, and being a woman puts her in the second level below that anyway in society, so… may is appropriate if not accurate. And this just snowballs, as Autenberry and his illegitimate half-brother are fighting outside her shop, and she intervenes, rescuing the now comatose Duke. From here, a quiet voicing of her dreams has people believing that she is the fiancee and all hell breaks loose. Here is where Poppy lost me. A simple correction, embarrassing but not uncalled for, was needed, and yet she didn’t correct, and NO ONE else challenges this. (stretching even my ability to suspend belief here).
Enter Struan MacKenzie (a good scots name), half-brother of the Duke and the ONLY person to not believe Poppy’s story. He is the reason the Duke is in a coma, but he doesn’t stay quiet…he pushes her, intrigued, to reveal the truth even as the feelings between them are growing on both sides. Not a huge fan of the triangle here, and it does show Poppy to be more than a bit free with her affections, but their connection worked, and he saved the story (for me). I loved his no-nonsense approach to his beliefs and foremost his rather low opinion of Poppy’s intentions.
As a direct translation from movie to book, this didn’t work, and without Struan in the story there was no plausible romance to be found. Even with the problems in plotting and Poppy’s steadfast grip on the lie of her and the Duke, if you can suspend reality to enjoy the building romance between Struan and Poppy, it’s an intriguing story.
I received an eArc copy of the title from Avon Addicts via Edelweiss for purpose of honest review I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions and expectations are my own responsibility..