A Duke in Shining Armor
By Loretta Chase
Release Date: November 28, 2017
Lady Olympia Hightower is not the kind of young woman one would expect to overindulge in brandy on her wedding day. She is bookish, pragmatic, and downright boring. In fact, she has an unofficial title to attest to the last: for seven consecutive years, she has been voted Most Boring Girl of the Season. With six brothers, an improvident father, and a twenty-sixth birthday perilously close, Olympia knows she should be thankful that she is to become the bride of the Duke of Ashmont, a man who is handsome, charming and wealthy, albeit scandalous to a degree that not even his dukedom can overcome. She’s puzzled about why he wants to marry her, and she is becoming more and more certain that she cannot marry him. What’s a girl to do in such circumstances? Run away, of course.Hugh Ancaster, seventh Duke of Ripley, watches his friend Ashmont get drunker and more combative as they wait for the no-show bride. Knowing Ashmont well enough to know he is likely to become drunker and more aggressive, Ripley decides the wisest thing to do is locate the missing bride, but when he finds her, she is leaving the premises via a library window. Torn between his desire to pretend he hasn’t seen the tipsy, red-eyed bride and his conviction that keeping up with the bride is part of his responsibility as groomsman in charge, he follows her.
Ripley may begin with the idea of persuading Olympia to return for a delayed wedding, but he ends up helping her escape. For three days, the unlikely pair move from misadventure to misadventure. He discovers that Olympia is many things, but boring is certainly not among them. She discovers that she is more than she thought she was—and that she can feel Ripley’s kisses in twenty places in her body. Soon the last thing Ripley wants is to see Olympia married to Ashmont, but a man of honor can’t just steal the bride of his nearly life-long best friend. Or can he?
A Duke in Shining Armor introduces the Difficult Dukes, a new series from Loretta Chase. It has been almost two years since the release of Dukes Prefer Blondes, so I was eager for a new Loretta Chase book—and this one was a delight. I admit to being a bit skeptical about the runaway bride plot initially. It is one that seems to work wonderfully well or fail dismally. In this case, it worked, in part because I fell in love with the character right away and in part because it quickly becomes a road-trip book with the H/H thrown into each other’s company in a way that could not have been achieved credibly in any other way. It makes the pace of their plunge into love seem slower than it actually is.
Olympia is intelligent, funny, and confused. She is torn between what her head dictates she do (marry the duke who asked her) and what her heart prompts her to do (hold out for her hero). The heart wins. Yay for Olympia! Ripley is the best kind of bad-boy hero, one whose behavior is beyond the pale but whose innate honor, kindness, and humor define who he is at heart. Plus, he has the perception to see the person Olympia really is. His choice is difficult: to betray one of his two friends whose shared history goes back to their childhoods or to see the woman he loves marry another man, one moreover who can never give her the happiness she deserves. Chase provides just enough of Ashmont, who is somehow likable despite his flaws, and the intriguingly mysterious Blackwood with his troubled marriage to leave readers hungry for the stories of these other Dis-Graces. And I hope to learn more about Ripley’s Aunt Julia and Ashmont’s Uncle Fred as well.
If you like historical romance that is light-hearted and smart, witty and warm, and rich in the banter that Chase does superbly, I highly recommend this book. I loved it enough to reread it rather than complain if I must wait until the end of 2018 for the next Loretta Chase book.