Monday, December 4, 2017

ARC Review: A Duke in Shining Armor by Loretta Chase

Series:     Difficult Dukes #1
Pub. Date:Nov. 28, 2017
Length:400 pages

Shockingly, this is the first time I have read Loretta Chase... and I liked this one so much that now I am excited to tackle the backlog of her published works! A Duke in Shining Armor kicks off a new series, the Difficult Dukes, featuring the three Dis-Graces, the Dukes of Ashmont, Ripley and Blackwood. These three Dis-Graces and their scandalous antics are well known around the ton, and historically they have not cared a whit what anyone thought or said about them. But that all seems to be changing. Blackwood has married Ripley's sister, Alice, and Ashmont is set to marry Lady Olympia Hightower. Or is he?

Lady Olympia Hightower has been voted the Most Boring for the last seven seasons. As a unrepentant bibliophile, Olympia has been considering a future of spinsterhood or marrying the septuagenarian Lord Mends to become his librarian. As the only daughter with five brothers, she is leaning toward marrying a man old enough to be her grandfather so her family will be able to afford to provide for her brothers' future. But when the Duke of Ashmont surprises everyone by courting Olympia, she feels she can't say no. Until she gets drunk on her wedding day and becomes a runaway bride. Olympia was quite the humorous drunk and I loved her logic and banter with our hero throughout her drunken escape. I also loved that we had a bookish heroine, with a practical but entertaining side. I thought she was great.

Hugh Ancaster, the Duke of Ripley, was given one task by his best friend, to take charge of the bride and make sure the marriage went off without a hitch. Recently back from a years long travel, he doesn't quite understand why his friends have suddenly caught the matrimonial bug. It also doesn't help that he has always found the bride-to-be intriguing and attractive. So to convince Olympia to go back to his friend, Ripley had to (attempt to) deny his ducal desires for the first time in his life. Olympia certainly did not make it easy. I thought Ripley was an awesome hero. He uplifted our heroine's self-esteem, attempted to be a good friend, but ultimately could not resist the pull of attraction. I thought including his struggle over betraying his friend was added a humanizing aspect to the story and created a stronger emotional connection to his character.

The romance unfolded at a nice pace, and the banter between the couple was fun and entertaining. It wasn't so much flirty as it was humorous and practical. Olympia's character seemed to grow quite a bit in a short time, where she stopped thinking so much about others and took something for herself. Though she never lost touch with her true personality, the one who was kind to everyone and didn't want people fighting or troubling over her desires.

The friendship between their Dis-Graces was genuine and supportive. We often see female friendships in stories, but I really like getting the male perspective, especially when the friendship is so meaningful. The only thing that was a bit off for the story for me was the marriage between Blackwood and Alice. It almost seemed like there was an earlier book and we were missing all the backstory, but I have a feeling that Blackwood's book is going to take place (at least partially) contemporaneously with Ripley's story. So I am looking forward to seeing that play out. I also can't wait until Ashmont really does meet the woman to make him lose his head.

I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book that I received from the publisher, Avon.

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