Book Review

A Duke in Shining Armor by Loretta Chase

I should have been able to read A Duke in Shining Armor in a day. Instead, it took me a week. And do you know why? Because I purposely kept putting it down once I realized that eventually I would RUN OUT OF BOOK. How DARE this book be over? How DARE it be so incredibly perfect and constructed almost completely of Carrie Bait? It has a book collector. It has a heroine with glasses. It has a dog. It has an eccentric and acerbic old lady. If it had had a kraken, a cat, and someone earnestly trying to explain a scientific concept with their shirt off, we would have achieved the Carrie Singularity and I would have been sucked into the pages never to return.

The plot is as follows. The ridiculously named heroine, Olympia Hightower, is supposed to get married to The Duke of Ashmont. Ashmont has two best friends: Ripley and Blackwood. They are also Dukes. Minutes before the wedding, Olympia gets drunk on brandy, panics, and escapes in all her wedding finery out the window. Ripley catches Olympia in the act and since he can’t let a drunk bride stagger about the streets on her own, he goes with her. Eventually they take shelter with Ripley’s slightly eccentric aunt and proceed to clear up misunderstandings with remarkable clarity. The one thing they can’t seem to get over is that they’ve clearly fallen for each other, and of course Ripley feels that he cannot make off with the bride of his best friend.

Along the way, Olympia rescues a dog. It is a glorious scene. I may have swooned with delight. Olympia also charmed me by being a rather obsessive collector of rare books. She appreciates their monetary value, she appreciates their beauty, and of course she reads them. Voted “Most Boring Girl of the Season” for seven years in a row, Olympia is both horrified and thrilled by her own escapades. She’s both strong-willed (she says she has to be, because she has six brothers) and kind. She’s also just the right amount of nerdy:

“You don’t know me as I truly am,” she said darkly. “I can prose on about first editions and Maioli’s Library and early copperplate engravings until my listeners keel over in a dead faint. Worse, I have a System, inspired by the American president, Mr. Thomas Jefferson, who applied Bacon’s table of science to the organization of books. My own method is rather more complex, and I can hold forth on the topic for about twenty times longer than listeners can bear to hear it.”

Ripley and his friends are known as the Dis-Graces for their rakish ways, which consist of brawling, drinking, and having sex with willing partners.  As is so often the case in books about a rake, he sets his rakish ways aside to help Olympia. He seems to be one person with his friends and another with everyone else.  He’s consistent about being wry, funny, and loyal.

Ripley and Olympia are a great team, and their chemistry is also great. However, what makes them special is that they become great friends. It a rare and happy thing to be able to say, as Leslie says to Ben in Parks and Recreation, “I love you and I like you.” Olympia and Ripley start off on somewhat adversarial ground, but they also like being together. Their banter and conversation was my favorite thing about the book.

Generally, I dislike romances that involve infidelity, which is technically the entire plot of this romance. Will Olympia and Ripley get together even though they each have loyalty-based reasons not to (Olympia is loyal to her family, which needs her to marry well, and Ripley is loyal to his friend). This is a romance, so we know that Olympia and Ripley will get together, but there’s considerable suspense in finding out how they can get together without being horrible people, especially since Ashmont (the original groom), while not wildly in love with Olympia, is genuinely fond of her.

The ending is resolved in a way that is satisfactory given the fact that this is the first of a planned series and therefore Ashmont is presumably getting his own book soon. Much of the resolution involves Dudes Working Out Their Issues With Violence, which is much more funny than it sounds, especially given Olympia’s utter disgust with this messy behavior. Apparently, not even having six brothers can prepare Olympia for the mayhem involved with three Dukes. I adored this book. It made me happy except for the part where it actually ends, because I wanted to hang out with Ripley and Olympia and the dog and the eccentric Aunt forever.

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A Duke in Shining Armor by Loretta Chase

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  1. 1
    Heather S says:
    1+

    I read an excerpt from this one on Avon’s page a couple of months back. It was delightful and I can’t wait to snag this one at the bookstore later today.

  2. 2
    Deianira says:
    1+

    You had me at this bit! Off to add this to my 2018 readin list!

  3. 3
    Gigi says:
    13+

    You had me at Loretta Chase!

  4. 4
    Jennifer in GA says:
    4+

    Oh, this sounds FUN! *off to preorder*

  5. 5
    Sue C says:
    1+

    Ohmygodddddddd. (No other words for now. I might be back later.)

  6. 6
    MClaudia says:
    2+

    You guys are such enablers!!!
    * off to preorder too

  7. 7
    cayenne says:
    6+

    I received an Overdrive notification that this is at this very moment amongst my checked-out books, and I am at bloody work where they will notice if I read in my browser, or not get my stuff done, or start giggling or sniffling uncontrollably.

    SOB

  8. 8
    DonnaMarie says:
    5+

    At some point the reservation system at the GBPL is going to crash from the size of my pull list. AND IT’S ALL YOUR FAULT!!

  9. 9
    Carla says:
    3+

    I feel the same way about most Loretta Chase books … must put them down or I finish them too quickly. Can’t wait for this one!

  10. 10
    Cassandra says:
    4+

    Listened to the first two chapters on the way home from work and smiling in the car. Kate Reading is such a good narrator for Chase’s witty writing. I’m trying to decide if I want to read the rest tonight or move slowly with the Audible version and make it last. Choices…choices 🙂

  11. 11
    HeatherS says:
    2+

    I got my copy at Target today; it was the second to last one on the shelf. Books A Million failed me – they did not have a single copy. At all. For shame!

    Now the trick will be not to start reading it until after I finish the deluge of assignments that are due in the next 7 days. 0.0

  12. 12
    Kareni says:
    1+

    This sounds like a fun read! Off to see if the library already has a copy on order.

  13. 13
    LauraL says:
    2+

    Loved the review and have been looking forward to a new Loretta Chase! My plan is to read it after the holidays when I will have time to savor it … if I can last that long.

  14. 14
    Patsy says:
    3+

    80% through and IT. IS. SO. GOOD. I don’t want it to end!!

    “You’re a bad girl, and if you’d been a boy, you might have been one of my best friends. I’m glad you’re not a boy.” Gah!

  15. 15
    Louise says:
    1+

    Raise your hand if you stopped reading halfway through the review in order to Google “Maioli’s Library”. I suspect this means that the book has my name all over it.

    Raise your other hand if, like me, you thought for one horrified moment that the cover depicts Highclere Castle. (It isn’t. Whew.)

  16. 16
    2+

    SO. This bit interested me:

    Generally, I dislike romances that involve infidelity, which is technically the entire plot of this romance.

    I got to read an ARC of this book and then interview Loretta about it at a local library, and the Q of infidelity came up. I know it is a glaring red line for lots of people, but I was surprised that this was even considered infidelity. One, Olympia is not married, only engaged to be married. Two, Ripley does not really seduce her away from Ashmont–in fact he spends a lot of time reminding himself that he needs to be very hands-off with her because she’s engaged to his friend. Three, Olympia is NOT in love with Ashmont, nor he with her, so there’s no alienation of affection (there is some fondness between them, but nothing deeper). So it was a surprise to me that this got tagged as “a book about infidelity.”

    Someone in the audience suggested that it’s because people want to see the engaged couple fall in love *with each other.* Is that it? I sense a lot of people went with it because it’s Loretta (which is perfectly valid in my opinion) but would this scenario be a deal-breaker in another, lesser-known/lesser-trusted author’s books? One woman at the event said normally anything resembling infidelity is a full-stop for her and she won’t read on (but she did, because Loretta).

    Very curious what people think. I have to admit I didn’t even think of infidelity when I read this book.

  17. 17
    Cassandra says:
    1+

    The “infidelity” is more a point of honor for Ripley and to a lesser extent Olympia who blames herself for running rather than breaking it off openly, but it’s not cheating in my view. The other characters also put the blame squarely on Ashmont for not being responsible enough to even be married. He’s appalling drunk at his own wedding!

    I read it as more complication than moral transgression.

    I’m curious how Ashmont will become worthy of his next potential duchess. Book 3, I presume?

  18. 18
    Cassandra says:
    0

    Sorry–the above should be “appallingly drunk”
    (need to edit better)

  19. 19
    Moonviolet says:
    1+

    That was the first ever Loretta Chase book that I did not finish.
    So far, I liked all Loretta’s books, but this one didn’t work for me at all- immature behaviour can be funny (Rupert in Mr. Impossible was very weel written), but at one point I just felt that 4 overprivileged, well to do, clever adults all running around and behaving like kindergarden kids is just too much.
    I kept thinking: grow up already people and please find something worthwhile to do with your lives.

  20. 20
    Moldilocks says:
    2+

    Because so many other people loved this book, and because I generally like Loretta Chase so much, I was really puzzled by this one. The writing felt very disjointed to me. Not witty at all. Reading it was a slog. I’m glad it was a DNF for Moonviolet, too. I was starting to think I was the only one!

  21. 21
    Susanilene says:
    1+

    Love, love, love, Loretta Chase — she is truly one of the greats. HOWEVER– this book seemed hackneyed to me. I mean, gosh, how many romance cliches can you throw in one book? Runaway bride, saving a dog from cruel master, getting caught in the rain and making love in an abandoned cabin, etc. Usually her books are masterpieces — and coming as it did after one such incredible gem, one of my all time favorites — Dukes prefer Blondes, this latest was a disappointment. But she is Loretta, and is allowed to be human and will always remain on my must have list. Perhaps her sequel involving the wastrel Ashmont will be better.

  22. 22
    Judith says:
    2+

    I’m with Moonviolet and Moldilocks. I was really disappointed in this one and gave up properly reading it about halfway though and just skip-read to the end (because I still needed to know what happened!) So not strictly a DNF. I usually adore Loretta but not this one. I agree with Susanilene, she is *Loretta Chase* and she’s allowed to be human and I will always read her books.

  23. 23
    Anon says:
    9+

    I can’t with Avon authors anymore. Their plots and characters get more ridiculous as the years go by. This sounds like wallpaper romance to me. The plot sounds more like it belongs in a contemporary romance. Bride gets drunk and escapes out a window and runs away with one of the grooms friend and they fall in love?

    Also didn’t we all have a talk about how stupid it is to have so many dukes in one romance series?

  24. 24
    Teagan says:
    1+

    Yes! Thank you, I am so glad this review is here! I love Loretta Chase but I just can not finish this book! Anon, yes! It totally sounds and feels like a contemporary romance! A few changes to setting and a little more slapstick and it could be a bridesmaid sequel. I should have loved this too. Bookish glasses wearing heroine with the heart of a librarian meets wicked man and discovers wicked can be fun. I also really felt terrible for Ashmont! Yes, he was ridiculous but he didn’t deserve the treatment he received. I hope Loretta makes it up to him.

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