A Duke in Shining Armor by Loretta Chase
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Olympia is dangerously close to being on the shelf but when she serendipitously catches the attention of a duke, she has a chance to help her large family from financial ruin.
The Duke of Ripley is doing all he can to help his bestfriend not flub up his wedding but he should have been paying attention to the bride. When he sees her make a run for it, he chases her.
They're not meant to be together but they also wouldn't have it any other way.
He was trying desperately to find a way out of whatever it was he'd got himself into.
The first in a new series, A Duke in Shining Armor introduces us to the three Dis-Graces, dukes who have a bit of a tainted reputation because of the antics they have gotten up to over the years. The Duke of Ashmont has the face of angel but a bit of a drinking problem. Through some reverse psychology his uncle gets him to really pay attention to Olympia and offer for her. Just returned from a trip on the continent our hero, the Duke of Ripley, has come across Olympia at balls and such but tried to keep his attention of her to the peripheral as he wasn't ready to grow up yet. This latent attraction becomes the source of his problem.
This is a road romance that from page one hits the ground running and doesn't let up into well into the second half of the book. Ripley and Olympia have a bit of madcap adventures as they constantly spout wit back and forth. It gave them some spark but the duration and focus of it, came at the expense of some depth. Their dialogue had a tendency to come off as them talking at each other instead of with and I had a hard time getting to know them.
He'd said things and looked at her in ways other men didn't, and the combination had started to make her think she wasn't altogether the young woman she'd always believed she was. She knew rakes were dangerous but she hadn't understood how subtle the danger could be. Her ideas about a great many subjects were threatening revolution.
Along with their dialogue lacking exploring other emotions for most of the book, the vast majority (I think the last 5% goes a week into the future) takes place within 4 days, the first 50% of the story is the first day. I will say, even with this time frame, it doesn't feel like insta-love, which is a credit to the author's writing. The author has Ripley admit to himself a couple times that he always noticed Olympia and liked her personality and Olympia remembering having a pining moment over Ripley dancing with someone else but we don't get the scenes of a solid emotional growing between beginning attraction that I personally look for and enjoy.
"What are you doing?" he said.
"I'm being unsubtle," she said.
With the hero and heroine busy being witty and flitting around, I never gained a strong grasp of who they were. Olympia was probably the stronger of the two with her large family driving her to marriage and feeling like she didn't belong because she was voted the most boring debutante years in a row, which felt brought up more than enough. Her love of books and categorizing books is discussed but I would have liked some family interaction scenes or if she had friends; scenes that help show more personality and different nuances of a character. Ripley is given a very vague bad past with an ill father and though he has scenes with his friends, the Duke of Ashmont who's bride he's accidentally stealing and his brother-in-law the Duke of Blackwood, we're not shown how they became friends or what really binds them together. I was left with a lot of questions regarding Ripley and who he was.
Ripley was a disgrace and had been for years, but this had to be the worst thing he'd done in his life.
Yet it seemed to him the best thing he'd ever done.
The last 15% or so was more of what I was looking for, Ripley and Olympia seemed to talk with each other more and I began to feel their emotional connection, but it would have been great to have that start more towards the middle of the book. They also start to hit the sheets more but I frankly could have done with more of the platonic growing together at the time. Ashmont definitely doesn't shine here but as I'm sure he'll get the chance to be a hero of his own book, his redemption will interesting. The other friend Blackwood and his wife (Ripley's sister) seemingly have a secret frosty relationship that raises a lot of questions. With all the dukes running around, even I started to get fatigued but it's still a hard title to say no to. In a very small side story that managed to kind of steal the show for me, Ripley’s aunt seems to have a very interesting hurt and angry past with Ashmont’s uncle. The emotion and tension could be cut with a knife whenever the two were in a room and I’m greatly looking forward to seeing what comes of them.
With a bit too much wit and one-upping sarcasm for its own good and short time duration, this didn't start providing enough emotional building blocks for me until closer at the end. This author's writing is always engaging though and if you're in the mood for a quick paced witty back and forth, this definitely would provide.
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