Not all dukes are created equal. Most are upstanding members of Society. And then there’s the trio known as Their Dis-Graces.
Hugh Philemon Ancaster, seventh Duke of Ripley, will never win prizes for virtue. But even he draws the line at running off with his best friend’s bride. All he’s trying to do is recapture the slightly inebriated Lady Olympia Hightower and return her to her intended bridegroom.
For reasons that elude her, bookish, bespectacled Olympia is supposed to marry a gorgeous rake of a duke. The ton is flabbergasted. Her family’s ecstatic. And Olympia? She’s climbing out of a window, bent on a getaway. But tall, dark, and exasperating Ripley is hot on her trail, determined to bring her back to his friend. For once, the world-famous hellion is trying to do the honorable thing.
So why does Olympia have to make it so deliciously difficult for him . . . ?
About the Book
A Duke In Shining Armor
by Loretta Chase
November 28, 2017
Early morning of 11 June 1833
The Duke of Ashmont was not a very good duke—rather an awful one, actually. And so nobody could be in the least surprised to see him, drunk as an emperor—that was to say, ten times as drunk as a lord—staggering down the steps of Crockford’s Club on the arm of one of his two best friends.
This one was Hugh Philemon Ancaster, seventh Duke of Ripley. Where Ashmont was fair-haired, blue-eyed, and angelic-looking, Ripley was dark. Unlike Ashmont, he did not appear to be spun of dreams and gossamer, and women did not follow his movements with the moonstruck expressions they accorded His Grace with the Angel Face.
On a good day, someone had said once, Ripley’s face resembled that of a wolf who’d been in too many fights.
Furthermore, though his slightly older title ranked him a notch or two higher in precedence than Ashmont, Ripley was merely as drunk as a lord. He could still distinguish up from down. When, therefore, His Grace of Ashmont showed an inclination to stumble in the downhill direction, toward St. James’s Palace, Ripley hauled him about.
“This way,” he said. “Hackney stand up ahead.” “Right,” Ashmont said. “Can’t miss the wedding.
Not this one. It’s me doing it. Me and Olympia. Have to be there. Promised.”
“You will be,” Ripley said as he led his friend across the street. The wedding had been news to him, the choice of bride a shock: Lady Olympia Hightower, of all women. She was the last girl on earth he’d thought would marry Ashmont—or any of them, for that matter.
Not that Ripley knew her very well. Or at all. They’d been introduced, yes, years ago. That was in the days when respectable persons still introduced Ripley and his two friends to innocent girls. But those were not the kinds of girls the ducal trio wanted. Gently bred maidens were for marrying, and marriage was sup-posed to be years away, sometime in the dim, distant future.
Apparently, the future had arrived while Ripley wasn’t looking.
First the Duke of Blackwood, the other of his two boon companions, had married Ripley’s sister over a year ago, a few days before Ripley left for the Conti-nent. Now Ashmont was doing it. Ripley had heard the happy news mere hours after his return to London yesterday.
No, he’d returned the day before, because today was yesterday now. He’d come to Crockford’s because he wanted a decent meal, and Crockford’s Ude was the next best thing to Ripley’s own chef, Chardot, who’d come down with a foul cold sometime during the Channel crossing.
Chardot went with him everywhere because he was amply paid to do so, and Ripley liked his comfort. Having been forced, for no sane reason, to live like a pauper during his boyhood, he lived like a king now.
Ripley was debating with himself whether, on the whole, he’d better have stayed abroad, when four men spilled out of a narrow court, one crashing into Ash-mont, with force enough to dislodge him from Ripley’s light grasp and push him into a shop front.
Ashmont bounced back with surprising energy. “You clumsy, bleeding, half-wit! I have to get married, you bloody arsehole!” At the same moment, he drove his fist at the fellow’s face.
One of the man’s friends tried to butt in. With a sigh, Ripley grabbed him by the back of the collar. The fel-low swung at him, obliging Ripley to knock him into the gutter.
What happened after that was what often happened when Ashmont was about: a lot of filthy language and filthy fighting, and men rushing out of the clubs, shout-ing bets, and a female or two screaming somewhere.
Then it was over. Their foes lay strewn about the pavement. Ripley didn’t wait to count or identify them. He collected Ashmont from the railing he’d slumped against and trudged to the corner with him. He sig-naled, and the first in line of the hackneys plodded their way. He threw Ashmont into the decrepit coach and directed the driver to Ashmont House.
Servants waited up, as they were accustomed to do, for Ashmont. They bore him up the stairs to his bed-room and undressed and washed him without fuss.
❤ My Review ❤
Lady Olympia Hightower is set to marry the Duke of Ashmont. What should be a happy and joyous occasion, turns out into a total disaster (but in a good way). Olympia should be thrilled to be marrying the Duke as she is already nearing six and twenty, with no other suitors or offers of marriage. She should be happy that someone is finally interested in her, especially being that he is a Duke and she is, well, a bit of a wallflower. Her biggest accomplishment of seven seasons was being voted as the Most Boring Girl of the Season. So, Olympia can see why she jumped at the chance to marry the Duke. She does have six brothers to consider and she does not want to become a burden to them in the eventuality that she never weds. Too bad the Duke of Ashmont is a bit of an ass and so immature it makes her nine year old brother look like more of an adult. So what is a girl to do in this situation? Run on the day of her wedding, of course!
Hugh Philemon Ancaster, seventh Duke of Ripley has been set to the task as a groomsmen not even one day being back in London from the Continent. The wedding has come as quite the shock to him as men of his ilk (the Dis-Graces) did not marry gently bred ladies such as Olympia. The night before the wedding the Duke of Ripley, along with his two best friends the Duke of Ashmont, and the Duke of Blackwood, his fellow Dis-Graces, are well and truly drunk. It is left to the Duke of Ripley to make sure that Ashmont arrives at the wedding and that everything goes smoothly. Now, that he finally has Ashmont at the wedding on time, there is no sign of the bride. While Ashmont is getting more intoxicated as the minutes start flying by, Ripley decides its best that he go in search of the bride before all hell breaks lose. Imagine his surprise when he finds Olympia trying to escape through a window and into the rain. What is a groomsmen supposed to do in a situation like this, you ask? Why chase after the bride of course!
…….and this is where the fun begins!
Loretta Chase has always been one of my go-to authors. I have never been disappointed with any of her books and A DUKE IN SHINING ARMOR is no different. I found myself not being able to put the book down and staying up way later than I ever planned to. The story is filled with humor and laugh out loud moments which leave you wanting to keep reading just so you can laugh some more over their antics. I found myself immersed in the story and really invested in the two main characters and their HEA. Loretta Chase’s writing style flows effortlessly and this is just one of the many things I have always loved about this author. The plot is very much character driven and I felt that I really got the chance to delve deep into their lives. All and all, this was one fantastic read and should not be missed.
A DUKE IN SHINING ARMOR is such a great start to the Difficult Dukes series and I, for one, can not wait for the second installment.
About Loretta Chase
Loretta Chase has worked in academe, retail, and the visual arts, as well as on the streets-as a meter maid-and in video, as a scriptwriter. She might have developed an excitingly checkered career had her spouse not nagged her into writing fiction. Her bestselling historical romances, set in the Regency and Romantic eras of the early 19th century, have won a number of awards, including the Romance Writers of America’s Rita. For more about her past, her books, and what she does and doesn’t do on social media, please visit her website http://www.LorettaChase.com.