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
TOUR WIDE GIVEAWAY DETAILS
GIVEAWAY TERMS & CONDITIONS: Open to US shipping addresses only. One winner will receive a paperback copy of A Duke In Shining Armor by Loretta Chase. This giveaway is administered by Pure Textuality PR on behalf of Avon Romance. Giveaway ends 12/5/2017 @ 11:59pm EST. Avon Romance will send the winning copies out to the winner directly. Limit one entry per reader and mailing address. Duplicates will be deleted.
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.
Read an Excerpt:
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.
Hugh Ancaster, the Duke of Ripley, along with Dukes Blackwood and Ashmont, have been best friends since their school days at Eton. They are now nearing thirty years old, and their years of drunkenness, debauchery, fighting, and duels have earned them the name of, “Their Dis-Graces.” Although they’re wealthy, handsome, and, of course, dukes, polite society avoids them.
Lady Olympia Hightower is now twenty five years old. After several seasons, she has given up her dream of finding genuine love. One day, she sees Ashmont, who seems to be in a continual state of inebriation, almost run over, and manages to pull him to safety. She then puts him in her own carriage and sees him safely home. Ashmont is stunned at such kindness from a lady, and decides that he will court her. Olympia is well aware of Ashmont’s reputation, and realizes that if she should marry him, he will continue with his rakish ways and never be faithful. She also knows that she may not get another offer, and his wealth will greatly help her family. Despite her misgivings, she agrees to marry him, and it’s now her wedding day. Her mother provides her with some brandy laced tea to settle her nerves. Then Olympia discards the tea and goes straight for the brandy, which has the opposite effect of calming her. We now have a runaway bride.
Although it’s his wedding day, Ashmont is in his usual state of drunkenness. He has tasked Ripley with being sure that he gets to the church, that he has the ring, and that all proceeds smoothly. Ripley takes his task seriously, and when he discovers that Olympia has bolted, he takes off in pursuit of her. Ripley is firmly in favor of this marriage, believing that Olympia will be very good for Ashmont. Yet, he finds himself agreeing to all of Olympia’s demands to help her escape, many of which are hilarious. As their path takes them out of the city, first to her aunt’s home, then his, things begin to change. Ripley thinks about how he’s noticed Olympia all these years, yet never approached her. He regrets never taking a chance on making her his own, and now it’s too late. Olympia also noticed Ripley, and thinks about how she always wished they could have danced.
Over the next few days, Ripley fights his feelings, urging Olympia to return to town and Ashmont. When they finally succumb to sharing some kisses, Olympia knows what she wants – it’s Ripley, and she’s brave enough to tell him so. But Ripley can’t betray his best friend, no matter what his own feelings are, so he resists. Olympia, however, decides to use every weapon she has to change Ripley’s mind, and the innocent seduces the seducer. Their chemistry is off the charts, and Ripley knows that he can’t give her up, even knowing that it will cost him his best friend, and will, no doubt, result in a duel.
Without a doubt, A DUKE IN SHINING ARMOR is one of the best, if not THE best book I have read this year. Ripley is to die for – from his amazement that Olympia would prefer his dark looks to Ashmont’s golden beauty, to his sense of honor to his friend, to his praise of Olympia’s beauty. As he realizes that he’s truly in love, he shows a romantic streak that brought tears to my eyes. His promise of fidelity to Olympia is swoonworthy, and his care of her speaks volumes as to his true character. Olympia, in turn, had no illusions about herself, thinking she’s boring and unattractive. Ripley’s love brings out her passionate and naughty nature and her self confidence. She has always been kind and compassionate, but now she’s a force to be reckoned with. There are so many wonderful scenes in this book, some humorous, some joyful, and some tear inducing. Loretta Chase is in top form, as she weaves her magic to bring an impossible situation to a happy ever after. I love every word in A DUKE IN SHINING ARMOR, and I adore Ripley and Olympia. This book is amazing, and has everything I look for in a story. I give it my highest recommendation, and urge you to move it to the top of your reading list.