Avon, $7.99, ISBN 978-0-06-245738-7
Historical Romance, 2017
Review scores can sometimes be misleading because there are books which are too well written to be given one oogie or two, but at the same time, they are not good enough to get four oogies. This doesn’t seem so bad on paper, but in the case of Loretta Chase’s A Duke in Shining Armor, it doesn’t get four oogies from me because I am bored by the whole story. It gets three oogies by default, but considering that my reaction to it is best described as “supreme indifference”, the rating is more of a reflection of how it is so average that I’d forget everything about it in ten minutes after I’m done with this review and have no longer any reason to try to recall anything about it anymore.
This is the first book in a trilogy revolving around the “Their Dis-Graces”, three dukes who are so inappropriate and slutty that we virtuous readers are immediately supposed to ovulate at even the very idea of these guys existing in a romance novel. One of them is already married, though, so I guess the poor wife will soon die – not from STD, of course, at least not from one caught from her husband, since romance heroes have natural immunity from accountability of their promiscuity – or turn out to be a slut, or there will be some estrangement-and-reunion story down the road. In this one, though, the hero is Hugh Philemon Ancaster, the Duke of Ripley.
Ripley is supposedly not so pretty, although he likes and gets his alcohol and ladies just fine. Ripley’s BFF the Duke of Ashmont is supposed to marry Olympia Hightower, a supposedly bookish sort. I say “supposedly” because in this story the main characters are not the most well drawn types. The author focuses a lot on repetitive mental lusting and bride-on-the-run shenanigans that these two end up coming off like some amalgamations of the author’s heroes and heroines from previous books sloppily crammed into this story because the author absolutely needs a hero and a heroine to make the story happen.
Anyway, Olivia bolts on the day of her wedding, fuelled by alcohol-induced courage. Ripley has to leave the completely drunk Ashmont to chase after the bride, and what do you know, he helps Olivia without fully understanding why, Olivia keeps going despite thinking that maybe she needs to go back as the wedding would bring in the dough to help her siblings and family maintain their current living standards, and these two just keep going and going until they reach the inevitable happily ever after for themselves. Throughout it all, conflicts stem from Olivia’s constant waffling on what she wants to do, and I like her better when she is drunk because then she’d be able to make a decision and stick to it. I’m not sure why Ripley keeps going along with her, other than he’s always been attracted to her but never acted on it until the opportunity arises. I’m not sure why Olivia is in love with Ripley, as her mental lusting inevitably boils down to her telling me over and over that he’s “a man”. Yes, he’s a man, darling; tell me something I don’t know.
So, I guess that the romance in A Duke in Shining Armor comes together mostly because alcohol and bridal jitters work in tandem to get the wishy-washy heroine to do something. That something may be dumb, but my god, at least she’s committing to a decision instead of just whining incessantly – which she does a lot when she’s sober, alas. It also happens because… the hero likes an adventure? A chase? As for Ashmont, who cares. He’s just a drunk, and naturally, he’s drunk and slutty because he has all these issues, how sad, and of course after the predictable confrontation with Ripley, he’d eventually let his bride-to-be and his BFF shack up because heaven forbid we have any emotional drama in this story that can’t be boiled down to: “Repartee. Banter. They happen. Now laugh.”
As I’ve said, though, the writing is fine, the banters are fine, so the story is too polished to get two oogies from me. But at the same time, it is so blah and forgettable that I don’t even feel cheated or disappointed when I reach the last page. I’m so indifferent to it – it is the ultimate DGAF read.