So I can’t remember the last time I picked up a physical book and actually finished reading it. I have, let’s call her, an “aggressive reader” who’s just graduating from board books to paper pages. She is beyond fascinated with Mommy’s books, and is ready to read them and abuse the heck out of them. As a non-spine breaker, it makes my soul hurt to see her grab books. But she’s getting better! So when I saw that my library didn’t have a waitlist for the new Loretta Chase in paperback I took the risk. And the copy survived beautifully!
Loretta Chase wrote one of the greatest romances ever, 20+ years ago, Lord of Scoundrels. Even being “dated” now it still lives up to the hype. I haven’t read many others of hers, but Miss Wonderful and Dukes Prefer Blondes. All three are excellent, solid, sturdy romances. And that’s what you get here: solid, dependable romance.
It’s Olympia’s wedding day, she’s about to marry the Duke of Ashmont as she’s 26 and a practical, sensible girl. And drunk. So’s the Duke of Ashmont. And when his bride doesn’t show he sends his bff, the Duke of Ripley, to go see what’s afoot. Ripley finds Olympia trying to climb out the library window. And our adventure goes from there.
And it was so relaxing. Our couple bickered, got into scrapes, but there was never anything wild happening. No one was the villain, our hero and heroine got to know each other, as Chase states, more than most brides and grooms at the time even with her condensed timeline of less than a week. She set up the other 2 main romances in the series (and a sweet, side third romance). And she pulled it all off quite gracefully. I usually don’t like romances of the “hate to love” aka bicker and bicker until all of sudden love, but she handled it deftly here. They bicker, but it’s not nearly as aggressive as most other romances. Also, the heroine’s first defining character feature is kindness, and I really loved that. She was a decent person and that’s why the Duke of Ashmont wanted to marry her. How about that?
The condensed timeline, even with Chase’s answer, still felt a little rushed, but I was okay with it. The only thing I didn’t really love was for the first third plus, anytime Ripley touches Olympia in the slightest he gets all “thinking” with his other head. It just felt a little dated and ick, but honestly it didn’t continue as he developed feeling for her as a person and in the end didn’t detract from the story.
This is all to say, after The Year of Disappointing Romance that was 2017, this was published in November and one of my surprising wins from the year. If you need a historical romance that hits all the beats with people not being awful to each other look no further.