A Duke in Shining Armor
Much to the delight of her impecunious family, Lady Olympia Hightower has landed the Duke of Ashmont, who is not only handsome but wealthy. Why then is this bookish, bespectacled (and slightly inebriated) bride-to-be climbing out the window in her elaborate wedding dress to make her escape when the ceremony is ready to begin? The Duke of Ripley sets out in pursuit, determined to bring her back to his friend, and thus begins a wild chase, filled with various unlikely mishaps and the shedding of wet clothing. During this bonding experience they fall in love, but obligations to friends and family stand in the way.
This is an entertaining and fast-moving story, though the comedy teeters on the edge of farce at times. It raises serious social issues: the pressure on aristocratic women to marry well, regardless of personal feelings; double standards in judging the behavior of men and women; the indulgence that overlooks misconduct by members of a privileged elite. (Not much has changed, it would appear.) Although rather a lot of space is spent on their physical and emotional reactions to each other, the protagonists are attractive, their dialogue witty, and their introspection insightful. Definitely recommended.