Book Review- A Duke By Default by Alyssa Cole

Book Review- A Duke By Default by Alyssa Cole

Book Review- A Duke By Default by Alyssa ColeA Duke by Default by Alyssa Cole
Also in this series: A Princess in Theory, Once Ghosted, Twice Shy, A Prince on Paper
Series: Reluctant Royals #2
Published by Avon on July 31, 2018
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Scottish Highlands
Pages: 374
Format: Paperback
Source: Self Purchased
ISBN: 0062685562
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Award-winning author Alyssa Cole’s Reluctant Royals series continues with a woman on a quest to be the heroine of her own story and the duke in shining armor she rescues along the way

New York City socialite and perpetual hot mess Portia Hobbs is tired of disappointing her family, friends, and—most importantly—herself. An apprenticeship with a struggling swordmaker in Scotland is a chance to use her expertise and discover what she’s capable of. Turns out she excels at aggravating her gruff silver fox boss…when she’s not having inappropriate fantasies about his sexy Scottish burr.

Tavish McKenzie doesn’t need a rich, spoiled American telling him how to run his armory…even if she is infuriatingly good at it. Tav tries to rebuff his apprentice, and his attraction to her, but when Portia accidentally discovers that he’s the secret son of a duke, rough-around-the-edges Tav becomes her newest makeover project.

Forging metal into weapons and armor is one thing, but when desire burns out of control and the media spotlight gets too hot to bear, can a commoner turned duke and his posh apprentice find lasting love?

*May Contain Spoilers*

A Duke By Default is the second book in the reluctant royals series and man this book was just as good as the first one and it kicked butt!! This book was so wonderful and of course, I was expecting it with Alyssa Cole at the helm, but man bring me a sexy scot (no matter the century) and I cave. But it was so much more depth than I was really expecting and I loved getting to see a more personal view to Portia. This is a story that features a heroine that is the “knight in shining armor” for her Duke and seeing Portia being such a strong rock for our hero was so heart felt and really get to your emotions in all the right ways.

Our lovely book starts our when our heroine, Portia Hobbs, accepts an internship in Edinburgh, Scotland to learn to be a swordmaker and work along side the man that started a medieval martial arts center. At first, she is a bit disappointed when he promises to come pick her up from the airport, only to one of his associates pick her up. Portia is wanting a fresh start with this job where she takes a step back from drinking and the one night stands she has made a habit of.

But unfortantely her goal to have this new job start off without a hitch, doesn’t exactly go according to plan here.  View Spoiler » not exactly the best way to greet your new boss for sure so yeah he isn’t happy and now Portia is feeling a bit down with the whole situation but she also refuses to give up and let this ruin her future.

Tavish agrees to give her a chance despite their first meeting, at first Tavish is very resistent to even working with Portia, she seems too clean and put together for what he does. He is 38 years old, the son of Chilean mother and a Scottish birth father, although his step father is his real father. He has always had an interest in historical weaponry, most especially medieval weapons like claymores and swords and the like. Tavish wants to have a place that everyone is welcome, no matter where they come from and that everyone deserves equal opportunities and not to be judged by the color of their skin. He is patient with children and seeks them out to bring them to his classes to “keep them out of trouble”. Tavis is a bit grumpy and has an outer gruff layer, but has a vulnerability that appeals to Portia.

“do you have any books about dukes?” The librarian’s eyes went wide and she rubbed her hands together with glee. “We have a fantastic romance section,” she said. “Do you need recommendations? How do you like your dukes? Grumpy? Tortured? Alpha, beta, or alpha in the streets, beta in the sheets?” “Actually, I meant nonfiction,” Portia said glumly. The librarian sighed. “Aye. Just a warning, love—the non-fic dukes are not nearly as fun.” Portia sighed. The librarian had no idea.”

Portia has her own vulnerabilities though that she is dealing with. She struggles with ADHD, she suffers guilt from certain circumstances with her sister and her parents. Her parents don’t understand Portia, and they don’t accept her for who she is. They tend to put her down because she is single and 30 and hasn’t decided on what she wants for a career. So she has some personal emotional struggles that she deals with daily and trying not to get back in the rut of “pleasing ” her parents that could never be satisfied with who she really is. I really connected with Portia, because I see so much of myself in her. ( I am 31, single and still unsure of the career I want and I don’t have the best relationship with my folks so I resonated with her struggles)

The romance begins pretty slowly between Tavish and Portia, I would definitely put this in a slow burn romance column. At first, we have the whole boundary of the fact that these two don’t really like each other very much and then we also have a bit of angst between them. Tavish is a grouch at times, doesn’t like technology or many people bugging him about things. Portia is quite opposite, she is a social creature, she lives for her phone and the computer and is more upbeat and happy most of the time. But we see how ADHD is a daily struggle for her, and I really liked seeing a more realistic viewpoint of it in a romance, because it is real for many people in the world today, and Alyssa Cole did a great job of implementing it in Portia’s personality.

I actually loved the way that Tavish and Portia come together in this story, and seeing how Portia is slowly saving Tavish and his buisiness which sales are really dropping and he doesn’t know why. So Portia works are revamping his website, and making the company more presentable. She is very knowledgable when it comes to medieval weaponry and Tavish slowly starts to realize how much she is doing for him. But then there is a kicker, in her research, she stumbles across something that will change Tavish’s life forever, of who his birth father is and that he is in line for a title. This is where their relationships connects even more, because Tavish start to rely on Portia but begins to realize he needs to see if he can handle the pressure on his own.

Because if anyone should be worrying about not being good enough, it’s me. I’m a bloody Bodotria geezer who makes swords and has a shite attitude. Christ, what are you even doing standing this close to me? Are you mad?” Her next sob turned into choked laughter, and she looked up at him with a sliver of pleasure in her eyes. “Bodotria Geezer is your new supervillain name.

What I really liked is seeing what a strong pairing these two were. Portia and Tavis are so good for each other and balance each other out just right. Portia is truly remarkable in this book and how she helps Tavis is so many different ways. I admire an author that can make the heroine be the “knight in shining armor” and boy is she ever….he even calls her his “knight”

I wish you could see yourself through someone else’s eyes. Mine. You can think what you want about yourself, but I’ve two eyes and a brain in my head and the view right now? It’s bloody brilliant.

I really liked seeing this close connection form between Tavish and Portia and seeing them come to where they fight for each other and wanting to stay together and what they are both willing to do to make that happen. I would say that this ending is between a HFN and a HEA, it wasn’t exactly either one, but I am leaning towards HEA. From beginning to end this romance is engaging, full of laughs and sexual tension to make you swoon!!  A Satisfying romance that keeps you fully engaged in this sweet and loveable pairing.


About Alyssa Cole

Alyssa Cole is a science editor, pop culture nerd, and romance junkie who splits her time between fast-paced NYC and island-paced life in the Caribbean.

In addition to writing, she has hosted a romance book club and taught romance writing at the Jefferson Market Library in NYC. When she’s not busy writing, traveling, and learning French, she can be found watching cat videos on the Internet with her real-life romance hero.

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