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Review ❤️ A Duke by Default by Alyssa Cole

July 31, 2018

a duke by default alyssa cole

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?

Release Date: Jul 31, 2018
Series: Reluctant Royals
Book: 2
Heat Level: Hot
Publisher: HarperCollins
Imprint: Avon Books
Price: $6.99


So… as I type this I’m frustrated because my original review went missing. Floated away on some holiday and I had a lot of good things to say about this book in those words. I’m going to do my best to figure those good words out again.

First and foremost being, this series is not letting me down. It’s exploring tropes and sweeping me off my feet. It makes the idea of being royal, or remotely close to it, exciting again. Add in some humor, unexpected plot twists, a story that’s serious without being too angsty, and Cole has produced another solid read.

Starting with Grumpy Tavish McKenzie, the sword maker. I was given a hero worth swooning over. The Scottish burr, kilts, armor, and glowering stares *le sigh*. Tavish is an American girl’s dream, except for the excessively grumpy part. He’s all stubborn and a bit of a brute. He’s also our heroine’s employer. Attempting to do good for his neighborhood and keep his business afloat, the heroine is supposed to be there to help as an intern. Though he finds himself attracted to this intern who tries to kill him within seconds of meeting him, of course.

Then there’s our heroine, Portia. I’ll admit, I didn’t like Portia too much in the first book. I had trouble envisioning her as the heroine in this story. Cole had the Herculean task of making this woman, who I’d come to know as extremely selfish and a drunk, likable. The author pulled it off. I fell for Portia in a big way. She grew up in this story and became so much more. I think her growth was more prominent than the hero’s.

The twists I can’t share. Just know that this story surprised me. Things unfolded in an expected way, which is delightful. I’m a reader and a writer, nothing excites me more than stories that I don’t see coming. The best part about a romance is the journey to the happily ever after, and I loved how this one took me to places I did not expect.

Another thing Cole continues to excel at, memorable secondary characters. I hope Cole will get to back track and give us at least a novella for Tavish’s younger brother Jamie and his romance story to the Whovian-loving chef, Cheryl. Plus, the playboy prince Johan made a hefty appearance and I have it on good authority he’ll be playing a big role in book three.

The only thing holding me back… the overarching storyline felt cut short or rushed. Trust me when I say it took a long time to pin down those words. The book is by no means a small book, but in the grand scheme of things there were elements I believe were wrapped too fast for me personally.

Overall, this book is for those who love modern day royal-style stories. Think Megan Mulry’s Unruly Royal series.

~ Landra

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One Comment

  1. this looks so good–and the dress on the cover


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