Review: A Duke by Default by Alyssa Cole

Posted July 31, 2018 by Jen in Contemporary Romance, Rating A, Reviews Tags: , , ,

A Duke by Default
Alyssa Cole
Rating: A-

What I’m Talking About:

A Duke by Default is a sweet, simmering, sexy romance staring a reforming socialite and a brooding master sword maker. 

For those who read the first title in Ms. Cole’s Reluctant Royals series, you will see a significant change in Portia right from the get go. I have to admit, I wasn’t certain the author would be able to transform Portia into a likable human, let alone a heroine, so quickly. But when the story opens, Portia has been sober for a few months, working on Project: New Portia, becoming someone who isn’t looking to hide from her issues, but rather deal with life head on. She methodically analyzes her decisions to make sure she’s making better choices, and with the nudging of her sister Reggie, she’s discovering that maybe her issues run a bit deeper than just being a perpetual f-up. Getting inside Portia’s mind and seeing life from her perspective helped foster empathy, and learning of how awful her parents treat her made me realize why she built her walls so high. Portia is relatable and real, embodying the fears of failure and disappointment. I’m sympathetic but more importantly, I want her to succeed and want her to be understood and appreciated.

It takes someone like Tav to break down the walls Portia has constructed. While he’s immediately attracted to Portia, it bothers him; therefore, he pushes her away trying his best to fight any affection and desire. But New Portia won’t just sit around and put up with his attitude, after all, she’s there as his apprentice whether he likes it or not. Overtime, the pair develops a friendship and common bond, eventually giving into their mutual lust. I loved the slow pace of their romance because it fit the characters and storyline. New Portia needs to love herself first, and Tav actually encourages that above all else. 

The conflict of the story stems from Portia’s discover that Tav is actually the only child of a deceased duke. Being thrust into the spotlight adds a heavy weight on everyone in Tav’s life. And Portia’s desire to help and please everyone strains their budding feelings. While the ending comes easily, the road is bumping and filled with emotional highs and lows. I enjoyed watching this one play out right up until reading The End.

A Duke by Default is completely enjoyable and entertaining read. Ms. Cole won me over with the first title, but has become a must-read with this one. She tackles serious social issues while mixing in pop culture nuggets (The Highlander reference had me cackling) and a beautiful romance. Portia and Tav have a lot to take on, but together, they are strong enough to make it.

My Rating:  A- Enjoyed A Lot

About the Book:

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: July 31, 2018
Reluctant Royals #2
Contemporary Romance
paperback (384 pages), e-book, audiobook
Book Source: Edelweiss/Publisher

Purchase Info:

Reviews in the Series:
A Princess in Theory by Alyssa Cole (Reluctant Royals #1)