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A Duke by Default

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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 Scotl 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?


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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 Scotl 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?

30 review for A Duke by Default

  1. 3 out of 5

    Melanie

    ARC provided to me by the publicist in exchange for an honest review. #1.) A Princess in Theory ★★★★ “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” Friends, this was nothing short of pure joy to read. Please, if you’re looking for a heartwarming, funny, and expertly crafted romance, please look no further. A Duke by Default follo ARC provided to me by the publicist in exchange for an honest review. #1.) A Princess in Theory ★★★★ “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” Friends, this was nothing short of pure joy to read. Please, if you’re looking for a heartwarming, funny, and expertly crafted romance, please look no further. A Duke by Default follows the main character in A Princess in Theory, Ledi’s, best friend Portia! But this time, Portia is on a journey to change her life and be a different person, and what better way than with a change of scenery and career? And maybe she will cross paths with someone who is much more than meets the eye himself. ➽ Portia Hobbs - Black American woman, who is ready to risk it all, move across the world, and try her luck at being an apprentice for a swordsmith in Scotland, because she is in her late twenties and still hasn’t found the career that is right for her. “Everyone acts like you’re just supposed to find what you love right away, and if you don’t, just do something you don’t love. And if you do neither of those things you’re being selfish.” ➽ Tavish McKenzie - Biracial (Chilean and Scottish) man, who was left Bodotria Armory and is currently running it with his brother and sister-in-law, even though its becoming harder and harder for him to turn a profit, but hopefully a new apprentice can turn things around. “Pull out your sword,” she commanded and Tav was certain it was the sexiest thing a woman had ever uttered to him.” And spoiler, she does. Portia and Tavish’s chemistry is out of this world. These two characters feel so real, and seeing them start out a little rocky, but slowly become friends, and maybe something more, was so beautiful. But the entire cast of side characters are honestly magnificent as well. Like, I truly am going to say a prayer every single night that Alyssa Cole never stops writing, and that she never stops blessing us with more characters from this world. Seriously, I love them all with my entire being. ➽ Reggie - Portia’s twin sister, famous blogger, brain virus survivor, uses a wheelchair, and is my hero. Seriously, I’m ready for her book with her and her mystery man immediately. Please. ➽ Cheryl - Chinese, owns a freakin’ Doctor Who themed Chinese restaurant named Doctor Hu’s (honestly, goals), and is Tavish’s sister-in-law. ➽ Jamie - Jamaican, Tavish’s brother, and Cheryl’s partner! Also, the most lovable character in this book, seriously. I want him and Cheryl’s background story so badly! “ . . . it’s just how your brain is wired. And maybe there’s nothing wrong with that. Maybe there’s nothing wrong with you.” Throughout Portia’s trip she slowly is coming to terms with her having ADHD. ADHD is something that is very personal to me, and the spectrum is actually very large; from hyperactivity (me) to inattention, and everything else in-between. I struggled with putting all my time and energy into something to just stop caring about it shortly after, running in unhealthy and huge amounts, fidgeting constantly, and just feeling restless in general for most of my life, until I realized that maybe my actions weren’t as “normal” as I was lead to believe. Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, along with most mental illness, is still hella stigmatized, but seeing Portia slowing coming to the realization that nothing is wrong her, that she was just a little different, that she’s the furthest thing from a failure, and her realizing her self-worth was an honor to read and brought me to tears so many times. Also, this is the third book in a row I’ve read with a main character living their best lives with ADHD, and damn, what a blessing. “Something in her loosened with relief as the possible diagnosis repeated itself in a loop in her brain. ADHD! ADHD! ADHD! She had a word to use for her behavioral patterns. There were other people who felt the same way she did, maybe.” We also get to see Portia dealing with the abusive things her parents say, while completely ignoring how their passive-aggressive jabs could hurt their daughter. From comparing her to her sister, to saying horrible things about how they wish the outcome of her sister’s medical emergency should have happened to her, to them just not caring about how Portia wishes to live her life and find something that makes her happy. And not to get too personal, but again, super relatable to me and my life. “Just because your parents don’t appreciate what you do doesn’t mean it holds less value.” This book also shines a heavy and bright spotlight on the refugee crisis going on today in Europe. America isn’t the only place that treats immigrants unfairly, and this book really shows how strongly fear tactics can work. People do horrible things in the name of a “border” and this book shows how children will mimic the terrible things their parents say. Oh, and how white people will say terrible things and make terrible jokes to people who they think are white, too. “It’s just a joke, brah!” No, you’re just racist. Tavish and his loved ones always channel everything back positively and give back to the community and the kids who feel lost and helpless. This book also weighs in on Gentrification and how people will come in and buy a ton of low-income business and residences and then make them a profit while completely forcing the residence to seek other places to live their lives. Seriously, these books pack such a powerful punch. “Here’s the thing with teasing. It might seem like torture now, sitting there wanting what you can’t have, but when you finally get it? It’ll be the best you’ve ever had.” But even though this book has important issues, the romance is steamy perfection. Like, the sexual tension in this book starts right out of the gate, and it has the most rewarding payoff. And, I mean, this is a damn story about a girl falling in love with a damn swordsmith! Not only have I never read anything like that before, I’m not sure if I’ve even heard of a sexier premise. Also, this book has Portia and Tavish going to a renfest! Like, one of the saddest parts of me moving across the country is not being able to go to Michigan’s Renaissance Festival! I was living for every scene in this book, seriously. Plus, this book is downright funny. I never laugh out loud from books, ever. This book and A Princess in Theory left my sides hurting. The banter in this book is perfection. And just in general, Portia and her friends are goals. Complete and utter goals. From unconditional love, to the best and most realistic banter. “Portia: 😘 Ledi: Same thing I do every night: studying viruses and trying to stop them from taking over the world. Nya: Playing a dating sim to make up for the real date I had earlier. Rognath the Vampire Lord is much better at courtship than Luke, who started the night by calling me Sexual Chocolate and went downhill from there.” Overall, I loved this story so much. The writing is superb, the characters are to die for, and the messages mean more to me than I have words for. I completely recommend this series with my entire heart and soul. And I am so hyped to read all about Johan and my favorite texter in A Prince on Paper! And thank you so much, Alyssa Cole, for this story that I will keep close to my heart forever. Blog | Instagram | Twitter | Tumblr | Youtube | Twitch The quotes above were taken from an ARC and are subject to change upon publication. Trigger and content warnings for hurtful parents and their hurtful comments (who think they aren’t being hurtful), people being ignorant and gross to immigrants (always in a negative light and challenged completely), talk of past racist racial profiling from the police, a quick scene with assault, and for a human drugging another human.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Alienor ✘ French Frowner ✘

    Two weeks ago, when I learned that I'd be part of the blog tour for A Duke By Default, I was so excited. Everything about it sounded amazing : a black heroine with ADHD? A commoner turned duke? Scotland? My, my. It's as if this novel had been written for me, really.  I posted elated tweets about it, messaged all my friends, wrote a prereview on Goodreads, and then, I didn't read it. Oops. I spent the next two weeks randomly looking at the cover, clutching my ereader, before reading something e Two weeks ago, when I learned that I'd be part of the blog tour for A Duke By Default, I was so excited. Everything about it sounded amazing : a black heroine with ADHD? A commoner turned duke? Scotland? My, my. It's as if this novel had been written for me, really.  I posted elated tweets about it, messaged all my friends, wrote a prereview on Goodreads, and then, I didn't read it. Oops. I spent the next two weeks randomly looking at the cover, clutching my ereader, before reading something else entirely. And watching Anne with an E. And writing lists of what I need to do before I'm back to school in a month. Oh, and I also made charts listing the qualifications I need to acquire next year (I'm coming back to uni while keeping my job as an Elementary teacher). Yay, me. I wouldn't say I stalled, because it's normal behavior to me. I have ADHD (combined type) and sometimes, it's so hard to do what I'm supposed to do when my new projects engross me. I just... wait for it to be the very last moment, even though that's something I want to do and I'm interested in. Sigh. Are you tired? Because I am. Anyway. Yesterday (of course, YESTERDAY), I looked at the date and kind of freaked out. Leave it to me to wait for THE VERY LAST DAY, jesus. I opened my ereader, started reading, and never stopped for one moment until the end. A Duke by Default is that good. So don't be like me, and read it now, you won't be disappointed.  First : PORTIA. Oh my god, Portia. I adore her. I've spent four hours wanting to hug this amazing woman. See, Portia has always compared herself to others, especially her very organized and driven twin sister, Reggie. And she found herself lacking. Lacking purpose, perseverance, organization. Her parents don't support her choices, and she's blaming herself for not being who the world wants her to be. Calm. Reliable. Sensible. Her constant self-doubt was really hard to read, but oh so relatable. Like her, I've been diagnosed with ADHD as an adult, and you know what's funny? I decided to take the test after having watched a video, too. THIS ONE. (and a million more of hers, OF COURSE, because #hyperfixation) It was a revelation , because like Portia, I've spent years asking myself what the fuck was wrong with me, if I really was just lazy, impulsive, and selfish. Why couldn't I stay calm at school, when it seemed so easy to others? Why couldn't I keep contact with my friends, when I very much loved them? Why was my office filled with piles of paper, when I had devised a whole new filing system? I just thought I was very bad at adulting, honestly, and why wouldn't I, when people around me kept telling me that my problem was immaturity? The thing is, I've always been good at what interests me. When I was in high-school, I spent my senior year skipping class and reading philosophy books in a café instead. After dropping out of uni the first time, I started again three years later and studied correspondence courses in French Lit. I was finally successful. I could work at night, hyperfocus on my computer, and feed my (quite) obsessional character. Finding what to do with my degree was another trial entirely, but after a while I finally discovered teaching and now, six years after, I'm forever grateful to have found this amazing job that constantly captivates me (and also : I can spend my days standing up, woot). It doesn't mean that I'm perfect, of course. I still randomly obsess over new projects (lately I've been learning Swedish, because..... well, because), my house is still full of random cluster, i had to ask my friends to STOP giving me green plants because they kept dying, and I have to put alarms to remember to call my mum (annnnnnd for everything, really). My ADHD will never disappear, but I'm kinda proud of this part of myself, now. What I meant to say with all this personal rambling (sorry) (I forgot to mention that I did that a lot, oops) is : reading about Portia and following her while she realizes that she's a fantastic person and not a mess was a wonderful experience.  I'm forever grateful to Alyssa Cole for having created a character I could see myself in. Thank you, thank you, thank you. I think about all the fellow readers out there who might have ADHD, and I can't even express how happy it makes me feel, knowing that Portia exists.  What about the romance, then? Ahhh. It was the perfect slow-burn, without nonsensical obstacles but rather, understandable issues that prevent Tavis and Portia to be together. You see, Tavis, grumpy but with a heart of gold Tavis, is Portia's boss. As much as he's attracted to her (and trust me, he is), he doesn't want to be this guy. Not to mention that after a few bad experiences (I can relate to that, too), Portia really doesn't want to hook up with anyone. Add life-changing discoveries (Tavis is a duke, no less!), very realistic struggles due to social inequalities, and you'll get why their relationship isn't an easy one to start. They'll get there, though. They'll get there, and they'll win your heart along the way. Sure, you might be annoyed by Tavis at first, but trust me : he'll win you over. Our girl really has the best of tastes ;) Filled with friendship and family, A Duke by Default is more than a romance : for me, it's also a sort of coming of age, whose kind we don't see enough : tell me, why should novels about teenagers the only ones that deal with getting our shit together? Why do we live in a society in which it's not okay to ignore what we want to do when we're 30? That's bullshit! There's no rush. All in all, a great novel I'm very glad to have (finally) read. Please give it a chance.  Oh, and friends : ADHD symptoms aren't character flaws, and like Portia, you're probably full of talent. Don't sell yourself short.  You're amazing <3 Not convinced? Why not watch this video about the AWESOME sides of ADHD? For more of my reviews, please visit:

  3. 3 out of 5

    Nenia ✨ Queen of Literary Trash, Protector of Out-of-Print Gems, Khaleesi of Bodice Rippers, Mother of Smut, the Unrepentant, Breaker of Convention ✨ Campbell

    HER DRESS!!!!!!! HER DRESS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I'm screaming 10/10 would buy

  4. 4 out of 5

    Riley

    Scotland + sword fighting + salt and pepper duke + heroine with ADHD + Harry Potter and Doctor Who puns I adored this. Also bless Alyssa cole for not referring to female anatomy as a “pearl” or “mound”

  5. 4 out of 5

    Geri Reads

    4.5 stars! “You’re my liege. You’re the person I’m fighting for.” Alyssa Cole delivered another sweet and heartfelt romance with A Duke by Default! She continues to be one of my go-to contemporary romance authors these days. There's just something about her stories and her characters that speaks to me as a reader. And this book, is a great example of what this talented author can do! Portia Hobbs might be my favorite Alyssa Cole heroine to date. When she was introduced, she was a bit of a hot m 4.5 stars! “You’re my liege. You’re the person I’m fighting for.” Alyssa Cole delivered another sweet and heartfelt romance with A Duke by Default! She continues to be one of my go-to contemporary romance authors these days. There's just something about her stories and her characters that speaks to me as a reader. And this book, is a great example of what this talented author can do! Portia Hobbs might be my favorite Alyssa Cole heroine to date. When she was introduced, she was a bit of a hot mess. She has a truckload of issues that made her an interesting character to me. I didn't like her that much in A Princess in Theory but I was curious about her. And I knew that Alyssa Cole is going to do her story justice. She was done with fuckboys, and fuckbosses for that matter, no matter how sexy their accents were. I was so right. Alyssa Cole not only made me sympathize with Portia, she made me love her. I wasn't even halfway in when I knew without a doubt that Portia would become one of my favorite contemporary romance heroines. No joke. Cole did a fantastic job exposing all of Portia's wounds, her hopes and dreams, and things that make her what or who she is. And I loved everything I read about her. But it wasn't just Portia who made this book for me. The hero, Tavish MacKenzie was Portia's boss, and he's grumpy and hot as hell. And if you've been following me for long enough, you'd know that I have a weakness for hot, grumpy heroes. Tav is a world-class grump, and he is perfect for Portia. Oh, he did some knuckleheaded things and had put his foot in his mouth a couple of times but he is a great hero. Her boss acted like a gruff, annoying jerk, but dammit there was something about a man who could casually mention Middle Cornish at dinner conversation without sounding pretentious that Portia found irresistible. It didn’t matter—she would resist. I loved these two characters individually and as a couple. Their romance was emotionally rich and compelling. It tugged at my emotions without being manipulative. The interaction between Tav and Portia is taut with sexual tension and chemistry, I had to stop and fan myself a couple of times because their chemistry was off the freaking charts. But it wasn't just their chemistry that drew me in. It was also the fact that these two characters genuinely liked and respected each other. Their banter and how they related to each other was just as satisfying as their red-hot chemistry. Not only that, I also loved the way Alyssa Cole wrote the secondary characters in this book. None of them felt like throwaways. Even that librarian who was in the book for like two pages, made me smile. Cole makes you notice them. She has a knack of elevating secondary characters that makes you genuinely interested in reading about them. I adored Jamie and Cheryl as well as Tavish's parents. His interactions with them is probably my favorites, outside of his interactions with Portia, of course. “We were attracted to each other, we kissed, you humped my leg a little, and everything’s fine now.” We also get to know Portia's accomplished twin, Reggie. Although, I wish there was more of her. Two other standout characters that I really liked was Nya and Johann. Eeep! Oh my gosh, there's so much I want to learn about these two. Again, I don't want to spoil anything but, you guys, I'm even more excited to read the third book in this series. I cannot wait! My only gripe about this book was the lack of epilogue. I mean, it doesn't even have to have an epilogue but I wish the ending was longer. It felt abrupt to me and there were some confrontations that I wanted to happen. I'm going to spoiler tag them, so enter at your own risk: (view spoiler)[One, I wish Portia get to confront her parents! I was really upset about the things they said, albeit they don't realize how hurtful they were. But still, they really did a number on Portia. Two. I wish Portia had told Tavish and Reggie and her parents about her ADHD diagnosis. I understood why Portia might have reservations but still, I wish she had told someone. (hide spoiler)] However, those things did not detract from my enjoyment of the book. Overall, A Duke by Default was fabulously charming read. You really won't want to miss this one. I know some readers are worried about Portia because of the things she did in the first book, but guys, trust. Alyssa Cole made me love this imperfect character and if she can do that to me, I reckon, she has a chance of making you love Portia as well. “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.” An ARC was provided for review purposes.

  6. 3 out of 5

    Hollis

    I'm not going to do a drawn out review for this one because I was stuck at the 15% mark of this book for dayyyyyys while I was out of town and also slumping and honestly I'm just glad to have finished something at this point. And I don't want to linger on this any more than I already have. I need to move on! But I do want to say that three-fourths of this is a solid four star read. We have diversity, an interracial romance where they both have their own issues with discrimination and privilege b I'm not going to do a drawn out review for this one because I was stuck at the 15% mark of this book for dayyyyyys while I was out of town and also slumping and honestly I'm just glad to have finished something at this point. And I don't want to linger on this any more than I already have. I need to move on! But I do want to say that three-fourths of this is a solid four star read. We have diversity, an interracial romance where they both have their own issues with discrimination and privilege brought to the table, mental heath rep, and by throwing in a bit of an age gap and a silver fox who -- surprise! -- discovers the truth of his parentage, well. It's a lot of greatness. My slump had nothing to do with what knocked this down a star and that can solely be dropped at the feet of the grumpy bawbag of a hero. I mostly loved Tav but he drank the stupid kool-aid near the end of this one that frustrated me and, also, unfortunately I felt Cole really rushed the wrap up. This was such a sweet, delightful, slowburn, though not easy or perfect, and then I really lost the love around.. oh, 75%? 80%? I did not love that the issues with Portia's parents weren't resolved (and maybe they aren't supposed to be but I needed some kind of closure or confrontation there). I didn't love that David's plot was left hanging (despite the fact that we can only assume he's going to get his). And there were a few other bits, too. Sure maybe I can (obviously can, no maybe) make these leaps but it just reinforced the rushed feeling of it all. I needed an epilogue at the very least. So, yeah. Mostly amazing but with poor resolution. However this is eons away from my experience with book one so in that regard I'm very glad to have read on in this series. Portia is an absolute star of a heroine.

  7. 3 out of 5

    Rincey

    Here for #swordbae

  8. 3 out of 5

    Tina

    This cover! Her dress! Her hair!! HIS Hair!!

  9. 3 out of 5

    Stacee

    I had seen a lot of talk over this series and I was eager to give this one a try. I loved Portia and Tavish. She’s so smart and sassy and he’s a pretend stoic who is actually a gooey marshmallow. Together they have loads of chemistry. I really liked the secondary characters and I’m so excited that Johan is the next book. Plot wise is was the slowest burn that ever burned in a contemp. I swear, this was like a regency book with the longing filled glances. My main complaints is that there just wasn I had seen a lot of talk over this series and I was eager to give this one a try. I loved Portia and Tavish. She’s so smart and sassy and he’s a pretend stoic who is actually a gooey marshmallow. Together they have loads of chemistry. I really liked the secondary characters and I’m so excited that Johan is the next book. Plot wise is was the slowest burn that ever burned in a contemp. I swear, this was like a regency book with the longing filled glances. My main complaints is that there just wasn’t enough conversation between Portia and Tav. This is sort of a part in the plot, but they have such fantastic banter than I would have loved more time with them pushing each other’s buttons. Overall, it was a story that kept me interested and made me crazy when the ending felt so abrupt. I hope we get to see more of these two {and some idea of their future} in the next book. **Huge thanks to Avon Books for providing the arc free of charge**

  10. 5 out of 5

    Truusje

    I really enjoyed the first half of the book. I loved Portia and grumpy Tav. I loved the secondary characters (even if Mary basically disappeared after she had outlived her usefulness). I loved the Edinburgh armoury setting. All was going well. But then the Duke-thing came up and I just couldn't suspend my disbelief. Too much of it was inaccurate and I just couldn't stop myself from picturing Prince Phillip every time the Duke of Edinburgh was mentioned. Which was a lot (though he never makes an a I really enjoyed the first half of the book. I loved Portia and grumpy Tav. I loved the secondary characters (even if Mary basically disappeared after she had outlived her usefulness). I loved the Edinburgh armoury setting. All was going well. But then the Duke-thing came up and I just couldn't suspend my disbelief. Too much of it was inaccurate and I just couldn't stop myself from picturing Prince Phillip every time the Duke of Edinburgh was mentioned. Which was a lot (though he never makes an actual appearance in the book but his wife the Queen does). This was also the point where I stopped believing in the chemistry between Portia and Tav; they're so caught up in Duking, there's just no space for a relationship to develop. The ending is rushed and not quite satisfying. In general I'm not a fan of romances involving royalty, but I enjoyed the first book in the series. This one, however, didn't work for me. And that's a pity because Alyssa Cole is a great writer.

  11. 3 out of 5

    Maria Rose

    A Duke by Default by Alyssa Cole is the second romance in her Reluctant Royals series. It follows the adventures of Portia Hobbs as she journeys to Scotland for a sword making apprenticeship, only to find herself falling for her grumpy boss. I don’t know how anyone can resist a plot like that (and I certainly couldn’t!) so it was with high expectations that I started this story and found it to be as interesting and delightful as I’d hoped! Portia is best friends with Ledi (heroine of A Princess i A Duke by Default by Alyssa Cole is the second romance in her Reluctant Royals series. It follows the adventures of Portia Hobbs as she journeys to Scotland for a sword making apprenticeship, only to find herself falling for her grumpy boss. I don’t know how anyone can resist a plot like that (and I certainly couldn’t!) so it was with high expectations that I started this story and found it to be as interesting and delightful as I’d hoped! Portia is best friends with Ledi (heroine of A Princess in Theory) despite their friendship going through some rough patches. Portia is fully willing to admit that’s her fault – an excess of drinking, coupled with other bad decisions and a not very supportive family means she’s got a reputation for instability. It’s time to turn over a new leaf, and what better way than to swear off alcohol and sign up for a three month apprenticeship as a sword maker in Scotland. There she can start over, use her extensive knowledge of medieval and architectural history that would qualify her for any number of museum jobs if she could figure out how to stick them out, and perhaps give as much to the Bodotria armory as she’ll get out of it. She just doesn’t count on her grumpy, sexy, silver fox boss pushing all of her buttons. Tavish McKenzie doesn’t quite know what to make of his American apprentice. She’s brash, she’s bold, she’s beautiful and …oh wait, she’s also his employee. With her social media skills, her plan to update his website, get the armory more recognition and clients, combined with her research into the building bequeathed to him by his biological but absentee father leads to some surprising other discoveries – namely, that’s he’s the heir to a Dukedom! Suddenly his quiet existence takes on new challenges, ones for which he’s happy to have Portia by his side to deal with the sudden fame and fortune. She comes from a wealthy society family and has the social skills to keep him from making a fool of himself. But even as they grow closer, becoming friends then lovers, there’s a clock ticking on their relationship with her three month apprenticeship flying by. Will they admit their true feelings for each other before it’s too late? For more of this review please visit Harlequin Junkie: http://harlequinjunkie.com/review-a-d... A copy of this story was provided by the publisher via Edelweiss for review.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Zoraida

    TAVISH 😍

  13. 3 out of 5

    The_Book_Queen

    ✦ Black socialite with ADHD takes an apprenticeship in Scotland ✦ . . . with a silver fox swordmaker (biracial -- Chilean/Scottish) ✦ It’s just so good?! Like, all of it? Do you know how many quotes I shared?! ✦ It's packs some emotional punches, especially as I could relate some to Portia. ✦ But it was also just fun and charming and brightened my day ✦ Slow, low burn but so much tension and I loved it [yes, okay, I wanted more sexytimes but what we -- finally! -- got was A++ so I'm okay with this] ✦ ✦ Black socialite with ADHD takes an apprenticeship in Scotland ✦ . . . with a silver fox swordmaker (biracial -- Chilean/Scottish) ✦ It’s just so good?! Like, all of it? Do you know how many quotes I shared?! ✦ It's packs some emotional punches, especially as I could relate some to Portia. ✦ But it was also just fun and charming and brightened my day ✦ Slow, low burn but so much tension and I loved it [yes, okay, I wanted more sexytimes but what we -- finally! -- got was A++ so I'm okay with this] ✦ I cannot wait for "fuckboy with a heart of gold" Johan to get his story next year (with Nya!) ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ If you wish to look at some quotes/thoughts I highlighted, please check out my Twitter feed

  14. 3 out of 5

    maggieandteddy

    4.25 stars! I read and really enjoyed Book 1 in this series, A Princess in Theory. This book is Book 1 heroine's BFF, Portia. The wacky BFF- of course. From the first page of this book, Portia is out to change her reputation as a screw up-party girl. She's in her late 20s and hasn't stayed with one thing long enough to call it a career. Portia and (fraternal) twin sister Reggie had grown up in a wealthy family. Portia is constantly questioned about her choices and when is she going to settle down 4.25 stars! I read and really enjoyed Book 1 in this series, A Princess in Theory. This book is Book 1 heroine's BFF, Portia. The wacky BFF- of course. From the first page of this book, Portia is out to change her reputation as a screw up-party girl. She's in her late 20s and hasn't stayed with one thing long enough to call it a career. Portia and (fraternal) twin sister Reggie had grown up in a wealthy family. Portia is constantly questioned about her choices and when is she going to settle down? Her parents-especially her mother, constantly point out Reggie's successes. Why can't she be more like Reggie. Portia aims to prove to her parents (and everyone she knows) that she doesn't need anyone to take care of her. She secures a 3 month internship at a sword-making foundry on the outskirts of Edinburgh, Scotland. She has a self-improvement project: New Portia. She goes a long way from home, but she aims to succeed in her new venture. I was a little confused by the odd choice for her internship. It was soon explained and seemed like it could happen. This is 3rd person POV Portia and the H, Tavish (Tav) get off to a rocky start. They have less than a meet cute. I really empathized with Portia. No one expects her to succeed. She constantly fights off the self-fulfilling prophecy. Tavish has to deal with his own feeling of worth. His mother was a Chilean immigrant to Scotland. Tav was born and never knew his dad growing up. Tav's mom married a Chilean man-that Tav calls Dad- his parents moved back to Chile-so his mom & "dad" appear only on the phone and FaceTime. Tav and his step brother Jamie-and Jamie's wife Cheryl run the armory. They are struggling with the business and fighting off land developers. Portia's parents run a very successful business in the U.S.. Portia thinks that she can improve the business/marketing for the armory and the lessons to the young students. She has a lot of great ideas that she presents to Tav and Jamie. I love this author's writing style. This is so beautifully written. I down-loaded an Epub copy (from Overdrive) so I couldn't highlight like I can with books (Mobi copies) on my Kindle. I would have highlighted the heck out of this book. There is a mention or two of Portia's learning difficulties, but I didn't read what was ever done to help with that. I think that Portia did really well to help with Tav and Jamie's business. She helped with their website, marketing for the fencing classes and the sword-making. Portia's biggest hurdle was believing in herself. I loved how Tav picked up on that. After his gruff start, he was very encouraging towards Portia. Tav's background is discovered - he's the secret son of a duke. How he deals with it-conflicts with Tav and Portia's budding relationship. I really liked this book, there was a little slow middle but the writing is so appealing to me + I just had to know what happens with these two! There was a sudden end & no epilogue. The next book is Johan (a supporting character in this book) and Nyla (from book 1). I will be reading that book too. I want more!

  15. 3 out of 5

    Al *the serial series skipper*

    I thought it was cute, unbelievable (view spoiler)[ the whole duke thing with the Queen showing up. pff. I know it's fiction but c'mon (hide spoiler)] but cute.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Taryn

    Ahhhh I got accepted for an ARC of this one. Thanks so much Edelweiss!!! After reading A Princess in Theory earlier this year, I'm so hyped to read this.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Mirjana **DTR - Down to Read**

    ***4.25 Stars*** I loved this book! It was charming and fun and smart and swoony and emotional and so many wonderful things. Also, if you like a slow burn...and I mean slooooooowwww ...then this book is for you! The burn is long and deliciously packed with all kinds of tension. But, oh the reward is soooo worth the wait! Portia was an amazing heroine. Smart, sexy, vulnerable, passionate...just a richly developed character that felt so relatable. And Tavish? He was such a great hero. Grumpy and ro ***4.25 Stars*** I loved this book! It was charming and fun and smart and swoony and emotional and so many wonderful things. Also, if you like a slow burn...and I mean slooooooowwww ...then this book is for you! The burn is long and deliciously packed with all kinds of tension. But, oh the reward is soooo worth the wait! Portia was an amazing heroine. Smart, sexy, vulnerable, passionate...just a richly developed character that felt so relatable. And Tavish? He was such a great hero. Grumpy and rough around the edges, but also sweet with an ooey gooey center. And the secondary characters were so well developed. No throw away characters here. Every single person served a purpose and had a role in shaping this story. Unfortunately, there were times where the story dragged for me and the pacing was a little too slow...and I could definitely use an epilogue after the abrupt feel of the ending....but man was this a heart swelling romance! One thing is for damn sure....Alyssa Cole can write!

  18. 5 out of 5

    Steph's Rom Book Talk

    This was a funny, sexy, and sassy interracial romance. Portia was this independent, sassy, young woman that was trying to make herself better. Tavish starts off as this brut that is somewhat unlikeable but then he finds things out about his life to reevaluate the way he thinks. Portia and Tav has a banter and sexual chemistry that jumps off the page. This was a fun ride and I look forward to reading more by Alyssa Cole. This specific video review will be included in the August 2018 wrap-up. For o This was a funny, sexy, and sassy interracial romance. Portia was this independent, sassy, young woman that was trying to make herself better. Tavish starts off as this brut that is somewhat unlikeable but then he finds things out about his life to reevaluate the way he thinks. Portia and Tav has a banter and sexual chemistry that jumps off the page. This was a fun ride and I look forward to reading more by Alyssa Cole. This specific video review will be included in the August 2018 wrap-up. For other video book reviews check out my YouTube Channel: Steph's Rom Book Talk.

  19. 3 out of 5

    Amanda

    Best book I’ve read this year. I should've written my review right after finishing it, but I had too many emotions! I can't even tell you all the reasons I loved this. But I'll tell you the main reason: PORTIA HOBBS. She appears in the previous book and to be honest, I wasn't her biggest fan. But I knew going into this book that she was a fav of a lot of reviewers whose opinions I trust, so I was ready to give her a chance. I shouldn't have worried--she won my heart in like, 2 paragraphs. And it's Best book I’ve read this year. I should've written my review right after finishing it, but I had too many emotions! I can't even tell you all the reasons I loved this. But I'll tell you the main reason: PORTIA HOBBS. She appears in the previous book and to be honest, I wasn't her biggest fan. But I knew going into this book that she was a fav of a lot of reviewers whose opinions I trust, so I was ready to give her a chance. I shouldn't have worried--she won my heart in like, 2 paragraphs. And it's not because her character is retconned in any way from the first book (...not that she was terrible enough to need retconning, just a crappy friend at times). Portia INSTANTLY became one of my all-time favorite romance heroines. I know the ADHD rep in this book was meaningful to a lot of people. I don't have ADHD (although I've had doctors suggest I get tested for this), but I know a lot of the symptoms that we associate with ADHD are for adolescent boys. So women--especially women of color--are less likely to be diagnosed. When Portia realizes she may have ADHD, after discovering a web series about it, she suddenly feels like maybe she's not a huge fuck-up. Her brain is just wired differently. Being inside Portia's head was so great. She's brilliant, funny, oftentimes frustrating (in a relatable way), and really vulnerable to being hurt by other people, especially her family. And Tavish or #swordbae as he's known, is also wonderful. (I mean, no offense to him, but this book is The Portia Show to me.) He gets plenty of POV chapters as well (although this book is written in the 3rd person), and although he's a grumpy asshole, we know he's a good guy. When he's shitty to Portia, she gives it right back to him. They don't fall in love right away--in fact, I'd call this more of a slow-burn. And the employer/employee thing didn't bother me either because a) she's an apprentice, so it's temporary and b) she's also providing HIM services, so it felt equal. At no point was her livelihood in danger, for example. The title of the book should give you some idea of one of the main subplots of the book--Portia discovering Tavish is actually the son of a duke. The second half of the book deals more with this and Portia helping him learn etiquette and such. Oh, and I LOVED the secondary characters in this book--Tavish's brother, Jamie; his sister-in-law, Cheryl; his parents (who appear in video calls); other townspeople who work at the armory and in nearby businesses; and reappearances of characters from the first book. Although the book is set in/near Edinburgh, it's in a neighborhood undergoing gentrification, so it felt like a small-town romance set in a big city. I think this book works fine as a standalone, although I also recommend the first book, A Princess in Theory. Alyssa Cole is hands-down one of the best writers in the genre right now. I can't remember who said this, but someone pointed out that she can really write any subgenre, and I agree. I've read her historical romance, contemporary romance, and sci-fi romance. She can write any time period--I've read medieval, 19th century American (Civil War), Civil Rights era, and present-day. (I haven't read her entire backlog, but I'm getting close!) I can't recommend this book highly enough. It's her best yet.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Lover of Romance

    This review was originally posted on Addicted To Romance *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 This review was originally posted on Addicted To Romance *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)[When she arrives, she hears a sound of a woman struggling and sees a tall big man attacking her, and thinking the woman is in danger, she attacks him with her pepper spray--and yeah they were training so no attack :P (hide 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.   [foogallery id="58853"]

  21. 4 out of 5

    The FountainPenDiva, Old school geek chick and lover of teddy bears

    I forced myself to not inhale this amazing romance in one day, as I'm usually wont to do. I made myself take my time and savor the sweet-hot cuteness of Portia and Tav. Okay, let's talk about THE COVER!!! Were I not already familiar with Alyssa Cole's oeuvre of work, if I saw this cover at a bookstore, I'd scoop it up without a second thought. Given how much whitewashing there is in publishing, it's so many kinds of awesome to have actual PoC on covers. In this case, a beautiful Black woman in a I forced myself to not inhale this amazing romance in one day, as I'm usually wont to do. I made myself take my time and savor the sweet-hot cuteness of Portia and Tav. Okay, let's talk about THE COVER!!! Were I not already familiar with Alyssa Cole's oeuvre of work, if I saw this cover at a bookstore, I'd scoop it up without a second thought. Given how much whitewashing there is in publishing, it's so many kinds of awesome to have actual PoC on covers. In this case, a beautiful Black woman in a gorgeous African-print style dress in a sexy clench with a very (or should I say "verra" hot salt and pepper Scotsman. Oh, and I started a new hashtag: #blackgirlsatrenfaires because Portia gets to hawk swords at a Scottish Ren-Faire. That part had me cheering and tearing up because I'm a huge Faire nerd and I read about a character like me. Yay! Of course, there's #swordbae, and I know a lot of them, lol. Speaking of Portia. Normally, sad sack heroines are the bane of my romance existence. I don't like heroines (or heroes) who spend most of book wallowing in their bad emo "woe is me". However, Portia isn't sad sack as much as she's got some real life issues - ADHD, trying to please her loving but hard to please parents while trying to figure out what she wants to do with her life. As Tav put it: "Everyone acts like you're just supposed to find what you love right away, and if you don't, just do something you don't love. And if you do neither of those things you're being selfish." The thing is, when Portia isn't living in her head, and just *doing*, she's incredible. Her passion for art, history, creating and organizing is more than first rate. She is a total nerd, my kind of history and sword loving nerd (and yes, I squeed hard at the mention of a sgian du, because I definitely own one). Not to mention, Portia comes from money. It's actually refreshing to read about a heroine who doesn't need the hero's finances. Moreover, she enjoys what she does, even when it meant being around a gorgeous, yet grumpy Scot. Yes, let's talk about #swordbae better known as Tavish McKenzie. I never thought another Scot could ever replace my beloved redhead James Alexander Malcolm McKenzie Fraser, better known as Jamie Fraser (Outlander for you who've been living under a damn rock, lol). But Tavish is starting to edge Jamie out, and that's okay. I've plenty of room in my harem for two yummy and sometimes grumpy Scotsmen. Only thing, I know Jamie is regimental beneath his kilt, but I never found out if Tav was, and as it's said, "a true Scotsman wears nothing betwixt his kilt save for his socks and boots". And as my Faire persona of Mistress Blackberry, I know this to be true. I've tied many a blue ribbon in my day. Don't you wish you'd been me, lol. Anyhoo, back to Tavish. He's not grumpy for the sake of being grumpy. In fact, he's just a man with a dream, a passion and is loyal to his family and friends. He's not rude, just isn't into all the politesse and finesse. What you see is what you get. When the hurricane known as Portia blows into his life, he's got no idea what hit him (outside of mace, lol). No spoiled, pampered princess, but Portia is there and ready to work. Then he finds out he's actually a Duke. Oh crap, and he's an anti-monarchist, lol. Granted, this was a very (verra) slow burn romance, which in hindsight, was rather refreshing, given that most romances I've read tend to get to the "good stuff" fairly quickly - not always a bad thing. These two were so made for each other, but too thick-headed to get that. Portia's got her own cross to let go of as well. However, these two needed to talk WITH each other rather than TO and PAST each other. It was awesome to have Ledi and Thabiso appear for some hilarity. Looks like princess-dom is starting to suit Ledi just fine. Of course, I can't not say anything about the sexy bad boy Johan (who gets his own story - hurry up!!!). Oh and Tav's awesome half-brother Jamie (I see what you did there, lol) and his wife Cheryl (note to self: head to Cheryl's Doctor Who-themed eatery, stat). These two need their own story. Even The Queen (yes, that ONE) made an appearance. Now for the only not so great (warning, a rant): I'd deduct half a star for the whole "heroine has lots of sex because of trauma, alcohol, searching for self" trope that I truly freaking HATE!!! I hate it, I hate it, I sodding HATE that sexist trope. And make no mistake, it IS sexist. I've said it before, male heroes are allowed to be sexual just because they can. They can enjoy sex and lots of it with no guilt or reasoning attached. Heroines aren't often given that kind of freedom. I would love to read a romance book (especially more IR ones) in which the heroine has a happy, healthy sex life because she WANTS it and ENJOYS it - all before she meets the hero. I don't think that's too much to ask, is it? Okay, feel better now. With that said, I loved this book and along with A Princess in Theory, have been added to my "comfort reads" shelf.

  22. 5 out of 5

    nick

    Well, folks, it's a done deal. I am willing to sell my soul for anything and everything that Alyssa Cole writes. After adoring the first book in this series, A Princess In Theory, I knew this companion novel was going to be a hit for me. I mean, just look at the two beautiful people on that cover! Do they not give you shippy feels that you want to drown in??? I am beyond thrilled to say that the inside of A Duke by Default was even more glorious than the outside. I know I am notorious for always Well, folks, it's a done deal. I am willing to sell my soul for anything and everything that Alyssa Cole writes. After adoring the first book in this series, A Princess In Theory, I knew this companion novel was going to be a hit for me. I mean, just look at the two beautiful people on that cover! Do they not give you shippy feels that you want to drown in??? I am beyond thrilled to say that the inside of A Duke by Default was even more glorious than the outside. I know I am notorious for always pushing books on you guys, but friends, when I say ALL of you need this book in your life, I truly do mean it. We met Portia, the heroine of A Duke by Default, in the previous book and quite frankly, she was a bit of a mess there with her struggles with alcoholism. I was excited to see how Alyssa Cole would give this girl her happily ever after and what a beautiful job she did! The Portia we meet in A Duke by Default was not the same Portia of the past. She has turned into a more motivated woman. Her first step into improving herself was getting sober. I was really proud of Portia for recognizing she had a problem when it came to alcohol and trying to fix the issue as she nearly lost her best friend due to it. Her journey also took her to Scotland to apprentice under a swordsmith. This was where she truly discovered her strengths and became a braver, more confident version of herself. Alyssa Cole knew just the right way to make her growth touching and realistic. What's more, I found Portia's quest for self-discovery to be beyond inspiring. I think a lot of readers are going to be proud of her. Also as part of her plans to become the new Portia, men and carnal relations were not on her agenda. Enter her grumpy silver-fox boss ... I could write an entire essay on said grump. You all know how much I love my heroes stoic, grumpy, but secretly soft. Tavish hit all those marks for me. I'll say that Tavish was very rude to Portia when they first met as she wasn't exactly what he was expecting his apprentice to be - she's fashionable, American and gorgeous. What would she even want to work at an armory??? Boyfriend here was completely unaware of just how smart, talented and devoted Portia could be. Thankfully, Tavish was also a guy who knew how to apologize and I swear, every time he apologized to her or thanked her for boosting his armory business my heart would just swell in happiness. I had so much love for this guy and this love only grew throughout A Duke by Default. As with Portia, Tavish also made quite a few discoveries about himself and his heritage that put him in the limelight because of Portia's meddling. I was worried for a minute about how he would react angrily, but I was pleasantly surprised. Tavish was a stand-up guy and ugh, where can I find one in real life, Ms. Cole? The romance between the two was soooooooo good. Just the thought of them makes my heart ache - you know that's a sign of an epic memorable romance. They initially wanted nothing to do with each other and there was a bit of animosity between them as a result of Tavish's rudeness, but the CHEMISTRY. OOOOOOF. I nearly died of all the swoon-worthy moments between them. When they finally gave in to their attraction, it was truly worth it. Their romance was definitely slow-built and while I devoured all the romantic butterfly-in-the-stomach inducing moments, my favorite thing about these two was how they pushed each other to be better. They were a beautiful and complementary couple in every way. Besides the romance, I loved all the secondary characters, including Tavish's brother and sister-in-law - they were a fun addition to the story. Portia, her friend and newly-minted Princess Naledi, and Naledi's cousin were all part of this group chat that we are allowed to take a look at and OMG. It was one of my favorite parts of A Duke by Default and had me cracking up. They truly made for an awesome girl group and I couldn't get enough. We also meet the hero of the next book, and boy is he going to be a treat! I think I've rambled sufficiently about how much I loved A Duke by Default. I hope I've managed to convince everyone to read this one. It's honestly one of the purest books I have ever read. I will most definitely be re-reading this one soon!

  23. 3 out of 5

    Under the Covers Book Blog

    I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review. This is my first book by Alyssa Cole and after seeing a lot of hype for her books around social media I was beyond excited to dive in.  Plus the premise of this story sounded extremely cool and unique.  The heroine is a NYC socialite that is always put down by her family as the no-good member of the family and her twin sister is the successful on I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review. This is my first book by Alyssa Cole and after seeing a lot of hype for her books around social media I was beyond excited to dive in.  Plus the premise of this story sounded extremely cool and unique.  The heroine is a NYC socialite that is always put down by her family as the no-good member of the family and her twin sister is the successful one.  So she decides to take an internship with a sword maker in Scotland to improve their business, and yes, learn how to make swords.  How cool is that??? A few things were clear from the very beginning.  The age difference, while something that I really enjoy especially when the hero is a grumpy, sexy older man wasn't my favorite thing here.  Why?  Because I found the heroine to be a tad on the too immature for my taste side.  She has a lot of growth ahead of her and I don't think we quite got there by the end of this book.  So in my mind, I have to question how the hero will deal with that difference in maturity in the long run.  Especially being that he was very stuffy. But the grumpy recluse part of that equation was total catnip for me.  I adored the hero and he is a total #swordbae.  I can picture clearly all the social media videos and posts that the heroine was trying to make viral and I would be the first one drooling over them. In the end, while I found this story quick and fun, it also had me skimming a bit with things that I felt sometimes annoying or unnecessary in the story telling.  If you are looking for a unique plot though, definitely give this one a try.  However, I think maybe Ms. Cole's writing style is not quite what works best for me. *ARC provided by publisher Reviewed by Francesca❤ ♡ Don't want to miss any of our posts? Subscribe to our blog by email! ♡ ❤

  24. 3 out of 5

    Samantha (WLABB)

    If you're not reading this series, you should be. Once again, Cole has delighted me with a reluctant royal in the form of Tavish. This gruff sword maker had a hidden heart of gold, and I loved getting to know every nook and cranny of him. It took a while for Tav to give into his attraction and admiration for Portia, but once he did, I was all in. But do you want to know what was really delightful about him? He was a silver fox. We don't see too many almost 40-year old heroes in romances, so chee If you're not reading this series, you should be. Once again, Cole has delighted me with a reluctant royal in the form of Tavish. This gruff sword maker had a hidden heart of gold, and I loved getting to know every nook and cranny of him. It took a while for Tav to give into his attraction and admiration for Portia, but once he did, I was all in. But do you want to know what was really delightful about him? He was a silver fox. We don't see too many almost 40-year old heroes in romances, so cheers for us old people! What a great arc Cole gave to Portia. She always seemed so devil-may-care and confident, but underneath it all, was someone who felt less than, and I loved watching Portia find out how fabulous she was. Watching the heat and sparks fly between these two was fantastic, but watching them go a little deeper was even better. I cannot wait for more Reluctant Royals!

  25. 4 out of 5

    Kara

    I was surprised by how much I didn’t like A Duke by Default, because I LOVED the first book in this series, A Princess in Theory. However, after loving everything in Princess, just about everything in Duke annoyed me: -The armory – for all the talk about the intensity of the competition for the internship, not much sword-making ever takes place. This could have been replaced by any cottage industry from arrow fletching to heirloom zucchini growing and it wouldn’t have affected the plot. -The hero – I was surprised by how much I didn’t like A Duke by Default, because I LOVED the first book in this series, A Princess in Theory. However, after loving everything in Princess, just about everything in Duke annoyed me: -The armory – for all the talk about the intensity of the competition for the internship, not much sword-making ever takes place. This could have been replaced by any cottage industry from arrow fletching to heirloom zucchini growing and it wouldn’t have affected the plot. -The hero – OMG, 38 is not old! When they advertised “silver fox romance” I was thinking he’d be, like, 50! And he might want to see a doctor as to why he is prematurely greying! And it was hard to believe that anyone under 40 would be that oblivious to how phones worked. -The heroine – After stressing how many therapists she’d been too, I couldn’t believe an internet video was the first inkling she got that she might have ADHD. If her parents were so desperate to “fix” her, they should have been suggesting that as a diagnosis years ago. And how is this perpetual student and dedicated researcher so completely unfamiliar with major pop culture references like Harry Potter? -The aristocratic title – The author falls right into the old romance novel cliché of thinking dukes are just thick on the ground in Britain. Worse, instead of making up a title, she used the title “Duke of Edinburgh” which oh so very TAKEN by the queen’s husband! -The claim – You can’t just show up, pass a DNA test, and claim a title! The word “illegitimate” exists for a reason! It means you have no legitimate claim! Argh! Marriage actually still matters to these old systems! -The former duke – The author has to make him a ridiculous mustache-twirling villain in order to make sure the audience doesn’t like him. ANYONE would be legitimately pissed off to be suddenly kicked out of their home and job! -The ending – Um, I think a chapter or two got cut off at the end. How is that an ending? Weirdly, the one thing I did like was the former duke’s sister, despite the fact she acts like Sadness from Inside Out. Which was the voice I imagined when she showed up all sad-face and announced, “I’m here to seduce you.” That gave me a chuckle. But overall, so, so very disappointed. :-(

  26. 5 out of 5

    Robin

    I can't remember who told me this book was even better than A Princess in Theory, but they were absolutely right.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Ashley

    I finished this on a bit of a book high, but in the three weeks since I finished it, it's soured a bit in my memory. I think I will probably finish out both of the series she's got currently running, and then reevaluate from there if I'll read more of her books. Now that I've had some distance from A Duke By Default, it's clear that yet again, Cole has written a book where I unabashedly love the lady and think the dude is a mess (a mess in terms of story, not in terms of personality). The only on I finished this on a bit of a book high, but in the three weeks since I finished it, it's soured a bit in my memory. I think I will probably finish out both of the series she's got currently running, and then reevaluate from there if I'll read more of her books. Now that I've had some distance from A Duke By Default, it's clear that yet again, Cole has written a book where I unabashedly love the lady and think the dude is a mess (a mess in terms of story, not in terms of personality). The only one of her books I've read that doesn't fit this pattern is A Hope Divided, which I genuinely loved, no real complaints. I definitely had some complaints here, so let's start with those and then end on a positive note. The stuff that bugged me: •Portia is hired ostensibly as an apprentice swordmaker to this dude in Scotland. She arrives, maces the owner/her boss (misunderstanding, funny story), and then spends her entire internship learning absolutely nothing about swordmaking. She is not an apprentice, she never learns anything. She makes ONE sword the entire time, and it's heavily supervised. Even after making that one sword, she doesn't learn anything and probably couldn't duplicate the experience. This absolutely drove me up the wall. WHY. I suppose I could have gone along with it if there had been some sort of acknowledgement once she got there that she was better off, and they were better off, with her acting in a different capacity. But they never did, and everyone ignores it. [insert gif of me pulling my hair out in frustration] •Tav is a huge jerk who treats his professional relationship with Portia as nonexistent. She does nothing but be helpful, present, hard-working and inventive, and give him suggestions/fixes that help him improve his business, and all he can think is that she is so attractive that he literally cannot function as a normal human being when he is around her, and his only possibly response is to rebuff and annoy her. UGH. I don't understand why Cole had to write him like this. He could have respected his professional relationship with her and still found a way to be conflicted about the changes she was making and what she represented for him. •The way she writes chemistry between her leads early on bugs me. There is too much focus on the physical side of it for me, where the physical attraction is like, short-circuiting their brains or something. Once they get to know each other and open up, I enjoyed their banter, but it felt a little weird to me at first. •There's a scene where Tav has a DNA test and the results are literally back in five minutes. What. Okay, a cursory googling has told me it usually takes days if you have a lab or whatever, but I suppose if they had their own machine, it could be narrowed down to a couple of hours. But MINUTES?? So yes, lots of stuff bugged me. BUT. I loved Portia so much! I loved her whole thing. I loved her little crisis, and her willingness to try new things. I loved Project Portia. I loved her finding out about her ADHD diagnosis, and her re-contextualized relationships with her parents and sister. I loved how badass she was at whipping Tav's business into shape, and I loved that the tables were so turned. She was the one who rescued him, taught him how to be a royal. Usually it's the lady getting the makeover. I loved the side characters, and the Doctor Hu's Chinese restaurant shaped like a TARDIS. I loved the female friendships. So, I liked those things so much, even though I hated those other things so much, and hence CONFLICT. I will of course be reading the next book in the series. [3.5 stars]

  28. 3 out of 5

    CaseyTheCanadianLesbrarian

    This was very fun and everything I was expecting! Romantic! Sexy! Diverse! Sword-fighting! Subtly tackling important issues like immigration, gentrification, and mental health (ADHD)! There was also an amazing meta scene where the heroine Portia asks a librarian for books about dukes--the hero has just discovered that he is a duke--and the librarian offers to recommend romance novels with "grumpy, tortured, alpha, beta, or alpha in the streets, beta in the sheets" heroes. Ha ha! My only caveat h This was very fun and everything I was expecting! Romantic! Sexy! Diverse! Sword-fighting! Subtly tackling important issues like immigration, gentrification, and mental health (ADHD)! There was also an amazing meta scene where the heroine Portia asks a librarian for books about dukes--the hero has just discovered that he is a duke--and the librarian offers to recommend romance novels with "grumpy, tortured, alpha, beta, or alpha in the streets, beta in the sheets" heroes. Ha ha! My only caveat here is, as with all of Cole's books that I've read so far, I want a little bit more in terms of characterization. I always feel a bit like the characters could be more fleshed out? Or could be a little more differentiated from each other? For example I often feel like the dialogue of any given character could just as easily be the dialogue of a different character, when what I really want to see is that dialogue reflecting who that specific character is. But also: #SwordBae.

  29. 3 out of 5

    Clare Hutchinson

    I loved the main character and the setting (a barely-disguised and lovingly lived-in Leith), but the plot seemed sort of all over the place and the ending felt very messy, rushed, and unresolved. A whole bunch of characters were introduced at the end seemingly just so they could feature in the next book, the drama of the ending was out of balance with the way the plot and characters operated for the first 3/4 of the book, and I wasn't convinced that the MCs had actually thought about or addresse I loved the main character and the setting (a barely-disguised and lovingly lived-in Leith), but the plot seemed sort of all over the place and the ending felt very messy, rushed, and unresolved. A whole bunch of characters were introduced at the end seemingly just so they could feature in the next book, the drama of the ending was out of balance with the way the plot and characters operated for the first 3/4 of the book, and I wasn't convinced that the MCs had actually thought about or addressed the ways in which they were or weren't good for each other or the way their relationship would operate in the new circumstances that had *literally just* been introduced.

  30. 3 out of 5

    Leigh Kramer

    A Duke By Default hit me right in the feels. I lost track of how many times I teared up, not only for the portions that hit close to home but because of how much I adored the characters. I was rooting for Portia’s quest to turn over a new leaf—if you’ve read A Princess In Theory, you will marvel over her redemption arc. (Portia believing she’s not the kind of person people keep around and that she’s a disappointment to everyone = 😭.) Tavish was a perfect Scottish grump and I loved watching him b A Duke By Default hit me right in the feels. I lost track of how many times I teared up, not only for the portions that hit close to home but because of how much I adored the characters. I was rooting for Portia’s quest to turn over a new leaf—if you’ve read A Princess In Theory, you will marvel over her redemption arc. (Portia believing she’s not the kind of person people keep around and that she’s a disappointment to everyone = 😭.) Tavish was a perfect Scottish grump and I loved watching him become captivated by Portia. This was such a wonderful story and I cannot wait to read the third book. Alyssa Cole keeps outdoing herself!

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