Review: A Duke by Default by Alyssa Cole

A DUKE BY DEFAULT
Series: Reluctant Royals #2
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Author: Alyssa Cole
Release Date: July 31, 2018

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?

AMAZON

“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:

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.

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.”

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