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.”

Geri’s Review: A Princess in Theory by Alyssa Cole

A PRINCESS IN THEORY
Series: Reluctant Royals #1
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Author: Alyssa Cole
Release Date:  February 27, 2018

From acclaimed author Alyssa Cole comes the tale of a city Cinderella and her Prince Charming in disguise . . .

Between grad school and multiple jobs, Naledi Smith doesn’t have time for fairy tales…or patience for the constant e-mails claiming she’s betrothed to an African prince. Sure. Right. Delete! As a former foster kid, she’s learned that the only things she can depend on are herself and the scientific method, and a silly e-mail won’t convince her otherwise.

Prince Thabiso is the sole heir to the throne of Thesolo, shouldering the hopes of his parents and his people. At the top of their list? His marriage. Ever dutiful, he tracks down his missing betrothed.

When Naledi mistakes the prince for a pauper, Thabiso can’t resist the chance to experience life—and love—without the burden of his crown.

The chemistry between them is instant and irresistible, and flirty friendship quickly evolves into passionate nights. But when the truth is revealed, can a princess in theory become a princess ever after?

AMAZON | B&N | iBOOKS | KOBO

A Princess in Theory was one of my most anticipated reads for 2018, for good reasons. One. It has a fairy tale like premise: a royal prince looking for his long-lost betrothed who happens to have no idea of who he is and thinks he’s just out to scam her. Two. I’ve seen and read countless of “royal romance” stories in the past year or so featuring princes and princesses from fictional European countries but zero stories from non-Euro fictional kingdoms. A Princess in Theory gives us the fictional African kingdom of Thesolo. And let me tell you right now, after reading the book, I am so ready to book a one-way ticket to Thesolo. Three. The book features a STEM heroine and a prince. I mean, come on. That’s like peak OTP for me.

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So yes, I have high expectations for this book and fortunately, all of it were not just met, but were exceeded by this book. Alyssa Cole created a very colorful and exciting world filled with complex and interesting characters.

“She was fine on her own. She always had been. And if no good guy ever made it past her barriers? Well, that’d be fine, too. Just fine.”

Naledi is right up there as being one of my favorite heroines ever. She’s smart, driven, and a little bit broken. She hides her emotions behind a tough exterior but she’s all gooey on the inside. Her backstory was heartbreaking and explains why she keeps everyone at arm’s length. Prince Thabiso’s arrival challenges Ledi’s boundaries and forces her to change in so many ways. I love where the author took this character. The emotional character journey Ledi went through was so amazing and so worth it.

Ledi isn’t the only thing that made me love this book though. Everyone, meet the Crown Prince of Thesolo, Prince Thabiso.

“But instead of a peeved researcher standing in the doorway, there was the finest man Ledi had ever seen outside of a social media thirst trap pic.”

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Sorry. I didn’t mean to show my thirst like that but oh-em-gee, Jamal aka Prince Thabiso was amazing. And I don’t just say that because he’s hot and he’s a prince. Like Ledi, he went through his own emotional journey.

Thabiso is a prince—the Prince. He’s loyal and he loves his people, but he was also arrogant, privileged and can be dismissive of other people’s feelings. He grew up surrounded by people who’re there to accommodate his whims and desires. He was in for a rude awakening with Ledi though because here was a woman who he thought would fall over herself because he’s a prince. Instead he found someone who not only didn’t know who he is but mistakes him for a hired help.

I loved how he changed from this arrogant prince to someone worthy of Ledi’s love and affection. Their romance just builds off of that initial meeting and went to some really interesting places.

“Her mouth curved up into a smile and something in his chest moved out of alignment.

The romance between Ledi and Thabiso wasn’t all rainbows and roses. Ledi has her own issues while Thabiso wasn’t really being honest. And I admit I was nervous because there’s a chance that Thabiso’s deception would be swept under a rug just because he’s the hero of the story and that the reader and the heroine are supposed to forgive him immediately. Rest assured, Ledi did not make it easy for him. And I liked that so much. Thabiso had to work for her forgiveness and nothing warms my heart more than a hero that grovels.

“Fuckboyism is a fairly common disease in men aged eighteen to thirty-five.”
“What’s the cure?” he asked.
“You’ll have to ask your doctor about that. But I can tell you right now that it’s not me.”

And oh, did I mention that this book was funny? Not slapstick funny but understated-but-still-makes-you-laugh-out-loud funny. Ledi’s Ledisms are hilarious and Thabiso’s stint as a lowly waiter had me rolling.

I also loved the secondary cast of characters from Thabiso’s parents to Ledi’s family and friends. Speaking of friends, Portia, Ledi’s best friend was very interesting. There were moments where I really didn’t like what she did, but I couldn’t help but root for her to find redemption. Her story is next and I can’t even begin to tell you how excited I am to read it.

A Princess in Theory is a breath of fresh air. If you’re looking for a swoon-worthy read, I highly recommend this. This book made laugh and gave me characters I could relate and really root for. I finished this book with a huge smile on my face. I was soooo good, you guys! I highly recommend it.

And Alyssa Cole, take a bow, because A Princess in Theory is one of those books that readers will be recommending and talking about in the weeks to come.

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Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m just gonna run out and one-click more Alyssa Cole books. Kthnxbye.

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