A Duke By Default
by Alyssa Cole
Series: Reluctant Royals
Genre: Adult Contemporary Romance
Publisher: Avon Books
Publication 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?
What was he doing? With his apprentice? In the courtyard?
She was right to pull away from him.
“I’m sorry,” he said, yanking his hand back.
“You should be,” she said. “I have very sensitive skin.” Then she pressed up on her toes and kissed him.
The kiss was not what he’d imagined. Because, of course, he’d imagined kissing her, and in his mind she had been aggressive and take charge, pulling him down and wrapping her legs around him. But this kiss was hesitant, though she’d initiated it, soft and just a whisper of sensitive skin rubbing over sensitive skin, as if she was prepared to pull away and run off at any second.
Can’t be having that, can we?
Tav’s arms slipped around her waist and pulled her up flush against him.
Somehow, I loved this one even more than A Princess in Theory!
Ms. Cole did a fantastic job of making poor-little-rich-girl Portia 100% relatable to her readers. Though I loved her in the last book, it was clear that she had some major things to work out, which she is determined to do from the very first page with her dedication to Project: New Portia. It’s not easy, though, which is also very clear–and watching Portia struggle (with the support of her friends, Tav, and sister but sadly without that of her parents for much of the book) is both painful and inspiring.
The book truly could have been enough with Portia’s personal project and her apprenticeship (and her slow burn, reluctant, and delicious relationship with Tav), but naturally the “Reluctant Royals” portion of the series title have to come into play here too. I was so into the story that I had nearly forgotten the book’s title when the whole “duke” part came into play–and OMG, does that part of the plot ever throw a royal wrench into the works. I almost worried that Ms. Cole wouldn’t be able to get us to an HEA, but of course she did, and did so with fabulous, sigh-worthy style.
(And can I just metnion…the bits with the Queen? Absolutely fabulous...)
The secondary characters in the story are wonderful (as they were in the first book) and I can’t even say how excited I am that the next book (A Prince on Paper) is going to be Johan and Nya’s. Is it wrong to hope that the fictional-duke-loving librarian who only shows up in a single (but pivotal!) scene could get an HEA too? 😉
Rating: 4 i/2 stars / A
I voluntarily reviewed an Advance Reader Copy of this book.
About Alyssa Cole:
ALYSSA COLE is a science editor, pop culture nerd, and romance junkie who lives in the Caribbean and occasionally returns to her fast-paced NYC life. In addition to writing, she founded and hosted the Jefferson Market Library Romance Book Club and taught Romance Writing for Beginners. She speaks on topics such as writing erotic romance, writing multicultural romance, and self-editing. She has contributed romance-related articles to publications including RT Book Reviews, Heroes and Heartbreakers, Romance at Random, and The Toast. She has also started a bi-monthly column in the Romance Writer’s Report, Romancing the Globe, in which she chats with romance writers from around the world. When she’s not busy writing, traveling, and learning French, she can be found watching anime with her husband or tending to her herd of animals.
Tour Wide Giveaway!
To celebrate the release of A DUKE BY DEFAULT by Alyssa Cole, we’re giving away three paperback copies of A PRINCESS IN THEORY!
GIVEAWAY TERMS & CONDITIONS: Open to US shipping addresses only. Three winners will each receive a paperback copy of A Princess in Theory by Alyssa Cole. This giveaway is administered by Pure Textuality PR on behalf of Avon Romance. Giveaway ends 8/10/2018 @ 11:59pm EST. Avon Romance will send the winning copies out to the winner directly. Limit one entry per reader and mailing address. Duplicates will be deleted. CLICK HERE TO ENTER!