Blog Tour: A Duke By Default by Alyssa Cole (Excerpt, Review)

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?

About The Book

A Duke By Defaultby Alyssa Cole
SeriesReluctant Royals
Contemporary Romance
PublisherAvon Books
Publication DateJuly 31, 2018
Purchase Your Copy Today!
Amazon  |  Avon Romance  |  Barnes & Noble  |  Google Play  |  iBooks


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.


I adored the first book in this series, A Princess in Theory, and I will admit that I didn’t find anything at all attractive or redeeming about Portia’s character in that book and thus wasn’t very excited going into this one.

Boy, this is sure one of those times I’m glad to have been wrong.

Portia is AMAZING. She’s a supersmart highly driven history buff bombshell who struggles with some SERIOUS low self-esteem that’s driven in large part by her undiagnosed ADHD and how it has wreaked havoc on her life. She’s so strong and at the same time SO fragile, and I want to tell her “You go girl” while at the same time wrapping her up in a blanket burrito and telling her to breathe and that everything will be OK. She’s struggling with all this guilt because her sister (the “good twin”) got sick and she felt like it should have been her (how sad is that?!) and she’s so afraid to screw up that she blows every small mistake out of proportion and sometimes is her own self-fulfilling prophecy. She’s also energetic and whip-smart and funny and warm and caring and loyal I WANT TO BE HER BESTEST FRIEND. I feel like Portia is definitely a Slytherpuff – am I alone here? Tell me I’m not alone.

Tavish is also a pretty great character. He’s complex and dark and brooding, but (like the best breads) while he’s all crusty outside he’s warm and fluffy and soft inside. He struggles to fit into his family, as his bio-father was a white Scottish man and his mom was a Chilean refuge to Scotland, and she married a black man (I’m sorry I can’t recall what nationality he is off the top of my head?) so Tav grew up in a situation where people would be racist toward his family and since he looks white they expected him to join in. He’s got his own guilt he carries around with him and it makes him kind of walled off and over-protective, both of his family and of himself. He still has a fun sense of humor though, plus he’s #swordbae and what could be hotter than that?

The attraction between Portia and Tav is instant, and it’s a slowwwwww burn. And then –

“We were attracted to each other, we kissed, you humped my leg a little, and everything’s fine now.”

(Everything was not fine.)

This book made me clutch at my chest and cry several times, and I’m sure if anyone had been around they’d have been like “Elley, why are you keening ‘Oh Portia, honey, noooooo’?” Thankfully no one was around and thus no one witnessed me talking to a book. The side characters were interesting, though I did get REALLY upset with Jamie and Cheryl toward the end of the book. Portia’s are also HORRIBLE, and I really with the plotline that involved them had been resolved more (or, um, at all?)

This is the second book in the series, and while it does have some spoilers for the first book, A Princess in Theory, spoilers aren’t much more than you get from the back cover blurb and you can absolutely read this book as a stand alone (without reading book 1 first). That being said, I CANNOT WAIT for book 3, which will be Nya’s story with Johan! SQUEE! ❤ I also require a book about Reggie, post haste! Chop chop!

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.

Author Links

Website  |  Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Goodreads  |  Amazon

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.