A Duke By Default

A DUKE BY DEFAULT (Reluctant Royals #2)

Written by Alyssa Cole

Published by Avon Books, July 31, 2018

My star rating – 5 stars


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? Find it on Goodreads

spoiler free graphic


I’m not the biggest romance reader….. but after reading books like this, it makes me wonder why not!!  I’ve heard so many good things about this author. So many people recommended her books as a good place to start within the romance genre. I read the first book to this series (A Princess In Theory) back in the summer time and I loved it! I kept saying that I was going to read the sequel but I kept putting it off. I’m so sad I waited because this was much better than book one!

Yes, this is technically the second book in a series, but this is more of a companion than a direct sequel. The characters in book one were mentioned sporadically but they were NOT a main part of this story. You could most definitely read this as a standalone, but you’ll end up being confused when other characters are mentioned and brought in.

In this book we follow Portia (who was the friend in book one) as she makes some pretty big life choices. She was a New York socialite, came from a rich family, was constantly in school gaining new degrees and diploma’s, always there for her friends – but she didn’t have a solid standing ground for herself. No committed relationships, no committed career – she was always moving and up for anything.

For operation “New Portia”, she travels to Scotland to apprentice in sword making. Why? Because, why not! She’s decided she won’t be in a relationship, no one night stands, no alcohol – just some time to reflect, learn who she is and what she wants out of life. Problem is, as soon as she arrives and meets her new boss, attraction sets to derail “new Portia”

I loved all of the characters so much! They were so real and so full of emotion. No one wanted a big, fancy, rich lifestyle. They were more than happy with their corner of the world, making swords, family, and helping the community and children. When Portia shows up, they kind of all assume that she’s this spoiled rich girl who is entitled and afraid to get her hands dirty. She needs to prove herself to her boss and also prove her worth to herself. Ugh….. this was just so good!

The kicker with this series seems to be normal people finding themselves in royal situations. Book one is a girl who was orphaned who came to find out that she was descendant of Royalty in an African country and betrothed to a Prince. This book is about Portia who works for a man who ends up finding out that he’s the son of a Duke. These situations are SO outlandish and basically your typical Disney Princess story. They are eye roll inducing, I won’t lie, but just go with it! LOL

The balance in these books is perfection! There’s the perfect balance of plot and character, smutty and sweet. There are a couple of sexy scenes but I wouldn’t consider this an erotic story. There’s detail in those scenes BUT it’s not overwhelming and the scenes are scarce and short. So if too much information is your fear, then there’s not to much of a worry in these books. It’s more the relationship that’s the main focus.

If you’re looking for a romance series where women are finding themselves and are also entering in great relationships, this is for you! I love that this series puts a lot of focus into women being strong, self assured, smart, and independent. These women never lose sight of their goals in life and manage to find a balance within their lives and relationships. I definitely liked this one more than the first and won’t wait as long to pick up the next book!

Until next time, happy reading!

2 Comments Add yours

  1. evelynreads1 says:

    I have read the novella from this series, and absolutely loved it! I really should read the rest as well!
    Great review!


    Liked by 1 person

  2. I LOVED this book. I’ve since rea a bunch of other Alyssa Cole books, but I really need to go through her entire catalog at some point. Great review!


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