Review: A Duke by Default by Alyssa Cole

Reviewed by Sara

A Duke by Default is the fantastic second book in Alyssa Cole’s Reluctant Royals series. The book’s main female character is Portia, a wealthy former party girl from New York City who has decided to turn over a new leaf. No drinking, no random hook-ups and she’s taken an internship with a sword maker in Scotland. She is determined to show her friends and family that she’s not flaky and that she can commit to a career path just like her extraordinary twin sister. This becomes difficult when she meets her hot boss and he doesn’t trust her enough to let her use her expertise to help the business.

Tavish MacKenzie doesn’t have time for an American woman who’s constantly looking at her phone. With a failed marriage and a business that’s going the same way he’s doing everything in his power to shut down Portia’s ideas for the business and his attraction to her. When he discovers he’s up for a Dukedom, his entire world turns upside and the fledgling romance between himself and Portia will either withstand the new realities of his life or go the way of history.

I really liked that Cole had Portia and Tav face both everyday differences that might keep them apart, as well as the the type of conflict only characters in a romance novel face. Portia was raised in the lap of luxury, while Tav has had to scrape by since birth. Tav, on the other hand, has a supportive and loving family, while Portia’s parents are less than supportive and pick favorites with their children. This doesn’t even take into account that Portia and Tav’s personalities couldn’t be any more different from each other.These things are real reasons that real couples don’t work out, and reading about Portia and Tav as they overcome these differences is just as rewarding as watching them overcome the fallout of discovering Tav is a duke. These true to life differences enrich Portia and Tav’s characters and made it easier for me to invest in them as fully formed, multi-dimensional characters. I wanted to see Tav’s life made easier because of his story of struggle and I wanted Portia to finally feel accomplished and loved.

While Portia and Tav as a couple were easy to relate and invest in, it was the character of Portia that I loved most about this book. I think it’s easy for most women to relate to a female character that is struggling to find her place, make good choices for herself and have solid, healthy relationships with family, friends and lovers. I was definitely moved as Portia overcame these issues, discovered what was holding her back and faced her personal demons, but what really struck me was that, out of all the issues and challenges Portia had, body image wasn’t one of them. I was thrilled to see a character who is portrayed as smart, funny, sexy and doesn’t spend 60% of the book worried about her looks.  Portia’s mind, her accomplishments, relationships and character were the focus of her story arc and I honestly can’t thank the author enough for that.

One issue I often have with Contemporary Romance novels is that they don’t always seem realistic; people don’t have cell phones, weather is never a problem unless it’s a snowstorm that brings characters together and there are rarely negative consequences to the major events that happen in the storyline. Cole totally takes care of this in A Duke by Default. When Tav is revealed as the Royal Duke of Edinburgh, his life and the life of everyone around him is completely turned upside down. Paparazzi are everywhere, it affects his and his sister-in-law’s business and his past, Portia’s past and even Tav’s ex-wife’s past is dredged up and put on displayed for the world to see. It’s clear that Alyssa Cole has considered and researched all the pros and cons of sudden dukedom and it makes the book that much more realistic and easy to immerse myself into.

A Duke By Default is a great book with excellent writing and characters Alyssa Cole deals with some very serious issues regarding relationships and personal growth while keep things fun, sexy and realistic. Believe the hype on this book – it’s fantastic!

Rating: A+

*ARC received from publisher for honest review.

Click to purchase: Amazon

A Duke by Default
by Alyssa Cole
Release Date: July 31, 2018
Publisher: Avon

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