[Blog Tour] A Duke by Default by Alyssa Cole

A Duke by Default by Alyssa Cole

Publication Date: July 31, 2018 by Avon Books

Genre: Romance

[I received an e-ARC for the blog tour. Special thanks to Pure Textuality PR and the publisher for the review copy!]

Amazon │Avon Romance│ Barnes & Noble │ Google Play iBooks


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?

First of all, I would like to thank Alexis from Lacy Literacy for sharing the link to the blog tour and Ate April for tagging me on Twitter. I really wanted a review copy of this book so I am so honored to be a part of this blog tour!

My thoughts:

If you’ve read my review of A Princess in Theory, you know that I love Portia so much because we share a lot of characteristics.

Now Portia has her own book and you don’t know how much it spoke to me.


I have a feels thread on Twitter, if that’s your thing.  (I tried my best not to spoil anything, but there might be some details that you might not want to see if you haven’t read the book yet, so click at your own risk!)

Why I love this book:

It has the most precious heroine.


Portia was too hard on herself and I wanted to hug her so many times. She already made me cry in Ledi’s book, and now that we get to read Portia’s story, you can’t blame me for feeling a strong connection to her.

Most of her thoughts mirrored my own, and I think that says a lot about how much I can relate to her.


  • Art
  • Technology
  • Marketing
  • Swordmaking!!!
  • Digging up information (mostly for the safety of her friends on their dates)
  • Fighting the jerks messing with her friends  (by using witty comebacks and her outstanding “research” skills)

Yet to some people, it seemed that she wasn’t good enough just because she wasn’t doing the things they expected her to do. (I’m looking at you, Catharine Hobbs. You are cancelledt for calling the apprenticeship silly.)

Portia is doing her best to make the people around her happy, sometimes at the cost of forgetting what her heart truly wants.

I am the heroine of my own story. I choose my own path…

My copy is an e-ARC but I have to quote that because it’s the most powerful message of the book and Portia actually knew it right from the start. Unfortunately, self-doubt and self-blame plagued her mind because of the circumstances and the people who keep bringing her insecurities up.

This book is Portia’s journey to finding the courage she needs to claim the love, respect, and appreciation she truly deserves. There are people who recognize her potential and believe in what she can do, but she must first acknowledge what she’s capable of and embrace her strengths without fear.


Yes, he might have underestimated Portia’s skills. Yes, he might have instinctively done that because of the attraction he felt when they first met. And yes, he might have said some things that broke Portia’s heart.

But what made me fall in love with Tavish is his commendable effort to make up for his mistakes. The moment he realizes what he has done wrong, he does everything in his power to make it right.

Tavish acknowledged Portia’s ability in running the armory. Eventually, he also acknowledged how he truly felt for his apprentice. And friends, don’t make me talk about the last chapter because I might just cry again.

(AND OH, did I mention that Tavish is a Hufflepuff? According to Jamie and Cheryl, that is.)

Strong heroes and heroines tend to clash before they fall in love. I LOVE THE BANTER IN THIS BOOK. Includes fun nicknames that make my heart giggle.

But on top of the slow-burn romance that I really loved, this book also touched on some issues we face today, depicted in the family drama from both Portia and Tavish. They had to deal with different things, but somehow all of it was rooted in not being good enough – thus making Portia and Tavish feel the need to work hard and be better.

Other things I love:

  • THE MEET-CUTE. Or is it, really?
  • “The International Friend Emporium” (Portia’s group chat with Ledi and Nya) reinforced the strong female friendships from A Princess in Theory. This group chat is the best!!!
  • Portia redefining Cinderella’s big moment: JUST – OH MY GOD I NEVER THOUGHT OF IT THAT WAY. But when you think about it, what Portia said made sense, and the moment it hit me, I wanted to cry.
  • The popcorn metaphor. I swear I didn’t mean to, but I was actually eating popcorn while reading the book. I was just hungry but when Portia started using kernels of corn to describe her attraction to Tavish, I couldn’t help but feel like I’ve read the book at the right time. *wink*
  • “Sword references” including #SwordBae – #sorrynotsorry (!!!)
  • Sister love. That moment between Portia and her twin Reggie might be brief, but it was so, so powerful.
  • (Prince) Johan. THAT GUY. He’s a people-reader and I can’t wait for his book! (HE’S GOING TO BE WITH NYA!!!)

A Duke by Default is bravery in different forms. Because maybe being brave means acknowledging that you’re worthy of everything you have because you have worked so hard. Maybe being brave means accepting the truths with the power to change your life forever. Maybe being brave means choosing to fight for the love you know in your heart to be real.

The world is a battlefield, but Portia and Tavish rediscovered bravery within themselves and found each other along the way.

I will definitely, DEFINITELY save up to buy a print copy of this book because I love it too much. ❤

Final Rating: ∞Giveaway! ❤

Win a paperback copy of A Princess in Theory! [US only]

About the Author:

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.

Website │ Facebook │ Twitter │ GoodreadsAmazon


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