Author: Alyssa Cole
American release date: July 31, 2018
Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/Contemporary Romance/384 pages
Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★
Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes
Portia Hobbs is the black sheep of her family, the one who can do nothing right. Always compared to her perfect twin sister, Reggie, Portia has always felt that people think it should have been her, rather than Reggie, who fell ill and ended up wheelchair-bound. Having money is not the answer to everything, which Portia proves abundantly. She stops and starts projects on a whim, changes lovers constantly, and drinks to excess. Even her friend Ledi finds her hard to deal with sometimes. So now Portia is off on another of her harebrained journeys to find herself, this time as an apprentice to a sword maker in Edinburgh, Scotland.
Arriving in Edinburgh, Portia is dismayed to find her new employer nowhere in evidence, so is forced to hire a vehicle to take her to Bodotria Armory. There she comes upon an alarming scene—a young woman being menaced by an older man. Portia rushes into the fray without hesitation, making the assailant, onl to discover that she has just attacked her new boss! Great first impression! Apparently the two were just engaging in a little swordplay, which is not surprising considering where they are! Besides being greatly embarrassed, Portia can’t help but notice how sexy her new boss is. But she’s decided before she even arrived in Scotland that she is a new Portia, and this Portia does not drink, and she most certainly does not fool around with handsome Scotsmen!
Tavish McKenzie is a little taken aback by the unexpected assault, but even more when he gets an actual glimpse of Portia, once his eyes stop burning. No denying she is very stunning. He was never in favor of the apprentice program to begin with, that being his brother Jamie’s idea, but he reluctantly goes along with it. Doesn’t mean he’s going to make things easy for Portia, and he’s resistant to all of her ideas to help the armory. Change does not come easily to Tav. He knows little of the Internet, and hates to be in any video. Besides, he has other problems, including making the armory pay, as well as teaching the weans, and keeping the neighborhood from being scooped up by land-hungry corporations who have no idea about the people who live there and make their livelihood there.
At first, Tav keeps Portia at a distance, telling her to busy herself with things other than sword making. Not one to be easily daunted, she does so, at the same time continuing to contribute to her sister’s popular blog, GirlsWithGlasses. Although dismayed at not being able to do what she came to do, she refuses to give up, even as she fights her growing attraction to Tav who, as she discovers, has a gentle heart beneath his exterior gruff. While doing some research, Portia uncovers some information that will be a real game changer for Tav. Apparently, his biological father was a duke, unknown to him, and the title has gone to someone else, in lieu of a direct descendant. If he takes back the title, and all that comes with it, not only is problems but a lot of those of the neighborhood can be taken care of. But is he cut out to be a duke? And what about the mutual attraction between Tav and Portia? How long can they go before having to act on it?
Much as I loved A Princess in Theory, I have to agree with my daughter that the second book is even better! Watching Tav and Portia dance around each other while growing hopelessly more and more in love is priceless! They each have personal baggage, and a reluctance to become involved with someone else. But sometimes, what is meant to be will be. I wasn’t exactly fond of Portia in the first book, but she not only redeemed herself in this one, I grew to love her. She has carried so much around with her for such a long time. Her sister is supportive, but she tends to keep Reggie at arm’s length, and their parents… well, they don’t treat Portia very well, and that’s actually an understatement. Tav and Portia are certainly a match for one another, and each gives as good as they get. There’s a novella that comes after this book, and I have that, and there is also a third book, which concerns Johan, who is A Prince on Paper. Looking forward to it very much.
If you like romances and great couples and happily ever after, A Duke by Default is perfect for you!