A Duke by Default
An NPR Best Book of the Year - A Bookish Favorite Book of the Year - A Bookpage Best Romance of the Year
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?
In Cole's rollicking second Reluctant Royals contemporary (after A Princess in Theory), Portia Hobbs leaves New York for Scotland and a sword-making apprenticeship, determined to recreate herself and her life. However, "Project New Portia" takes a hit when she finds herself wrong-footed with her new boss, Tavis McKenzie, on the first day. Tavis doesn't want an apprentice, especially not one whose freckles and curves set his mind to wandering lustfully. But Portia's talents soon prove to be exactly what Tavis's business needs, and when Tavis admits there's more to her than sexy good looks, the smoldering tension between them explodes with a fiery kiss. As Portia slowly begins to see herself as more than a flighty screw-up, she sets in motion events that change Tavis's future and that may just push her out of his life for good. Cole includes just the right amount of sass, sex, and heart to satisfy romance readers.
In the land of Bodotria, where the sword smith dwells
“Bodotria”, where this novel is set, is the Ancient Roman name for the Firth of Forth.
I’m an Anglo- and Hibernophile, very conversant in peerage details. There are two very important details of which the author seems to be unaware—once stated, put on your disbelief suspenders (US usage, used to hold up slacks, not UK usage, used to attach stockings to a garter belt) and enjoy the ride!
•When HRH Prince Philip of Greece married Princess Elizabeth Windsor, he was granted the title of a Royal Duke: the Duke of Edinburgh, in its third creation. As he has died, his son Charles, HRH Prince of Wales, holds the title.* The Duke in this story is NOT an immediate-family Royal, and I don’t think even a second tier Royal.
•For an heir to inherit titles and entailed properties, the parents must have been legally married at the time of the Heir Apparent’s birth. In addition, you aren’t officially the titleholder of an inherited title until the Lord Lyon King at Arms (Herald for Scottish Arms) or The College of Arms (England, Northern Ireland, Wales, & some other Commonwealth realms) and the Crown acknowledges the succession—in person, usually.
As I said, now enjoy the ride! I’ll be waiting for my budget to allow purchase of the other books in this series. I did wish there has been more sword-smithery, though. I’m rather fond of good swords.
What Tav says about the Scots and their welcoming nature in Chapter 8, and his mother in Chapter 13, is true: they are some of the most hospitable people, and one of the most hospitable cultures, on earth.
Note the difference in immigration and refugee policies between London and Holyrood in the past several refugee cycles. The Scots welcome refugees at the airport. The Tory government, not so much.
I really appreciate the potential diagnosis for AD(H)D for Portia--I am also neuro-divergent, and appreciate the mention of our brains functioning slightly differently, instead of just wrong.
On the first page of Chapter 14, you’re given an example of the difference in thought processes. I’ve often taken what seem to be disparate elements and found the path between them, in a flash of insight, which I then have to explain in great detail to neurotypical folk.
I can see how all the different fields and tasks and jobs and talents end up coming together, each feeding into the whole person and a complicated or complex result. If you’re the one that’s stitching up other folks’ products and getting them out the door, you can be seen by onlookers as a “hall wanderer”, instead of the expeditor between departments that only connect through you.
I really feel for Portia, given how her parents treat her feeds right into her mental feedback loop. It doesn’t matter what fantastic thing Portia can do, her parents can’t see its worth, because their idea of worth is the only one they can see. I’ve seen it a lot, and it’s very sad.
I found the idea of a seedy tea shop hilarious. Good thing my mouth was empty when I read it.
I don’t know how HRM Elizabeth would take it, but I believe she does have a wicked sense of humor that gets out now and then—I loved her portrayal.
*This title never leaves the immediate Royal Family: its first creation, in 1726, was bestowed by George I on his grandson Prince Frederick. When Frederick died, the title went to his son, Prince George, and when George became king, the title merged into the crown and ceased to exist.
Queen Victoria in 1866 recreated this for her second son, Prince Alfred, who passed it to his own son, who predeceased him, thus the title dying once again. Royal Dukedoms simply do not go further out the line.
Great story, chemistry, dialogue - read in a day :)
Ehh story from an amazing writer
This was my least fave in the series. I HATED Tav so much