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?
About the Author
Alyssa Cole is an award-winning author of historical, contemporary, and sci-fi romance. Her contemporary rom-com A Princess in Theory was one of the New York Times’ 100 Notable Books of 2018, and her books have received critical acclaim from Library Journal, BuzzFeed, Kirkus, Booklist, Jezebel, Vulture, Book Riot, Entertainment Weekly, and various other outlets. When she’s not working, she can usually be found watching anime or wrangling her many pets.
“The sexual tension crackles as Portia and Tavish hide their attraction behind sarcasm, but the real emotional punch comes when they admit their feelings but need to decide if each really has a place in the other’s life. With a multicultural cast and delightfully geeky details (Cheryl Hu, Tavish’s sister-in-law, runs a food truck called Doctor Hu’s), Cole’s latest is pretty much perfect.”
— Booklist (starred review)
“Cole includes just the right amount of sass, sex, and heart to satisfy romance readers.”
— Publishers Weekly
“Multicultural characters, current social issues, a generous helping of Scottish weapons lore, a hero who learns to forgive the past, and a heroine who comes into her own make Cole’s latest a lively, upbeat escapade rich with humor and heart.”
— Library Journal
“Cole’s romances are always smart, sexy, captivating reads...”
— Entertainment Weekly
“Alyssa Cole has rightfully garnered acclaim from all corners for the impeccable construction and emotional complexity of her romance novels. But her new novel, A Duke by Default, underscored something about her writing that I think deserves to be celebrated just as much—how joyfully and unrepentantly nerdy her work is.”
“Alyssa Cole has presented another winner in her acclaimed Reluctant Royals series... A romantic Scottish armory and two unlikely characters with chemistry off the charts makes this book a rapid read.”
“Witty, heartwarming, and super sexy! A charming royal romance.”
— Fresh Fiction
“This book not only has one of my favorite meet-cutes ever written, it also features a heroine who is strong and vulnerable in equal measure, a perfect Scottish curmudgeon hero (aka #swordbae), and a supporting cast that celebrates the importance of female friendship. The romance is swoon-worthy, and I particularly loved the thoughtful exploration of the pressures of living up to family legacies (royal or not).”
— Bookish (Favorite Books of 2018)