Double-Review: A Duke by Default and Can’t Escape Love, by @AlyssaColeLit

Title: A Duke by Default (Reluctant Royals #2)
Author: Alyssa Cole
Rating: 5/5 stars

“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?” (description from Goodreads)

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In my continued attempts to read more diverse romances I bought a copy of the (at that time) new Alyssa Cole novel, A Duke by Default. With “Duke” in the title, I wasn’t jumping at it right away, but I’d heard great things. I haven’t been big into historical novels, where dukes are normally found. Even though this was contemporary, I was still hesitant. Luckily, I pushed that aside and realized I shouldn’t have held off on starting the book.

As the series title, Reluctant Royals, suggests: This duke doesn’t want to be a duke. He likes making his swords and grumping around. For me, this alone, helped ease me into the high society niceties and formalities that normally annoy me. They weren’t really in this book to begin with due to how the story plays out. I really enjoyed that this duke was a normal person who gives in for the right reasons.

I also thought the slow burning desire between Portia and Tav was expertly carried out. There was great payoff in the end. Another thing that I think made this book great for me was that even if the romance wasn’t anywhere in the book and only friendships and character growth was included, this would still be one of my favorite books. There are so many strengths to Cole’s writing of character, setting, and plot that it’s almost like a bonus that there’s romance in here. The book made me want to continue “living” in this armory in Scotland, seeing how Tav’s newly appointed title helped change things for the better. And also to see Portia continue to grow into the person she wasn’t sure she could become. No all romance books leave me caring as much about the couple as their own people by the end.

Did this book blow me away? Yes. Did it make me go buy the rest of the novels and novellas while reading it? Of course.
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If you’d like to buy a copy of this book, you can find it on:

Amazon | B&N | Kobo | iBooks

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Title: Can’t Escape Love (Reluctant Royals #2.5)
Author: Alyssa Cole
Rating: 4/5 stars

“Regina Hobbs is nerdy by nature, businesswoman by nurture. She’s finally taking her pop culture-centered media enterprise, Girls with Glasses, to the next level, but the stress is forcing her to face a familiar supervillain: insomnia. The only thing that helps her sleep when things get this bad is the deep, soothing voice of puzzle-obsessed live streamer Gustave Nguyen. The problem? His archive has been deleted.

Gus has been tasked with creating an escape room themed around a romance anime…except he knows nothing about romance or anime. Then mega-nerd and anime expert Reggie comes calling, and they make a trade: his voice for her knowledge. But when their online friendship has IRL chemistry, will they be able to escape love?” (description from Goodreads)

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Novellas are kind of my thing. My “catnip” as some tend to say in the book world. That’s why it should be no surprise that I read this one from Alyssa Cole after reading A Duke by Default.

In this book, we get to read more about Reggie, Portia’s (from A Duke by Default) twin sister. While it felt like Reggie was more of the “perfect” sister in their parent’s eyes from Portia’s POV, we can see that’s not exactly the case. They’re still trying to control her life, but in different ways.

One of the fun things about this novellas is the fandom and “geeky” references throughout. I also felt that having Gus be mostly ignorant of the references and Reggie teaching him about all things pop-culture was fun to read. Despite both characters being very set in their ways and control over their lives, seeing this relationship form was a must-read experience.

Lastly, while this can be read as a standalone, I would suggest reading it either after or at least just before A Duke by Default. I feel that my reading of A Duke by Default was greatly enhanced with the addition of this novella. Seeing both sides of these twins’ relationship helps shape each one individually in my eyes.

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If you’d like to buy a copy of this book, you can find it on:

Amazon | B&N | Kobo | iBooks

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About the Author:

Alyssa Cole is an award-winning author of historical, contemporary, and sci-fi romance. Her Civil War-set espionage romance An Extraordinary Union was the RT Reviewers’ Choice Award’s Best Book of 2017 and the American Library Association’s RUSA Best Romance for 2018, and A Princess in Theory was one of the New York Times’ 100 Notable Books of 2018. She’s contributed to publications including Bustle, Shondaland, The Toast, Vulture, RT Book Reviews, and Heroes and Heartbreakers, and her books have received critical acclaim from The New York Times, 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 pets.

Find out more:

One response to “Double-Review: A Duke by Default and Can’t Escape Love, by @AlyssaColeLit

  1. Pingback: Summer is Here! Time for Some Summer Reading! | A Life Among The Pages

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