Unrated | 320 pages | Avon | Contemporary Romance | 07/31/2018
Portia Hobbs is done being messy. She is the “New” Portia; no more hook-ups, drunk nights and job hopping. What better way to start over than taking an apprenticeship in Scotland with world-class sword maker.Tavish Mackenzie? Tavish likes things the way they are and isn’t up for Portia’s social media hijinks, but when Portia unearths a Mackenzie family secret she just might be the only one who can turn this reluctant swordsman into a dashing duke. #swordbae.
There is so much good in this book. I liked the setting of a Scottish armory and how social media savvy Portia has to convince Tavish– who is analog and traditional–into embracing new media. Tav and Portia’s attraction turned romance felt natural; they play off each other well and there is quite the chemistry. Halfway through the book, there was even a bit of “My Fair Ladying” as Portia helps Tav adjust to being a duke (look, the book is called A Duke by Default, okay. It’s not a spoiler it’s in the title). Also like Portia, I also find myself being scarily close to thirty and wondering what I’m doing with my life. So that was. . . fun.
The book also dives into entails, ADD, gentrification, social media, and family drama. Which is to say for all the good there is, there is just too much going on in this book. It was hard to focus and really savor the romance or the character’s growth, but Cole’s clever world-building and snappy dialogue might make it a great pick for new readers to romance.
Check out the audio review on AudioFile Magazine