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    Review: A Duke by Default, by Alyssa Cole

    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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    Reluctant Duke

    Funny and frustrating but a good read. It was the right book to read by author after Agnes...
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    Loved It!

    So this is a daunting book only because it's one of the darlings of 2018. EVERYONE loves this book and it's a darling of Romancelandia. So I was a little wary going into it. The last time I read a book that was so universally loved, it was The Bollywood Bride, and I hated it. Did not see what any of the fuss was about. Thank God, this book was a different experience. So, I had been advised that I didn't need to have read the first book in the series to enjoy this one, but I'll tell ya, I wish I had. There were so many instances where the heroine's past was mentioned that had important bearing on the plot but were never explained that my wondering took me out of the story. And the story was GREAT, so this was quite bothersome. I STILL don't know the deal with Portia's (the heroine) sister. And it BUGS me. So YES, READ THE FIRST BOOK. So, Portia is a screw up, who, it turns out, suffers from ADHD. This explains many things about her and her issues. I liked her. I liked her a lot. I liked that she was smart and clever. I liked her smart mouth and like many of her friends and her sister, I often wanted to shake her to make her believe she wasn't the mess she thought she was. I liked the hero, Tav, the Duke by Default of the title. He was older, 37 to her 30 (THANK GOD for mature characters!!) and your typical taciturn Scot. And he was HOT. And he forges weapons, swords, daggers, axes... the whole thing! That's darned sexy. Anyway, he hit all the right buttons for me. From my lofty 62 years of life, I thought that if they only would take an hour or two to actually talk about all these things that bothered each of them about themselves, the whole emotional mess could have been dealt with quickly and easily. But we wouldn't have a story then. *LOL* And it was a good story, maybe a little heavy at times with the ADHD and the immigration problem, but the author's writing style is breezy and fun (a big reason why AC is a fave of mine.) which saved it from being too lecture-y. In the end, it was a really good romance. I totally enjoyed it and I can easily see how it garnered so many accolades and such noisy support. Just read the first book first!
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    So good!

    Alyssa Cole’s Reluctant Royals books offer realistic versions of what it might be like to be suddenly royal, with layered and nuanced characters, and this one is no exception! Entertaining, engrossing, and well-written. Recommended!
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