Genre: Contemporary


Wednesday, August 22, 2018

The Best Romance You’ll Read this Year: A Duke by Default by Alyssa Cole

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The Best Romance You’ll Read this Year: A Duke by Default by Alyssa Cole
A Duke by Default
Alyssa Cole
Series: Reluctant Royals #2
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Publication date: July 31st, 2018
by Avon

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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.
-A copy was provided by Avon for review-

Earlier this year, I read and fell head over heels for A Princess in Theory. It was definitely one of my top reads of the year and when I dove into A Duke by Default, I expected to love it but I didn’t think it was even possible for me to love it more than A Princess in Theory.

For someone who has been reviewing for six years, it is quite baffling how easily words can escape me when it comes to a truly good book but you know, there you have it.

A Duke by Default is probably THE romance novel of the year for me. The one that has swept me off my feet and even a month after reading it, I cannot stop thinking about it.

If you remember Portia from A Princess in Theory, you will know that she is kind of a hot mess. At the end of the book, she makes a vow to herself to not only be a better to her friends but also to be better to herself because as she slowly starts to realize, she is worth it. A Duke by Default starts off with that. Portia accepts an apprenticeship at an armory in Scotland for her new start and when she lands in Edinburgh, she finds a world vastly different from her life as a socialite in New York.

Also, she finds Tavish waiting for her. SO. TAVISH. He is basically one of my fav love interest tropes. GRUFF BUT WITH A HEART OF GOLD. Smart, witty and always willing and wanting to fight for those less fortunate. ANYWAY, basically a lump of softness and 110% swoonworthy.

Their romance is both pleasantly angsty but also incredibly sweet. They aren’t entirely sure a romance is what either needs at this point in their lives but as their reluctant friendship turns into something more, it becomes really hard to avoid the direction in which their relationship is heading. The great thing is that sexual tension inside, they are also just really good together as a team. I love how both of them are able to throw themselves into the work they do and how passionate they are. The work they do is important and I love that.

Also clearly, Alyssa Cole has put in a lot of effort to research medieval Scottish weapons and armories in general because it really does come to life and I can definitely imagine life there.

If you are a romance reader, you need A Duke by Default in your life, no questions asked. Portia is such a painfully relatable heroine as she navigates the world and also comes to terms with her ADHD. If you haven’t read A Princess in Theory that’s okay, you can read this book, you should read this book (and then you should go back and read A Princess in Theory.) So basically, moral of the review is that if you are a living human being who occasionally fancies a good romance, READ THE FUCKING BOOK.

5 Stars
5 Hot Espressos

Giveaway: Hidden Pieces by Paula Stokes

Giveaway: Hidden Pieces by Paula Stokes

Posted by on 07/16/2018 • 10 Comments

Hi guys! We are huge fans of Paula Stokes over here so we’re really honored and excited to be bringing you a giveaway for Paula’s latest book! It’s a return to mystery and it sounds amazing! Turning over to Paula now!

Paula: Hi peeps 🙂 A big thank you to Rashika and Giselle for having me on Xpresso Reads to talk about my forthcoming mystery, HIDDEN PIECES, releasing on Aug 28. Of course there is a giveaway, but first here’s a little info about the book in case you’re unfamiliar.

Character Profiles

Embry:

Embry Woods is an 18-year-old girl who likes photography and the ocean, but isn’t sure what she’s going to do after she graduates from high school. Her mom is recovering from breast cancer, and even…

Imperfect but 100% Lovable: From Twinkle, With Love by Sandhya Menon

Imperfect but 100% Lovable: From Twinkle, With Love by Sandhya Menon

Posted by on 07/11/2018 • 3 Comments

So, even though When Dimple Met Rishi was one of my most anticipated books of 2017 and I winded up with two/three copies of it, I actually never ended up reading it. Of course, Sandhya Menon is a champ and regardless of whether or not I had read When Dimple Met Rishi, From Twinkle, With Love was already on my TBR and most anticipated for 2018. Of course, May went back, Twinkle came out and I still hadn’t read it because that’s WHO I AM. A PROCRASTINATOR. But. then. I decided to do a thing. I decided to read the GODDAMN BOOK and it was absolutely, 100% worth it. 

I think it is worth it to mention that I found that Twinkle wasn’t as easy to get into. It’s written exclusively in letters so it…

Summer Road Trip: Mariam Sharma Hits the Road by Sheba Karim

Summer Road Trip: Mariam Sharma Hits the Road by Sheba Karim

Posted by on 06/25/2018 • 0 Comments

That Thing We Call a Heart was one of my favorite books of 2017 so obviously, when I heard about Mariam Sharma Hits the Road, I was ecstatic and ready to dive in. This review is particularly hard because even though, overall, I definitely enjoyed Mariam Sharma Hits the Road, there were times when I felt let down by some of the things the characters said.

I am grappling for words as I attempt to describe my feelings because I want to be respectful and clear that these experiences aren’t invalid but one of the biggest dichotomy in the book is how Mariam is raised vs how her friends are raised. Mariam grew up in a household that wasn’t religious or super connected to their cultural roots and her mom was super…

A Delightful Summer Read for Your TBR: The Way You Make Me Feel by Maurene Goo

A Delightful Summer Read for Your TBR: The Way You Make Me Feel by Maurene Goo

Posted by on 05/31/2018 • 3 Comments

I Believe in a Thing Called Love was one of my very few five star reads of last year so I was eagerly anticipating the release of The Way You Make Me Feel. While The Way You Make Me Feel was not a five star read for me, it was still absolutely delightful.

Clara Shin is the class clown. Her life revolves arounds making snarky remarks and pranking her enemies. When her prom prank results in the school almost being burned down, both her and her arch nemesis are suspended. Clara’s dad is able to negotiate a deal that may just be worse. She has to spend the entire summer working on her dad’s food truck with her arch nemesis Rose and use her earnings to pay the school…

Great Secondary Characters but Unimpressive Hero: Hot Asset by Lauren Layne

Great Secondary Characters but Unimpressive Hero: Hot Asset by Lauren Layne

Posted by on 05/24/2018 • 0 Comments

Lauren Layne has slowly become one of those romance authors I can count on to deliver a book that will sweep me up by my feet. Her characters tend to have good chemistry, great banter and just generally good personalities. When I read the premise for Hot Asset, I was immediately intrigued but overall, the book wasn’t what I had come to expect from Lauren Layne.

It started off really rough with me wanting to DNF a chapter or two in but I persisted and slowly became more attached to the secondary characters and the general world Layne had built. I finished the book on a much stronger note than I had begun it although I am still not sure if I even really liked it??

My biggest issue with…

A Good Exploration of Grief: What We Leave Behind by Allison McGhee

A Good Exploration of Grief: What We Leave Behind by Allison McGhee

Posted by on 05/18/2018 • 3 Comments

I wasn’t entirely sure what I expected when I started What I Leave Behind and while I haven’t made my mind about the actual content of the book, I was pleasantly surprised by the format?? I am not even sure if there a word to describe the style but the story is told in these short snapshots into Will’s mind that are somehow able to paint a bigger picture even though less words are used.

So. What I Leave Behind is the story of Will. It’s been three years since his father committed suicide and he is still processing the trauma while trying to recreate his father’s infamous cornbread. When his friend is raped, he decides that he needs to do something. His need to do something starts to…

Lackluster Poolside Read: Airports, Exes and Other Things I’m Over by Shani Petroff

Lackluster Poolside Read: Airports, Exes and Other Things I’m Over by Shani Petroff

Posted by on 05/17/2018 • 0 Comments

I love a good travel story. I specifically love a good travel story involving airports and things going horribly wrong. Partially because I travel relatively often and because I have a couple of bad travel stories in my own pocket. I don’t think this is really a trend in YA though and it NEEDS TO BE. Jessica Brody’s The Chaos of Standing Still was basically everything I wanted in such a story and I was hoping Airports, Exes and Other Things I am Over would deliver on a similar scale. It didn’t.

The book feels like it’s missing something honestly. It starts with Sari walking in on her boyfriend and his ex kissing. She runs away, doesn’t talk to him and spends an entire week and a half brooding over…