Release Day Review: The Rakess by Scarlett Peckham

The Rakess (Society of Sirens #1) by Scarlett Peckham
Historical romance published by Avon on April 28, 2020

The Rackess by Sarlett Peckham book coverMeet the SOCIETY OF SIRENS—three radical, libertine ladies determined to weaponize their scandalous reputations to fight for justice and the love they deserve…

She’s a Rakess on a quest for women’s rights…

Seraphina Arden’s passions include equality, amorous affairs, and wild, wine-soaked nights. To raise funds for her cause, she’s set to publish explosive memoirs exposing the powerful man who ruined her. Her ideals are her purpose, her friends are her family, and her paramours are forbidden to linger in the morning.

He’s not looking for a summer lover…

Adam Anderson is a wholesome, handsome, widowed Scottish architect, with two young children, a business to protect, and an aversion to scandal. He could never, ever afford to fall for Seraphina. But her indecent proposal—one month, no strings, no future—proves too tempting for a man who strains to keep his passions buried with the losses of his past.

But one night changes everything…

What began as a fling soon forces them to confront painful secrets—and yearnings they thought they’d never have again. But when Seraphina discovers Adam’s future depends on the man she’s about to destroy, she must decide what to protect… her desire for justice, or her heart.

The cover and title drew me to this book when it was first announced. I was hoping for a 180 on the rake-who’s-sworn-off-marriage story and it did that and more. I’m happy to write it lived up to my high expectations. There’s a lot happening in this story and it was a lot for me when I was reading it. I smiled, I cried, I was shouting “yes!” in my head and doing an imaginary fist pump.

I’m still processing my feelings about this story so hopefully I’m semi-coherent. This was a rollercoaster ride for me. The high of Seraphina’s courage in fighting for women’s equality to the lows of getting glimpses of her past back up to connecting with Adam and his immediate family down to Adam’s history and threats against her and her friends back up to saving a friend in trouble down even lower to the dark moments when it really doesn’t look like they will be together then slowly climbing back up to both Seraphina and Adam being brave and just trying.

For me, this story worked as a flip of the rake who will never love/rake who’s sworn off marriage/rake who just needs to love of a good woman. I think Seraphina was a good example of rakes in some past historicals who have sworn off marriage, don’t want to get emotionally involved, were hurt in the past by a woman so can’t ever love again, etc. Both Seraphina and Adam have suffered in the past and have different ways of dealing with it, some not so healthy like overwork and drinking.

I was excited to read this book. Right now when I look to read historical romance, I’m drawn to other than the typical Regency romance. I was happy to find there’s not a ball to be found in this book. Most of the book takes place in Cornwall with a little in London. Neither of the main characters are titled, both have jobs.

I liked how integral Seraphina’s activism was to the story—passages from her writings are interspersed throughout. There’s a scene where she’s lecturing that to me had tones of recent political events which for me was simultaneously gratifying because of its accuracy but maddening because in real life anyway men being called out for bad behavior and overly emotional didn’t change much. And I liked how sex positive the book was from the main characters’ perspectives anyway (larger “society” was something else entirely). And the sex scenes are so hot!

I will definitely be seeking out more Scarlett Peckham books (several are already on my to-read pile). I’m also looking forward to Cornelia’s book, the next in the series. As I wrote above, this was a rollercoaster ride for me, in the best non-headache inducing way. The last 40% especially I just wanted to keep gobbling it up and find out how things were going to work out. I thought the happy ending was definitely earned. (And if anyone has a lead on how to buy a print of the cover art, please let me know! I am obsessed!)

Content warnings for discussions of babies and women dying in childbirth. There’s on the page alcoholism, killing of animals to threaten, and threats of violence against women.

Grade: B+

You can buy a copy here.

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