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Meet 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 exposi Meet 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.


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Meet 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 exposi Meet 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.

30 review for The Rakess

  1. 4 out of 5

    Lacey (Booklovers For Life)

    I had such high hopes for The Rakess as soon as I saw the title, blurb, AND cover. I mean, just look at that gorgeous, old-school vibes cover! And a female rake heroine? YES, please. I'm all for heroines in historical romances (and romances in general) who are feminist and love sex. I was also excited to be reading my very first Scarlett Peckham book – her historical romances have been on my radar since so many have raved about them. And while the concept of The Rakess is great and exactly up my I had such high hopes for The Rakess as soon as I saw the title, blurb, AND cover. I mean, just look at that gorgeous, old-school vibes cover! And a female rake heroine? YES, please. I'm all for heroines in historical romances (and romances in general) who are feminist and love sex. I was also excited to be reading my very first Scarlett Peckham book – her historical romances have been on my radar since so many have raved about them. And while the concept of The Rakess is great and exactly up my alley, I had a tough time... reading it. The first half was so boring, it was a struggle to get through. The second half did get a lot better, but I’m so sad this book didn’t live up to my expectations. Seraphina is as liberal, radical, and scandalous as you can imagine a woman who is feminist, fights for women's rights, and has lovers and affairs left and right is in the 19th century. And I truly loved her for all of that. She's on a quest to help women in need, while also taking down the powerful man who ruined and smeared her reputation. While in the countryside to write her exposé, she meets Adam Anderson, a gorgeous, Scottish single father she'd love nothing more to spend her nights with. Instead, this rakess falls for him and his two young children. The idea behind The Rakess is fantastic. It just wasn’t executed well enough for me. There was barely any romance until 60% of the way through the book. The hero is an absolute Nice Guy and while I loved the gender flipping of the rake into a rakess, I never grew to love Seraphina’s character. She spends most of the story drinking/drunk and barely contributing to the romance. I wouldn't have minded that if she were focusing on the feminist movement instead of the romance, but that also doesn't progress until halfway through the book. It's only in the last 40% did I get the kind of story I was expecting when I went into The Rakess, and the book became so much more enjoyable. Despite not fully loving The Rakess, I'm still very much looking forward to the other books in the series. We have two of Seraphina's friends who will be getting their romances, who are just as scandalous as this heroine, and I can't wait to see how they will turn out. Plus, I did enjoy Scarlett Peckham's writing – hopefully I'll enjoy her other series more than this book.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Nenia ⚔️ Queen of Villainy ⚔️ Campbell

    I WON A COPY!!!! YESSSSS. I can't wait. I hope she's actually a rakess and not just a virgin widow who pretends to be slutting it up on the ton to avoid getting married or something like that. GIRL YOU GET YOURSELF SOME HOT REGENCY ASS.

  3. 4 out of 5

    JenReadsRomance

    DNF at 20% I probably should have known at the author's note that this book wouldn't be for me. Upending the rake trope has been the work of romancelandia for decades, and the rake / ruined woman characters she described in her author's note at the beginning? Honestly, I haven't seen that in romance since the 90s. However, when authors put their manifesto at the beginning, there's really no mistaking what they're hunting. Sera isn't taking lots of lovers because she loves sex, she's doing it to DNF at 20% I probably should have known at the author's note that this book wouldn't be for me. Upending the rake trope has been the work of romancelandia for decades, and the rake / ruined woman characters she described in her author's note at the beginning? Honestly, I haven't seen that in romance since the 90s. However, when authors put their manifesto at the beginning, there's really no mistaking what they're hunting. Sera isn't taking lots of lovers because she loves sex, she's doing it to forget. She's harming herself: Given the grip that anxiety had on her, to partake in intercourse at all was a kind of mental torture. As much as she enjoyed the act, every lover was a finger poised along the blade of a knife sharp enough to cut her. It isn't sexy; It's sad. I was hoping it would feel sex positive, but it felt puritanical. The reason I stopped reading LitFic is because of the way pain and suffering is seen as having more weight and gravitas than the hope and promise of the HEA. And given the set-up of the first 20% is almost pure misery, with the promise of more to come? I decided to stop reading. YMMV.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Sheena ☆ Oh, the Sheenanigans!

    “The Rakess” positives are far less than the negatives, leaving me torn on how I feel about the overall read. Starting off with the positive, I liked the strong sensual heroine Seraphina who wasn’t ashamed to showcased her attraction towards the architect, Adam, who did everything in his power to fight the urge to submit to her wild ways. It was a constant (and shall I say tiring?) back and forth between the two throughout the entire novel. I say about ⅓ I was already done and ov “The Rakess” positives are far less than the negatives, leaving me torn on how I feel about the overall read. Starting off with the positive, I liked the strong sensual heroine Seraphina who wasn’t ashamed to showcased her attraction towards the architect, Adam, who did everything in his power to fight the urge to submit to her wild ways. It was a constant (and shall I say tiring?) back and forth between the two throughout the entire novel. I say about ⅓ I was already done and over it, and the repetitiveness allowed the story to draaaaaag on. Despite the 380+ pages, there were far more tedious scenes that could have been cut out to make it a smooth sailing ride. I can’t even tell you how many times I check the % of the book to see if I was making any progress. It seem like I was just stuck and that's something no reader wants to experience. In spite of the scenes that I found redundant, it wasn’t a complete terror to read. It was easy to see and feel the connection between Adam and Sera, and despite their social standing, I did quite enjoy how their relationship came to be. Moreso, I think the author did a decent job touching sensitive topics such as grieve, death, loss of pregnancy, addiction/alcoholism, animal cruelty, kidnapping and false imprisonment. “The Rakess” left me caught between a rock and a hard place, and can easily be a hit or miss for readers.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Leigh

    Female rakes??? Rakess??? Isn't the female version of a rake some names that could be viewed in a negative or positive light depending on who you talk to. I was looking forward to this because of the beautiful cover and the fact I really enjoy the author's writing style however based on the blurb it's going to be just another one of those very liberal, modern feminist novels with a historical setting backdrop. I still want to give this a chance though. Maybe.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Becky

    Solid 3.5 but rounding to 4 Safety warnings attached at end. Wow this book has been totally different than anything I've read...ever. This is my first Scarlett Peckham and I will be trying her again for sure. I think she's a great writer. Explicit sex, language, borderline offensive in some parts, just the rawness of real life people – the wonderful parts, the loving parts, and sometimes the true ugliness we can show. This was not an easy read. It's not light and fluffy. It's heavy. It's emotional Solid 3.5 but rounding to 4 Safety warnings attached at end. Wow this book has been totally different than anything I've read...ever. This is my first Scarlett Peckham and I will be trying her again for sure. I think she's a great writer. Explicit sex, language, borderline offensive in some parts, just the rawness of real life people – the wonderful parts, the loving parts, and sometimes the true ugliness we can show. This was not an easy read. It's not light and fluffy. It's heavy. It's emotional. It's filled with angst and heart break. Parts were wonderful. Parts were horrible. It's definitely a memorable story. So many stories about the rake. Oh he's so handsome with his flirtations, his sexual conquests, his ability to walk away from those nights emotionally unscathed. But, there is another side to these stories sometimes. The woman that is ruined. The woman who has no options in life anymore except what she scrape by with from the generosity of others. The woman who people run to other side of the street to get away from, laugh at, yell slurs to, threaten...the woman who is utterly broken by the choice made by two people yet only she is held accountable. This story is about such a girl, Seraphina. I loved and hated Sera. When she was honest about her feelings she was beautiful. Her memoirs broke my heart and were by far my favorite part of this story. So strong. Unflappable in the face of the cruelty of society. I cannot help but admire her. But her full recovery is far from complete. And while she is learning how to heal from all of her past hurts, she can be rather ugly. It's all completely understandable. I do not blame her for her choices even though I do not like them. But that's the draw of this story, its powerful realness. She's a radical, a woman's rights acitvist, fighting to give her sex the tiniest bit of freedom and rights. It definitely made me feel the inequality in this story. It made me fear living in this time as a woman. It brought life to those movements in a way I haven't read before. Adam is the hero. Born a bastard, a widower with 2 children. He works with his in laws in an architect firm when his true passion is art. I liked Adam, but Sera's story so overshadowed him and their relationship, my feelings could only grow to lukewarm. I loved that he had truly loved his wife. So many books have to make something wrong with the previous spouse, like it always must be a once in a lifetime love and I just don't think that's true. While I prefer first love stories instead of second chance, I believe in loving multiple people and it was refreshing seeing someone recovering from that pain and moving forward. Enough time was spent on his feelings that it was acknowledged and gave him depth but it didn't overshadow Sera and Adam's relationship. This book is probably a bit more just the story of Sera. Her life. Her choices. Her recovery. Her healing. The relationship of Adam and Sera to me got a bit lost in it all. Took the back seat of the plot of the book. And this might work for some people but it made me like the book a bit less than otherwise probably. There's a lot of sex in the book and it's NAUGHTY. The words...they are all used. So ye who offend easily begone. But the sex happened so fast to me and I kept waiting for more relationship, more friendship, more connection but it was soooo slow going. It made me care about the sex less. I also wish I had more time in Adam's head (from the book in general), or more feelings from the sex. Very explicit, mostly hot, but almost mechanical in some scenes. So all these things, couple with quite a few spots of boredom in the story (I felt like the non sex scenes with the hero and heroine were a very small part of the book) lead me to 3.5 stars. I got this book from netgalley as an ARC. As always these feelings are completely my own opinions. Safety warnings: (view spoiler)[ alcoholism, animal abuse, child bearing death, miscarriage (hide spoiler)]

  7. 5 out of 5

    Stacee

    Everything about this book excited me: the cover, the title, the synopsis. I could not wait to get to this story and sadly, I’m quite disappointed. I liked Sera and Adam well enough. They’re both good people with good intentions. Adam’s children were adorable and I did like Sera’s friends who make up the Society. Plot wise, it was a bit of a struggle. The first half of the story was boring. It was all bluster with copious use of the c-word, and Sera being drunk nearly the entire time. The second Everything about this book excited me: the cover, the title, the synopsis. I could not wait to get to this story and sadly, I’m quite disappointed. I liked Sera and Adam well enough. They’re both good people with good intentions. Adam’s children were adorable and I did like Sera’s friends who make up the Society. Plot wise, it was a bit of a struggle. The first half of the story was boring. It was all bluster with copious use of the c-word, and Sera being drunk nearly the entire time. The second half was more promising with the fight for equality showing up on the page, meaningful conversations, and Sera getting sober. Overall, I had high hopes for this story and while the execution didn’t completely work for me, I am intrigued to see what happens in the next book. **Huge thanks to Avon Books for providing the arc free of charge**

  8. 5 out of 5

    aarya

    Discussed in twitter thread: https://twitter.com/ardentlyaarya/sta... My friend b.andherbooks graciously allowed me to copy/paste her thorough list of content warnings. Thanks, B! Her review is here: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show... CW: (view spoiler)[Past miscarriage described on page, past death from pregnancy and a bad delivery, grief, alcoholism, addiction, gas lighting (not by hero or heroine), animal cruelty (birds killed and maimed and left for heroine to find to scare her), forced Discussed in twitter thread: https://twitter.com/ardentlyaarya/sta... My friend b.andherbooks graciously allowed me to copy/paste her thorough list of content warnings. Thanks, B! Her review is here: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show... CW: (view spoiler)[Past miscarriage described on page, past death from pregnancy and a bad delivery, grief, alcoholism, addiction, gas lighting (not by hero or heroine), animal cruelty (birds killed and maimed and left for heroine to find to scare her), forced kidnapping and imprisonment of a secondary female character in an asylum, described torture in said asylum (hide spoiler)] “Sirens, you see, are not born thirsting for justice. Sirens are made.” Wow. Okay. So the content warnings are a lot. I would not recommend this book to folks if they dislike any mentions of those CWs. I honestly did not think I’d love THE RAKESS as it utilizes certain tropes/plot decisions that I normally dislike. That plus early polarizing reviews made me wary. So I wasn’t expecting to love it and was on the fence for most of the book. In the end, when I took a step back and analyzed the experience.... yeah, I loved it. I think there are some aspects that are flawed or not interrogated enough for my liking, but my overall experience was deeply enjoyable. Despite certain qualms, it’s going to stick with me for a while. I adore those kind of books. I look forward to discussing THE RAKESS with folks who both love and loathe it. Disclaimer: I received a free e-ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

  9. 5 out of 5

    b.andherbooks

    I am going to have a whole slew of content warnings for this romance, one of my most anticipated of 2020. You can find them behind the spoiler. CW: (view spoiler)[miscarriage described on page, death from pregnancy and a bad delivery, grief, alcoholism, addiction, gas lighting (not by hero or heroine), animal cruelty (birds killed and maimed and left for heroine to find to scare her), forced kidnapping and imprisonment of a secondary female character in an asylum, described torture in said asylum I am going to have a whole slew of content warnings for this romance, one of my most anticipated of 2020. You can find them behind the spoiler. CW: (view spoiler)[miscarriage described on page, death from pregnancy and a bad delivery, grief, alcoholism, addiction, gas lighting (not by hero or heroine), animal cruelty (birds killed and maimed and left for heroine to find to scare her), forced kidnapping and imprisonment of a secondary female character in an asylum, described torture in said asylum, may be more but these stood out to me (hide spoiler)] This trope flipping romance has much to love for those seeking dark, soul wrenching stories. Peckham's master of words and language is in full effect her, making you feel every lash of wind and rain on the Cornish cliffs and every dramatic pulse of lust and romance. Adam and Sera's characters are well drawn and the moments they are together shine. I loved how brittle and prickly Sera is, how she strives to embrace her rejection by society and revel in her freedom from expectation, yet how lonely she is and how she longs for love and friendship. Thank god for her friends, who's books I'm also dying for. Adam is a stuffy, uptight, and grief stricken hero who is both blushingly stern in the streets and domineering and hot in the sheets. I loved that he adored and grieved for his wife. They had a love and lust match which is rare to find in romance novels. What kept me from loving this story has a lot to do with the CWs listed above involving pregnancy. I'll write a better review closer to publication date, but feel free to reach out to me if you have questions! Thank you to the publisher for the ARC!

  10. 4 out of 5

    melanie

    She wept for herself, for her unbearable sadness, her own capacity for cruelty, the terrible force of her rage. I spent a lot of this book crying to the point of a headache (and finished it in one sitting)– out of sadness, out of recognition, out of the pure joy of reading a romance novel that delivered on what I've wanted for a long time. Seraphina is a very rare heroine in romance, allowed to be truly flawed but still loved and deserving and capable of love despite those flaws. (view spoiler)[H She wept for herself, for her unbearable sadness, her own capacity for cruelty, the terrible force of her rage. I spent a lot of this book crying to the point of a headache (and finished it in one sitting)– out of sadness, out of recognition, out of the pure joy of reading a romance novel that delivered on what I've wanted for a long time. Seraphina is a very rare heroine in romance, allowed to be truly flawed but still loved and deserving and capable of love despite those flaws. (view spoiler)[Having your heroine deal with the very real hurt of alcoholism and sobriety in text as a central plot point is something I only remember seeing in Mary Jo Putney's THE RAKE (though there it’s the hero); Sera's struggle/guilt over her excessive drinking was so, so real and heartbreaking. Most authors have their hero cut themselves off alcohol in a book prior to their own, so that when they are the hero, their struggle is (mostly) over. What a blessing for Sera to have such a band of friends to take care of her because they love her so much. It's as almost palpable a romance as the one between Sera and Adam. (hide spoiler)] Adam feels, in comparison, not as deep as Sera, but his fears cage him in as much as hers, and I adored his relationship with his children. I've compared Scarlett Peckham to Laura Kinsale before, and here the comparison is apt, as both authors have heroines who do cruel things but still get their happy endings (here I am mostly thinking of Kinsale's FOR MY LADY'S HEART). What a raw, wonderful romance. Christ. More heroines who are likely to piss off readers expecting perfection! I want them all! Tangentially, another thing Peckham does well, which most historical romance authors are very bad at (even the ones I love), is that even if women are virgins at whatever age (Sera is very much not, but in general), they’ve probably masturbated. Like. Women get themselves off. They do not orgasm for the first time with some pnv sex. I loved Seraphina and Adam and his family and her friends, and I cannot wait to read the next books in this series.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Brigid

    about radical, libertine ladies—the first featuring a female rake—who weaponize their scandalous reputations to fight for justice and the love they deserve along the way You had me at female rake but my head exploded at the idea of female rakes fighting for justice. Oh look head stuff on the carpet..... about radical, libertine ladies—the first featuring a female rake—who weaponize their scandalous reputations to fight for justice and the love they deserve along the way You had me at female rake but my head exploded at the idea of female rakes fighting for justice. Oh look head stuff on the carpet.....

  12. 5 out of 5

    Lily Herman

    Me: Okay, I think I've read enough feminist historical romance for now and I have a million other books to read. Me: *immediately picks up entire book about subverting rigid patriarchal norms around institutions of romance* Scarlett Peckham's goal with this book is an honorable one: Take one of historical romance's most time-honored tropes, the rake, and give it a gender flip to show that we don't necessarily see the role in the same way. She had an incredibly thorough and thoughtful author's note Me: Okay, I think I've read enough feminist historical romance for now and I have a million other books to read. Me: *immediately picks up entire book about subverting rigid patriarchal norms around institutions of romance* Scarlett Peckham's goal with this book is an honorable one: Take one of historical romance's most time-honored tropes, the rake, and give it a gender flip to show that we don't necessarily see the role in the same way. She had an incredibly thorough and thoughtful author's note at the start, and that really did center the whole story. I'm intrigued to check out her other work and keep reading the Society of Sirens series. That said, something never quite worked for me with Sera and Adam's love story, but I didn't dislike it either. I just didn't find myself hurling my iPad across the room when I read the moments where they were fighting, or yelling "YESSSS LEGENDS!!!" when they were back together. I'm not exactly sure if I like on-and-off couples in books, but again, I didn't hate it here. And I really enjoyed the utter drama in the last third of the novel. You've also been warned: On the steaminess scale, this book is a solid "wait, she's doing what with HUH?"

  13. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. I read a lot of historical romance books, hundreds a year and there is one thing they all have in common: the rake and the virgin. No matter what other tropes are thrown in the majority of HR novels are about rakes and virgins and I am so sick of it. In recent years I find authors are embracing a divergence this trope, which I applaud, but Ms. Peckham turns this trope on its head. I loved it! I have always wondered why the rake is always redeemable but when you have a woman who embraces her sexu I read a lot of historical romance books, hundreds a year and there is one thing they all have in common: the rake and the virgin. No matter what other tropes are thrown in the majority of HR novels are about rakes and virgins and I am so sick of it. In recent years I find authors are embracing a divergence this trope, which I applaud, but Ms. Peckham turns this trope on its head. I loved it! I have always wondered why the rake is always redeemable but when you have a woman who embraces her sexuality she is usually an ex-mistress in the role of villain. Why is this woman not deserving of love? Why should she not have her HEA. In The Rakess she does! I have to note that I hate it when the hero’s sexual past is noted repeatedly or when the hero has sex with OW after meeting the heroine. Turns out when it’s the other way around and we learn about the heroines sexual past and she has sex with OM after meeting the hero it didn’t bother me at all. This book wasn’t perfect but my issues with it were minor and I’m still giving it 5 stars.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Diane Peterson

    A truly unusual and fascinating book. The author modeled the heroine after Mary Wollstonecraft and the strong feminist views come through clearly. The hero is a perfect antithesis for the heroine -- he is kind and accepting. Their situations cause both of them to question assumptions about themselves. The writing is excellent, a notch above the usual. I thought this book was compelling and it caused me to tear up several times. I will watch anxiously for the next book due to a little cliffhanger A truly unusual and fascinating book. The author modeled the heroine after Mary Wollstonecraft and the strong feminist views come through clearly. The hero is a perfect antithesis for the heroine -- he is kind and accepting. Their situations cause both of them to question assumptions about themselves. The writing is excellent, a notch above the usual. I thought this book was compelling and it caused me to tear up several times. I will watch anxiously for the next book due to a little cliffhanger at the end of this one. The Rakess was written with great sympathy for the plight of women, but offers hope at the same time. I loved it. ARC provided through Edelweiss

  15. 5 out of 5

    Caiti (The Romance Mom)

    This book ripped my guts out. It does exactly what I need a historical romance to do while simultaneously burning down some (unofficially) established historical romance boundaries. The Rakess is raw and it’s scathing. I’m still sorting out my feelings but what I found so compelling was the way SP speaks to trauma and it’s impact on sexuality and beyond. And how human beings cope with trauma and the fear of reinjury or subsequent loss. Adam, the hero, denies himself. He tries to make it life as s This book ripped my guts out. It does exactly what I need a historical romance to do while simultaneously burning down some (unofficially) established historical romance boundaries. The Rakess is raw and it’s scathing. I’m still sorting out my feelings but what I found so compelling was the way SP speaks to trauma and it’s impact on sexuality and beyond. And how human beings cope with trauma and the fear of reinjury or subsequent loss. Adam, the hero, denies himself. He tries to make it life as safe an orderly as possible. Seraphina drinks and engages in emotionally empty sex. (Hence, she’s a rakess.) What’s so brilliant to me is how SP walks this line. Seraphina’s sexual appetites are celebrated. It’s a clear No Slut-Shaming Zone. But the fact that Seraphina is using sex and alcohol to numb herself and wallow in her unhealed trauma is not ignored either. It’s complex and visceral. It’s truth telling. There is an HEA. A great one. But it’s an unconventional HEA for a HR and it unsettled me at first as a prolific HR reader. BUT (BUT! BUT! BUT!) I’m also compelled to probe at why I feel that way which is a very good thing. Thank you Netgalley and Avon for the opportunity to read an advanced copy. I voluntarily read and reviewed this book and all thoughts and opinions are my own. Content warnings: Alcoholism, stillbirth and pregnancy loss.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Genesis Sheli (Whispering Chapters)

    I was the kind of girl who's offered money, not redemption. Seraphina is a radical, a complete liberal and feminist woman. You can just imagine all the scandal Sera's life just by being how she is and standing firm on her beliefs, especially the scandal that comes with having lots of lovers at every turn. I loved Sera's determination to bring equality, and show that woman can do the same thing as men. Not only that, her passion for helping women in need also spoke volumes for me. She goes back to I was the kind of girl who's offered money, not redemption. Seraphina is a radical, a complete liberal and feminist woman. You can just imagine all the scandal Sera's life just by being how she is and standing firm on her beliefs, especially the scandal that comes with having lots of lovers at every turn. I loved Sera's determination to bring equality, and show that woman can do the same thing as men. Not only that, her passion for helping women in need also spoke volumes for me. She goes back to her childhood home, to write her book that will surely bring down the man ruin her. What she wasn't expecting was meeting the nice and gentle Scottish single-father down the road, and ultimately growing feelings for his family. The loss of you reduces me. I personally enjoyed this story a lot. I think it's because I really wasn't expecting much, except for the feminism, which I'm glad was shown greatly. I also loved the slow-burn romance! It was so seductive, sweet, and tender. Adam is a wonderful and patient man, whom I think put up with a lot of Sera's attitude, so props to the guy! Him being so forgiving was exactly what Sera needed, to show her he's not giving up, to show her he's seen her worst and is still there for her. My dilemma was with Sera's character and her way of drinking her way to blacking out. I just didn't feel like that's how Sera should have been. I expected a strong character, with a good head on her shoulders when I read the title, The Rakess. Another dilemma I had was with the pace of the novel. I felt it was slow and a bit dragging. Every single time I had already reached the halfway point, I'd look at the percentage and realized I still wasn't even close. Sirens, you see, are not born thirsting for justice. Sirens are made. I adored Sera's friends:, Thais, Elinor, and Cornelia! The fierceness, the fire, the determination they all had brought so much humor to the story! Plus, their friendship was an amazing bonus, with so much care for one another. Overall, The Rakess is a great start to this series, one I'm so looking forward to reading more of. -- Follow Me Blog ❃ Instagram ❃ Twitter ❃ Bloglovin ❃ Goodreads ❃ Pinterest

  17. 5 out of 5

    Peter

    ARC won in Goodreads giveaway. As expected, this was spectacular. I loved Seraphina so much, and not only because she's the antithesis of women of her era. Some of the lines describing her hit so close to my heart, and I can't help but connect with a droll, witty, intelligent heroine who, in the beginning, sees men as good for one thing. Adam is a worthy hero, but Sera is the heart of the book, and her backstory is the deeper of the two. I also really enjoyed a little hint of a failed romance of ARC won in Goodreads giveaway. As expected, this was spectacular. I loved Seraphina so much, and not only because she's the antithesis of women of her era. Some of the lines describing her hit so close to my heart, and I can't help but connect with a droll, witty, intelligent heroine who, in the beginning, sees men as good for one thing. Adam is a worthy hero, but Sera is the heart of the book, and her backstory is the deeper of the two. I also really enjoyed a little hint of a failed romance of Marianne's, Adam's sister; I hope we see more of her and her story at some point as well.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Hannah Hearts Romance

    Thank you to the publisher for providing me with a free eARC in exchange for my honest review! I loved this book. I loved this book so much I sacrificed sleep during a very busy week with lots of early mornings to read as much of it as I could. The gender-swapped trope concept could have ended up feeling contrived, but it always felt very deliberate and meaningful. It wasn't a simple matter of making a woman do man things and a man being softer/more feminine--it's an honest and emotional look at Thank you to the publisher for providing me with a free eARC in exchange for my honest review! I loved this book. I loved this book so much I sacrificed sleep during a very busy week with lots of early mornings to read as much of it as I could. The gender-swapped trope concept could have ended up feeling contrived, but it always felt very deliberate and meaningful. It wasn't a simple matter of making a woman do man things and a man being softer/more feminine--it's an honest and emotional look at what it means to be a woman in a world that makes women less-than. Add in some amazing layered characters and holy smokes sex scenes, and you have one of my favorite romances of the year. Serafina is everything I want in a romance heroine--sassy, whip-smart, red-blooded, angry. She's been through a lot and her trauma is handled so carefully. Peckham makes it so easy to empathize with her even when she's being awful. I can see how there will be lots of readers who don't like Sera because of some of her actions, but I also think that says more about our society and perception of "unlikable heroines" than about Serafina or The Rakess. In fact, I think this character is exactly what a lot of romance readers are craving right now. Plus, her redemption arc is believable and hard-won. Adam is a delightful foil to Sera. Whereas Sera has been turned brittle by her losses, Adam has an enormous capacity for love and caring that he doesn't hesitate to share with everyone. He has work of his own to do about his grief and anxiety which keeps his own storyline interesting separate from Sera's. However, I really feel that this was Serafina's story--Adam is there to love an imperfect woman because of her imperfections. The very few qualms I have with the book are pacing-related. For the most part, the plot hinges on internal/emotional conflict and at times in the last third of the book or so it felt like it was dragging on a bit. The angst became slightly repetitive without much actually happening to move the plot forward. After a few chapters of the same, I just wanted the characters to figure it out and move on to the being together part, already! Even still, the ending was emotionally satisfying and the epilogue felt authentic to the characters. Overall, this is a fantastic book that I know a lot of readers will absolutely love. It's quotable and timely and I can't wait for everyone to be able to read it. CW: alcoholism/addiction, false imprisonment, miscarriage, spousal death, slut shaming

  19. 5 out of 5

    Blodeuedd Finland

    I was all ohh a rakess! Cool, but I found the whole thing sad, I want my rakess to enjoy life, but alas no

  20. 5 out of 5

    Jenica

    Scarlett Peckham writes incredibly well-crafted and angsty books and her Avon debut is no exception to that. She takes "The Rake" and gender flips it and really does the work to dig in to what that would look like. We've lived in a society for ages, and still do, where men who have sex often are applauded and women who have sex often are denigrated. So in The Rakess Peckham gives us a woman who likes to keep sex casual and whom society treats most often with scorn and intense repudiation. Meanwh Scarlett Peckham writes incredibly well-crafted and angsty books and her Avon debut is no exception to that. She takes "The Rake" and gender flips it and really does the work to dig in to what that would look like. We've lived in a society for ages, and still do, where men who have sex often are applauded and women who have sex often are denigrated. So in The Rakess Peckham gives us a woman who likes to keep sex casual and whom society treats most often with scorn and intense repudiation. Meanwhile the man who ruined her? He's cruising along totally fine in life because for him, sex was permitted to not be a big deal. When I say this book is angsty, what I mean is that Seraphina didn't stumble into the rakess lifestyle without a few bumps and bruises along the way and she's back in the town she grew up in to exorcise those demons to pour her heart out into writing her memoir. She feels it is best to do this with plenty of alcohol on her side. And then we have Adam, our widowed hero whose wife died in childbirth for their third child. Adam is an architect and is discovering there's an expectation that he will play politics, which makes Seraphina not really a safe choice for a companion. I don't want to spoil anything for you, so I'm going to stop describing the plot even though the plot is such a twisty, windy tale in this book. It's fascinating because the book is intensely character driven and yet, it feels like a lot happens. It is, of course, beautifully written as always, but I think I need to revisit this book when there is not such a disaster happening in the outside world because it was so much. I also want to straight up have a book club discussing this book because Scarlett Peckham truly did so much. There is just a ton of stuff to unpack and it's impossible to do without spoilers. So to explain why I gave this a four star: I really loved what this book was doing. To quote Fated Mates, Peckham is hunting big game here. And yet, the angst was much too much for me at this particular point in the world. But I will undoubtedly revisit this at some point when I want an angst ridden book and can better grapple with the subject matter. Thanks to Netgalley and Avon for the opportunity to read this book early! I'm going to put the content warnings under a spoiler tag intentionally because some of these content warnings really are plot drivers: (view spoiler)[murdered birds, alcoholism, discussion of miscarriage, discussion of grief, examination of bad relationship with parental figures, ruination that came out because of grooming type behaviors (hide spoiler)]

  21. 5 out of 5

    Norah Gibbons

    I received an ARC of this book to read through Edelweiss+ in exchange for a fair review. The Rakess by Scarlett Peckham is the first book in her exciting new series The Society of Sirens. I adored this story, but for me, it was not an easy book to read. I think it’s a combination of the times we are living through right now. I am on full lockdown at home, and parts of the story hit very close to home, the heroine Seraphina Arden lost a child and having experienced that in my life, I sometimes ha I received an ARC of this book to read through Edelweiss+ in exchange for a fair review. The Rakess by Scarlett Peckham is the first book in her exciting new series The Society of Sirens. I adored this story, but for me, it was not an easy book to read. I think it’s a combination of the times we are living through right now. I am on full lockdown at home, and parts of the story hit very close to home, the heroine Seraphina Arden lost a child and having experienced that in my life, I sometimes had to put the book down and go and do something else for a bit. Seraphina is an amazing heroine she hast taken all of the horrible things that life has thrown at her and come out stronger, and instead of being bitter, she is using her skills to try and lift other women up so that they don’t have to go through the things she did. The hero Adam Anderson is quite wonderful as well, he lost a beloved wife in childbirth but is doing his best to raise his children. He is someone who once he has all the information will choose to do the right thing no matter the cost, and while he is almost always kind and thoughtful, he does know how to be bad in the bedroom. The journey these two make together from an impossible relationship to being able to make it work on their own terms was one I thoroughly enjoyed, and I can’t wait to read the next book in the series. Medium Steam. Publishing Date April 28, 2020. #EdelweissPlus #TheRakess #ScarlettPeckham #HistoricalRomance #AvonRomance #HarperCollinsCanada #bookstagram

  22. 5 out of 5

    nick

    I discovered Scarlett Peckham's debut novel thanks to Sarah MacLean on Twitter. I basically devoured the book and couldn't wait to read more. I love historical romance, but I have struggled with some authors' writing styles. Not Peckham though. In fact, I'd say she is at the top of my favorite romance writers. I was so excited to learn that she was being published by Avon and even more excited when I received a copy of the book. The Rakess takes the concept of the historical romance rake and gen I discovered Scarlett Peckham's debut novel thanks to Sarah MacLean on Twitter. I basically devoured the book and couldn't wait to read more. I love historical romance, but I have struggled with some authors' writing styles. Not Peckham though. In fact, I'd say she is at the top of my favorite romance writers. I was so excited to learn that she was being published by Avon and even more excited when I received a copy of the book. The Rakess takes the concept of the historical romance rake and gender-bends it. Let me tell you, it's brilliant and now I want to read about more rakesses! Seraphina is one of the best protagonists I have had the pleasure to read about. I'm typically not that difficult to please when it comes to heroines, but I would love to have her character as my best friend. She is wicked-smart, driven, and truly angry at how the world treats women. She has suffered from traumatic blows in the past and fair warning, Scarlett Peckham does not shy away from the details of her trauma. It's handled with the utmost care by the author but it could be hard to stomach for some readers. If it sounds like I had a love affair with Seraphina, it's because I did! I loved every facet of her personality, from her genuine desire to want to help other women to her stubbornness that could have easily frustrated me. I think it speaks volumes to the author's talent because she was terrific at making the reader understand Seraphina's motivations. While in the process of writing a cathartic memoir that is bound to wreak some havoc in English society, Seraphina meets a lovely and kind-hearted widow with two wonderful children in Adam. Even though Seraphina was the shining star of this book, Adam also managed to capture my attention. He was so pure and soft-hearted. Of course, he has his own fair share of experience with grief that takes up a big part of his character arc in The Rakess, but as with Seraphina's storyline, it is handled with thoughtfulness. The two shared obvious chemistry together, but their romance was one that took a long while to fully develop. Readers looking for a more romance-driven story will find themselves disappointed with this one. Both of these characters have faced a lot of trauma in their lives, so they had to work on themselves before they could dive head-on into a romance, so to me, the slow pace made sense. What I didn't particularly care for in this book were the sex scenes, specifically, I found some of the word choices used to describe body parts to be off-putting. I realize that that is very much of a personal preference issue but I found myself skimming the sex scenes as a result. Overall, I'm so pleased by Peckham's first venture into traditional publishing and I have high hopes for the rest of the Society of Sirens. I haven't talked about any of the side characters yet, but I am really hoping they will be featured as main characters throughout the series. If you're a historical romance fan, you don't want to miss out on The Rakess! Content warning: alcoholism, miscarriage, animal abuse

  23. 5 out of 5

    Zoe Wernick

    OMG. This book. What a celebration. What a beautifully written, inspiring, fun, and fabulous feminist tale. Plot: 10/10 Tropes flipped on their arses: 10/10 Adam: 10/10 Seraphina: 9/10 (Sometimes she was mean to Adam longer than I liked, so I docked her a point. BUT I GET IT! If the gender was flipped it'd be the same, but I'd also dock him the same. Her character/history warranted her hesitation and reactions, but it just made me a *bit* frustrated, enough to lower her a point). Steaminess: 10/10 OMG. This book. What a celebration. What a beautifully written, inspiring, fun, and fabulous feminist tale. Plot: 10/10 Tropes flipped on their arses: 10/10 Adam: 10/10 Seraphina: 9/10 (Sometimes she was mean to Adam longer than I liked, so I docked her a point. BUT I GET IT! If the gender was flipped it'd be the same, but I'd also dock him the same. Her character/history warranted her hesitation and reactions, but it just made me a *bit* frustrated, enough to lower her a point). Steaminess: 10/10 Ending: OMFG SCARLETT WHAT ARE YOU DOING TO ME?!?!!!? **UPDATE** I have now read this book twice, and I feel like it gives even more the second time around. I had so many thoughts and feelings about this wonderful book, and I was lucky enough to sit down and get to talk to the authoress herself on our podcast, Tea & Strumpets. If you'd like to hear more about what I thought (or waaaay more importantly, about what Scarlett herself thought) about this book, you can find us wherever you get podcasts, or right here too.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Milena

    3.5 stars The Rackess by Scarlett Peckham turns the rake trope on its head. In this book, the woman is the one with a lot of lovers and notoriety and the man is an upright widower and father. For this reason, I was very excited to read The Rackess. I enjoyed it but didn't love it as much as I wanted to. I found the first half of the book a little slow with not a lot of happening, and I wanted more chemistry and banter between Seraphina and Adam. I enjoyed the second part of the book a lot more wh 3.5 stars The Rackess by Scarlett Peckham turns the rake trope on its head. In this book, the woman is the one with a lot of lovers and notoriety and the man is an upright widower and father. For this reason, I was very excited to read The Rackess. I enjoyed it but didn't love it as much as I wanted to. I found the first half of the book a little slow with not a lot of happening, and I wanted more chemistry and banter between Seraphina and Adam. I enjoyed the second part of the book a lot more when interesting things finally started happening. I also expected this book to be steamier than it was, based on the cover and what I know of this author's other books. The cover of The Rackess is stunning, and I hope we are going to see more of these old-fashioned sensual romance covers in the future. Overall, The Rackess was an enjoyable historical romance that I would recommend. *ARC provided by the publisher via Edelweiss

  25. 5 out of 5

    Kelli Newby

    I was very lucky to get an ARC of this book. The barnburning intro that gives the biography of Mary Wollstonecraft told me right away that Rakess is a book for right now. It's about the importance and the cost or speaking truth to power (and so, so many other things). Peckham never flinches away from the tragedies in the protagonists' pasts or the tumult of their current situation--the pain is soul deep--but she does so without wallowing. There are moments in this book (and in The Lord I Left) wh I was very lucky to get an ARC of this book. The barnburning intro that gives the biography of Mary Wollstonecraft told me right away that Rakess is a book for right now. It's about the importance and the cost or speaking truth to power (and so, so many other things). Peckham never flinches away from the tragedies in the protagonists' pasts or the tumult of their current situation--the pain is soul deep--but she does so without wallowing. There are moments in this book (and in The Lord I Left) when I honestly couldn't see how the characters could be together even when I really, really wanted them to be, which makes the feelings--theirs and mine--all the more powerful. Also, it's tremendously fun and deliciously wicked. Sera's friends are wonderful, snarky, powerful, and utterly alive. I cannot wait to read more books in this series.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Jite

    3.5 Stars!!! I am a huge fan of this author’s work and I have so far given everything I’ve ever read from her 5 stars because her use of language, her stories, her understanding of human nature and love and her balance of humour with emotion and pain and her ability to make you feel are beyond stellar. Which is why it’s so hard for me that I didn’t love this even though it had ALL the amazing elements that Scarlett Peckham’s books should be recognized for. It’s not that I disliked this. It’s a g 3.5 Stars!!! I am a huge fan of this author’s work and I have so far given everything I’ve ever read from her 5 stars because her use of language, her stories, her understanding of human nature and love and her balance of humour with emotion and pain and her ability to make you feel are beyond stellar. Which is why it’s so hard for me that I didn’t love this even though it had ALL the amazing elements that Scarlett Peckham’s books should be recognized for. It’s not that I disliked this. It’s a good book. I just don’t think it was the best fit for me personally and in this review, I’m going to say why. This book is about a “radical” feminist (for her time) fighting for an end to discrimination and gender equality especially in terms of sexual liberation and consequences and in terms of equal rights and ability to earn an income. Just basic fairness. The heroine, Sera, is a strong woman who was let down by society and has made it her mission to hold up other women society wants to suppress by telling her truth through a memoir. She is facing her painful past in her Cornish hometown which holds many bad memories when she meets, Adam, an all-round nice and kind guy and an architect trying to make his mark in the architectural world. He knows of her past but doesn’t care but Sera has been broken in the past and doesn’t have time for the softer emotions which can break her again. Even writing the premise in terms of the story rather than the theme is quite difficult and that to me, exemplifies why this book wasn’t for me. This is very much a book about an issue (feminism) or a series of issues (gender equality-related issues) rather than a book about people and characters. And there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s not that it’s at all bad because SP can’t write anything bad, in my opinion. It’s actually very, VERY good AND extremely well-researched and relevant, if it is to your taste. But it felt very much about the theme and about the message rather than about the characters and the story. I can say it’s a romance about feminism and how women were treated and how a group of women were working to overcome that ill-treatment, rather than that it’s a book about love or about Sera and Adam. And I believe THAT is the intention of the author. From the Author’s Note at the beginning to the Reader’s Guide at the end, this is a book that wants you to think about feminism on every page, to recognize injustice, to ask questions, to see the wrongful way women’s rights activists and women are treated. It’s a romance with a clear agenda and in that sense, this book is an absolute 5-star success. I think there’s an audience for that and it’s a book to make you think and consider. But not really one to entertain, because the first half of the book, where a lot of the philosophy around the central themes is concentrated, drags quite a bit. It feels part treatise and the story angle is very light. There are lots of unutilized opportunities to show characters and their relationships rather than tell that aren’t taken. Perhaps we could have seen Sera in the role of a mentor, a vision of her work for women- something to show us who she was. The same with Adam, he didn’t feel whole to me. And the relationship wasn’t 3-D for me, it was too secondary for at least half the story. And that’s why this is not to my taste. I love a story with character and plot development and growth, a proper story with the issues and themes and agenda, woven in subtly. The themes in this romance are more an assault with a stick than a wave of a wand. There’s nothing subtle here. And that is brilliant and necessary, but I don’t really see this as a book to sit and enjoy. It’s a book to make you sit up. A book that you could read for a women’s studies class but not necessarily a romance you casually pick up for casual entertainment. Unless of course that is your taste. And in fairness there is a considerable amount of heat to this!!!! Definitely a 5-🚨heat level! So it’s not like it’s dry. It’s just the first half is a bit slow and light on plot and heavy on message and theme. I would certainly have loved more about Sera’s growth- about how she began to face her pain and her issues and her relationship with her friends and with Adam outside her philosophy, which consumed so much of her and seemed of anything to make her afraid of vulnerability. I wanted more of Sera and Adam together not about to be intimate or to say something to break each other. I wanted them to heal together actually together and to learn each other and engage and know each other. Those are the more nuanced themes and elements I would have liked to see explored. The times where the author explored the themes (also explored in her previous book The Lord I Left) of being unjustly isolated or excluded from society and also of self-denial, Power, selling your soul and the struggle to conform, those were the strongest parts of the book. Those were the parts that felt the most human and the most diversity of emotion. I loved the exploration of blame and regret and of difficult complex family relationships and would have LOVED to see more of that because I feel like those human bits are where this book felt like it was “about people” rather than issues. And to me, because I’m passionate about the issues this book is about but also passionate about storytelling, I don’t know what to make of this book and all my rambling thoughts or really how to rate this. Because it’s soooo good but also not really so much my taste. I don’t know- 3.5 Stars??? I received an advanced copy of this book from Avon (Harper Collins) through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review!

  27. 5 out of 5

    Niki

    Seraphina Arden is well-known for her scandalous views on equality, her penchant for taking lovers, and her propensity for wine-drinking. She hopes to open an institute to train women to work in trades usually reserved for men. To raise funds, she’s decided to publish her memoirs exposing her sordid past and the powerful man who set her on the road to ruin. She’s singular in her purpose, holding her friends as family and ensuring her lovers are gone by morning. Adam Anderson is a widowed Scottish Seraphina Arden is well-known for her scandalous views on equality, her penchant for taking lovers, and her propensity for wine-drinking. She hopes to open an institute to train women to work in trades usually reserved for men. To raise funds, she’s decided to publish her memoirs exposing her sordid past and the powerful man who set her on the road to ruin. She’s singular in her purpose, holding her friends as family and ensuring her lovers are gone by morning. Adam Anderson is a widowed Scottish architect spending the summer working on a project in Cornwall. He has two children and a burgeoning business to protect. He can’t afford an affair and certainly not with scandalous Seraphina Arden. But she’s spending the summer in her native Cornwall as well and her proposal of a no strings attached month between them proves too tempting when Adam has been burying his passionate nature and grief for the past three years. A simple fling rapidly grows far more complicated and emotional, igniting feelings neither expected to experience again. But when Sera learns that Adam’s career is staked on the good favor of the man she’s on the cusp of calling out in her memoirs, she must decide between her cause and her heart. I have so many feelings and thoughts about this book, so you may be in for a bit of a ramble. I was so looking forward to it but I must say it was both what I expected and a bit of a disappointment. There can be no doubt that this book is impeccably well-written, if a bit wordy in places, but in my opinion at least, it isn’t really a romance at all. This is more of a feminist treatise that I would expect to read in a literature class or discuss in a serious-minded book club and it certainly did its job in that respect. It put me into the frame of mind of the true feminists who lived in what was a terrifying time for women in which we had virtually no rights at all and illuminated the contrast between the true meaning and purpose of feminism and today’s watered down, easily offended version. But it was not a romance. Sera’s relationship with Adam took a backseat to literally everything else in the book and Adam was never given much opportunity for growth or depth. He was one of the sweetest and most thoughtful heroes I’ve read and as such I wound up thinking that he deserved better and more than he wound up getting from Sera. I wanted him to have more of a backbone and stop coming back for more each time Sera continued to treat him horribly. This was definitely Sera’s story with Adam just thrown in for spice. There wasn’t much substance to their story as a couple and not much was ever really developed, though I don’t think their relationship was really so much the point here. Honestly for all her strong principles and arguments, which I agreed with, Sera herself just struck me, at least most of the time, as immature and emotionally stunted, drowning her feelings in alcohol, throwing childish tantrums, and exhibiting what was, at its core, a selfish nature. Much of the time I felt she was just using Adam and based on the whims of her unstable emotions with no care to how she might affect him. At one point she even tried to force herself on Adam, which to me is rather unforgiveable; it certainly would be so if the roles had been reversed, and that made my respect for her ebb even more. She acted as if she and other ruined women were the only ones to have ever suffered in life and that was grossly irritating to me. By the time she started to consider his feelings even a bit, it was a little too late for me, especially given the fact that she still tried to keep things from him. There was a ridiculous amount of back and forth between these two that got slightly after a while. The first past of the book especially was very slow paced and that pacing was really increased by large infusions of angst, which always annoys me, though I will say it was very well done here and felt very real and raw (which is probably why it was so hard to read.) Also, make no mistake, just because this wasn’t exactly a romance don’t think it wasn’t steamy; it was, very much so and not for those who prefer to remain on the sensual side. That said, I wound up feeling like those steamy scenes didn’t further the relationship between Adam and Sera, with Sera ultimately keeping Adam at arm’s length or to some extent distant, even by the epilogue and that made the ending rather unsatisfying for me. I loved the idea of role reversing with a female rake, but the enjoyable part of reading a rake is that he reforms for that one special woman. I don’t think Sera ever did this or even came close. Even at the end she was still married to her cause which, while respectable, ultimately made her seem a bit self-focused to me, especially given her lack of consideration for the potential respectability of her child. While Sera certainly exhibited some redeeming qualities, she never really became likable for me and still always expected much more from others than she was ever willing to give of herself. The main problem may be that this was a bit too grave and serious in tone for me right now. Overall, this was a well-written book and given that it ended on somewhat of a cliffhanger for one of the supporting characters I’ll probably continue the series even though this one wasn’t quite for me. I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Emily

    ugh, MY HEART IS SO FULL What a gift to get this bracing, angry, hopeful, loving book when I needed it. In some ways it's hard to imagine reading it in earlier times before romance publishing began to more fully reckon with our current context of MeToo and "indelible in the hippocampus is the laughter" and the gross inequity underlying much of the public censure of women, and in other ways it's easy to grasp the timelessness of this story, because Scarlett Peckham pointedly illustrates how long a ugh, MY HEART IS SO FULL What a gift to get this bracing, angry, hopeful, loving book when I needed it. In some ways it's hard to imagine reading it in earlier times before romance publishing began to more fully reckon with our current context of MeToo and "indelible in the hippocampus is the laughter" and the gross inequity underlying much of the public censure of women, and in other ways it's easy to grasp the timelessness of this story, because Scarlett Peckham pointedly illustrates how long and hard the battle for autonomy has been. What a writer, that I worried I'd wake the house laughing at her introductory note about rakes in romance - and then read on, heart in my throat, when she described Mary Wollstonecraft's life and death. I was so grateful that the central romance was about learning how to be a partnership of true equals, not about learning to be likable; I loved how Sera and Adam each carried full histories of despair and joy, and talked to each other like adults about what their emotions meant; I enjoyed the children; I beamed at Sera's close-knit group of friends. I didn't care for the last line, but only because I have to wait a whole year to find out what happens in Cornelia's book. And more than once, I read with tears in my eyes: Sometimes the grim realities of womanhood, and the danger of addressing them when one lacked power beyond rage, were so heavy it silenced all discussion. One did not need to name the feeling. One simply felt the weight. This book is in large part about allowing oneself to hope for a better future, and to celebrate that hope, but it doesn't pretend that hope is easy or anything less than a difficult and an active choice.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Esme Brett

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. This is a brave book. Going in, amply primed by the AN, I knew to expect an exploration of ‘what’s sauce for the goose’ with a side of Madonna v whore. But I still wasn’t prepared for Seraphina. She was the bravest part of all. There was something so utterly painful and real about Part 1 Sera. I wasn’t prepared for it, although I enjoyed it. In particular, I appreciated having a female protagonist struggling with an actual, bad-news vice. I don’t think I realised until The Rakess how accustomed I’ This is a brave book. Going in, amply primed by the AN, I knew to expect an exploration of ‘what’s sauce for the goose’ with a side of Madonna v whore. But I still wasn’t prepared for Seraphina. She was the bravest part of all. There was something so utterly painful and real about Part 1 Sera. I wasn’t prepared for it, although I enjoyed it. In particular, I appreciated having a female protagonist struggling with an actual, bad-news vice. I don’t think I realised until The Rakess how accustomed I’ve become to “job interview” type character flaws — like pride or ambition or loving too much ... these are all qualities that get a chc in trouble when they reach a peak, but they tend to manifest pretty in books (until they don’t). But Sera ... well, she has demons on her back and the coping is not pretty. It‘s exquisitely conveyed with beautiful writing, but grid your emotional loins is all I’m saying. This isn’t a book that will blur in your memory with time, fading into a hazy historical soup with characters from one book and plots from another. This one will stick out fiercely on its own. One of my fave things was the equal approach to description. Too often a chuckle, bellow, shout, sneer or groan is reserved for men; while a woman will giggle, cry out, scream, look mischievous, or moan. This delineation is definitely not universal of course, but it is scarily common. Not in Rakess though! Here, sobs and sighs and winks belonged to everyone. This book is unique and brave and adventurous. It’s also heart breaking and rousing (I guess both with and without an ‘a’) and fierce. Plus Scots and cliffs. I liked it. Made me cry tho. The CONTENT WARNINGs are many!! ⚠️ Alcoholism, miscarriage, m>f coercion (not by the hero), bad things happen to birds, description of off page asylum torture.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Katie

    A debate I often have with myself: Is this a three stars because I put the book down and picked it up several times? Or did I put it down several times because it is a three star book? Anyway, I liked a lot about this. You definitely get to see a different side of society than you usually do in historical romances. I guess I did struggle some with the hero. I didn't always understand where he was coming from. I mean, I can explain it to myself (view spoiler)[he's worried about kids, he felt a re A debate I often have with myself: Is this a three stars because I put the book down and picked it up several times? Or did I put it down several times because it is a three star book? Anyway, I liked a lot about this. You definitely get to see a different side of society than you usually do in historical romances. I guess I did struggle some with the hero. I didn't always understand where he was coming from. I mean, I can explain it to myself (view spoiler)[he's worried about kids, he felt a responsibility to his brother-in-law (hide spoiler)] , but it didn't come across well enough for me on the page. I didn't feel him struggle enough. (In contrast, you most definitely feel the heroine's struggle and it is very much her story and it's a great one! Maybe it's just not a great romance.)

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