SOCIAL MEDIA

Thursday, May 7, 2020

Gender-Bending A Popular Historical Romance Trope: The Rakess by Scarlett Peckham

THE RAKESS

by Scarlett Peckham
Series: Society of Sirens #1
Genres: Historical, Romance, Adult
Publisher: Avon
Publication Date: April 28th 2020
Source: ARC received for review
Star Quotient: ★★★★
Kiss Factor: ✷✷✷
Amazon - The Book Depository - IndieBound

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

Have you read any books that gender-flipped the rake trope in historical romance?
Let me know in the comments below!