By Scarlett Peckham
I was so intrigued when I started this book – the author’s note at the beginning spoke about the inspiration for crafting a historical romance novel that turned the “ruined woman trope” on its head. Scarlett Peckham was inspired by the real life story of Mary Wollstonecraft, who created opportunities for women and set the stage for the feminists that came after her.
So with this idea of female empowerment, I dove into The Rakess. Seraphina Arden is shameless in her sexuality and lifestyle of indulgence. After being outcast from society at a young age, she formed friendships with other women who were cast out of society. These women formed the Society of Sirens, to care and look out for each other and build each other up. Their loyal and non judgmental friendships were my favorite part of the book.
Adam Anderson is a widower, architect, and a single dad who takes up residence next to Seraphina. Adam is a good man with a kind heart. But not much depth. He deeply mourns his wife who died in childbirth and blames himself for her death. He leaves the majority of the care of his children to his sister Marianne. Mr. Anderson, A.A., the first letter in the alphabet, the first man in the Bible, and the first man to challenge Seraphina’s views on what a man could offer to her.
I found Sera to be strong willed and brave but also pretty toxic. Her alcoholism was a big problem for most of the book. She uses sex flippantly and pushes men away that try to get close to her. She was a terrible stand in as a step mother, showing up occasionally to give gifts but disappointing the children when it really mattered. In fact, her lack of a substantial relationship with Adam’s young children, and Adam’s prioritization of Sera over his own children were enough to make me not want their relationship to work out. I liked both Adam and Sera and despite their obvious chemistry (the sex in this book was very hot), I thought they were a bad match for each other.
Review by Michele W.