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The Rakess

(Society of Sirens #1)

3.87  ·  Rating details ·  1,661 ratings  ·  441 reviews
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
Kindle Edition, 400 pages
Published April 28th 2020 by Avon
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Average rating 3.87  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,661 ratings  ·  441 reviews

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Aug 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
i would let Seraphina step on me
Nenia ✨ I yeet my books back and forth ✨ Campbell

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One of my friends was raving about Scarlett Peckham's other series, so I was really excited to receive an ARC of THE RAKESS... which I haven't read until now because I am a trash person. I'm so bad at reading ARCs on time and it took me forEVER to read this one because I actually wasn't... that in love with it. It wasn't a bad book, which is why I didn't DNF, but there were some things about it that I really didn't enjoy, which made fini
Lacey (laceybooklovers)
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 ...more
TW for loss of a loved one, miscarriage, and loss of a child.

THIS BOOK WAS SO FABULOUS. I know a lot of people didn't love this book, but I absolutely loved how it was a realistic portrayal of a rakess in society. Sure, we'd love a sex-positive heroine who lived like as a rake would during this time period. But that's not what Seraphina can do. At a young age, she was taken advantage of and exposed, and society immediately condemned her. Sera took control of her life and embraced the role of a
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
˗ˏˋ aphrodite ˊˎ˗
a hot female seductress & a sexy scotsman have a FWB relationship turned romance.

this is a historical romance loving bisexual’s wet dream.

it’s me, I’m the historical romance loving bisexual.
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
Fadwa (Word Wonders)
CW: talk of death of a new born, talk of death in childbirth, miscarriage scare, grief, harassment, threats, trauma, alcoholism, mental breakdown

I had this one on my radar for a few months but then a few days ago, I picked this one up on a whim and so thoroughly enjoyed it. Things I really loved about it:
- A rakess and her "depraved" friends make a feminist club where they stand up to the patriarchy and call out the unfair treatment of women in society at the time in all ways that they can.
- The
Discussed in twitter thread:

My friend b.andherbooks graciously allowed me to copy/paste her thorough list of content warnings. Thanks, B! Her review is here:

CW: (view spoiler)
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
Jan 05, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: avon, historical, romance
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)
Feb 04, 2019 marked it as to-read
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.....

May 18, 2020 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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
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
So, I get why this is a divisive book and I'm a little surprised at myself as to how much I liked it? The heroine is definitely what would be called, in some quarters, difficult. But as with any character that is difficult, I believe that it is the author's job to make us understand why the character is that way and I did think that was done well. Did I think that she often treated the hero very badly and that if I were him I might be reluctant to keep going back for more? Sure. But I also got w ...more
Apr 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: romance, faves, historical
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)
Nov 30, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is loosely based on the life of Mary Wollstonecraft, and if anything, is less interesting than that lady's life. I will also say that while I enjoyed the novel immensely, the author's note at the beginning is possibly the best part of it and should be required reading for any fans of the historical romance sub-genre. Also, this novel comes with a bucketload of content warnings which it's not being overly cautious about.

Seraphina Arden has returned to her childhood home in Cornwall in an eff
May 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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
Caiti Radjewski
Apr 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Apr 29, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 ...more
Apr 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
nick (the infinite limits of love)

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
Hannah Hearts Romance
Mar 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing
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
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
Apr 24, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 ...more
Norah Gibbons
Apr 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 ...more
Esme Brett
Apr 30, 2020 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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Scarlett Peckham writes sexy, gothic, feminist historical romances about alpha heroines. She splits her time between Los Angeles and the spooky cliffs of Coastal Oregon.

For a taste at her critically acclaimed Secrets of Charlotte Street series, download her free novelette, The Emerald Widow:

To be the first to hear about her new releases and cat photos, sign up for her

Other books in the series

Society of Sirens (2 books)
  • Society of Sirens #2: A Novel

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