The Rakess by Scarlett Peckham

Avon, 2020


Content warnings: Alcoholism, stillbirth and pregnancy loss.

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.