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The Portrait of a Duchess- Review

The Portrait of a Duchess

By: Scarlett Peckham

Genre: Historical Romance

Series: Society of Sirens #2

Publisher: Avon Romance

Publication Date: March 7, 2023

Source: Received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 4 Stars

Amazon Indiebound


The scandalous women of the SOCIETY OF SIRENS are back with an explosive secret…their ranks include a duchess in disguise

Once upon a time she married in secret…

An activist painter of radicals and harlots, Cornelia Ludgate dismisses love and marriage as threats to freedom. But when an inheritance gives her the chance to fund the cause of women’s rights—on the condition she must wed—she is forced to reveal a secret: she’s already married. To a man she hasn’t seen for twenty years.

Oh…and her husband is a duke.

A horse breeder with a clandestine taste for revolution, Rafe Goodwood never expected to become a duke. But now that the title is his, he is plotting to shock the ruling class with ambitions of reform—and reveal the infamous Cornelia is his duchess. That just presents one problem: he must not fall in love with her—again.

Now they must resist the temptation to rekindle an affair…

Although determined not to sacrifice her principles for passion, Cornelia is still drawn to the man whose very being threatens her independence. Hurt too many times, Rafe can’t risk love again—especially with the woman who once shattered his heart. But a conspiracy to upend the inequalities of the aristocracy bring Cornelia and Rafe closer, forcing them to finally decide what—and who—they hold dear.


This book is not want I was expecting from Avon Romance but definitely what I was expecting from Scarlett Peckham. The Rakess was a just a dip into the water of Society of Sirens and The Portrait of a Duchess pushed boundaries even further, in a way I’m happy with! Cornelia and Rafe have been married for 20 years but they’ve lived separate lives, including lovers. However, everything comes out in the open when Rafe becomes a duke and Cornelia has a chance at an inheritance on the condition of her marriage. Add to that, Cornelia is a diverse character and both she and Rafe are radicals and determined to change up society. And the first intimate scene is an MMF between Rafe, Cornelia, and his former lover! Definitely unusual for Avon Romance. This book may not be for those how insist on “history accuracy” on their romance novels ( I put that in quotes because queer people and diverse love stories have always existed and I find the call for history accuracy in romance to often made straight and white.) But if you’re interested in steamy scenes, radical ideas about society and women’s rights, and a reunion love story, this book is for you.

The Portrait of a Duchess is a step in an encouraging direction for romance. I want more romances featuring queer characters, those who challenge the status quo, and openly address problematic issues around class, gender, and race.

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