The Portrait of a Duchess

Avon. (Society of Sirens, Bk. 2). Mar. 2023. 384p. ISBN 9780062935632. pap. $9.99. HISTORICAL ROMANCE
The Society of Sirens needs money to build the Institute for the Equality of Women. Upon her uncle’s death, Cornelia Ludgate, a painter notorious for her feminist works, learns that if she marries, she’ll receive an inheritance, which would fund the institute. To claim it, however, she will need to reunite with her estranged husband Rafe Goodwood, with whom she secretly eloped 20 years ago in a marriage of convenience. Rafe, meanwhile, has been spying on the Tory aristocracy for years in his role as a respected horse breeder. Now the Duke of Rosemere, Rafe can finally start publicly working toward reform. The two agree to host a masquerade ball, where Rafe will announce his true political affiliations and Cornelia, his secret duchess. All goes according to plan until rekindled passion interferes. Rafe impulsively declares his love for Cornelia openly at the ball, but Cornelia is terrified that reciprocating his love will mean losing her hard-won freedom.
VERDICT Peckham (The Rakess) sensitively introduces a heroine battling prejudice and censure, while also delivering a romance full of political machinations, surprises, and steamy sex scenes. A captivating sequel guaranteed to thrill.
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