The Duke I Tempted (Book 1)
The time period of this book was a bit earlier than the historical romance I’ve been reading, but I’m so pleased I took a chance on it anyway. Westmead and Poppy stole my heart, separately and then together. The arc of their relationship surprised me at every turn, but I enjoyed every bit of it even while their angst practically poured off the page. I tend not to have the patience for angst, so I’m extra impressed by an author who makes it both valid and worthwhile. Our heroes both have pasts to contend with, and histories always affect the future.
I’m not a plant person whatsoever, but I thoroughly enjoyed the level of detail Peckham included in her overall world building to make Poppy’s livelihood and passions real to the reader. Information was always appropriate to the scene and never felt included simply because the author didn’t want a moment of research to go to waste.
This story was also unique (to me) in that it flipped the trope of gender roles in relationship to fictional representations of BDSM. Even better, the author wrote her characters so that neither was portrayed as “less than” due to their alignment. Submission and masochism are examples of strength, not weakness, and Peckham did a fantastic job of embodying this in Westmead’s character.
As usual, my highest praise is purchasing the next book in the series. I can’t wait to start reading.
The Earl I Ruined (Book 2)
Falling into this world, and in love with these characters, was so easy. I devoured this book in a single evening and didn’t want to leave when I finished. The drama between and surrounding Constance and Julian was always extreme enough on one side to be entertaining and believable enough on the other to be poignant.
Peckham builds Constance’s character in layers, revealing her depths through revelations about her past through the course of the book. I already had a soft spot for this character after the first book in this series. I grew to love her once invited into her head. Peckham uses an excellent narrative voice to enhance the scenes from Constance’s point of view.
Julian’s history, and the trials thereof, is also revealed through carefully placed hints that make every interaction between him and Constance almost dangerous. I often find myself annoyed by conflict in romance novels that stems from miscommunication. In this story, I honestly felt for both characters and completely understood their unwillingness to open up to each other. Love also involves communication and trust, and none of those three are comfortable without the others. The final reveal of Julian’s role at Charlotte Street was shocking and utterly delightful, especially after what we had seen of his public persona and his private interactions with Charlotte.
This series has many important things to say about social issues without ever being heavy-handed or overtly political. I’ll admit to already being sympathetic to the side Peckham presents, but I hope other readers might be swayed at least a bit by this phenomenal book.
The Lord I Left (Book 3)
For a series that centers around the members of a secret club on Charlotte Street, it amuses me that we learn almost nothing about this club until the third book. And then the main characters of this book promptly leave town for a road trip of epically disastrous proportions.
Obviously, now they have to fall in love. That’s how road trips in books work. With Henry and Alice, however, Peckham flips the script in so many delightful ways. Henry is the conservative, religious prude yearning for sexual freedoms he thinks are beyond his grasp. Alice is a liberal, worldly woman who does not hesitate to speak her mind. Even breaking the mold to have Alice more sexually experienced than Henry makes for a fascinating, almost unique read.
Their love story is not easy, and the roles each of their families play do their best to tear them apart. I prepared to dislike Henry immediately based on his character in the previous books in this series, but Peckham rehabilitates him in an immensely satisfying way.
I’m sad to have reached the end of what is currently available in this series. As usual, the best review I can give is to express my desire for the next book – and I anxiously await the next installment in this fantastic series.