Book review of The Mistress Experience

In The Mistress Experience, the final chapter of Scarlett Peckham’s wildly fun Society of Sirens series, courtesan Thais Magdalene brings the fight for women’s rights to her bedroom and winds up finding her very own happily ever after. 

The infamous Thais fetches a pretty penny for a single night in her bed and sees no customer twice. And so to raise enough money to finally open a women’s institute, she and her fellow activists who make up the Society of Sirens decide to auction off a month-long engagement of her services. Lord Alastair Eden, who bids on Thais by proxy to ensure his privacy, is the lucky winner. Confident in nearly all aspects of his life except for the bedroom, Alastair wants Thais to teach him how to please his future wife. Neither of them expect to develop feelings. (Do they ever?) But Alastair finds bawdy, kind Thais surprisingly charming, and Thais finds much to admire in the shy, proper nobleman. Is their attraction strong enough for them to defy society’s expectations—not to mention their own ideas of what they deserve and where their duty lies? 

Peckham is known for her nontraditional heroines, and has never wasted time trying to fit her leading ladies into a neat and tidy happy ending. (Think open marriages and paramours who live in separate houses.) Thais’ pursuit of a more traditional HEA involving marriage and children might therefore initially come as a surprise to readers. But Peckham stresses that these supposedly conventional choices have always felt out of reach for Thais, who started working in a brothel at 9 and was first auctioned off by age 14. Although Thais hasn’t lacked attention from men, she has lacked kindness, care and being seen for more than what she can offer in the bedroom. Thais and Alastair are perfect foils for each other, and it is such a joy to watch her needle the prudish lord. In one early scene, Alastair cooks for Thais, and it’s so sweet that it’s hard to not be a complete pile of goo by the end. This book is full of similar loving, simple acts of kindness (but is also still so very sexy), and readers will undoubtedly fall hard for both main characters.

The Mistress Experience is a sparkling conclusion to an already dazzling series. I only wish we had more sirens to look forward to.

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