Sunday, March 6, 2022

Review Tuesday (moved to Monday!) - Rook by T. Strange #SciFi #MMRomance #ReviewTuesday

Rook  cover

by T. Strange

Self-published, April 2021

As a punishment for killing his husband, Rook is condemned to guard duty on the hostile planet B-226 – effectively a death sentence. It is his responsibility to protect the miners who labor underground to extract the incredibly valuable mineral that is the only reason for humans to visit B-226, but guards rarely last more than a few weeks when faced with the poisonous flora and vicious fauna of the alien world.

Rook hardly cares. The death of his beloved Carlo has left him empty inside. He expects the monsters that inhabit the planet to make short work of him. However, his partner Stevie has other ideas. Stevie has learned how to survive on B-226, and he’s determined to teach Rook the tricks and techniques that have let him beat the odds.

Stevie is nothing at all like Carlo, but Rook can’t resist indulging himself in the comfort of his wiry body. As the two men battle the disgusting and terrifying creatures that threaten them on a daily basis, they grow closer. Despite his psychic wounds, Rook begins to care for his brash, clever partner. Will that connection be enough to keep him alive?

Twice a year, Smashwords holds a month long, site-wide sale, encouraging authors to offer their books at a discount. It’s a great time to find cheap or free reading, and encounter new authors. Although I toss quite a few of the free books I download after a few pages, I’ve struck it lucky a few times. Rook was definitely a fortunate choice.

I really enjoyed this original and vivid scifi romance. T. Strange has managed to create a believably horrible world, then set a very human story against that background. The currents of feeling that flow between Rook and Stevie are powerful but nuanced. There’s an unexpected shift in the second half of the novel that provides even more opportunity for emotional complexity. And since this is a romance, I don’t think it’s a spoiler to reassure you that the ending is basically happy – though as I was reading I really wondered if that was going to be the case.

That, to my mind, is one sign of a well-crafted romance – that despite the genre, the author can keep the reader guessing.

If you like creative, intense MM romance, give Rook a try. Unfortunately the novel seems to no longer be available on Smashwords, but you can get it at Amazon in Kindle format. (Glad I got my copy before the author pulled it!)

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