Book Review: Rooks and Romanticide by J.I. Rake

Rooks and Romanticide by J. I. RadkeTitle: Rooks and Romanticide
Author: J.I. Rake
Genre: Steampunk, M/M Romance
Sensuality Rating: Sensual
Source: review copy provided by publisher
Published: July 28, 2015 by Dreamspinner Press 

In an alternate world, Romeo and Juliet are gunslingers. Verona gives way to a steampunk Victorian London. The victims of turf wars are dumped in an alley they call Lovers’ Lane, and the moment the son of his family's enemy touches his face, Cain's revenge is poisoned by love. Fate would have it no other way.

Levi Ruslaniv is the heir to the Ruslaniv family gang, but ridiculous ancient feuds do not interest him. Cain Dietrich’s vengeful hatred for the Ruslaniv family is rooted deep, since he believes the Ruslanivs arranged for the murder of his parents. But his encounter with Levi pierces him deeper than hatred ever could.

With bullets and blazes of glory, schemes, spies, and pack mentalities, loyalty runs as deep in the veins as passion or revenge, and there is only one way to end the fighting. From the start it was inevitable—a bloodstained fate for children with bloodstained hands, and the streets of New London will never be the same.

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Reviewed by: Lesley

Why I Read This Book: Alternate tellings of classic stories tend to catch my interest, and a steampunk M/M version of the Romeo and Juliet tragedy was too intriguing to pass up.

What I Liked: Part of what makes re-imaginings of classics fun for me is waiting to see where the two works line up and where they diverge. Rooks and Romanticide does a nice job of creating a unique and compelling story within the framework of the classic Shakespearian play.

Cain and Levi are complicated, romantic, damaged characters that worked well in this story. I thought the POV alternations were well timed and helped shape the characters and their relationship. Both of their back stories were terribly tragic and were revealed in a way that not only explained some of their questionable (and sometimes aggravating) actions and emotions but also enhanced the story as a whole. These are two young men in positions of power over a situation that’s essentially as doomed as their love.

What I Didn’t Like: I had a hard time getting into this book at the beginning. Once things picked up and I started to learn more about the characters I was sucked in, but it took a while for me to reach that point.

Overall Impression: A steampunk take on Romeo and Juliet, Rooks and Romanticide is a heartbreaking book about two men, broken by the circumstances of their lives, who find solace and love in each other, as ill-fated as it may be. While I normally want my HEA, or something close to it, the literature buff in me couldn’t resist this version of the iconic tragedy. And fair warning, this does end tragically.

Lesley’s Rating:
3 1/2 Frogs

About Brianna: Supermom by day, naughty reader by night. Addicted to chocolate, Twitter, her iPad, her Kindle, and 99¢ Kindle deals. You can follow Brianna on Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, and Instagram.


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