Author: Sharon Cameron
When prisoners of the Sunken City suddenly disappear and all that is left behind is a painted feather, the people know that the Red Rook has performed another successful rescue mission. As Albert LeBlanc, the Ministre of Security, searches for the whereabouts of the mysterious culprit, Sophia Bellamy struggles to keep her secret identity hidden. She knows her engagement to the affluent René Hasard is the only hope her family has of keeping their estate, but keeping her secret from her new fiancé proves difficult. LeBlanc has zeroed in on the Bellamy family, but before Sophia can decide what to do, he arrests her brother. Now Sophia must find a way to save him.
“A soft swish startled Sophia from her thoughts, a whisper of metal slicing through the air. The swing of a sword. She kicked at the wall and pushed off, turned half around, gasping as she caught what should have been a hack through her spine as a glancing cut to one side.”
Sharon Cameron’s Rook takes place in an alternate future where the collapse of civilization has given rise to a different but familiar social order. In this new world, the social structure echoes that of the French Revolution and technology is regarded with distrust. The Sunken City makes a show of executing those who do not agree with their way of thinking and the people begin to regard the Red Rook as a symbol of hope. There is also a really interesting religious dynamic to this alternate world in which LeBlanc is a devotee to the Goddess of Fate and with a flip of a coin or other coincidental rituals he decides the destiny of his prisoners. What makes this so interesting is the fact that no one else seems to share his enthusiasm, yet because he’s in a position of power, his religion plays an essential role throughout the novel.
Sophia Bellamy is a talented criminal and is more capable of taking care of her family than her father or brother Tom. Being the Red Rook requires her to be a skilled liar and being on guard has become second nature. She is underestimated because she is female and uses this to her advantage. She struggles with allowing herself to be vulnerable when distrust is her first reaction. René Hasard, with his reputation as a dimwitted fop, seems an ideal choice for a clueless husband until Sophia actually meets him. Though he comes off as charming and flippant, René is also hiding who he really is. His smiles are simply tantalizing and the fact that Sophia’s insults seem to endear her to him made me smile too many times to count.
Rook is a lot of fun to read and I’m a little disappointed it’s a standalone. I’d love to read more about the colorful Hasard family. My only complaint is about one character who I couldn’t seem to sympathize with despite the fact that the story wanted me to.