Saturday, May 26, 2012

Scott Sapphire and the Emerald Orchid

Title: Scott Sapphire and the Emerald Orchid
Author: Geoffrey Knight
Cover Artist: u/k
Publisher: Dare Empire eMedia Productions
Genre: contemporary, adventure
Length: 129 pages / 42k words

Meet Scott Sapphire—lover of French champagne, Belgian chocolate and dangerous men. He is suave. He is sexy. He is a man of the world—and a man that the world desperately wants to catch.
For Scott Sapphire is the greatest jewel thief of our time.
Dashing. Daring. And always neck-deep in trouble.

But when Scott’s latest heist lands him in possession of a map to a rare and precious orchid, it’ll take more than bedroom eyes and a charming smile to stay one step ahead of one of the world’s most powerful business tycoons, as well as keep the CIA off Scott’s back and a handsome special agent out of his pants—or maybe not.

From the Venice canals to the Amazon rainforest, from Rio de Janeiro to the casinos of Monte Carlo, comes a brand new gay hero as irresistible as diamonds and pearls.

Adventure has a new name! And that name is Scott Sapphire.

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From the first moment of the story, the reader is thrown into a non-stop action adventure, with dashing heroes, daring escapades, elusive treasures, a romantic interlude or three, and more peril than you can shake a diamond encrusted wand at. (I made up the wand. It might be in a later story, the way this book reads.) Jake Stone and Scott Sapphire are both hot for each other and interested in some of the same things outside the bedroom, which plays out with a flourish and a promise, or maybe it’s a threat.

And then we never see Jake again. Wait, what?


But never fear, Scott and his acquired family are off to more adventures, in search of treasures to remove from the evil rich and repurpose to doing good in the world, although they might, in best Saint style, keep a dollar or two for themselves.

The story has a slew of running gags, and hearkens back to Leslie Charteris’ Simon Templar books for derring-do and slickly executed capers. The non-stop peril brings one more in mind of Indiana Jones, what with dashing through jungles, temples, and the occasional posh living room. There’s even a big dollop of Dickens thrown in, and that can’t be accidental when a secondary character is named Artie Dodge.

The mixture is a potent brew of lighthearted adventure, and so when the author broke the tension of a hugely gripping scene to throw in a Dickensian flashback, I actually shook my computer in frustration. I considered just skipping past it for the time being, and was angry for the pace getting yanked to a halt. I was having a good time and then: face, meet wall. Abrupt pace change aside, the story did succeed in bringing me back in, and I was interested in the flashback scenes once I got past the annoyance.

My other issue is an over-used stylistic quirk involving stacked single sentence paragraphs. They added to the tension in places and were merely irritating in others.

The story takes Scott into exotic locations all over the world, and each place is so lovingly described that one feels sure the author has used his favorite places to set this book, ranging from the palaces of Venice to the depths of the Amazon. Whether it’s the excitement of a rooftop chase or an unauthorized soiree in an expensive apartment, the setting is vivid and tactile.

While Jake faded into the past, a sexy new opponent pops up. He’s everywhere, and terribly attractive, and every time Scott thinks he’s either figured the man out or ditched him, there he is. He’s got more twists than a pretzel and an interesting mindset. Tom provides an enemies to lovers arc, and is the real romantic interest here.

The antagonists are delightfully over the top in the best Bond tradition, with skills, hardware, and motivation enough to slay our hero a dozen times over--they are worthy opponents. One particular quirk introduced an unneeded squicky element, as if we needed more reason to loathe them.

Nothing is quite as it seems in this story, and since it’s not overexplained, it’s a lot of fun. There’s a complete story arc between these covers, aside from the forgotten Jake. He had a large POV section, so he may well have a part to play in further installments. It’s not so much a cliffhanger at the end as a very pointy hook, and I’d like to know how Scott deals with this one. 4 marbles

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