The Passion Ruby
by Eboni Snoe, contemporary (2000, 1995 reissue)
Arabesque, $5.99, ISBN 1-58314-207-X

Fans looking for a globe-trotting gem-hunting romance ala Romancing The Stone (albeit at a more sedate pace) can do worse than Eboni Snoe's The Passion Ruby. It starts off a B-grade movie affair, goes to almost expensive-Hollywood-blockbuster-with-decent-script at the later half.

Sienna Russell has always felt an affinity to precious stones. She makes a living out of it, operating a store called The Stonekeeper that sells precious stones as well as various other stuff. When her guardian great-aunt dies, Sienna stumbles upon some Cryptic Clues that may lead her to the mythical Passion Ruby. That is, if she can bring herself to trust the mysterious Hennessy "Hawk" Jackson first. And watch out, bad guys ahead!

TPR can be pretty bad. There's this hilariously silly scene where the bad guys practically tell the whole plot away in front of a tied-up Sienna, things that each baddie should have known better than to discuss in front of their captive. And Sienna comes off one of those screamy heroines of B-grade movies, the sort who don't know that they are there to provide the male audience some eye candy. So Sienna shrieks a lot. She will tie up the bad guys that Hawk overpowered not because he orders her to, no siree, but because she wants to. She is Womyn, you know.

Uhm, then why is her top undone in such a gratuitous-nudity manner for Hawk to ogle at?

But as the story progresses, Sienna becomes a rather silly but likeable bimbo who thinks she's an intellectual feminist. She makes ridiculous Me, Womyn demands at the weirdest and most irrational moments, a common routine being her "I can save myself!" shrieks even as Hawk tosses her over his manly shoulders as he flees from the baddies. She can't save herself, that's for sure, and everyone knows it apart from Her Deluded Majesty.

There are nice scenery (Martinique!) and excitement, mythical mumbo-jumbos about gems and Mother Earth, and enough campy fun to keep me reading. I do wish Hawk is a more roguish, approachable fellow though. Through the whole story, he remains an arrogant, aloof, secretive man who never opens up to me or Sienna. It's a case of too arrogant to the point of being boring.

This is a start of a series of adventures of Sienna and Hawk, by the way. Emerald's Fire is next, and I think I may take a look at that one as well.

Rating: 77

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