Reviewed by: BigAl
Genre: Chick Lit/Romantic Suspense
Approximate word count: 65-70,000 words
Kindle US: YES UK: YES Nook: YES Smashwords: YES Paper: NO
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A native of Ohio, after college Dee DeTarsio fled for warmer climes, first as a TV news producer in Tucson, Arizona. She now lives in San Diego with her husband and two children, where she has worked as a producer/writer at SeaWorld and on an NBC comedy/variety show. For more, visit her website.
Julie Fraser is the “least adventurous person she knows.” One day, she throws caution to the wind and flies to Costa Rica to surprise her husband, who is there on a business trip. After catching her husband in flagrante delicto, she accidentally steals an ancient artifact that might hold the secret to global warming, and gets lost in the jungle. This isn’t what Julie expected at all.
A typical chick lit plot device is to thrust the protagonist into an unexpected situation where she is out of her comfort zone. She’ll then make a series of questionable decisions, which make her situation increasingly worse. Although flustered, she never gives up, and eventually stumbles on a way out of the situation and finds a way of meeting whatever goal initially prompted her down this road. It’s a pattern that works well.
In many ways, the plot of The Scent of Jade fits this formula. However, it is atypical in the kind of challenges the protagonist Julie encounters. These challenges are often much more physical, giving the book an action-adventure flavor, and the jade artifact adds a hint of mystery to the story.
I’ll consider a book a solid or competent effort if the story is told well and doesn’t suffer from obvious technical flaws. What it takes to elevate it above that level varies. It might be a story that pushes the right buttons. Sometimes it is a unique twist on a typical formula. This book gets partially there on that basis. What pushed it over the top were clever descriptions that made me say, this is why she is the author and I’m just the reviewer. For example, when DeTarsio described a rainstorm “as if a Paul-Bunyan-sized cabana boy was throwing swimming-pool-sized buckets of water at the house.” Another was when Julie’s narration said, “my heart stopped mid-pump while my flight instinct kicked in and kicked my fight instinct’s ass.” Clever, smart, and funny all in one line. For that matter, clever, smart, and funny describes all of The Scent of Jade.
A small number of typos.
Rating: ***** Five stars