Rarer Than Rubies by E.M. Lynley

Author: E.M. Lynley
Genre: Contemporary, Erotica, Action/Adventure
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Length: Novel
Available Formats: Paperback, digital
Reviewer: Beatrice
Rating: 4 hearts

When Trent Copeland runs into Reed Acton at a Bangkok airport, he thinks the handsome American is too good to be true. Why would someone like Reed be interested in a quiet, introverted gay-romance writer? After all, even an obvious tourist like Trent can see that there is more to Reed’s constant unexplained appearances in his path than meets the eye.
Reed Acton has one mission and one mission only – he needs to get the map that was accidentally slipped into Trent’s bag and keep the mobsters who want the priceless artifact from taking deadly revenge. Trent Copeland is a delicious and damned near irresistible diversion, but Reed can’t afford distractions right now, especially if he wants to keep Trent safe.
From Bangkok’s seediest back alleys to the sacred north, the two men will fight to stay one step ahead of the bad guys and learn that the only treasure worth finding is… each other.

I had my eyes set on this book even before I found out that I was to review this. I was born in Southeast Asia (not Thailand, though) and I am always on the lookout for books that are set in the area. Living in the United States now, I find myself missing the unique culture that only countries in Southeast Asia provide.
E.M. Lynley’s Rarer than Rubies made me remember the richness of living in that area of the world. The aspect of setting is arguably the most powerful weapon of this book, and the author definitely used her adventures in Thailand to her advantage. It is obvious that the author did her research and remembered her travels well; the setting is rich and detailed and the little nuances of the Thais are captured in minutia. There is the great heat and humidity present in the tropics and there is the crazy traffic of a wildly unorganized population, but there is also great food as well as wonderfully hospitable locals. The author doesn’t sugarcoat the culture – she provides both bad and good aspects of it, and that’s what I truly like about the setting. E.M. Lynley doesn’t set out to show that Thailand is better than the United States; she shows that it’s merely different, a place where people might want to think of when they seek for something outside the familiar. In a way, the reader is Trent Copeland, someone who put into a completely foreign situation, where the reader doesn’t truly know what to expect.
Speaking of Trent, I would also like to point out that I really liked the characters. Trent was quite clumsy without being completely helpless – as one character says towards the end of the book, Trent is quick to think on his feet. He may not have the best foresight, but he is able to act appropriately in the present. He isn’t a damsel-in-distress given a male body, which seems to be a prevalent case in a few M/M books. And to be honest, Reed fascinated me. Reed is a big mystery that the reader uncovers as he/she goes through the book; although many hints are given when we are in Reed’s POV and even though a lot is said during the big reveal scene, there are a few events that just totally threw me off the wall – just because you are given an explanation doesn’t necessarily mean it’s true. It’s safe to say that for Reed.
This book isn’t so much a mystery/suspense book as it is an adventure. We are given quite a few action scenes, but there is an overall feel of adventure to it – to put it simply, it screams Indiana Jones to me rather than James Bond. However, this isn’t really a big disappointment on my part because it was still a fast-paced read. While the action scenes weren’t overly exciting, they weren’t dragging either. My heart still thudded and I still felt nervous for our main characters, and that’s always a plus because you know it’s a good book when you actually care for the well-being of the characters.
I do have a couple of niggles though, but they weren’t big enough that they took away from my enjoyment of the book. First of all, there were a couple of awkward sentences here and there. For example, Trent at one point says, “I am, too, gay!” There’s weird structure to this sentence, and I think there were a couple more that were also a bit stilted and awkward, but there aren’t a lot of it so it isn’t really a prominent mistake. Others might not even notice it; in some ways it’s just me being really particular. There were also a few typos here and there as well as the occasional misplaced comma, but seriously, these things are so minor that they don’t really disrupt the reading experience.
Overall, though, I definitely enjoyed this book. This isn’t just a romantic book – it’s also one that teaches a lot about another culture in a way that doesn’t feel forced. I loved the setting, the characters intrigued me, and there were enough questions left unanswered and these were so tastefully done that the questions actually kept me wanting more instead of frustrating me. Instead of being disappointed by the lack of explanations for a couple of things, I find myself yearning for a sequel. And I do believe there will be more adventures for Reed and Trent! I’ll definitely be watching out for them.