first and last adventure of kit sawyer coverBuy Links:  Amazon | iBooks | Amazon UK
Length: Novel

 

Christopher “Kit” Sawyer comes from a family of famous archeologists, adventurers, and treasure hunters. His grandfather, Remi, is world famous and his mother and father both had well-respected careers before their deaths. The Sawyer name is known throughout the community for their incredible finds and their adventurous spirit. Even Kit’s stepbrother, Ethan Stone, has a television show highlighting his treasure hunting adventures. However, while Kit may work for the family foundation, he is not interested in field work and digs. Kit loves research and history and helping to decipher codes and learn all the mysteries of the treasures his family discovers.

While Kit may enjoy staying at home, there is still a part of him that feels a little left out that he is the only one in the family who is not part of the adventure business. Even if Kit wanted that experience, his epilepsy puts him at too much risk. Kit was always the child who had to stay inside or avoid exertion while the other kids played. Knowing that Ethan got to spend time with Kit’s late father out in the field and still works closely with his grandfather makes a part of Kit jealous. The fact that Ethan irritates him to no end doesn’t help things either.

Kit has always been fascinated by his grandfather’s stories of a lost Aztec city in the Mexican jungle and their temple dedicated to the god Tlaloc. When Kit is studying a recently discovered Aztec artifact, he realizes it is connected to the lost city. And when he inadvertently unleashes a power in the relic connected to a prophecy, Kit has no choice but to attempt to reunite the relic with Tlaloc, even if it means hunting for the lost city himself. Despite Kit’s attempts to undertake the adventure on his own, however, Ethan is determined to come with him and keep an eye on Kit.

At first, Kit is furious by Ethan’s meddling and caretaking. But as the men and their team spend long days hiking through the Mexican jungle, Kit begins to recognize how much Ethan really cares about him, how much he is willing to protect him and look after him. Kit also realizes that his own resentment of Ethan is rooted in some jealously, along with his attraction and feelings for Ethan. Soon, the men are forging a surprising connection, one that Kit never imagined. But their quest is incredibly risky and the chances of successfully finding the city or the temple are low. They are also not the only ones looking for the temple and their rivals are willing to resort to any means to get ahead. Now, it is going to take all of Kit and Ethan’s skills and a lot of luck for them to finish their mission and make it out alive.

Jay’s Review
Rating: 4.75 stars

I defy you to not look at this cover and start humming the score to Indiana Jones. As soon as I read this blurb and looked at the cover, I knew I wanted to read this story, and S.E. Harmon does not disappoint. I was caught up in this one from the very beginning and I could barely put it down. The adventure here is so well done as Kit, Ethan, and their team trek through the jungle. Harmon really brings it to life and the settling is such a part of the mood of the story. There is a nice juxtaposition here with Kit as the inexperienced adventurer, the one who is always left at home and hears the stories upon everyone’s return, paired up with Ethan and his team of professional treasure hunters and archeologists. In some ways, Kit is our window into this world as readers, as he is the one who is out of his element and learning how all of this works. At the same time, we see that Kit is not without his own skills. He may scream at spiders and be lost if he makes a wrong turn in the jungle, but he is a skilled researcher and historian who can crack codes and understand many of the hidden clues along the way. There is a wonderful sense of adventure and discovery here, as well as some thrilling escapes and clever puzzles along the way. There is also a light paranormal element here relating the mythology side, which I think works well within the lore of the story. I was completely caught up in the adventure and just loved all the detail.

The relationship between Ethan and Kit starts out with an enemies to lovers vibe, though it is clear early on to us as readers that the dislike is all on Kit’s side. It is also clear that his dislike of Ethan is fueled by a mix of jealously of Ethan’s ability to connect with Kit’s family through their shared love of adventure combined with Kit’s attraction to Ethan. The two had a rivalry ever since Ethan’s mom married Kit’s dad, though the rivalry was really all in Kit’s head, as he was the one pushing Ethan away. But Ethan is sweet and kind and caring to Kit and it isn’t long before Kit starts to realize that there is much more to Ethan than he ever let himself admit. Once he puts all that baggage behind him and lets himself open up to Ethan, Kit finds they have a wonderful connection and the two form an incredible bond. Harmon does such a nice job setting up this relationship and there is a fun mix of tenderness, snarky banter, teasing, and sweetness between them. I loved their interaction and the portions of the book where the two are working together are among my favorite parts of the story. I also liked how while Kit has a loving family and a close relationship with his grandfather and late parents, that doesn’t mean it was all perfect for him growing up. They clearly cared about him, but perhaps didn’t always understand him or quite relate to Kit the way he needed. So this story gives a chance for Kit to both find some peace in that area, as well as to push his own boundaries a little and recognize just what he is truly capable of doing.

FWIW, while Kit and Ethan are stepbrothers, there is never really any kind of taboo vibe here. Kit is very clear that he never saw Ethan as a brother. The real significance to them being stepbrothers is that it forges a connection for Ethan with Kit’s grandfather and parents, setting up a sense of jealousy for Kit as he watches them all bonding over their shared adventures. It also allows for some nice moments, as they have a common sense of love for Kit’s late parents and particularly for Kit’s grandfather, Remi, who is in poor health. So while technically these guys are family, it is definitely not a fraternal relationship, nor is there any sense of awkwardness due to their connection.

Overall, I just found this one so much fun. There is great sense of excitement and adventure, of discovery and uncovering the mystery. I loved Ethan and Kit and was totally caught up in their story. While this is “the first and last adventure” for Kit, I would happily read many more stories with these characters and this world!

 

Jovan’s Review
Rating: 4.5 stars

The First and Last Adventure of Kit Sawyer is so much fun! It’s a nice blend of engaging characters, supernatural adventuring, and UST-filled snark. Kit loves being a historian, decoding and cataloging ancient languages and codices; yet, he’s always felt like an outsider. In a family full of risk-taking, globe-trotting archeologists, being epileptic, barred from fieldwork, and unable to accompany his parents on trips made him feel left out of an integral part of their lives and unable to truly bond with parents whose love of danger and adventure, at times, seemed to outweigh their love for him. This feeling of isolation is amplified when Kit’s father remarries and Ethan Stone becomes his stepbrother.

A literal golden-boy, Ethan is everything Kit isn’t—athletic, outgoing, confident, and most importantly, able to join his father and grandfather, Remi, in the field. Growing up with (and eventually lusting after) Ethan and feeling like his father finally had the son he always wanted, especially since he couldn’t relate to Kit’s more bookish nature and limitations, Kit’s sense of isolation grows into a teeming ball of envy, resentment, and pain that simmers for decades. Who better to direct that towards than the perfect, unflappable Ethan? As an adult, Kit’s partners and some colleagues went out of their way to make him feel small, lacking ,and defective; he manages to keep it under wraps and not let the archeology world’s whispers and disappointment about the “boring Sawyer” get to him (much).

However, as sympathetic of character Kit is, he is no saint. He has a GIANT chip on his shoulder and tunnel vision when it comes to Ethan. Ethan simply existing in his space brings out the pissed off cat energy in him, and he feels it even more acutely when his beloved grandfather chooses to hide his terminal cancer from him, but calls Ethan to his side. Kit finds it even more grating that Remi tasks Ethan with looking out for him on his expedition, no matter that Kit is fully aware he needs Ethan’s expertise. Though loath to admit it, Kit trusts Ethan implicitly, and their trek through the jungle brings down his walls and lets him appreciate the steadfast support Ethan has always offered (no matter how often he was rebuffed.) Underneath Kit’s sniping, jealousy, and willful blindness lies his assumed hopeless desire for Ethan; Ethan’s always dated the Anti-Kit, so Kit can’t image his sickly, nerdy self being on Ethan’s radar.

While this is definitely Kit’s story and I would have liked a little more of Ethan’s personality, I think Harmon does a good job conveying the important parts of his character, such as his loyalty, intelligence, and patient perseverance. I love how protective and caring Ethan is of his thorny nerd, and though it’s clear that Ethan knows he loves Kit, there’s enough back-and-forth between them that he doesn’t come across as the Perfect Previously Pining Boyfriend™. Additionally, the flashbacks into their childhood show their complicated dynamic and flesh out their history. The impetus for Kit’s quest manages to be funny, while also being no joke, but I feel that the balance between the supernatural and adventuring is slightly off. Though the plot driver, the mystical elements are sprinkled in and seem more like reminders that Kit is actually in trouble. Kit is pretty sanguine about the whole affair, and his humor about being hijacked by an Aztec god keeps the tone pretty light, even when he’s scared. However, it still works and this makes the harrowing elements more impactful and really channels early Indiana Jones vibes. The pacing is pretty good, and I enjoyed Kit’s full immersion in his journey—from the beauty of Mexico, to the bugs without personal boundaries, and the arduous reality of trekking through untamed jungle. I also really liked all the members of the crew and felt their camaraderie. I had a few small quibbles here and there, such as how their competitor got through really dense, unmapped forest when he doesn’t seem to have native guides, or ominous warnings that don’t matter, but all in all this is a really entertaining adventure.

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