I will readily admit that I am a Sherlock Holmes fan. No, a fanatic.
Taken the Goodreads quiz on Holmes? Try it—I got 100% (grinning). I thought it was (ahem) elementary.
But why do people love Holmes?
The character wasn’t initially popular. According to Wikipedia, A Study in Scarlet and The Sign of the Four (its first title) didn’t sell well. The short stories, initially published by The Strand magazine, were the works that ignited the public’s imagination. The first, A Scandal in Bohemia, was published in 1891.
I know why I love Holmes—I’m a sapiensexual. I’m turned on by brains. I’m literally repelled by men who mix up well and good or who don’t hold their cutlery correctly. (A great face, cute smile and buffed bod are also important, along with a sweet soul).
These days, we love hot heroes with brains as well as flaws. Sherlock is complex. He has a lightning-fast wit but the emotional I.Q. of a boulder. He’s interesting. The reigning Holmes, BBC’s Sherlock, describes himself as a “high-functioning sociopath.” I’d add, with a touch of Asperger’s.
Upon publication, however, Sherlock appeared in a very different world.
In 1888, a serial killer started a rampage in an area of London still called Whitechapel. We do not know the number of murders committed by Jack the Ripper. Five brutal killings are apparently linked, but as many as six more could have been the work of the same slayer.
The number, frequency, and brutality of the homicides terrorized London even after they ended in 1891. Unhappy with official efforts to catch the killer, citizens formed the Whitechapel Vigilance Committee and walked the streets searching for suspects. Police received hundreds of letters purporting to contain leads, most of which were useless. Though serial killers have appeared throughout human history, the Ripper was the first to ignite a media frenzy (Wikipedia).
People cling to certainty in an uncertain world. To a city gripped by dread, the cool, calm, logical Holmes, a detective who unerringly solved every case, was an inspirational hero bringing comfort in a frightening world.
My version of Holmes, from Sherlock’s Scandal, isn’t so cool, calm, and logical. Here’s a snippet to pique your interest:
After the performance, I purchased a bouquet of red roses from one of Covent Garden’s ever-present flower-sellers and posted myself at the stage door to see if I could meet the lady. When she finally emerged, she had cleaned her face of stage makeup and changed out of her costume into a stunning gown of midnight velvet. I am no connoisseur of women’s fashions, but I will never forget the sight. Her décolletage was fetchingly displayed by a lace-trimmed bodice cut so low it exposed her admirable bosom almost all the way down to the nipples, which I promised myself I’d lick that night. She must have bound her breasts for the role, I realized hazily, trying not to stare.
I cleared my throat. “Good evening, Miss Adler.” I offered her the flowers.
She took them and buried her face in the petals to inhale their scent. I hoped her open enjoyment of the fragrance betokened a sensual nature. She looked up, saying, “Thank you, Mr. Holmes.”
I lifted my brows, fixing on her full lips and large, sparkling eyes in order to avoid crudely ogling her breasts.
“Of course I know who you are.” Off-stage, her American accent was pronounced but not unpleasant.
“I am most flattered.” I offered her my arm. She took it, and we strolled to the kerb, where a hansom waited.
In the intimate interior of the cab, I could scent her perfume, a flowery aroma that blended delightfully with the roses she still clasped. “May I invite you to a late supper?”
“Thank you.” She daintily arranged her skirts, favoring me with a glimpse of one neat ankle.
My member hardened, and I blessed my dinner suit’s loose, comfortable trousers. I drew a deep breath, hoping to calm my hot blood and racing pulse. “Uh, uhm, Sampson’s?”
“Beefsteaks? A fortifying meal for so late in the evening. Will I be in need of fortification, Mr. Holmes?” she asked. Her eyes were partially shadowed by lowered lids.
“Yes,” I said. “You will.”
She raised her gaze, boldly meeting mine. I leaned closer and put a finger beneath her chin. Her skin was soft over a strong jaw, testimony of a determined character.
My chest clenched in a most peculiar manner. Had I met my match?
It was rude, and crude, and forward, but I could not resist. I had to taste her mouth.
Here's the blurb, and what others thought of the story--reviews are from an earlier edition:
A bored Sherlock is a dangerous Sherlock. His twin vices of cocaine and sex could prove his undoing, until he meets his match in elusive, enigmatic Irene Adler. Hiding her heart, Irene deserts Sherlock in the midst of their affair. He schemes to win her back, but the lady won’t come easily to hand. Instead, she forces him to compete for honor, glory and love.
What others have thought about this story:
Five Stars! A heady and enjoyable romp
--JMyersBook, Amazon reader
More than spicy!
--Tammie, Night Owl Reviews
--Brenda Talley, Romance Studio
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