Welcome to this week’s installment of Geek Girl Authority Crush of the Week, wherein we shine a spotlight on strong women who inspire us. Now, this not only includes fictional female characters in geeky media but creators as well. These ladies are a prime example of female empowerment and how crucial it is for young girls to have said example to follow.
DISCLAIMER: The following contains countless spoilers for the world created by author Emilia Finn. Specifically, this post contains serious spoilers for her Checkmate series, especially book number five, Rise of the King. Do yourself a favor and, at the very least, pick up the Checkmate series.
Yes, this is a romance series, but it’s also so much more than that. If you like explosive action/adventure tales complete with shootouts, drug deals, kingpins, thugs, feds and some serious what-is-really-going-on story arcs, you will not be disappointed. Seriously, do not read the below post unless you want Rise of the King spoiled for you. You have been warned!
Sophia “Soph” Asa Solomon
Sophia Asa Solomon, affectionally known as Soph, is the typical girl next door. She works odd hours at her computer in customer service and, when she is first introduced, has her living room set up like a dance studio where she practices her ballet.
However, Sophia is not exactly what she seems. Her innocent façade is her camouflage. Who would suspect the tiny dancer of being the head of a global powerhouse organization intent on taking down a network of drug and sex trafficking?
Yes, the ballerina is a self-taught hacker and computer genius. She leads an army under the codename “Ace,” pulling strings and manipulating events to further her investigation into a very corrupt and far-reaching underground organization. At her fingertips, she can order hits or spy on almost anyone. And she does all of this in the name of vengeance.
The Real Deal
Years ago, before her life as a hidden vigilante, Sophia Asa Solomon was an up-and-coming dancer with promise, living and attending school in New York City. Her sister, Ellie Solomon, was only 15 and visiting her over spring break. One afternoon, in one brief moment, Ellie was gone. She was only going to the store two doors down the street and was pulled into a van, never to be seen alive again.
Her body was recovered weeks later and Sophia was forever changed. In a moment of insanity, since the cops weren’t really investigating, Sophia let herself get abducted by the same people. However, she pickpocketed the men as she escaped, using their IDs and the license plate of the van to begin her hunt for justice.
What she uncovers is a vast network of organized crime. There are clubs and hubs all over the United States where mini-bosses control areas of drug distribution and forced prostitution. Once she has dealt with those directly involved in her sister’s abduction and murder — both using her own hands and those of “muscle” she hires — Sophia begins hunting the ring leaders.
Using her hacker skills, she ferrets out the information and bank accounts of everyone connected to the syndicate and systematically works toward their demise. As she slowly dismantles her enemy, she “redirects” their hoarded cash to her own account, using their blood money to fund their death. She also uses that same money to make anonymous deposits into various charities to help survivors of her target’s deeds.
Through all the years of her work, there are ground rules that Sophia follows to stay ahead of her prey and to remain off their radar. These same ground rules keep her safe and insulated from her hired muscle. Never once do these men and women know who is behind their orders or payments. One of the main rules is that Sophia never meets her hired help. Her dissociation from their lives keeps them safe and keeps herself safe.
However, she does find that there is one particular man that she takes a special interest in and breaks that one sacred rule. Meeting John D. Hamilton, a.k.a JDH (an assumed identity provided by Ace for his own protection), was never meant to be more than a brief meeting in a diner, but his relentless attitude and investigative nature bring the two together.
Yes, they end up falling in love. However, their love story is not any stereotypical boy-meets-girl tale. At first, JDH believes Sophia is just an innocent bystander in the off-the-books, potentially-unsanctioned assassination work he has been doing.
The truth comes out and JDH learns Soph is Ace when he is in the field chasing one lead and doubles back to try another. He walks in on his assassination target being choked by a scantily clad Sophia — who was undercover as a stripper in a club. A very focused Sophia had sent him off on a wild goose chase so she could get close to the next name on her list.
Soon after, their apartment building explodes and all evidence points to the attack being aimed and targeted at JDH. Sophia is still an unknown to whoever is in charge of the crime syndicate. Her identity actually remains quite hidden until nearly the final puzzle piece is in place. Her skills at the computer successfully keep her ahead of the organization.
Along the way, though, she officially joins forces with JDH, and friends that he thought he had left behind, at Checkmate Security. The Checkmate crew uses the business as a front to search for the same people Sophia is hunting, though from another perspective and for different motivations.
The partnership between Sophia and Checkmate is mutually beneficial up until the final big reveal. Sophia knows her judgment is clouded by anger and it takes JDH stepping in to calm her down. She does get the satisfaction of seeing the government agent that secretly runs the entire organization get his just desserts, though. And once it is all over? What does Sophia do with her grief and the unknown amount of money stashed away?
She sets up the ultimate tribute to her sister: the Ellie Solomon Dance Academy. The money continues to flow to charity work as the dance studio is set up as a non-profit providing a safe space for everyone, especially girls and women in bad situations.
Why She Matters
Through the heartache and grief of losing her sister to horrendous circumstances, Sophia Asa Solomon remains driven. She uses her anger and pain as motivation to better herself and help herself when it seems no one else will do anything. She does not forget her own aspirations and desires to be a dancer, she merely sets her own personal goals aside for a time. She redirects her brainpower to another skillset: her computer talents, and refocuses her daily workout from “I must be in shape to dance” to “I must be in shape to survive.”
She learns new skills to aid in her new task of finding those responsible, learning weaponry and fighting, all while maintaining her dancing training. When she finally feels as if she has avenged her sister’s death, she doesn’t deflate and hate herself for living for someone other than herself. No, she relaxes and returns to her own passion. She never put her life on hold, exactly, but she never lost herself entirely in her grief.
Be like Sophia Asa Solomon and keep your goal in focus. Life will come at you with the unexpected, maybe even something that will try to crush you. Don’t let it. Refocus your strengths and find a new path forward. Just remember to stay true to yourself along the way and be kind to yourself, as well.
If there is any self-help or healing you need to do, especially if grief is your motivator, do it. The trail you blaze from your beginning to your end may be nothing like what you initially envisioned, and it may be full of detours and stumbling blocks, but if you keep recalculating as you go, you will eventually get there.