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All I knew about Victor Hugo before starting this book was the usual thing that everyone probably knows: he wrote Les Miserables and The Hunchback of Notre Dame. Aside from that, I knew next to nothing. If a historical novel is good, and this one was excellent, it will give me the urge to learn more, and read more, of its subject. (I’ve since added most of his books to my TBR list, a sure sign.)
Now, to Seduction.
I had not read The Book of Lost Fragrances (released just prior), and so the beginning took me a bit to get into, having to play a bit of catch-up with the characters, being dropped into the story. However, it didn’t take long, and from then on, I couldn’t put it down.
Jac being a mythologist, but also a member of a family of storied French perfume makers, really intrigued me. The idea of being able to distinguish so many different smells intrigued me. And smell plays an important part in this book, triggering visions and episodes for Jac, flashes of past lives. But, whose?
At first it does seem like these flashes are one of Jac’s past lives, but yet, theories change, and this is where I really couldn’t stop reading. I had to figure out whose past lives these were, and how these stories fit into the present day. I loved how the author, M.J. Rose, wove these parts together, and how they pushed the story forward.
I was also quite intrigued by the seances. I’m not a believer in ghosts, or spirits, but I can imagine that a seance like what Victor Hugo experienced would be a scary and awesome thing. And if one believed…well, the idea that you’d be talking with Shakespeare, or Dante…it’d blow your mind, or scare you to death. Even me, the unbeliever, found the seance sequences to be creepy, and creepier still when it was the Shadow of the Sepulchre using his wiles on a grieving Hugo.
I won’t say much more, for fear of inadvertently spoiling the story for you, but M.J. Rose made me really feel for Victor Hugo, for his loss, and his searching for answers, and trying to speak to his lost daughter.
If I’ve managed to whet your appetite, here’s the blurb:
A gothic tale about Victor Hugo’s long-buried secrets
and the lengths we go to for love…
In 1843, novelist Victor Hugo’s beloved nineteen-year-old daughter drowned. Ten years later, still grieving, Hugo initiated hundreds of séances from his home on the Isle of Jersey in order to reestablish contact with her. In the process, he claimed to have communed with Plato, Galileo, Shakespeare, Dante, Jesus—and even the Devil himself. Hugo’s transcriptions of these conversations have all been published.
Or so it has been believed…
Recovering from a great loss, mythologist Jac L’Etoile thinks that throwing herself into work will distract her from her grief. In the hopes of uncovering a secret about the island’s mysterious Celtic roots, she arrives on the Isle of Jersey and is greeted by ghostly Neolithic monuments, medieval castles, and hidden caves.
But the man who’s invited her there, a troubled soul named Theo Gaspard, hopes she’ll help him discover something quite different—transcripts of Hugo’s lost conversations with someone he called the Shadow of the Sepulcher. Central to his heritage, these are the papers his grandfather died trying to find.
But what neither Jac or Theo anticipate is that the mystery surrounding Victor Hugo will threaten their sanity and put their very lives at stake.
Seduction is a historically evocative and atmospheric tale of suspense with a spellbinding ghost story at its heart, written by one of America’s most gifted and imaginative novelists. Awakening a mystery that spans centuries, this multi-layered gothic brings a time, a place, and a cast of desperate characters brilliantly to life.
M.J. Rose, is the international bestselling author of 12 novels;Lip Service, In Fidelity, Flesh Tones, Sheet Music, Lying in Bed, The Halo Effect, The Delilah Complex, The Venus Fix,The Reincarnationist, The Memorist, The Hypnotist, and The Book of Lost Fragrances.
She is a founding member and board member of International Thriller Writers and the founder of the first marketing company for authors: AuthorBuzz.com. She runs two popular blogs; Buzz, Balls & Hype and Backstory.
Getting published has been an adventure for Rose who self-published Lip Service late in 1998 after several traditional publishers turned it down. Editors had loved it, but didn’t know how to position it or market it since it didn’t fit into any one genre.
Frustrated, but curious and convinced that there was a readership for her work, she set up a web site where readers could download her book for $9.95 and began to seriously market the novel on the Internet.
After selling over 2500 copies (in both electronic and trade paper format) Lip Service became the first e-book and the first self-published novel chosen by the LiteraryGuild/Doubleday Book Club as well as being the first e-book to go on to be published by a mainstream New York publishing house.
Rose has been profiled in Time magazine, Forbes, The New York Times, Business 2.0, Working Woman, Newsweek and New York Magazine.
Rose has appeared on The Today Show, Fox News, The Jim Lehrer NewsHour, and features on her have appeared in dozens of magazines and newspapers in the U.S. and abroad, including USAToday, Stern, L’Official, Poets and Writers and Publishers Weekly.
Rose graduated from Syracuse University and spent the ’80s in advertising. She was the Creative Director of Rosenfeld Sirowitz and Lawson and she has a commercial in the Museum of Modern Art in NYC.
She lives in Connecticut with Doug Scofield, a composer, and their very spoiled dog, Winka.
The author’s website: http://www.mjrose.com/content/
Connect with the author:
As a part of the Dirty Birdies Flock Hop, if you comment on this post, you could win one of 3 ebook copies of my latest book, THE PARIS GAME, or if you prefer, two of my previous works.
And make sure to check out the rest of the blogs participating in the Flock Hop for your chance to win even more goodies.
And now, a bit of a chat about eye-candy…
Now, there’s nothing I like more than some gorgeous eye-candy, but it was incredibly difficult to find a photograph that represented Marc Perron, the art dealer profiting on the wrong side of the law, from my latest book. He’s French, multi-talented (art dealer, bilingual, and a cellist), and sexy with an edge. Putting those attributes into a search engine on a stock photo site left me with very little. Instead, I spent several hours combing photographs of dark-haired men, European men, musicians, and the like, on said stock photo site…and came up with just one.
I think it was well worth the time. Slightly rumpled white shirt, open just so. Dark, direct gaze. Cello.
That man…I still can’t keep my eyes off him.
Now, here’s a sexy scene to whet your appetite!
From Chapter 2 of THE PARIS GAME:
“We’ll be closing in half an hour,” the clerk told him. Marc nodded and continued into the bookshop. He had Madelaine’s number from several weeks prior, but he far preferred to surprise her at work. If she wasn’t available, there’d always be someone else. He turned a corner and made his way towards the back of the shop, passing military history and philosophy before he found her. She stood on a small stepladder, methodically dusting the upper shelves.
“I’m glad to see they’ve replaced the old stepladder,” he remarked as he came up beside her. She gave him a brilliant smile, and if they hadn’t been in the middle of the shop, he knew she would have kissed him. Still, he helped her from the ladder and bent to kiss her cheek, pulling her into a close embrace. His hand slid down her back and over the snug fabric of her dark skirt.
“Marc!” she scolded him. “You didn’t tell me you were in town.” She leaned into his embrace, her red hair brushing his chin. Small and delicate, Madelaine was a beautiful Irish girl he’d met during a quick stop to find a book he’d needed for a deal he’d been working on. She had found him the book and hand-delivered it to his room. There had been chemistry between them in the book shop, but when she had showed up at his door, she confirmed his hopes. She’d stayed for a drink, which had lengthened into two, and then the rest of the night.
“Are you free this evening, ma petite amie?” he asked, pushing aside her hair to taste the skin beneath her ear. He felt her shiver.
“Of course.” She drew back. “I just have to finish this and then I’m all yours.”
He chuckled. “Should I wait for you?”
“There’s a bar down the road—the Birchfield. I’ll meet you there when I’m done.” Madelaine stood on her tiptoes and he took the opportunity to kiss her. “I’m so glad to see you,” she said against his lips. He kissed her again, delving into her mouth. She gave a little moan that made him wish they had more privacy.
He pulled away, caressing her cheek. “I’ll be waiting.”
Marc found the bar easily enough—a tiny hole-in-the-wall that reminded him of Paris and some of the places he used to frequent. The interior held a dozen tables and a few booths, barely busy at this hour. He found a table for two and gave his order to the single waiter on duty. While he waited, he checked his messages. Bates hadn’t called and he doubted he’d hear from the man again. The receptionist at the firm had called to remind him of two late afternoon appointments upon his return to Paris tomorrow. He sighed. He’d have to send her an email later and see if she could reschedule or give them to Fournier, his associate. After two weeks of straight travel and auctions, he wanted to spend his Friday doing something more pleasant.
He slid his phone back into his pocket and took a long drink of his wine. A small feminine figure at the bar caught his eye and for a moment he thought she looked familiar. Her dark hair fell down her back in waves and she moved as gracefully as a dancer. However, when she turned, he didn’t know her. He felt a pang of disappointment. Seraphina was back in Paris, beguiling the crowds as she sang at Le Chat Rouge, not here.
The door opened and Madelaine walked in. She slid into the chair next to him and kissed him soundly.
“That didn’t take long,” he commented when they broke apart.
“I rushed the last bit,” she admitted. Her hand settled possessively on his thigh. “You know, I wasn’t sure I’d see you again.”
He poured her a glass of wine from the carafe before replying. “Why is that?”
“I know you said you’d come back, but I didn’t think you were telling the truth,” she replied. She flushed. “That sounded awful.”
Marc chuckled. He rarely bothered to see a woman twice; she’d read him right enough. But she’d been delectable and he wanted more.
“It’s true enough, but you’re more than just a one-night-stand.”
“Good.” Her hand slid farther up his thigh and the corner of his mouth quirked up in amusement.
“Then what are we doing here?” He rose, tossing a bill onto the table. They left the bar and hailed a taxi.
“Where are we going?” she asked as the black cab sped along Charing Cross Road.
“Always.” He would call room service, but first he wanted to see Madelaine sprawled on the gorgeous Art Deco desk in his suite, her arousal glistening between her parted thighs. He didn’t think she’d object to a bit of a wait for her supper.
The taxi ride was short and they hurried through the lobby, not pausing until they reached the door of Marc’s suite. Once inside, Madelaine’s giggles turned to a gasp as he pressed her into the closed door, his hands hiking her skirt around her waist. She squirmed in his embrace and he paused.
“What is it?”
“I’m wearing the most awful knickers,” she said in a low voice, her cheeks flushing.
He shrugged. “It’s not your knickers I’m interested in.” He tugged down her pantyhose and her underwear, going down on one knee to unhook the fabric from around her feet. He tossed the garments aside and stood, sliding his arm under her buttocks. She clasped his shoulders in surprise as he lifted her.
“Where are we going?”
“I had this vision,” he said, taking her through into the sitting room. His free hand swept the papers from the desk and he set her down. He pulled up a chair as she watched and when he’d settled, she had shifted to the edge of the desk, letting her knees fall open.
“Parfait.” His tongue penetrated her folds and he felt her fingers in his hair. Her legs quivered and he held them apart, his thumbs resting in the soft hollows of her inner thighs. He teased her clit and listened as her breathing turned to short gasps. Her hands left him and she slumped back on her elbows. He glanced up from between her legs and met her gaze. She licked her lips.
“Don’t stop,” she murmured. He didn’t plan to. He wanted to hear her cry his name, to have her orgasm on his tongue. He let his teeth scrape over her clit, provoking her into a guttural groan. It wouldn’t be long now.
He sated her twice on the desk, curling his fingers inside her until she begged him for release. Now she lay prone, her chest heaving as she tried to catch her breath. He felt his phone buzz in his pocket and he gave her a caress as he stepped away.
Read more in THE PARIS GAME.
THE PARIS GAME can now be purchased in paperback, or for the Nook, on Barnes & Noble.
“Royale wants to see you.”
The maître’d caught Sera at her dressing room door, blocking her way. She tried to step around him, but he persisted. “Now. You have time.”
“I should be on stage. Our next set starts in a minute.”
“I’d love to tell him that you wouldn’t come when he ordered. Have it your way.” He turned and she caught his arm.
The back corridor of the jazz club frightened her, claustrophobic and dark. It seemed to stretch forever, until she turned the corner and a sliver of light shone from under a door. She moved towards it, her footsteps in her high heels echoing off the scuffed parquet. Cigarette smoke, and something more rancid, like rotting meat, hung in the air.
The wet sound of coughing greeted her as she opened the door. Monsieur Royale, the club’s owner, covered his mouth with a linen handkerchief. When he saw her, he tucked it away in his pocket and gave an imperious wave towards the chair in front of his desk. Sera took a seat, pushing a lock of her dark hair back behind her ear. Her gaze wandered as she tried to look at anything but him. She could pretend he wasn’t undressing her with his eyes, or calculating the money he could make from her.
The office was cramped and untidy, and it reeked of a combination of smoke and body odor. The rancid smell she’d noticed out in the corridor seemed to be from a forgotten plate on a shelf behind him, holding the remains of a meal. Her eyes followed Royale’s hand as he grasped the packet of Gauloises on the desk, bringing one to his fleshy lips. A diamond pinky ring glinted in the light. He dug a gold lighter from the pocket of his expensively tailored jacket and lit the cigarette.
“Mademoiselle Durand,” he said, clearing his throat. “You’ve disappointed me.”
Sera dared a glance at him. He glowered at her from under bushy brows, his eyes dark.
“What have I done?” Her fingers tightened on the folds of her black dress and she made herself relax. She hadn’t done anything wrong.
“When I lent you the money, mademoiselle, I told you quite clearly that it needed to be repaid swiftly. And you’re such a good girl, I thought you’d obey.” He coughed again and reached for a snifter of brandy that sat on a pile of old ledgers. “The €200 payment you left me this week is not what I would consider swift.”
“It was all I could afford,” Sera retorted, though she tried to keep her voice even. Work had been slow.
“That’s not my concern, just yours. Perhaps I didn’t make myself clear when you came begging.” He leaned forward, filling her field of vision. “If you default on your loan, you’ll pay up in other ways.”
Sera remembered, her stomach churning. He’d pinned her to the wall and yanked up her shirt. “A bit small,” he’d said as he groped her breast, his rancid breath washing over her. Now, his lewd gaze slid over her cleavage.
“I’ll give you more this week,” she replied, straightening in the chair. His eyes flicked up to her face, weighing her words.
“If I have less than €300 in my hand, I’ll consider you to have defaulted.” He looked at his watch. “And if I’m not mistaken, you have work to be doing, mademoiselle.”
Sera rose, swallowing against the bile that threatened. She smoothed her dress, anything to keep her from showing her fear to Royale. “Good night, monsieur.”
She backed from the room. Turning away from Royale always made her uneasy. Though his bulk meant he didn’t move quickly, she didn’t trust him. She pulled the door closed and hurried down the corridor. She could already hear Benoît warming up on the piano and the low tones of Patrice’s cello. She turned the corner and stepped out into the small club, nearly colliding with the bartender as he shifted a case of liquor.
He smiled at her, the dimple showing in his olive-skinned cheek. “You’re late.” He scolded her gently. She hurried down the three steps and across to the stage, darting around a table full of carousing men. One tried to pinch her buttocks, but missed. Serge, the drummer, held out a hand as she ascended the stage, helping her up.
“It’s our last set,” he said. “Then we can relax. Are you ready?”
He gave her a look and she squared her shoulders and looked back. “It’s Piaf first, then the Billie Holiday,” she replied. Any doubt in his eyes faded.
“’Le Vagabond‘,” he replied in a low tone. “Let’s wow them—make them glad they tore themselves away from M6’s cop dramas.”
Sera laughed. “Yes, let’s.” She stepped up to the microphone and looked out into the club, pretending that its faded crimson walls were instead the bright gloss of a club in Monte Carlo and the tarnished candelabra were glittering chandeliers.
A smattering of applause accompanied the first few bars of the song. She smiled, mostly to herself. One day it might be Monte Carlo. She wanted to leave this all behind.
As Sera stepped up to the microphone, she glanced at the band. Benoît gave her a nod and she heard the opening bars of ‘Le Vagabond’.
The first lines came easily and she saw the club’s patrons turn their heads to listen. Even Jean paused in his work, holding a snifter of cognac. Her confidence swelled and she allowed a small smile to hover on her lips between verses, widening as she saw Jeremy Gordon moving from the bar to a better vantage point. Perfect. Near him, Sophie waited her turn for a drink. Sera met Edouard’s gaze across the bar and knew he’d spotted her as well. She watched them until the song finished and she had to turn her attention back to the band.
Benoît had chosen a song by Dietrich for their next piece, one of her favourites. It seemed appropriate to sing about falling in love again as she watched Sophie hover by the bar with her drink, Edouard speaking to her every time he had a lull in his work. Satisfied, she let her gaze wander.
The flicker of a cigarette lighter in the gloom caught her eye. It flickered again and held, illuminating the face of a man she hadn’t seen in weeks. Marc Perron lit his cigarette and his features faded back into the shadows. Not that she needed bright sunlight.
He would be elegantly dressed—a suit, pressed shirts with cufflinks, and depending on his mood, a tie. For all his apparent fastidiousness, he was never a dandy. Even now, moving amongst the crowd to stand at the rail, clear to her gaze, he confidently filled his space. He had a certainty about him, even when they’d first met in that tiny bar years ago. He’d beckoned her over, introduced himself, and had her telling him all her troubles before the night was over. Tonight, he gave her a hungry look that caused her to catch her breath in the midst of the phrase she was singing. She saw that half smile of amusement as he sipped a glass of wine. No one else had noticed her distraction, but he knew.
On the darker side of Paris, it’s dangerous to not pay your debts…
A singer in a jazz club past its prime, Sera Durand must come up with thousands of euros to pay back her boss, a ruthless gangster. A confrontation with her ex, an art dealer profiting on the wrong side of the law, leads her into a questionable wager, but one that could solve her problems.
Marc Perron knows a winning proposition when he sees one. Seducing a shy young woman of Sera’s acquaintance will be the easiest thing in the world, and the prize, to have Sera in his bed once again, is worth the chance of losing a sizable sum. What he didn’t expect was the depth of Sera’s desperation.
When one of his deals goes awry, Marc’s solution could cost them more than money…
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Trade paperback purchasers can email Alyssa to receive a free ebook version in the format of their choice.
Praise for The Paris Game:
“The Paris Game is a sexy noir romance–a gritty, thrilling peek between dangerous Parisian sheets.” -Tiffany Reisz, Award-Winning and International Bestselling Author of The Original Sinners series (Mira Books)
“Characters who grab you. A plot that takes hold and won’t let go. Sexy and seductive, “The Paris Game” is modern noir at its best.” -Cathy Pegau, author of Rulebreaker and Caught in Amber (Carina Press)
“Dark, mysterious, sexy. Noir at its best.” -Roxy Boroughs, author of A Stranger’s Touch
“‘The Paris Game’, the first book in Alyssa Linn Palmer’s ‘Le Chat Rouge’ series, strikes a delicate balance between erotica and intrigue. … On the whole, ‘The Paris Game’ marks an exciting first instalment in a series that promises to thrill crime and romance readers – and those looking for some escapism in la ville lumière.” -Ma Vie Française (myfrenchlife.org)
The follow-up to THE PARIS GAME, entitled MOONLIGHT & LOVE SONGS, will be released in Fall 2013, as a part of the Le Chat Rouge series:
Take a walk on the darker side of Paris…
A jazz club on the Left Bank, Le Chat Rouge seems stuck in another era. Neglect and crime have left their mark, but the club is a haven for the desperate. Sometimes a singer whose talent is worthy of the world’s greatest stages, or a patron who has wealth to spare, find their way to its smoky interior.
Gangsters, drug dealers, con artists…many occupy Le Chat Rouge’s worn velvet banquettes and tread its creaking parquet floors, but all submit to Royale. The ruthless owner demands loyalty and few earn his favour. Those who do are as brutal as he is, and those who defy him might very well risk their lives.
It’s a dangerous place, but fortune awaits the most daring.
The lovely folks at francophile site Ma Vie Française have reviewed The Paris Game! And, in conjunction with the review, there is a contest. Sign up to the site and comment on the post, and you could win a paperback of THE PARIS GAME.
‘The Paris Game’, the first book in Alyssa Linn Palmer’s ‘Le Chat Rouge’ series, strikes a delicate balance between erotica and intrigue.
…In some sense, Sera and Marc provide the moral middle ground. In a world where there are debts to be paid, nothing is as clear-cut as it seems. As enigmatic as each other, they’re ruthless in their respective bids to win the wager. And as the stakes get higher, the pace ratchets up.
…For francophiles, much of the book’s pleasure, of course, lies in its setting. Lovers of Paris will trace the protagonists’ steps from Saint-Sulpice to the Pont du Carousel to the Montparnasse Cemetery. And when wide-eyed art history student Sophie is filled with wonder upon discovering Shakespeare & Co. for the first time, we know that feeling exactly!
The contest runs until June 21st, so get your comments in soon!
The review site My Book Addictions and More is hosting a giveaway this week (runs June 7-14), and two digital copies of The Paris Game are up for grabs!
Also, find out about my offer…
My short story ‘Vee’s Notebook’, a continuation of the story begun in the FELT TIPS anthology, and in the free reads on my site, is released today in the anthology ANYTHING SHE WANTS, published by LadyLit.
It will be on as a free promo starting today, for four days, so this is your chance!
Here’s the blurb:
In the office, on the set of a movie or on the bathroom floor, the ladies in this anthology don’t care where they get it on. Power play, first time encounters and office rivalry get the characters in these twelve stories so riled up, the only way to go is down and dirty. Tales of spanking, a wild all-female college party and a waitress with a strap-on grace the pages of Ladylit’s first multi-author lesbian erotica anthology.
Caution: Reading ‘Anything She Wants’ will make you wet!
Stories by Kay Jaybee, Laila Blake, Lucy Felthouse, Erzabet Bishop, Sarah Ellen, L.C. Spoering, Vanessa de Sade, Kelly Lawrence, Giselle Renarde, Alyssa Linn Palmer, Ariel Graham and Harper Bliss.
From the BBC:
“Why this emphasis on philosophy in France?
Other countries have school-leaving exams which cover the history of ideas and religion and so on. But the French are very clear that that is not what theirs is.
The purpose of the philosophy Bac is not to understand the history of human thought but to leap into the stream that is the actuality of human thought.
If you learn about what Kant or Spinoza once said, it is not so much to understand their argument as to use their argument. …
So the purpose of teaching philosophy was – and remains, in theory – to complete the education of young men and women and permit them to think.
To see the universal arguments about the individual and society, God and reason, good and bad and so on, and thus escape from the binding imperatives of the now – by which I mean the dictatorship of whatever ideas are most pressingly forced on us in the day-to-day by government, media, fashion, political correctness and so on.”
During my schooling (excluding post-secondary), philosophy was never touched upon. Even in university, it was not a required part of any degree that I can recall (excluding of course the Philosophy major or minor). I chose to take several philosophy classes while at uni, my favourite being Philosophy of Literature, where I was introduced to the ideas of Jean-Paul Sartre (and through him, to Simone de Beauvoir, which was pretty well life-changing), as well as reading works by Andre Breton, Plato, and Edmond Jabes, among others.
Though often philosophical subjects were difficult to understand, reading and discussing concepts like existentialism, where each individual must give meaning to their life, and not rely upon outside sources, such as religion, pushed me outside my everyday thoughts. It was also very different view from my Introduction to Philosophy course, which seemed to focus almost exclusively upon the question of whether or not God exists. Part of that course, though I had no real interest as to the existence of God, was meant to teach the basics of argument, and formulating a concise statement of belief. It wasn’t quite a class in rhetoric, but it helped.
I think that it would be useful for everyone, but here it seems that degrees in subjects like Philosophy are derided as useless, while exalted are those degrees which provide the greatest financial gain–engineering, business. I wonder that we’re losing something in focusing upon financial gain at the expense of other things, of thinking beyond the immediate events, learning how to step back from the clamour and rationally consider our lives.
Have you taken philosophy courses? What did you think of them? Did they help you consider the world in a different way?