The Lost Girls of Paris, by Pam Jenoff — Exclusive Excerpt!

51SrH4ZP0mL._SX331_BO1204203200_Paperback: 384 pages

Publisher: Park Row; Original edition (January 29, 2019)

From the author of the runaway bestseller The Orphan’s Tale comes a remarkable story of friendship and courage centered around three women and a ring of female secret agents during World War II.

1946, Manhattan

One morning while passing through Grand Central Terminal on her way to work, Grace Healey finds an abandoned suitcase tucked beneath a bench. Unable to resist her own curiosity, Grace opens the suitcase, where she discovers a dozen photographs—each of a different woman. In a moment of impulse, Grace takes the photographs and quickly leaves the station.

Grace soon learns that the suitcase belonged to a woman named Eleanor Trigg, leader of a network of female secret agents who were deployed out of London during the war. Twelve of these women were sent to Occupied Europe as couriers and radio operators to aid the resistance, but they never returned home, their fates a mystery. Setting out to learn the truth behind the women in the photographs, Grace finds herself drawn to a young mother turned agent named Marie, whose daring mission overseas reveals a remarkable story of friendship, valor and betrayal.

Vividly rendered and inspired by true events, New York Times bestselling author Pam Jenoff shines a light on the incredible heroics of the brave women of the war and weaves a mesmerizing tale of courage, sisterhood and the great strength of women to survive in the hardest of circumstances.

 

The Excerpt

Chapter One

Grace

New York, 1946

If not for the second worst mistake of Grace Healey’s life, she never would have found the suitcase.

At nine twenty on a Tuesday morning, Grace should have been headed south on the first of two buses she took to get downtown, commuting from the rooming house in Hell’s Kitchen to the Lower East Side office where she worked. And she was on her way to work. But she was nowhere near the neighborhood she had come to call home. Instead, she was racing south on Madison Avenue, corralling her corkscrew hair into a low knot and taking off her mint green cardigan despite the chill so that Frankie wouldn’t notice it was the exact same one she had been wearing at work the previous day and question the unthinkable: whether she had gone home at all.

Grace paused to study herself in the window of a five-and-dime. She wished the store was open so she could buy some powder to hide the marks on her neck and sample a bit of perfume to conceal the stench of day-old brandy mixed with that delicious-but-wrong smell of Mark’s aftershave which made her dizzy and ashamed with every inhale. A wino sat on the corner, moaning to himself in sleep. Looking at his gray, lifeless pallor, Grace felt a certain solidarity. From the adjacent alley came the banging on a trash can, a sound marching in time with the thudding in her own head. The whole city of New York seemed green and hungover. Or perhaps she was confusing it for herself.

Sharp gusts of February wind cut across Madison, causing the flags that hung from the skyscrapers above to whip furiously. An old crumpled newspaper danced along the gutter. Hearing the bells of Saint Agnes’s toll half past nine, Grace pressed on, her skin growing moist under her collar as she neared a run. Grand Central Terminal loomed hulking ahead. Just a bit farther and she could turn left on Forty-Second Street and catch an express bus downtown on Lexington.

But as she neared the intersection at Forty-Third, the street ahead was blocked. Police cars sat three across, cordoning off Madison and preventing anyone from going farther south. A car accident, Grace suspected at first, noting the black Studebaker, which sat jackknifed across the street, steam billowing from the hood. More cars clogged the Midtown streets than ever these days, jockeying for space with the buses and taxis and trucks making deliveries. There did not appear to be another vehicle involved, though. A lone ambulance sat at the corner. The medics did not rush about urgently, but stood leaning against the vehicle, smoking.

Grace started toward a policeman, whose paunchy face pushed up from the high collar of his uniform, navy with gold buttons. “Excuse me. Will the street be closed for long? I’m late for work.”

He looked out at her disdainfully from under the brim of his hat, as if despite all of the women working dutifully in the factories to take the place of the men who had enlisted and gone overseas during the war, the notion of a woman holding a job was still laughable. “You can’t go this way,” he replied officiously. “And you won’t be able to any time soon.”

“What happened?” she asked, but the policeman turned away. Grace took a step forward, craning to see.

“A woman was hit by a car and died,” a man in a flat wool cap beside her said.

Taking in the shattered windshield of the Studebaker, Grace suddenly felt sick. “Such a shame,” she managed finally.

“I didn’t see it,” the man replied. “But someone said she was killed instantly. At least she didn’t suffer.”

At least. That was the phrase Grace heard too often after Tom had died. At least she was still young. At least there had not been children—as if that made it somehow easier to bear. (Children, she sometimes thought, would not have been a burden, but a bit of him left behind forever.)

“You just never know where it will all end,” mused the flat-capped man beside her. Grace did not answer. Tom’s death had been unexpected, too, an overturned jeep on the way from the army base to the train station in Georgia, headed to New York to see her before he’d deployed. They called him a casualty of war, but in fact it had been just another accident that might have happened anywhere.

A flashbulb from a reporter’s camera popped, causing her to blink. Grace shielded her eyes then backed away blindly through the crowd that had formed, seeking air amidst the cigarette smoke and sweat and perfume.

Away from the police barricade now, Grace looked over her shoulder. Forty-Third Street was blocked to the west as well, preventing her from cutting across. To go back up Madison and around the other side of the station would take at least another half an hour, making her even later for work than she already was. Again, she cursed the night before. If it weren’t for Mark, she wouldn’t be standing here, faced with no other choice to cut through Grand Central—the one place she had sworn to never go again.

 

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About Pam Jenoff

Pam Jenoff is the author of several novels, including the international bestseller The Kommandant’s Girl, which also earned her a Quill Award nomination. Pam lives with her husband and three children near Philadelphia where, in addition to writing, she teaches law school.

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Book review: The Last Days of Oscar Wilde, by John Vanderslice

About The Last Days of Oscar Wilde

• Paperback: 350 pages
• Publisher: Burlesque Press, LLC (January 15, 2018)

How is it possible that the genius author of such 19th century classics as The Picture of Dorian Gray and The Importance of Being Earnest died destitute in Paris at the age of 46? In John Vanderslice’s vivid and heartbreaking novel, we meet Oscar Wilde after a two year incarceration in an English prison for gross indecency. Once free, his reputation and finances in ruins, he leaves England for Paris where, frequently inebriated, he stays in shabby hotel rooms paid for by his few, remaining friends.

In Vanderslice’s deftly-imagined portrayal, Wilde’s idiosyncratic and affecting greatness is revealed. Through his thoughts and interactions, we experience the heart and mind of a literary giant brought down by the “morals” of his time. For a while, Wilde manages to maintain his legendary sense of humor and joie de vivre, a superstitious religiosity, and the dogged pursuit of beautiful young men. Sadly, the formerly prolific author and raconteur no longer has the desire to write. Instead, he distantly observes the world and is ultimately felled by serious illness. It is at his funeral that his artistic reputation begins its slow rehabilitation as friends and a small devoted public flock to the church to honor the artist, who spoke openly about homosexuality, the hypocrisy of Victorian values, and the importance of art for art’s sake.

My Review

Almost immediately, you’re drawn into Oscar Wilde’s life. It only takes a page or two, and his personality is so vivid that I began to feel as if I might know him. I don’t know much about Wilde historically, so I can’t speak as to the accuracy (or not) of this fictional story to the real history, but to me it was very good at painting a vibrant picture of not only his life, but of Paris at the time.

I really felt for Wilde, and I knew that his decline was coming as I read, but the last part portrayed it well, in fits and starts as I’d imagine his last days would seem, sober and then not, in pain and then not. The book gives me a greater appreciation of Wilde, and I will have to seek out more of his work (I’ve only read Dorian Grey).

I’m also impressed with the writing of the author, John Vanderslice. I may also be looking up some of his other works, too!

I was provided this book by the author for an honest review.

Praise

“With elegant prose and a glittering wit of which Wilde himself would approve, John Vanderslice brings to life this agent provocateur’s final act. Masterfully merges insight and imagination with the historical and literary record to provide a portrait that is rich and nuanced and utterly compelling.” – Rachel Hall, author of Heirlooms.

“John Vanderslice lays bare the consequences of Wilde’s betrayal by those whom he loved and trusted. The Last Days of Oscar Wilde is a grim reminder of the destructive power of senseless persecution.” —Jennifer Steil, author of The Woman Who Fell From the Sky.

“A quiet, tender portrait of a literary giant.” Kirkus Reviews

Purchase Links

Amazon | Barnes & Noble

About John Vanderslice

John Vanderslice is the author of Island Fog (Lavender Ink), a collection of ten stories and two novellas set on Nantucket Island, named by Library Journal as one of the Top 15 Indie Fiction titles of 2014. A native of the Washington DC area, John has an MFA from George Mason University and a PhD from the University of Louisiana-Lafayette (ULL). After graduating from ULL in 1997, he began teaching at the University of Central Arkansas (UCA), where he is a much loved professor of writing. His fiction has been published in many leading journals, as well as several anthologies, including Chick for a Day and The Best of The First Line.

Book review, excerpt & giveaway: Paris Runaway, by Paulita Kincer

Paulita Kincer

on Tour July 18-27
with

Paris Runaway cover

Paris RunAway

(women’s fiction)

Release date: June 30, 2016
at Lulu.com

ISBN: 978-1-365-18923-4
220 pages

Author’s page
Goodreads

 

SYNOPSIS

When divorced mom Sadie Ford realizes her 17-year-old daughter Scarlett has run away to Paris all she can imagine are terrorist bombings and sex slaves. After learning her daughter chased a French exchange student home, Sadie hops on the next plane in pursuit. She joins forces with the boy’s father, Auguste, and the two attempt to find the missing teens before they can stumble into more trouble. The chase takes Sadie and Auguste to the seedier side of Marseille, where their own connection is ignited. Since the divorce, Sadie has devoted herself to raising kids and putting her dreams on hold, but when her daughter needs her most, Sadie finds that concrete barrier to life beginning to crack. In her journey, she learns the difference between watching the hours pass and living.

REVIEW

This book was a refreshing read, especially because the heroine was not an early-20s woman, but one of middle age, with teenage kids and a ‘normal’ life. That is, hectic and messy and full of the little details that a lot of books gloss over. I connected with her immediately, and could feel her frustration and anger and worry all at once.

And when the action moved to Paris, I was delighted to be ‘visiting’ one of my favourite cities once more. I could absolutely envision the car chase through the huge traffic circle at the Arc de Triomphe, and wandering down avenues, and experiencing Paris for the first time.

Now that I’ve read The Paris Runaway, I think I’m going to need to go read all of Ms Kincer’s other books!

EXCERPT

I’d been distracted by my class of first graders, my fingertips dripping with paint, as one boy pulled on the hem of my dress and a strange man in shiny shoes walked into the classroom. He said, “I’m lookin’ for Sadie Harrison Ford.”

“That’s me,” I said, my brows scrunching together at the bridge of my nose. No one called me by my maiden name and married name. I was fine as Sadie Harrison or Sadie Ford, but combine the two names, and I became a Star Wars joke waiting to happen.

“Got some papers for you,” the man said as he moved a piece of chewing gum to the side of his mouth.

“Well, I obviously have my hands full right now,” I told the man, irritated that the office had let him come down to my classroom. “Just put them on my desk.” I jerked my head toward the oversized wooden desk that had piles of papers on one side, a stack of wavy artwork on the other side, but a nice empty section in the middle where an envelope would not go astray.

“I’m afraid I can’t do that Mrs. Harrison Ford,” he said as he approached me holding out the envelope.

“Just a minute, Josiah,” I told the boy pulling on the hem of my dress.

“Miranda,” I called to a little girl nearby, “take that envelope and put it on my desk please.”

She obediently stood and approached the man with her hand out.

“I’m afraid no one but you can take this envelope.” The man stretched the envelope higher as if Miranda would try to jump up and snatch it.

“Oh, fine.” I reached out to grab the envelope with blue, red and purple fingers then moved to toss it onto my desk.

“Consider yourself served,” the man said.

I looked around for a camera as if I starred in a reality television show. “What do you mean?”

“Those are divorce papers from your husband.” The man threw the words over his shoulder as he walked toward the door.

And that’s how my official divorce papers got rainbow-colored fingerprints all over them as I tugged the stiff white papers from the envelope, and my face collapsed in a sudden rush of shame and tears. This couldn’t be happening to me. 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Paulita Kincer

Paulita Kincer
has an M.A. in journalism from American University.
She has traveled to France 11 times,
and still finds more to lure her back.
She currently teaches college English
and lives in Columbus, Ohio,
with her three children, two cats and one husband.
Visit her website www.paulitakincer.com and her blog at http://www.paulita-ponderings.blogspot.com
or follow her on Twitter @paulitakincer
Like her Facebook page at Paulita Kincer Writer.
Email paulita@paulitakincer.com

Buy the book (print, ebook audiobook): Amazon

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Review in progress: Submission (Soumission), by Michel Houellebecq (Part 2)

SubmissionSo, the election happens, the National Front wins the highest percentage, and the Socialists find themselves negotiating with the Muslim Brotherhood. Reading this bit made me realize how little I knew about how French elections are structured. I may have to do some research reading as well, but for now I’ll just keep reading Submission. (Part 1 of my ongoing review here.)

I still don’t particularly care for Francois. He’s at least showing some interest in things now, although it’s mostly the election, and having sex with Myriam. The sex scene was quite to the point, but not as eye-rollingly bad as others I have read. Still, I can only figure that he likes/loves Myriam because she has a shaved pussy and gives great blow-jobs. Should be interesting to see where their relationship goes, if it does go anywhere further at all. She’s thinking of them as a couple, but he’s not, and she’s moving to Israel after the election result.

Somewhat spookier is the Muslim Brotherhood demand that schools teach spiritual things, and that Muslim-based schools become standard, and no co-teaching of the sexes, with instruction for girls/women reduced to that of homemaking and literature. Though it’s fiction, I wonder if a party would bend on such a thing in order to keep some of their power. (In this case, the Socialists are the ones bargaining with the MB.)

I shall have to read more.

Review & Giveaway: The Shiro Project, by David Khara

Check out the giveaway, below, for your chance to win!

Shiro project cover

About the book

When yesterday’s enemies become today’s best allies and when mankind seems on the verge of repeating the errors of the past, what can a lone man do against the madness that is bound to follow? After his mentor is kidnapped, a Mossad agent teams up with his worst foe, but first must face himself. He is enlisted against his will in a fight that’s not his own and takes him from present-day Czech Republic to past Manchuria. He has to put an end to the activities of a mysterious group who have gotten their hands on weapons of mass destruction. What do Japanese war camps, US Army research and an annihilated modern-day Czech village all have in common? [provided by the publisher]
The book contains some violence

My review

Having read Khara’s previous book released by Le French Book (the excellent The Bleiberg Project), I was super eager to get my hands on this one. The blurb is a bit cagey, but be reassured, the reader gets plenty more of intriguing Mossad agent Eytan Morg. In fact, I’d say that this book was more about Eytan than any of the other characters, and I was delighted for it to be so. He was fascinating in The Bleiberg Project, and I said then that I hoped that wasn’t the end of his character. And it wasn’t.

The Shiro Project gripped me from the start, and I read it quickly, wanting to keep turning the pages (and not wanting to put it down to sleep). Immediately, I was swept into the brutal drama of a Czech village’s annihilation being covered up, and from there it didn’t stop. To make things worse, Eytan’s friend Eli is kidnapped by the Consortium, and Eytan has a lot to do to get him back, and is sent on a task to find this group. The plot travels from Tokyo to Prague and all over the world as Eytan (and fellow enhanced human Elena, his reluctant companion, thanks to the Consortium) tries to track down the group responsible for the Czech village’s extermination via biological weapon. 

I don’t know if there will be a third book by Khara, but I do hope so, and that Le French Book will release it soon. I really can’t get enough of Eytan Morg. He’s compelling, and intriguing, and I want to know more.

The Shiro Project

(translated by Sophie Weiner)
Release date: November 18, 2014
at Le French Book
250 pages

ISBN: 978-1939474247
Website | Goodreads

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Shiro project David KharaFrench author David Khara, a former reporter, top-level sportsman, and entrepreneur, has always been a writer. After studying law, he stepped into journalism working for Agence France Press, and then became creative director for several advertising companies. He loves new technologies and started his own company at the age of twenty-four, becoming an online business pioneer for French industries.
He then focused his life on writing fiction.
In 2010, he published The Bleiberg Project, which became an immediate success in France. David Khara is also an accomplished athlete in fencing and rubgy, and he even played football as a linebacker. He acknowledges that his culture is a much American as it is French, since he spent a lot of time in West Virginia and Manhattan, and is an avid fan of writers such as Dennis Lehane.

Follow David Khara on Twitter
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Buy the book | on Amazon | on Barnes & Noble

ABOUT THE TRANSLATOR

Sophie Weiner is a freelance translator and book publishing assistant from Baltimore, Maryland. After earning degrees in French from Bucknell University and New York University, Sophie went on to complete a masterís in literary translation from the Sorbonne, where she focused her thesis on translating wordplay in works by Oulipo authors. She has translated and written for web-based companies dedicated to art, cinema, and fashion as well as for nonprofit organizations. Growing up with Babar, Madeline, and The Little Prince, Sophie was bitten by the Francophile bug at an early age, and is fortunate enough to have lived in Paris, Lille, and the Loire Valley.
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Guest Post & Giveaway from Frédérique Molay, author of CROSSING THE LINE, the new Sirsky novel

Crossing the Line cover

For the giveaway, skip to the widget below. Enter to win a paperback copy of CROSSING THE LINE (US residents only) or an ebook copy (international). And don’t miss Ms. Molay’s guest post, and my review of the book, the latest translated in the Nico Sirsky novels, known as the Paris Homicide Series, from Le French Book.

About CROSSING THE LINE

It’s Christmas in Paris and Chief of Police Nico Sirsky has an uneasy feeling that something is very wrong with the case he’s investigating. He and his team of crack homicide detectives follow the clues from an apparent suicide, to an apparent accident, to an all-out murder as an intricate machination starts breaking down. Just how far can despair push a man? How clear is the line between good and evil?

The Funny Thing About Mysteries
Frédérique Molay

Crossing The Line-Frederique MolayAward-winning novelist Frédérique Molay brings us another mystery in her Paris Homicide series—Crossing the Line, which hits bookstores on September 23. Chief of Police Nico Sirsky returns to work after recovering from a gunshot wound. He’s in love and raring to go. His first day back has him overseeing a jewel heist sting and taking on an odd investigation. Just how far can despair push a man? How clear is the line between good and evil? Here she talks about the mystery genre.

The funny think about mysteries is that although some misguided souls still sometimes consider the genre to be marginal as far as “literature” goes, mystery novels very actively feed all the other art forms from movies, television, graphic novels and plays to painting and so much more. They touch us in many way, have a long history and a bright future.

Traditionally, the genre’s paternity is attributed to Edgar Allan Poe, with his short stories written in 1841, Murders in the Rue Morgue. Some people, particularly the French, like to remind readers that Honoré de Balzac wrote Murky Business the same year. Bets are still open on Balzac vs. Poe, and academics still quarrel over it. What counts though is that the genre has been booming since the nineteenth century and today, authors around the world are inventing their own heroes based on their country’s history, social realities, culture and own literary genius.

Like the genre, heroes in detective fiction have evolved as well, mostly because the world around them has changed. There are more heroines. Macho, die-hard heroes are a thing of the past. Femmes fatales and docile wives are also long gone, and female characters are independent and determined.

Of course, crime novels have changed because crime too has changed. The transformation of heroes is on par with that of the villains. A new kind of criminal has arisen—they are as unpredictable and hard to grasp as the world they reflect. These psycho-killers choose their victims randomly, following their urges. Add to that the wide-spread growth of organized crime to the most unsuspecting places and benefiting from considerable protection and immunity, and there is a lot of inspiration. I could go on. Clearly, the mystery genre has a bright future ahead of it.

My Review

To take a line from Frédérique Molay’s post above, a new kind of criminal has arisen, unpredictable and hard to grasp. The villain in her first book fit this description, as does the one in this novel. But I don’t want to say too much about the villain, in fear of giving something away, so I will leave them be, and talk more about the book itself.

It begins with an anatomy lab and a class of dental students, learning how to do surgery upon cadavers (just the heads). Grotesque, but intriguing, becoming more so when a student finds a head with a very poorly done filling, and brings it to the attention of the prof and the anatomy lab. A closer examination reveals a piece of plastic embedded in the tooth; it reads ‘I was murdered.’ Now, if that doesn’t get your attention, I don’t know what would. ;)

Having been in an anatomy lab, and smelled that smell, the scene was quite vivid for me (though I had been there for an anatomical drawing class, and did not draw heads), and it reminded me partly of the anatomy lesson scenes in Lars von Trier’s ‘Riget’. Crinkling my nose remembering that smell, I read on, and found that I couldn’t put the book down.

The connections between characters and to the finale were artfully done, subtle enough that it kept me guessing. I love mystery novels where it isn’t obvious who the villain is, or how/why they’ve done what they’ve done. Slowly the pieces came together as Sirsky and his team investigated, and though I did guess a couple of chapters ahead of the big reveal, I was still quite satisfied.

I’m looking forward to the next in the series, and hope that Le French Book will continue to put out these fantastic translations.

Crossing The Line
[police procedural / thriller]
(translated by Anne TRAGER)

Release date: September 23, 2014
at Le French Book

224 pages
ISBN: 978-1939474148

Website | Goodreads

Giveaway!

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Book Review: I Looked For The One My Heart Loves, by Dominique Marny (+ Book Giveaway!)

For the giveaway, skip down and use the entry form. One US resident will win a paperback ARC of I Looked for the One My Heart Loves, and an international reader will win an ebook copy. Good luck!

i-looked-for-the-one-coverAnne and Alexis are separated by war as children and reunited later by destiny. A powerful and dramatic love story that spans decades in spite of its seeming impossibility.

Anne, 9, and Alexis, 11, grow up together in the Montmartre area of Paris. While she has a major crush on him, he merely sees her as his friend’s little sister. After WWII begins, the two are separated as their families flee Paris to avoid the German occupation. When they say goodbye, Alexis promises to always protect Anne.

Anne holds on to this promise for years as she constantly thinks of Alexis, wondering where he may be. Anne grows up, finds works in an art gallery, and marries a kind, devoted man with whom she has two children. But her heart still belongs to Alexis and she never stops looking for him. Their paths cross fatefully one day in Brussels many years after they were separated.

Alexis, living in Canada and soon to be moving to San Francisco, has a family of his own; a wife in constant depression and a son. Despite their responsibilities to family and the geographical distance that keeps them apart, Anne and Alexis find a way to love one another, secretly yet passionately.

But after all this time, will they ever manage to be truly together, completely?

My review:

I was intrigued at the premise, particularly the historical Paris, from just before WWII to the early 1980s, though once I did start reading and the book got beyond the war, the era felt like it could have been fairly contemporary, even though it was still the 1950s. But that is a very small thing; the book itself was enjoyable.

My favourite section was when Anne and Alexis first met after so many years apart, and when they first began their affair. There was a certain zing to the scenes, the tension of newfound attraction that came across very well. I cheered for the pair, though both were married to other people. The author built a lot of sympathy for the characters, and what they had in their everyday lives, and how much they wanted to be together.

I would have loved to read more about one of the artists Anne exhibits in her gallery, the Italian Simonetta. I actually am hoping that Marny will write her story, so that I can find out everything about her life. (Please? :-))

By the way, if you’re a reader who prefers books heavy on dialogue, you may have a bit of a hard time getting into this one; it’s very narrative heavy, and while I didn’t find it detracted from the story, it made for a slower, more contemplative read.

Release date: August 12, 2014
at Open Road Integrated Media / Publishers Square

384 pages

ISBN: 978-1-4804-6116-1

Goodreads

About the Author
i-looked-for-the-one-marnyDominique Marny was raised in a family that loves art, literature, adventure and travels.
In addition to being a novelist, she is a playwright, screenwriter, and writes for various magazines.

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Book Review: The Collector of Dying Breaths, by M.J. Rose

First, the contest!
If you share this post, or share about The Collector of Dying Breaths on Twitter or Facebook, send me the link to your share, and you will be entered into a draw to win a $25 Amazon gift card. Send me the link, either by email, or by sharing it in a comment, below. (This contest is open internationally.) Draw will be made at the end of the tour, so get those shares/links in ASAP.

The blurb:
collector-of-dying-breaths-coverFrom one of America’s most imaginative storytellers comes a passionate tale of love and treachery, spanning the days of Catherine de Medici’s court to the twenty-first century and starring a woman drawn back, time and again, to the past.

In 1533, an Italian orphan with an uncanny knack for creating fragrance is plucked from poverty to become Catherine de Medici’s perfumer. To repay his debt, over the years René le Florentine is occasionally called upon to put his vast knowledge to a darker purpose: the creation of deadly poisons used to dispatch the Queen’s rivals.

But it’s René’s other passion—a desire to reanimate a human breath, to bring back the lives of the two people whose deaths have devastated him—that incites a dangerous treasure hunt five centuries later. That’s when Jac L’Etoile—suffering from a heartache of her own—becomes obsessed with the possibility of unlocking Rene’s secret to immortality.

Soon Jac’s search reconnects her with Griffin North, a man she’s loved her entire life. Together they confront an eccentric heiress whose art collection rivals many museums and who is determined to keep her treasures close at hand, not just in this life but in her next.

Set in the forest of Fontainebleau, crisscrossing the lines between the past and the present, M.J. Rose has written a mesmerizing tale of passion and obsession. This is a gothic tale perfect for fans of Anne Rice, Deborah Harkness, and Diana Galbadon.

My review:
I’d read Seduction last year, and quite enjoyed it, so I was delighted to be able to get The Collector of Dying Breaths ahead of time. And it didn’t disappoint at all. In fact, I think I enjoyed it more. The intrigue of the court of Catherine de’Medici, and the present-day mystery of Jac’s strange employers, combined to make a novel that kept me reading intently. If I hadn’t had to sleep, and work, I’d likely have inhaled it in a single (rather long) sitting.

Jac’s brother Robbie has died, and she’s sucked into the orbit of a very troubling, obsessive woman named Melinoe, who is determined to discover the secret of immortality, of the dying breaths. Jac accepts, and once she arrives at the chateau, she begins to see the life of the perfumer René. In some ways, seeing René’s life is like knowing the ending to a movie, but still being on the edge of your seat with horror and anticipation.

I think this is my favourite of M.J.’s books so far. The mix of French royalty and history, and the gripping suspense, kept me anxious and reading as much as I could.

Release date: April 8, 2014
by Atria Books

ISBN13: 9781451621532
also available as an ebook

Hardcover, 384 pages
Author’s page | Goodreads

About the Author
mj-roseM.J. Rose, is the international bestselling author of 13 novels;Lip Service,In FidelityFlesh TonesSheet MusicLying in BedThe Halo EffectThe Delilah ComplexThe Venus Fix,The ReincarnationistThe MemoristThe HypnotistThe Book of Lost Fragrances, and Seduction.

Rose is also the co-author with Angela Adair Hoy of How to Publish and Promote Online and with Randy Susan Meyers of What to Do Before Your Book Lauch.

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 the popular blog; Buzz, Balls & Hype.

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.

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Book Review: Honeymoon in Paris, by Juliette Sobanet, Interview + Giveaway

Leave a comment on this post and you could win an ebook copy of Honeymoon in Paris! (contest open internationally, winner to be drawn after the close of the tour)

About Honeymoon in Paris

Honeymoon in ParisThe sassy heroine of Sleeping with Paris is back! And this time, chocolate-covered French wedding bells are in the air . . .
It’s only been a month since Charlotte Summers reunited with her sexy French boyfriend, Luc Olivier, and he has already made her the proposal of a lifetime: a mad dash to the altar in the fairytale town of Annecy. Without hesitation, Charlotte says au revoir to single life and oui to a lifetime of chocolate in bed with Luc. She’s madly in love, and Luc is clearly the one, so what could possibly go wrong?

As it turns out, quite a lot…
On the heels of their drama-filled nuptials in the French Alps, Luc whisks Charlotte away to Paris for a luxurious honeymoon. But just as they are settling into a sheet-ripping, chocolate-induced haze, a surprise appearance by Luc’s drop-dead gorgeous ex-wife brings the festivities to a halt. Luc never told Charlotte that his ex was a famous French actress, or that she was still in love with him. Add to that Charlotte’s new role as step-mom to Luc’s tantrum-throwing daughter, a humiliating debacle in the French tabloids, and the threat of losing her coveted position at the language school—and Charlotte fears she may have tied the French knot a little too quickly.

Determined to keep her independence and her sanity, Charlotte seeks out a position at Bella magazine’s new France office while working on a sassy guidebook to French marriage. But when Luc’s secret past threatens Charlotte’s career and their future together, Charlotte must take matters into her own hands. Armed with chocolate, French wine, and a few fabulous girlfriends by her side, Charlotte navigates the tricky waters of marriage, secrets, ex-wives, and a demanding career all in a foreign country where she quickly realizes, she never truly learned the rules.

And Juliette has come to visit the blog and answer a few burning questions!

What is your favourite place to visit in France?

I have many, but my top favorite and the place closest to my heart will always be Lyon. It’s a gorgeous city two hours south of Paris by train, and I was fortunate enough to study abroad there in college. I’ve been back many times since to visit my host family and friends, and each time I set foot in that beautiful city, I feel like I’m home. It’s a smaller, more manageable city than Paris (don’t get me wrong though, I love Paris!), and the food is to die for. I definitely recommend making a stop in Lyon if you travel to France. Charlotte and Luc just happen to call Lyon home in Honeymoon in Paris as well!

What was your first inspiration for Charlotte?

My initial inspiration for Charlotte’s character stemmed from my year living and studying in Paris. I thought it would be fun to take a girl who’d been burned one too many times in love and make her dead set on not falling in love in the most romantic city in the world. I did use inspiration from some of my own personal relationship disasters of course, and from those of my girlfriends as well, to come up with a few of the debacles that happen to Charlotte along her journey.

Do you have a favourite character in the book?

I always love writing Lexi’s character because she’s so sassy and funny, and she’s never afraid to share a piece of her mind! She’s also kind of a mess in her love life, and I think for that, we can all relate to her to some extent.

Without giving away too much, had you planned for Luc’s story arc from the beginning of the first book?

No, I hadn’t ever planned on a sequel when I began writing Sleeping with Paris, so it wasn’t until I was plotting out Honeymoon in Paris that I decided where Luc’s story arc would go. I realized that in the first book, we didn’t actually learn a ton about Luc, so that gave me a lot of room to play with his storyline in the second book. This of course opened up to many exciting secrets and disasters for Charlotte to deal with!

What are you working on right now, and what’s next to be released?

I’m currently writing a series of novellas called Confessions of a City Girl which will begin releasing in early 2014. I also have a novella coming out with Amazon’s new StoryFront program on January 22nd. It’s called One Night in Paris, and here’s a little bit about the story:

When Manhattan attorney Ella Carlyle gets a call that her beloved grandmother is dying, she rushes to Paris to be by her side, against the wishes of her overbearing boyfriend. Ella would do anything for her grandmother and jumps at the chance to fulfill her dying wish. But things take a mystical turn when Ella is transported to a swinging Parisian jazz club full of alluring strangers…in the year 1927! As the clock runs out on her one night in the City of Lights, Ella will attempt to rewrite the past—and perhaps her own destiny as well.

Thank you so much for having me, Alyssa!

And thank you for being with us! I can’t wait to read all that you have coming out soon!

And now, for my review!

I read Sleeping With Paris sometime last year (or perhaps earlier, I can’t quite recall, as I’ve read it several times now), and when I heard there was a sequel, I was delighted. I wanted to know more about Charlotte, and her handsome man Luc. And I was not disappointed by Honeymoon in Paris. In fact, I devoured the book.

This time around, Charlotte is married, but Luc is not all that he’s seemed to be. He’s keeping secrets, being evasive, and I started to wonder if perhaps she’d made a poor choice in marrying so quickly. The book was a whirlwind of drama: young actresses, corrupt businessmen, handsome actors, paparazzi, devoted and determined friends, and a dark secret that Charlotte stumbles into. It definitely kept me reading.

I also loved the return of some of the secondary characters from the first book, especially Fiona and Lexi, Charlotte’s best friends. They’re each so different from Charlotte, and bring their own colour to the book.

I’m hoping that Ms. Sobanet will continue on with this series, and perhaps write a book about the handsome Nicolas? Pretty please? :)

Juliette SobanetAbout the Author
Juliette Sobanet earned a B.A. from Georgetown University and an M.A. from New York University in France, living and studying in both Lyon and Paris. She worked as a French professor before turning a new page in her career, penning romantic women’s fiction with a French twist. She is the author of Sleeping with Paris, Kissed in ParisMidnight Train to Paris, Dancing with Paris, and Honeymoon in Paris. Today she lives in San Diego, where she devotes her time to writing and dreaming about her next trip to France.

Website  |  Facebook Twitter

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Review & Guest Post: Jenny Lyn, and her new book RIVER RECKONING

RiverR1mHaving found out that the most excellent Jenny Lyn has a new book out (River Reckoning: Trouble in Trespass), I was delighted to be able to read it, and write a review. Plus, Jenny was happy to come by and talk about the setting of the story, which I found rather interesting. Mind you, I have no experience of swamps or alligators!

I finished this book in an evening. It’s not short, but I couldn’t put it down. It didn’t take long for me to get into the book, the author had me from the moment Bond reveals that her name is because of a film (and no, not James Bond). Add in the swampy South, and I was set. (I’d read a couple of Intrigues by Jana de Leon set in the South as well, and this book reminded me a bit of them, though those were set in Louisiana, I think.) Mix this in with corruption, bribery, stalker-ex boyfriends, and a couple of delectable US Marshals, and it’s just about perfect.

It’s apparently first in a series, but for those of you worried about cliffhanger endings — don’t be. Unlike a lot of romance novels these days, this one has a good solid ending, satisfying my needs perfectly.

And here is Jenny:

Alyssa mentioned in her review of River Reckoning that she liked that the story wasn’t set in NYC or some other big city. I’ve always known a good portion of my books would be set in small southern towns. After all, it’s what I know. The town of Trespass is fictional, but it’s a mash-up of several places I’m very familiar with since I live in Florida. Plus, the Suwannee River is not far from my house, so I know how beautiful it is because I’ve experienced it firsthand. My dad and I used to fish on the Suwannee. I’ve spent what felt like entire summers water skiing and swimming in it. I’ve been to its headwaters in the Okefenokee Swamp in South Georgia. I’ve also seen the alligators and the snakes Bond teases Nathan about. They really do grow to be monsters. Unfortunately, there are families like the Kyles, too, but that’s the case anywhere you go.

I don’t think there’s anything wrong with setting a story in a big city, but small towns just hold more charm and appeal for me as a setting. There’s more to work with when everyone knows their neighbors, both good and bad. Being intimately familiar with the backdrop of my story helps me keep things authentic. Sure, I could bluff my way through a book set in Chicago or New York, but I can guarantee you I won’t get the tiny details right. It’s impossible if you haven’t spent a great deal of time there. I’d rather set it somewhere that I’m comfortable with, that I honestly love and know well, and maybe make you want to come for a visit. If you read the book (and I hope you will), let me know what you thought!

About RIVER RECKONING:

Bond Mason’s roots run deep in the backwoods hamlet of Trespass, Florida. Nestled against the banks of the Suwannee River, the only home she’s ever known holds bittersweet memories of a family long gone. Except one of her ghosts isn’t dead and possessive ex-lover James Kyle wants her back.

U.S. Deputy Marshal Nathan Gates sights are set on capturing fugitive Robert Kyle. Wanted for the cold-blooded murder of a DEA agent, Robert is suspected of being hidden away with his moonshine-brewing, marijuana-growing family of fellow lawbreakers, one of which is his brother, James.

Nathan expected high temperatures when he arrived in Trespass. What he hadn’t counted on is his searing attraction to southern beauty Bond Mason. She winds him around her finger like a tendril of Spanish moss, but his lawman’s intuition tells him she’s hiding secrets too. When he finally convinces her to talk, he’s not prepared for the dark truths she reveals about her hometown.

The Suwannee is deep, but Trespass’s sins run much deeper. For once, Nathan might be in over his head.

About Jenny Lyn:

I started reading when I was four, thanks to a babysitter who found out the only way to get me to sit still was to put a book in my hand. By the time I entered kindergarten, I’d blown through just about every Little Golden Book ever printed. Ten years later, much to my mother’s dismay, I found her stash of paperback romance novels. She tried to divert me back to something more chaste by buying me Harlequins, but I still snuck copies of her Kathleen Woodiwiss’s and Johanna Lindsey’s when she wasn’t looking. Shanna, The Flame and the Flower, and Fires of Winter will always hold special places in my heart because they introduced me to roguish heroes, headstrong heroines, and the trouble they could get into together.

I live in a swampy little corner of north-central Florida with my family, both the two-legged and four-legged variety. I love to read, run hot and cold in regards to cooking, and I never miss an episode of Justified, Longmire, or Dexter. I guess I like justice in all its various forms.

Buy the book!