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

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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.

collector-of-dying-breaths-banner1

Review: Seduction, by M.J. Rose

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:

Seduction Book Cover

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.

mj-rose

M.J. Rose, is the international bestselling author of 12 novels;Lip ServiceIn FidelityFlesh TonesSheet MusicLying in BedThe Halo EffectThe Delilah ComplexThe Venus Fix,The ReincarnationistThe MemoristThe Hypnotist, and The Book of Lost Fragrances.

Rose is also the co-author with Angela Adair Hoy of How to Publish and Promote Online, and with Doug Clegg of Buzz Your Book.

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:

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