Monday, April 21, 2014

'The Collector of Dying Breaths'

Reincarnation is such a fascinating topic, don't you think?  

I've always wondered if I've lived other lives; where, when, who...or what.  And I always find great amusement in hearing some people claim they were Cleopatra, or Billy the Kid, or a queen or king, or Einstein. Usually someone famous.  Never a peasant.  Never a shopkeeper. Never a stable hand. Never a plumber.  But the following incident made my spine tingle: One evening, many years ago, I was visiting family members, and they were playing a ouija board with my cousin's husband.  Although he was very dismissive of all things paranormal, his face turned deathly pale when he 'learned' that he had been a riverboat gambler who had been caught cheating, was shot and his former body currently resided at the bottom of a river. That's not your every day past life. It's one that I could almost believe.  He wasn't clever enough to make up a story like that.  Trust me.

I've always been drawn to stories centered on the paranormal.  And reincarnation seems to make sense to me.  I've always felt that life here is a classroom, and if we get a failing grade, we get the chance for a 'do over'.  

Author M. J. Rose has written a most extraordinary series of books dealing with just that. I have reviewed the past two books in her series; 'The Book of Lost Fragrances' and 'Seduction'; I was totally enthralled by them. Her newest novel, and third in the series, 'The Collector of Dying Breaths', brilliantly brings everything together and ties it all in a fragrant bow.

In 1533, an Italian orphan with an uncanny knack for creating fragrance is plucked from a dangerous situation and becomes Catherine de Medici's perfumer.  René le Florentine is occasionally called into service to not only create personal fragrances for his Queen and her court, but to also create deadly poisons to dispatch her enemies.  He is devoted to the brilliant, intelligent Catherine, but when he loses two special people, he becomes obsessed with the desire to collect dying breaths in order to reanimate those he loved and lost.  Five hundred years later, Jac L'Etoile, who is suffering from a major loss, is involved in a dangerous treasure hunt to find René's secrets. Finally allowing her past life remembrances to come to the surface, she finds her link to René and the reason he pursued immortality.

Griffin North, Jac's former lover, returns to the series, setting off a chain of events that kept me spellbound.

And the romantic 'interludes' are...well, hot.  Rose definitely knows how to write love scenes.

Author M. J. Rose
But it isn't just love scenes at which she excels.  She has a knack for using her research to further the story and inform the reader.  She has an interest in the unknown; she questions the age-old search for immortality and the quest for past lives.  With each one of her books, you'll learn little-known facts about the paranormal, about the making of perfume, and how scent triggers memories.  It's altogether satisfying and enlightening.

Although the series comes together in a most satisfying way, I'll miss them.  I'll miss their passion.

Jac and Griffin danced a marvelous tango down through the scented ages.

'The Collector of Dying Breaths', published by Atria Books (a division of Simon & Schuster), is now available at your local library and independent bookstores.  

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