Tag Archives: historical suspense

M. J. Rose’s The Collector of Dying Breaths Left Me Mesmerized by the Scent of Obsession

Gorgeous Cover!!!

Gorgeous Cover!!!

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

Completely absorbed in exquisite storytelling, reading M.J. Rose’s The Collector of Dying Breaths kept me captivated to the point I didn’t want to have to go to sleep, and in the morning, I forgot to eat breakfast.  I did have my coffee though, the steaming red cup held in one hand, while the other held the book with the gorgeous, also red, cover open to where my eyes were glued. Transported to another world, I didn’t even smell my usually glorious creamy and pungent aroma, but rather was intoxicated by the words within the  novel, and her description of flowery scents, of her newest story.

The novel juxtaposes between the mid-1500s with the story of Italian orphan Rene le Florentine, who first is the apprentice of a highly-regarded monk and then the perfumer of Catherine de Medici, and a modern day story of Jac L’Etoile, a single woman who is mourning her brother and has inherited the prestigious L’Etoile perfumery.  It brings the obsession of the past, as well as its mysteries, to the future in a very calculated, yet seemless way that entranced me from the start.

The modern story is set in Fontainebleau, France, but the past begins in Italy and descends into the time that Catherine de Medici becomes Queen of France. It begins with a monk who is trying to capture dying breaths in little glass bottles in hopes of bringing a person lost back to life. When the monk dies, Rene is passed on the desire, and soon it becomes his only thought, to attempt and succeed at this experiment.  In the meantime, after Catherine saves his life he is put to the task of also creating perfumes-and poisons-for her.  His most fervent work, though, is with reanimating the dying breaths and this creates a suspenseful mystery that centuries later ensnares our modern era mythologist Jac to become involved in also. Suddenly the thought of past lives and our associations with ancestors become not so hard to understand or believe.

I was absolutely enthralled by this story and didn’t want to stop turning page after page, even to get anything done on my busy to-do list. It was truly an escapist type of book–you know, one that allows you to forget reality and immerse yourself in the story and the mystery as the suspense builds. The beautiful imagery and descriptions of smells added to the endearing quality of the book, as well as wonderful character development. M.J. really set the scene well on every page of the book so I felt completely lost in the story–both time and place.

Earlier in the year her novel, Seduction, was Suspense Magazine’s book of the 2013, but I think that The Collector of Dying Breaths is even better. Well, to me, I know it was better. I am happy to read this book again, even considering the fact that I rarely want to read a book twice.

By intertwining mythology, alchemy, passion, and lush prose she brings an underlying eerie feel to the book that kept my arm hair standing on end in anticipation and a desire to peek deeper into the story. As readers, we are compelled to see that there is a fine line between obsession and passion. Throw in all the thrilling mysteries that Jac set to uncover as she also rekindles romance with Griffin, a man she’s always loved but had let go, and the novel can’t be more well-rounded or complete.

M.J. Rose writes a MUST HAVE book if you want an excellent one to dive into for a weekend you expect to not come up for air. Her work of introducing us to new, modern gothic tales of reincarnation and connections of past lives to present lives, as well as spirits of our ancestors connecting our own puzzles, is amazing. She offers us tangible stories that allow us to really think about the world around us and the legacies we leave.

The House of L’Etoile might hold fast on not using vanilla so that the perfume isn’t like candy, but The Collector of Dying Breaths was certainly like melting a decadent caramel on your craving tongue. 5 stars!

The Collector of Dying BreathsThe Collector of Dying Breaths, Synopsis~

Publication Date: April 8, 2014
Atria Books
Hardcover; 384p
ISBN-10: 1451621531

From 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.

Praise for The Collector of Dying Breaths

“History, mystery, ambition, lust, love, death and the timeless quest for immortality…a riveting tale of suspense.” – B.A.Shapiro, New York Times bestselling author of The Art Forger

“Mysterious, magical, and mythical…what a joy to read!” – Sara Gruen, New York Times bestselling author

Buy the Book

Amazon US
Amazon UK
Barnes & Noble

Author M. J. Rose, Biography~

M.J. RoseM.J. Rose is the international best selling author of fourteen novels and two non-fiction books on marketing. Her fiction and non-fiction has appeared in many magazines and reviews including Oprah Magazine. She has been featured in the New York Times, Newsweek, Time, USA Today and on the Today Show, and NPR radio.

Rose graduated from Syracuse University, spent the ’80s in advertising, has a commercial in the Museum of Modern Art in NYC, and since 2005 has run the first marketing company for authors – Authorbuzz.com.

The television series “PAST LIFE,” was based on Rose’s novels in the Renincarnationist series. She is one of the founding board members of International Thriller Writers and runs the blog- Buzz, Balls & Hype. She is also the co-founder of Peroozal.com and BookTrib.com.

Rose lives in CT with her husband the musician and composer, Doug Scofield, and their very spoiled and often photographed dog, Winka.

For more information on M.J. Rose and her novels, please visit her website. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads.

Tour Schedule: http://hfvirtualbooktours.com/collectorofdyingbreathstour

Tour Hashtag: #DyingBreathsTour

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A Murder at Rosamund’s Gate by Susanna Calkins is a Must Read 17th Century English Mystery

Murder at..This week, Susanna Calkins introduced A Murder at Rosamund’s Gate, her 17th Century Murder Mystery. If you are reading only a few historical mysteries this year, I recommend please putting this one on your list! The cover will outright lure you in, but the tale itself will hold you in its grasp until the very last pages.

By the first 100 pages or so, in which she introduced her characters, set the scene, and gave us a murderer to ferret out, Calkins was able to already have me feeling connected to her characters, in tune to their personality quirks, captivated by their emotions, and feeling a friendship with Lucy, her protagonist who is a chambermaid in the house of a magistrate.

I loved Calkins use of creative participants such as the painter, gypsy fortune tellers, and other off-beat cast of characters who portrayed the more “seedy” dealings of society the common places, the dirty streets of London, and even in the homes of high society.  Most primarily I liked her use of the murderer leaving “a note” that was found with the body and the use of a legend of the lover’s park. Calkins brought to me, as a reader, fresh characters that many people don’t always use in their historical writings. Her story is original and her characters real.

I felt like I was reading Downtown Abbey mixed with the adventures of the London streets that comes with gossips, servants, drunks, and well….murder, reminiscent of Jack the Ripper. The mystery takes us on a thought-provoking adventure as we see how lives intersect, even between classes, and discover the mystery.  During this journey, we also can sense Lucy gathering an amazing amount of self-confidence and self-worth.

Lucy is quite the female–not overly aggressive, but yet independent. Emotional, yet rational. Analytical, yet compassionate. Virtuous and endearing. I love her!! I hope that Calkins does a series with Lucy, you know the type of character who is always trying to go around living life and saying she isn’t a detective, BUT murder just seems to fall in her lap and she can’t help solving it? (hint, hint)

I don’t want to give too much away, but the murderer probably won’t be who you thought either. She does a wonderful job of leading up to a fantastic finale! I like how Calkins used a smaller cast of characters in a condensed and not overly done setting, which reminded me of some of Agatha Christie’s earlier mysteries. Her character development is superb and her mystery plot exciting and entertaining. I enjoyed guessing the clues along with Lucy.

I am very pleased with Susanna Calkins debut mystery novel and I look forward to much more writing from her. The mystery had an endearing cast of characters, a quaint setting that allowed for a more proper character led plot, a mystery that kept me guessing, a fantastic use of historical details and life struggles, and some great writing that flowed smooth as a pen on paper.

A Murder at Rosamund’s Gate: A Mystery, Synopsis~

Murder at..Minotaur/St. Martin’s Press (April 23, 2013)

When someone she loves faces hanging for the murder of a fellow servant, Lucy Campion—a seventeenth-century English chambermaid—must interpret the clues hidden in miniature portraits, popular ballads, and a corpse’s pointing finger–to save his life, before the true murderer turns on her…

Giveaway~

Enter to win one (1) copy of A Murder at Rosamund’s Gate by commenting below or by email to hookofabook(at)hotmail(dot)com by 11:59 p.m. EST 2 weeks from this posting.

For 1 extra entry, follow this blog, for extra 2 entries, join my new Facebook page at www.facebook.com/HookofaBook. U.S. only, please.

Author Susanna Calkins, Biography~

calkinsSusanna Calkins is a historian and academic, currently working at Northwestern University. She’s had a morbid curiosity about murder in seventeenth-century England ever since she was in grad school, when she was first working on her Ph.D. in history. The ephemera from the archives—tantalizing true accounts of the fantastic and the strange—inspired her historical mysteries, including A Murder at Rosamund’s Gate (St. Martins Press/Minotaur Books). Born and raised in Philadelphia, she lives outside Chicago now with her husband and two sons.

See the wonderful interview Susanna and I did earlier this week by clicking HERE!!

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