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From the internationally bestselling author, a lush and imaginative novel that crisscrosses time as passion and obsessions collide
An orphan named René le Florentin is plucked from poverty to become Catherine de Medici’s perfumer. Traveling with the young duchessina from Italy to France, René brings with him a cache of secret documents from the monastery where he was trained: recipes for ...
From the internationally bestselling author, a lush and imaginative novel that crisscrosses time as passion and obsessions collide
An orphan named René le Florentin is plucked from poverty to become Catherine de Medici’s perfumer. Traveling with the young duchessina from Italy to France, René brings with him a cache of secret documents from the monastery where he was trained: recipes for exotic fragrances and potent medicines—and a formula for an alchemic process said to have the potential to reanimate the dead.
In France, René becomes not only the greatest perfumer in the country, but also the most dangerous, creating deadly poisons for his Queen to use against her rivals. But while mixing herbs and essences under the light of flickering candles, René doesn’t begin to imagine the tragic and personal consequences for which his lethal potions will be responsible.
Paris, France—The Present:
A renowned mythologist, Jac L’Etoile—trying to recover from personal heartache by throwing herself into her work—learns of the sixteenth-century perfumer who may have been working on an elixir that would unlock the secret to immortality. She becomesobsessed with René le Florentin’s work—particularly when she discovers the dying breaths he had collected during his lifetime.
Jac’s efforts put her in the path of her estranged lover, Griffin North, a linguist who has already begun translating René le Florentin’s mysterious formula. Together they confront an eccentric heiress in possession of a world-class art collection, a woman who has her own dark purpose for the elixir . . . for which she believes the ends will justify her deadly means.
This mesmerizing gothic tale zigzags from the violent days of Catherine de Medici’s court to twenty-first-century France. Fiery and lush, set against deep, wild forests and dimly lit chateaus, The Collector of Dying Breaths illuminates the true path to immortality: the legacies we leave behind.
Posted April 1, 2014
Note: I received this title from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
I’ve been a fan of MJ Rose for about two years now, and I fell in love with her “Resurrectionist” series after I read Seduction last year. The Collector of Dying Breaths is a follow-up to Seduction, and also features the brilliant mythologist and perfumer Jac L’Etoile.
After suffering a personal tragedy, Jac uncovers a 500 year old mystery that was thought to only be the stuff of myth. In a historic French chateau, Jac finds an extensive collection of dying breaths owned by famous 16th century perfumer Rene le Florentin. Rene was supposedly working on an elixir that could be the key to immortality, and his work could give Jac the answers she has been looking for…or destroy her.
I loved this book; I enjoyed it even more than Seduction! Jac is a wonderful protagonist: dynamic, compelling, and real. Her intelligence and spirit set her apart from other people, but her fragility and tenderness make her relatable. Her obsession with the dying breaths mirrors Rene’s own obsession with death and immortality. Rene’s story is just as gripping as Jac’s, and the two tales are blended seamlessly to create this intense, beautiful story of love and loss.
If you’ve never read MJ Rose before, the “Resurrectionist” series is a great way to get started. Don’t miss out on The Collector of Dying Breaths. It’s an imaginative, passionate, and suspenseful story that’s sure to stick with you long after you’ve finished!
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Posted June 11, 2014
The final look at this dark mysterious tale. Jac has searched history to find a reason for her ellipses in sensation and time. She has discovered many archaeological and historical facts to support the idea of reincarnation. and in this novel finds the final solution to the whole mystery. Her visions of past lives and her ever drawing attraction to Griffith. She is afraid that finding the truth will cost her everything, most afraid that she will loose Griffith because of her past.
this is a spell binding story of love, loss, and learning to appreciate the moment, and love those in your life in the moment while you have the time.
Posted May 28, 2014
Received from Historical Virtual Book Tours for an honest review.
I loved the idea behind this book. There is a bit of time travel, reincarnation and "magical" aspects. I recently did an interview with M.J. Rose and she mentioned that the idea from this book came from a visit to a museum where Thomas Edison captured "his last breath". I have never read previous books by M.J. Rose but I found her writing to be engaging and very lyrical. René le Florentin was a fascinating character. It was interesting to see how he used his gift for perfumes to create poison. Jac L’Etoile was an equally interesting character and it sad to witness how she dealt with her loss. There are many wonderful aspects to this story. The interweave of time travel with the emotional search of Jac was, for me the driving force for this story. I will be adding M.J. Rose to my reading list!
Posted May 19, 2014
There are few series these days in which I never miss an installment, mainly because I read so much that I don’t have the time to keep up with series no matter how much I may like them. It doesn’t help that I’m not a speed reader. Still, there are a handful that I just don’t want to miss and The Reincarnationist series is one of those.
Technically speaking, this isn’t a true series because the first three books would properly be termed standalones but they all have the same theme of reincarnation and they all have a connection to a past-life research group known as the Phoenix Foundation while the later books also revolve around perfumes and their special properties.
The real appeal to me in The Collector of Dying Breaths is in the historical time period and characters. Catherine de Medici is larger than life even 500 years later and she has always fascinated me, along with her interactions with all the titans of her world. Since René le Florentine was also a real person and did, in fact, have a years-long relationship with Catherine as her perfumer and poisoner, this particular tale became the crux of Ms. Rose’s wonderful storytelling for me. René was truly as reprehensible a person as one could find in the 16th century but the author wraps him in a cloak of humanity that makes him entirely captivating. Having Catherine such a notable part of the story was the icing on the cake for me. Now she was a woman no one could ignore ;-)
This absorption in history is Ms. Rose’s true strength in this series. Her deep research is clear as is her love of her chosen settings and characters. Adding a large dose of suspense makes The Collector of Dying Breaths one of my favorite entries in the series and I thank the author for once again giving us a cracking good read.
Posted May 19, 2014
As with the rest of this series I was drawn in from page one. I liked how there was time travel, history and mystery all rolled into one. MJ did such a good job with this story that at times I could not tell if I was in the past or the present. She always does such a good job with the details she puts into stories from descriptions of places to history to great characters and including the scents that you can almost smell as you are reading. How MJ tells the story of perfumers was very interesting to me and I enjoyed learning as I was reading. The fact that this book is set in 16th century France was a bonus for me. If you are a lover of time travel or historical fiction books you will enjoy this book. Also I want to point out that you did not have to read the others in this series to enjoy this book, it works well as a stand alone.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted May 12, 2014
The Collector of Dying Breaths is the third (and final?) book in this reincarnation series. It continues the story of the House d'Etoile, a family business that makes delightful perfumes and has done so for hundreds of years. In this generation it is Jac and her brother Robbie left. Robbie is actively working at the House when he suddenly falls ill. Jac rushes to his side to have him die but only after getting her promise to finish the project he was working on with some people outside of Paris. She is reluctant but needs a distraction from her grief. When she learns the full scope of what is involved - the reanimation of a soul using a person's dying breaths - she is both repelled and drawn to the project. Could she bring back her brother?
She soon learns that all is not as it seems and her brother seems to be guiding her from wherever he has gone after he died. Her former lover Griffin is also there to help her but she fears that she is bound to be the cause of his death. In their past lives - well, let's just say things didn't go well. In the midst of all of her research she is having flashbacks to the time of Catherine de Medici and her perfumer, Rene le Florentine. Will she be able to do what is needed and keep Griffin safe?
I enjoyed the first two books in this series and this third book was a worthy wrap up to the tale. It was written in a way to stand alone but I feel it would be far better enjoyed with the full stories of the previous books known to the reader. They just add so much depth to the whole experience of reading The Collector of Dying Breaths. This tale is at time morbid, disgusting, celebratory, sad, romantic and suspenseful. That is a lot for one story and yet it is all there in this one novel. I found myself very involved in the tale hoping for a happy ending for Jac and Griffin and wondering 'til the very end what would happen. I'm not going to tell you here - you'll have to read the book! I do admit that there were times I wanted to thwack Jac in the back of the head with the way she approached her relationship with Griffin and her stubbornness over her "flashbacks." But with that small quibble put away I truly enjoyed my travels to 16th century Italy and France and the impacts the actions had on the present.
If you're looking for an enjoyable novel to take you away from the boring everyday this one will take you on an adventure like you've not been on before. Just be ready to learn about making perfume - utterly fascinating - and the lengths some people will go to keep what they have.
Posted April 25, 2014
The Collector of Dying Breaths by M.J. Rose is a spectacular novel which is a mishmash of historical fiction, mystery, suspense, gothic and mystical tale. It is the sixth installment in the Reincarnationist series following The Reincarnationist, The Memorist, The Hypnotist, The Book of Lost Fragrances and Seduction.
Sharp and brilliant, international best-selling author M.J. Rose crafted a fascinating story that alternates between the mid-1500s tale of Italian orphan Rene le Florentin with the modern day story of Jac L'Etoile. Rene le Florentin is an orphan who serves as the apprentice of a highly-revered monk, Dom Serapino. But when he died, Rene is imprisoned and was saved from the clutches of death by Catherine de Medici to become her personal perfumer. It is Rene de Florentin who theorizes that the dying breaths of a person can be captured and released again in someone else. Catherine, destined to become Queen, has nefarious designs for Rene's knowledge of potions and poisons.
Jac L'Etoile is a single woman and by profession a mythologist. Her brother Robbie was working on an ancient art that was started by Dom Serapino when he dies of an unknown illness, leaving her the sole owner of the prestigious L'Etoile perfumery. She is immediately drawn into the world of a strange and compulsive woman named Melinoe, who is determined to discover the secret of immortality, the dying breaths of an individual. This supposedly will enable a person to live another life. Through skillful indulgence and ingenuity, the author brings the past with all its rich history and mysteries to the present, painting a picture that is awesome and astounding.
How the lives of two people who live centuries apart intertwined is what The Collector of Dying Breaths by M.J. Rose is all about. It is a delightful read that packs absolutely almost everything inside its pages. It is a wonderful story with romance, history, mystery, magic, political intrigue, crime, reincarnation and suspense. The interesting mix of characters populating the story is truly amazing. The writing is an out-and-out winner and the stupendous climax leaves one clamoring for more.
Posted April 23, 2014
'The Collector of Dying Breaths' is an imaginative and richly detailed novel that spans centuries, continents, and generations with intrigue and passion. The story revolves around the L'Etoile family - one of the most prominent and respected perfumers of France. The reader learns of Rene La Florentine - a monk in the 16th century who was Catherine de Medici's personal perfumer and secret poison maker. Rene is incredibly talented when it comes to creating the perfect scent, but his real objective is to finish the work his mentor started - to collect a person's final breath and put it into another's body to bring the deceased back to life.
The story turns to the 21st century where Jac L'Etoile has inherited the ancient family business and craft of perfume making after the untimely death of her younger brother. Jac finds Rene's notes and obsession of returning people from the dead and she tries to finish the work that he started so long ago. In her quest, Jac encounters an old love, an eccentric heiress, and several other fascinating characters. The journey she takes spans not only countries but centuries as well, which puts Jac's unique gift of recalling past lives to great use.
The novel was full of vivid details, which immediately drew me into the story. The settings, characters, and different scenes throughout the book are described with extreme care and rich imagery, to the point where I could practically smell the oils and perfumes and I felt as if I was in 16th century France. The author takes the world inside the pages of the novel and immerses the reader so deeply - to the point of total enchantment. The characters were all very well rounded with distinctive personalities - showing both their strengths and their flaws, their hopes and fears, and their thoughts and emotions. I felt like I knew Jac personally before the novel was finished and I loved meeting each character we encounter throughout the book. The plot is full of mystery, passion, and history. Being told from two varying viewpoints, from two different time periods, was a fantastic choice for telling the story. It connects the present day characters and happenings back to where they all began and what happened during that time. I found the idea of reanimating people with their dying breath to be compelling and exciting, so the mystery and the passion that occurs around the search for this ability had me eagerly reading each page to see what was going to happen next. In conclusion, this is by far one of the best books I've read so far this year. It's beautifully written with an unique story and unforgettable characters. Very highly recommended for fans of historical fiction, mystery, and general/literary fiction.
Disclosure: I received a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.
Posted April 22, 2014
Check out the full review at Kritters Ramblings
A current story line and a historical line that takes very far back in 1573 as the art of perfume still has some magic to it. Rene is a perfumer from the court of Catherine de Medici and she asks him to create perfumes for herself and some other concoctions for her to keep her place in the court. At the same time Jac is a woman who has felt stories from people in the past and is newly mourning the mysterious death of her brother who was a perfumer trying to finish Rene's work.
Posted April 20, 2014
Jac L'Etoile is back. This time, the past life memories she unlocks take place in the court of Catherine de Medici and revolve around Italian perfumer Rene le Florentin and his love, Isabeau. The entwined stories of Jac and Rene are laced with sadness and loss as they try to discover the secret to reanimating the dead using their collected last breaths. However, in the end, Rene and Jac discover the true secret to immortality, and it doesn't have a thing to do with ancient perfume recipes.
So far, I have only read Seduction and this novel. I have not read the previous 4 novels in the series. Overall, I love Rose's writing, although I didn't like this one quite as much as Seduction. I think that may have just been due to the novel's setting. I guessed the cause of Robbie's death very early on, and I was very surprised Jac didn't figure that one out on her own.
Posted April 20, 2014
Posted April 16, 2014
Even though THE COLLECTOR OF DYING BREATHS is part of a series, you can read this novel without having read the previous works. I've only read two of the books from this series and I have found M.J. Rose to be an amazing writer. The novel is just one part historic, part suspense, part mystery, part gothic, with a bit of a love story and all together fantastic. While reading, THE COLLECTOR OF DYING BREATHS, I found myself engrossed in the story--losing time.
During most of the novel, I had a distaste for René le Florentin. No real reason why, yet the further I read the more compelling he became. Really, as the story grew my interest in all the characters, their secrets, everything grew! A Novel that begs you to consume it! I absolutely loved THE COLLECTOR OF DYING BREATHS and I am highly recommending it. I honestly feel like the novel is an actual piece of art--it is breathtaking!
Posted April 15, 2014
Interesting mix of history and romance.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher as a part of a book tour in exchange for a fair and honest review.
Fascinated with Catherine de Medici since grade school, I jumped at the chance to read and review The Collector of Dying Breaths by M.J. Rose. While the sixth book in the Reincarnationist series, this book can be read and enjoyed on its own as Ms. Rose provides more than enough of the characters background for the reader to get a full grasp of their story so far. Weaving a tale full of action, passion, and obsession, Ms. Rose takes the reader on a dark ride as her characters work to discover the secret recipe to immortality.
Determined to get over a personal tragedy, mythologist Jac L’Etoile learns of René le Florentin, an alchemist trained in a monastery, who as Catherine de Medici’s perfumer and private poison creator, went from a life of poverty to a life as the greatest perfume creator in the French court. Throwing herself into her work, Jac uncovers René’s secret obsession with creating a formula for reincarnation. Becoming obsessed with her research, Jac’s path leads her back to Griffin North, her former lover and a linguist, who has already begun translating René’s work. Using Jac’s rare talent to see the past lives of others, Jac and Griffin find themselves on a journey back through time that could prove dangerous to their loved ones and themselves.
Taking us back to the early 1500’s, Ms. Rose provides us with a picture of life in Catherine de Medici’s court in Paris. Filled with beauty, wealth and treachery, Ms. Rose paints a vivid picture of what life was like for René as he collected the “dying breaths” of people he believed he would be able to use on someone else. As Jac shadows René’s movements in the court, and uncovers everything he did for Catherine de Medici (creating special poisons), she realizes how difficult and dangerous her task has become. Ms. Rose does a really good job developing all of the background characters and bringing everything to life in a way the reader will understand.
Will Jac uncover the recipe she’s looking for? Will her travels give her the chance to fix her relationship with Griffin and have the life she’s always dreamed of? You’ll have to read The Collector of Dying Breaths to find out. I enjoyed it and look forward to reading more of Ms. Rose’s work.
Posted April 15, 2014
Switching between Italy in the 1500s and present-day France, THE COLLECTOR OF DYING BREATHS speaks to the search for immortality and resurrection through scent. Jac L’Etoile, world-renowned mythologist has just lost the last of her family. When she discovers the work of René le Florentin left unfinished by her brother, she’s determined to complete it. In the past it is René le Florentin’s own story we are introduced to, his youth and his work for Catherine d’Medici. In any time, there are those who want to have the secret to immortality no matter the cost. Along with Griffin North, her former lover, Jac must navigate the truth through the whitewash of history. THE COLLECTOR OF DYING BREATHS is an exquisite tale of love, betrayal, revenge, and redemption. I love learning more of the history of perfumery which is intertwined with the fictional tales of Jac and René. The author has the uncanny ability to create a rich story layered with emotion built through scent. The characters and history blaze off the pages and draw in readers deeply. THE COLLECTOR OF DYING BREATHS is a magnificent tale and will touch your soul.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted April 12, 2014
* This review may contain some spoilers.
A love for all things alchemy first drew me to this book. Potions. Poisons. Perfumes. Who could resist? Add in past lives, a Medici, and
a myth, well, no one could resist.
The story begins when Rene le Florentin, the perfumer to Catherine de Medici, is writing a letter to his son to be read at the time of his
death, in the letter Rene is reminiscing about the last 40 years of his life. The author sets a powerful scene of Rene exualting that if he
had not been called a murderer on that night those 40 years ago that then “there might not be any perfume in Paris today.” (pg. 13)
Rene rambles on about love. Not young love but a love that comes to those later in life and how a love like that can be the cruelest sort.
He talks of his one true love, Isabeau, and how he dreams of her. The way that he speaks about her, with her silken skin and “her own
natural perfume richer and more luxurious that anything…” he “…ever could have created and bottled.” (pg.14) You can feel how
tormented and lonely Rene has become.
The Isabeau of Rene’s dreams teases him that once he finishes the elixir than and only than can he have all of her. He is driven a bit
mad about it, rambling on about the cruelty of the fates for giving him ” love at that moment after a lifetime of holding it back.” (pg.14) He
wants revenge on the fates, those crones, who made love walk into his life at all just to yank it out from under him when true happiness
was within his grasp.
Throughout the story we the reader are zigzagged across time, from the present to the 1500′s, but you will not find yourself lost because
each time frame is marked either in the chapter heading or is transitioned well in the story so there shouldn’t be any confusion as to
what time period you are reading about. I pinpoint most of the back story of Rene, a character from the past, in the beginning because
his story is interconnected with a character of the present, Jac.
Rene’s story starts for us in 1573, all alone after the death of his mentor Dom Serapino, a monk and the chief apothecary of a monastery
in Florence, Rene is accused of poisoning his mentor and is handed over to the local authorities since he was only an apprentice to a
monk not a monk himself so the monastery could not punish him. Rene is languishing in jail but just in the nick of time comes a
beautiful lady that pulls Rene from out of the pits of the jail and takes her on a journey to France, this lady was Catherine de Medici.
Catherine is being wed to the second in the line for the throne of France and knows that she will need as many allies from her previous
life that she can take along with her. Rene cannot stay in Florence for obvious reasons and this salvation that Catherine provides Rene
makes him loyal to her to the very end. But Catherine didn’t just bring Rene to France for his perfumes her plans looked towards the
future and Catherine knew that she would need Rene’s knowledge of poisons to hold her place in the French court. Rene does his work
for Catherine and even has his own little shop where he sells his wares to others, he becomes independently wealthy, but Rene still
cannot get the last experiment that him and Dom Serapino were working on right before he died, it was for an elixir that would reanimate
someone’s last dying breath.
Isabeau walks into Rene’s life, she is one of Catherine’s ladies-in-waiting and also one of her best spies, and Rene falls instantly in
love. Isabeau of course cannot wed without Catherine’s permission but Catherine always seems to have a need for Isabeau always
blocking the way for a marriage between Rene and Isabeau. Soon scandal erupts in the court and Catherine’s daughter is right in the
middle of it and Isabeau is the one that ratted her out to Catherine. The daughter of course finds out who betrayed her and she extracts
revenge with the help of Rene who is completely ignorant that he is creating poisoned gloves that will kill the woman he loves.
While Rene’s story is unfolding another story this one in the present is unfolding alongside Rene’s story and that story is Jac L’Etolie’s
Jac L’Etolie is no ordinary woman her abilities to see the connection between people in the present with the lives they’ve lived in the past
will lead her on a dangerous journey to uncover past secrets that will hopefully enable her to complete Rene’s elixir to reanimate a
person’s dying breath so that they may once again live.
Jac has recently suffered the lose of her brother, Robbie. Unable to bear the grief Jac finds herself aimlessly wandering through daily life
in a fog always searching out her brother’s presence. Before his death Robbie was working on some experiments for Melinoe, an
eccentric billionaire, who want to live forever. Robbie’s death puts a stop to these experiments unless Melinoe can convince Jac to
carry on Robbie’s work. So what made first Robbie and than Jac so perfect to work on the elixir, well they are perfumers, actually they
come from a long line of perfumers and their company is world famous for its perfumes. So like Rene both Robbie and Jac may hold
the key to unlocking the mystery of the elixir so that death wouldn’t really be the end. Melinoe, accompanied by Serge, her step-brother,
try to convince Jac of the importance of the elixir and that there is even the possibility of bringing Robbie back from death.
Jac is not only interested in the possibility of bringing her brother back from death. She is also fascinated by how this elixir is a part of
her past and her present through her past lives. Continuing episodes of her past lives play out for Jac like a movie would to us bringing
her closer each day to finding out how to complete the elixir. Jac soon finds that Melione and Robbie’s quest had included many people
from her own life including her ex-fiance Griffin, who was helping Robbie translate some of the strange symbols on the artifacts
surrounding the myth of the elixir. Jac soon links the connection between her life now and the past life regressions she has been
experiencing and it doesn’t take long for her to compare her and Griffin to Isabeau and Rene.
Griffin starts to suspect that Melinoe is more dangerous than she seems and that her obsession with the elixir is putting Jac in danger.
Jac figures out that the elixir is more death than life. Robbie broke one of the vials right before he took sick, the elixir is what killed him.
Melinoe however refuses to believe it and decides the best way to get to Jac is to threaten her, so Melinoe kidnaps Griffin and threatens
harm to him unless Jac does what Melinoe wants. Unable to escape because Melinoe has trapped her in the house as well Jac sees
no end to the situation they find themselves in. A fight ensues when Melinoe throws a lit candelabra at Jac and soon the chateau is
engulfed in flames. Jac, Serge and Griffin all get out but Melinoe is inside and Serge cannot bear it he runs back inside the burning
house. Serge and Melinoe never come out.
Griffin and Jac well I am not going to give that away since I gave away pretty much the rest of the story but I will leave you with this quote:
"Love, like energy, never dies. You lose people only in the moment. But time is a long road that circles back. At some point the missing
turns into love and returns. It’s returned now." (pg. 288).
Posted April 10, 2014
Smart and unforgettable mix of historical fiction, suspense, and fantasy, with a touch of romance.
Even though The Collector of Dying Breaths is the 6th in the Reincarnationist series, it is a perfect standalone. Like in the previous books, you accompany the heroin Jac l’Etoile both in her current life and in the past, here the 16th century, in Italy and France.
The bridge is perfume: René le Florentine, trained by the monk Serapino, learns all the secrets of herbs, perfumes, and poisons. That will make him become Catherine de Medici’s famous personal perfumer. As such, he will escape death and his life of misery, to join her in France, where he will launch into a very particular endeavor:
His quest was to capture a person’s last elusive exhilaration, to collect his dying breath, then to release it into another living body and reanimate that soul.
kindle location 108
Jac is from a family of perfumers. She feels called to take over her brother’s very special mission, and that will lead her somehow to René and to relive some most exciting pages of French history, in a creepy old castle.
As in previous books, Jac has a special gift of connecting with the past, her’s and other people’s, thanks to fragrances.
I don’t believe in reincarnation. But this book has no aim at theology. It’s a novel. As such, I thoroughly enjoyed the following:
the amazing description of perfumes, all the research behind the secret and sometimes quite mysterious ingredients. It makes for a very sensual writing at times.
the historical background around the formidable Catherine de Medici, and the religious conflicts of the time between Catholics and Protestants.
the suspense elements, in the lives of René back in taly, and of Jac and her brother Robbie.
the totally gothic ambiance of the chateau in the Fontainebleau forest , close to Paris, with her creepy inhabitants.
the down to earth character of Griffin, the necessary anchor to put things in perspective and lead you to the real meaning of life and love.
and ultimately its last message about love
There’s so much going on in this book, but giving you more would reveal too much. You will have to try it for yourself, it’s really worth the trip.
And if things like collecting dying breaths to reanimate them seem to you over the top, I highly suggest you read this awesome Q & A with the author. Did you know that a famous American had his final breath collected, and that you can even go see it in a museum?
VERDICT: The Collector of Dying Breaths is a smart and unforgettable mix of historical fiction, suspense, and fantasy, with a touch of romance. If you love history, France, and the haunting world of perfumes and fragrances, you won’t want to miss its message on what real love is all about.
Posted April 9, 2014
Settle in for a trip through time and back that weaves a tale of love, hate, intrigue and reincarnation as you ride the dark and often choppy waves of life in a royal court in the sixteenth century then plunge forward to the twenty-first century where echoes from the past call for answers in the present. M. J. Rose’s The Collector of Dying Breathsbuilds a bridge between Catherine Medici’s perfumer, Rene, who holds the supposed secret to reincarnation in a potion created from mixing the last breath of a dying person with rare and unusual ingredients found in perfume bases. It was hoped that this potion, would revive the dead as the soul was thought to escape with the final exhalation. What Rene never realized that there was a flaw in his potion, one that sits like a time bomb waiting to go off in a fury of destruction and pain. When a twenty-first century perfumer becomes intrigued enough to try to unlock the secrets and ingredients of the ancient formula, tragedy strikes and a mourning sister seeks to finish the work her brother had begun, alongside her former lover, whom she never quite got over. But are they alone in their quest for answers or are others aware of the powers such a find could represent?
Jac believes she has been reincarnated, along with her former lover and each time their love has ended badly, is she hoping to find the answer to stopping this heartbreaking event for repeating itself over and over? Are her visions a figment of a troubled or chemically imbalanced mind? Is there a lesson to be learned about playing God? Can the answer be found in love as opposed to potions?
M. J. Rose deftly blends fact with fiction and a wonderful imagination as she creates a world filled with darkness, mistrust and deceit that knows no restraints of time. You will not want to miss a single word as the tale unfolds like a brittle scarp of parchment, crackling with tension, shrouded in mystery and suspense. Intermixed with tales of true love kindled and re-kindled, The Collector of Dying Breaths is a work of art with M. J. Rose as its master painter.
Posted April 9, 2014
I’ve been trying now for three days to get this review just right;; there are so many elements to like presented in such an unusual way that I was completely engrossed in this story from beginning to end. As you can see, this is the sixth book in the Reincarnationist story, but it is not a story that cannot stand on its own.
Jac L’Etoile is the heiress to a perfume dynasty with her brother. Unfortunately, though she has the ‘nose’ for the job, and an uncanny near photographic scent memory, she avoids the family business and the perfumes they create as she has a secret: she will transport to different times and places with the smell of certain scents. So, she has focused her own attentions to mythology, and has gained great respect in her field. Unfortunately, her brother Robbie has taken ill, right in the middle of a special ‘perfumery’ project, and passes away before he can reveal the details to Jac.
Following her brother’s footsteps, she travels to an old estate and the even more curious woman who had commissioned her brother’s work. And here is where Jac’s unique visions spurred by scent enter into the story and start to reveal an age-old mystery. The estate was formerly owned by René le Florentin, a man who rose from the gutters as an orphan to become an understudy for a monk who was famed for his perfumes in 16th century Florence. René is skilled, perhaps more than his mentor, and he has gained the notice of Catherine de Medici, soon to marry and depart for life in the French court. Departing the monastery in a haze of suspicion after his mentor’s death, his reputation for unique creations and the reliance that Catherine places upon him in her steady rise throughout the court to Queen (and the most ruthless of the time) is entrancing.
What comes to light is the formula that Robbie was working on traces directly back to the French Court, and Robbie’s client is looking to find the formula for herself. Told in alternating chapters of past and present, the story brings a sense of the times, the scents and even the process of perfume crafting to the reader, utilizing storytelling, lush descriptive phrases and even adding layers of complex emotion into the characters, so real your heart will ache.
Two romances are detailed within this story, as well as the pain suffered from loss of love, loved ones and even potential lost: while there are passages that seem to put the romance ahead of the mystery, and the tension that is inherent in the alchemical experimentation’s purpose, there is also the question of the murderer of René’s mentor, and the machinations behind the power in the court of France.
Jac is a wonderful character: full of curiosity, emotion and empathy and grief stricken as she has to say goodbye to her brother, her lost love, and immerse herself in the emotions of René as he lives his life, and pines for his own love. It’s not quite like anything I have read before: while there are romantic moments made all the more stunning by MJ Rose’s talent for evocative word combinations, the scents that nearly waft off the pages, and the inclusion of court intrigue from one of the more interesting and controversial periods (for me) in French History; this is a story that will pull you in several directions before slowly uncapping the bottle that will bring all of the elements to a satisfactory conclusion. Far more than a romance, a time travel or even a suspense: this book shows the power of learning from loss with this hopeful sentence: “The secret, which is not so secret after all, is that people who we love live in our hearts, in the beat of our blood.”
I received an eBook copy from the publisher via Edelweiss for purpose of honest review with France Book Tours. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.
Posted April 9, 2014
Anyone that has read any of M.J. Rose's Reincarnationist series will be delighted by The Collector of Dying Breaths.
I thought that Seduction was the best in the series, but this book proves that Rose is just getting better with each new offering in the series. I'm hoping the series continues, but with the way this book ended, I'm not sure.
The best thing about these books is their rich detail of history. Rose creates mystery that weaves the past and the present together. This time we get Catherine de Medici's perfumer. Just seeing that name should tell you that there will be more suspense than usual, or rather, palace intrigue.
I found myself on the edge of my seat more while reading this book than any of her past novels in this series, especially in the present day parts of the book. Jac's work to finish what her brother started really had her in with some crazy people. VERY CRAZY people.
The other thing that was a bit different in this book was the level of eroticism. Don't get me wrong, it isn't smutty in the least, but there are parts with Rene and his lover that will leave you needing a cold shower.
If you love Rose's writing you won't want to miss this book and if you like a good weaving of past and present it will be up your alley as well.
Posted April 8, 2014
The action follows parallel timelines in the present and in the 1500s. Both stories are exciting and romantic, filled with suspense and intrigue. As the novel progresses, the two stories become linked and share an ending that is powerful and emotional. The book is both a love story and a thriller. If it were not for breaks in the action as the story shifts from past to present and back, I would never have been able to put the book down. Characters are well-defined and realistic. The scenes are painted just well enough to create images and support the action without becoming intrusive. I finished this book with a strong desire to reread it to enjoy the action again and absorb more of the details.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.