Seduction: A Novel of Suspenseby M. J. Rose
From the author of The Book of Lost Fragrances comes a haunting novel about a grieving woman who discovers the lost journal of novelist Victor Hugo, awakening a mystery that spans centuries.
A gothic tale about Victor Hugo’s long-buried secrets and the power of a love that never dies . . . In 1843, novelist Victor Hugo’s beloved/b>/i>
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From the author of The Book of Lost Fragrances comes a haunting novel about a grieving woman who discovers the lost journal of novelist Victor Hugo, awakening a mystery that spans centuries.
A gothic tale about Victor Hugo’s long-buried secrets and the power of a love that never dies . . . 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 Jersey and is greeted by ghostly Neolithic monuments, medieval castles and hidden caves. But the man who has 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. Neither Jac nor Theo anticipate 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 multilayered gothic tale brings a time, a place and a cast of desperate characters brilliantly to life.
"Well-crafted paranormal novel of suspense. Rose is especially good at recreating Hugo's despair...making his abandonment of rationality all too plausible."
“Rose’s growing fan base will probably devour this one.”
"The sensuality, and the pure and utter dreamlike state with which [Rose] writes is effortless and engaging, producing [a] story that’s impossible to leave behind... drawing the reader into the depths of a sensual mystery that they will truly never forget! This deserves a standing ovation!"
“Full of well-researched history, the paranormal, and modern intrigue, this atmospheric tale of suspense is fully engrossing to those willing to suspend their disbelief.”
"Rose interweaves mythology, the supernatural, psychoanalysis and Evil Incarnate, creating an amazing amalgam of narrative wonder... will haunt you."
"Mysterious, haunting, and tragic, Seduction emerges as a suspenseful alchemy of potent ingredients, beautifully blended, that ignites your senses and leaves you aching for more."
"Seduction is an absolute pleasure to read clever, suspenseful, exciting, mysterious, learned, and engrossing. Some of the best historical fiction I've read in quite some time and just plain reading fun. M.J. Rose is at the top of her game, and that is saying something."
"A sophisticated book that plunges you into a sensual, fascinating world filled with secrets and dreams and ghosts. There's a sweeping, old-world feel to every page, and you'll want to stay here, spellbound, a very long time."
"A compelling page turner...Once you catch a whiff, you will be enchanted."
"The Book of Lost Fragrances by MJ Rose is an amazing novel, an utterly engrossing thriller that weaves together reincarnation, ancient Egypt, international intrigue, and a lost book of fragrances. Elegantly written, with unforgettable characters and flawlessly realized international settings, here is a novel that will keep you up all night—and leave you with powerful feelings of revelation, wonder, and the infinitude of human possibility."
"A simmering brew that mingles the erotic sensuality of Patrick Suskind's Perfume with the dark and timeless obsessions of Rider Haggard's classic, She. M.J. Rose has once again dipped deep into the flask of history and brought those rich aromas of the past back to life through the eyes of Jac L'Etoile, a woman who has mastered the scent of conflict, passion and danger."
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Every story begins with a tremble of anticipation. At the start we may have an idea of our point of arrival, but what lies before us and makes us shudder is the journey, for that is all discovery. This strange and curious story begins for me at the sea. Its sound and scent are my punctuation. Its movements are my verbs. As I write this, angry waves break upon the rocks, and when the water recedes, the rocks seem to be weeping. As if nature is expressing what is in my soul. Expressing what I cannot speak of out loud but can only write, here, in secret, for you, Fantine.
This is the story of a lost man. An exile not just from his beloved country but also from his sanity. I believe it to be a true and honest account. Whether or not you will, I know not. But I owe you this effort—to try to explain my actions and myself and how what transpired came to be.
This story begins in the south of France in early September of 1843. The first scene, as fate would have it, set against the sea.
I had been on a monthlong holiday with my mistress, whom you know of course as Juliette D. We had been traveling for three weeks when we reached the Island of Oléron. The weather was oppressively hot without breeze or relief.
“So this is what living in hell must be like,” I said as we rode to our hotel. Ah, but I had no idea how portentous those words were.
Everywhere we went the talk was about the monstrous weather and the mystifying plague that had stolen the lives of dozens of children. Even my beloved bay offered nothing pleasant for once. There were no invigorating sea breezes, no birdsong. As I walked the salt marshes, forced to step in seaweed to avoid the mud, only the distant voices of the convicts, one after another, as they were counted in for the evening kept me company.
For the first time in my life I was unhappy by the sea. It seemed death was in my soul. As if the island was a coffin laid in the sea with the moon as torch.
Concerned about the mysterious fevers and wanting to escape the melancholy atmosphere, we decided not to stay as long as planned and made immediate arrangements to depart the following morning.
On the boat the next day, the talk among the sailors continued to be morbid as they focused on several recent drowning incidents that had occurred in the vicinity.
“As if death is following us,” I told Juliette.
By the time we arrived at Rochefort on the mainland we were depressed, tired and thirsty. Since we had a few hours to wait for the evening coach to La Rochelle, we proceeded to the main square to find refreshments. Café de l’Europe was open and not crowded. We found seats and ordered beers.
There were newspapers available. Juliette picked up a copy of Le Charivari and I, a copy of Le Siècle.
Just then a square-bodied woman passed in front of the window, distracting me from the front page. She had a child with her, a little girl of eight or nine. As they walked by, the woman tripped and went sprawling. The child stood frozen for a moment, as if astonished her mother was capable of falling. Then, her face etched with grave concern, the little girl knelt down and gently offered her mama her hand.
I drew the moment in my mind. A scene to pull up when I was writing, an image to file away for future use. I wanted to remember the worry on the child’s face and the love on the mother’s as she let her girl help her up.
Then, with my usual foreboding, I readdressed the news. Politicians are fools and the games they play are fools’ games. There are lives at stake and yet these men solve nothing with their endless posturing except to fatten their own wallets. Power corrupts morals and turns men to monsters all. Not surprisingly, the newspaper was filled with worrisome articles about all this and more. Spain was in crisis . . . there were rumblings of yet more conflict in Paris . . . and then my own name swam before my eyes.
I was not unused to seeing items about my politics or my poetry in the papers, but this was different. Terrible words leapt out and assaulted me. Suddenly I could not breathe. Sweat poured down my face. This was not possible. I could not be reading the words correctly.
“What is it, Victor?”
I looked up but could not focus on Juliette’s face.
“Something horrible,” I said, and pushed the paper toward her. The words I’d just read ran through my mind, repeating as they would for hours, days, months and years to come . . .
“A yacht has capsized . . . on board was M. Ch. Vaquerie’s wife, Leopoldine, the daughter of Victor Hugo . . . The corpse of M. Pierre Vaquerie was recovered. It was first assumed that M. Ch. Vaquerie, who is an experienced swimmer, had been washed downstream in the attempt to save his wife and relatives . . . the net dredged up the lifeless body of the unfortunate young woman . . .”
In the newspaper, I discovered what my wife, Adele, who was at home in Le Havre, had known for days what my sons and other daughter already knew: my eldest daughter, my dearest Didine, had drowned along with her husband of only eight months in the Seine in Villequier.
For the next few hours Juliette and I wandered through the town, waiting for the coach to be readied that would take us back to Paris. Juliette told me later how the sun beat down on us, and how we walked around the square and into the countryside to try to escape the heat and the prying eyes of townspeople who had heard the news and, recognizing me, followed the progress of our sad stroll.
But I don’t remember any of that. I could only see images of the terrible accident. I pictured the boat sailing down the river. Wind whipping the waves into a frothy frenzy. The boat keeling. Dipping. Rocking. Then capsizing. The ferocious current swirling around the bodies. My darling’s face surprised by the watery chaos. Struggling to swim in the churning current. Her dress billowing out around her. Her arms reaching for help. Desperate for air, she must have swallowed mouthfuls of that muddy river. I imagined her face underwater. Her skin losing color, her graceful hands flailing. Fish swimming into and becoming tangled in her beautiful hair. Her eyes wide, searching the murky darkness for a ray of light to climb toward.
It was not possible that this report was true, I kept telling Juliette, even as I knew it was, even as the grief began to form around me in a pool, then a stream, then a river, then an ocean. Until I too was going to drown.
Ah, if only I could join Didine, that at least would be relief.
With every step we took, I absorbed more of the horror of what had occurred. Soon guilt was pounding at me, like waves in a storm.
I had been with my mistress on holiday while my child died. My wife, Adele, was alone dealing with this tragedy.
And worse—would Didine even have been on the boat if I had been in residence in Le Havre? Adele and I might have been invited on the boat. And if I’d been there, maybe I could have saved her.
But I had not been there and the daughter of my heart, the child of my soul, was gone.
• • •
There is no greater unrelenting sadness that a man can bear than to lose his child. But that is what happened to me and what ultimately brought me to the state of mind I was still in, two years ago, when I first arrived in Jersey, in a self-imposed political exile from my beloved France. A decade of grieving had deposited me on a slim shore of hope. Though I do not believe in formal religions or the clergy, I have strong convictions. I have faith that we live again and I anticipate another life for me and for those I love. How could I not? If there were no continuation, what would be the point of all this suffering we are forced to endure? What kept me breathing one day to the next was the idea that Didine was not gone for all time.
My love for my daughter is at the heart of this story. My delightful daughter. My sunshine. I know every father says this, but she truly was special. Even in this world she was visibly living a higher life. I had seen her soul. It had touched me. In this world of misery, suffering and horrible injustice, Didine was my own wonder, my own happiness. And in Jersey, she became my own madness.
After someone you love so dearly dies, you are absent from the world for a time, living only loss. The pain of existing without the other is too hard to bear. Only slowly do you return to life. To being hungry, not just eating for sustenance. To pouring a glass of good wine, not just drinking to quench a thirst. To hearing the words of those around you and answering. To being stirred into having indignation at the statesmen, at the clergy, at the government. One returns slowly. And then one dawn as you watch the sun rise, you realize your daughter is dead but you are still alive.
What I didn’t know then was that an ache, as steadfast as my love, would remain. My grief for Didine is a living thing. My longing to see her again has never abated, never lessened. I never stopped yearning to hear her speak, to watch her eyes fill with laughter, to feel her lean over my shoulder to read what I am writing. Oh, if only I could just once more engage in conversation with my daughter about my ideas—my ideas that were hers also.
For all these years I have ached to dream about her just once. To have her visit me even behind my closed eyes. I prayed to the terrible God who had taken her to allow me to see my daughter again. Even if only to say good-bye. To apologize to her for not being there when she was buried. To tell her I grieved even more because of that. I prayed to him who is not kind or just to let me glimpse where she was so I might know she had passed through his gate and was safe in heaven’s arms. Not even in sleep was I allowed a visitation with my dead.
So it was that shortly after our own arrival in Jersey, on the anniversary of Didine’s death, my childhood friend, the playwright Delphine de Girardin, arrived from Paris for a weeklong visit. Along with all sorts of delicacies and delights she brought with her a devilish sort of alchemy. And nothing has been the same since.
My daily rituals in Jersey are not that different from what they were in Paris. We dine en famille most nights. Usually a simple meal of fish, vegetables, fresh bread, wine and then a pastry. Our cook here is every bit as good as the woman we employed in France but younger and more comely. Caroline’s tarte framboise is as delicious as her lips, which she has occasionally allowed me to taste.
For Delphine’s first dinner, Caroline had made a feast that began with a fine lobster soup and ended with a perfect chocolate mousse. All as superior as you would find at Grand Véfour in Paris.
No one referred to Didine’s death anniversary as we ate. My wife and I lived with our loss daily; we did not need to honor this one day above any other. And there was no reason to spoil anyone else’s evening with morbid talk. Instead, Delphine filled us in on the gossip from Paris. How our friends were. Who had moved to the country. Which plays had succeeded, which had failed. The affairs of the heart and the scandals. Which new restaurants had opened. Which had closed.
And then she told us about a craze that was sweeping the city: a parlor game called talking tables that allowed you to speak to the dead.
The single word echoed in the dining room. Did Delphine notice how my wife stole a glance at me? How I looked away after seeing the pain in Adele’s eyes? How my son Charles drank too quickly from his goblet. How his brother, François-Victor, cleared his throat. And how my youngest, also Adele, named after her mother, looked down in her lap, tears immediately flowing from her lowered eyes.
If Delphine was aware of our reactions, it wasn’t obvious to me. Breathlessly, she continued on, describing the séances she’d attended and the spirits who had actually visited the assembled guests.
I had always been curious about the mind’s ability to reach beyond its bony confines into the beyond. One of my experiments had led me to form the French Hashish Club with fellow authors Balzac and Dumas. The sweet cannabis did in fact produce dreams beyond anything I’d imagined. But I’d felt I was traveling further inside my own mind instead of venturing outside it. And that was what I yearned for, to leave the narrow boundaries of my own reality.
I also experimented with Friedrich Anton Mesmer’s provocative theories. The scientist believed our bodily fluids link us to each other and the universe and that their balance affects our mental and physical health. Firsthand, I’d witnessed magnets recalibrating my son François-Victor’s fluids and restoring him when he was ill. I’d even allowed an expert in mesmerism to attempt to put me into a trance, hoping I would emerge more perceptive to the point of being able to divine the future. Alas, I never reached the state for which I yearned.
Now Delphine’s le spiritisme sounded promising. The father of this new movement, Hippolyte-Léon Dénizart-Rival, who now called himself Allan Kardec, believed we can communicate with the dead. He claimed we live plural lives. That we have been here before and will return again. In his talks, he explained that he’d learned about reincarnation during his lifetime as a Celtic Druid and then in another lifetime in ancient Greece when he knew Pythagoras.
The man’s heritage struck me as a curious coincidence and I told Delphine about the hundreds of Celtic ruins here in Jersey. “It’s common while taking a stroll in the woods or on the beach to stumble upon remains of their temples and graves.”
She asked if I would escort her the next afternoon on a tour, and after I agreed she continued telling us about the séances she’d attended in Paris.
“But how do you contact the spirits through les tables tournantes?” my wife asked.
“We choose a medium, who places his or her hands on a small three-legged stool you put atop the table. When the stool is ready, the spirits speak by tapping the stool’s legs in code. Speaking to the dead,” she said, “is in vogue.”
We all bombarded her with questions, which she answered patiently. “There’s really no way to explain it,” she finally said. “It would be better to let me show you. We can attempt a séance ourselves.” She looked around the table. “Yes?”
Everyone but my wife was enthusiastic.
“Bien,” Delphine said, “there are six of us; at least one of us will have the ability to make a connection.”
The idea seemed harmless enough. I was intrigued but doubtful. It sounded too playful, too frivolous a way to communicate with the spirit world. And so it began.
That first night, I did not sit at the table myself but watched as each member of our group attempted to bring forth a spirit from the four-legged stool. No one succeeded, but all were gripped with the desire. Now that they had tasted the possibility, determination had set in. So the following day, after our tour of some of the island’s strange monuments, Delphine asked if I’d take her shopping so she could purchase a smaller séance stool. Perhaps, she told me, our square one was the impediment.
But when we tried again, the new, smaller, three-legged version didn’t solve the problem.
After four days, bored with the game, I encouraged everyone to give it up for the folly it was.
“Just one more try,” my eldest son pleaded. “This time, Papa, you come sit at the table too, and I’ll put my hands on the stool. That’s the only combination we haven’t tried.”
Against my better judgment, I agreed. I was always too critical of Charles and since coming to Jersey had been trying to be more supportive.
We made what I anticipated to be our last attempt on the afternoon of September 11.
At dinner that night we hosted Delphine, August Vaquerie, General Le Flo and Pierre de Revenue. All dined on roasted chicken, herbed potatoes, tender asparagus and an apple tart. A good red wine was served, but I drank little of it. Since I was going to sit at the table, if anything did happen, I wanted to be aware and receptive to it, and wine muddles the brain and causes bouts of sleepiness. Instead, after dinner while Delphine set up the séance, I indulged in some postprandial hashish to stir the brain, encourage my awareness and aid in my receptiveness.
Our house at Marine Terrace in Jersey overlooks the Channel and the window opens on the sea. That evening she was eloquent. Her ceaseless waves crashed on the shore, filling the silence with angry music as we arranged ourselves at the table. It was a restless song, I thought, as if the sea too were anxious with impatience, waiting for something to occur.
And it did. The fourth séance was terrifying and joyous. Frightening and beautiful. Powerful in a way that no man, no beast, no God can protect against. Another world opened up that night, one beyond the sea, the sky, even beyond the stars.
We discovered a crack in the wall that separates the present from the past. When the wind blew through our parlor windows on the evening of September 11, 1853, it blew in the unthinkable. A portal opened. The sea howled in rebellion. And a humble man was tempted with a gift that might have proved his ruin, and yours.
“Put your fingertips on the stool’s top,” Delphine instructed.
Charles did as she suggested.
“Keep your fingers there no matter what occurs. François-Victor, when the stool’s leg begins to tap, take careful notes. One tap for yes, two for no. Remember what I told you, words will be spelled out one letter at a time, the number of taps corresponding to that letter in the alphabet. We can decipher the conversation later.”
We sat in a circle around this twenty-five-centimeter-high centerpiece on our card table. Adults playing a parlor game. All curious, but one with a desire so strong it must have extended out into the ether, to the spirits. It gave off sparks. And shone.
As I watched, I allowed how profoundly I wanted this trick to be real. I desperately wanted to speak to the dead. On the last day of the week of the anniversary of Leopoldine’s death, I longed to speak to my daughter.
“Open your minds,” Delphine instructed us all. “Let the spirits in. Make them welcome and allow them to speak.”
Nothing happened. With each passing second, I felt my hope ebbing. Then after almost a full minute, the little stool began to move. One of its legs tapped. And then again. And again.
“Is someone here with us?” Delphine asked, the excitement in her voice rising like bubbles in a champagne glass. “Are you here?”
I will never forget the reverberation of that wood against the table. It was no different from the sound of a tree branch snapping. Of a door shutting. Of a box lid closing. An innocent sound, I thought then. But how wrong I was, because with each rap, another seed of madness took root in the fertile soil of my mind. The tapping was wicked, degenerate; it was depraved.
“Is someone there?” my wife cried out, clearly unnerved.
The taps continued at a slow pace. François-Victor diligently made notes, but I was certain they would prove to be random and inconclusive knocks. From the expression on Delphine’s face, I could see she thought the same.
Another effort, another failure, I thought.
And then the rhythm changed. The tapping sounded more determined.
As François-Victor laboriously recorded the number of taps, I somehow anticipated the word being spelled out as if I were having a conversation with a ghost; I was able to understand these whispers of air. Ah, this is difficult to explain, even for me. So much of this adventure is. But believe me, during that séance and those that followed, our spirit guests spoke to me. Not out loud so others could hear, but not in my imagination either.
I am here. I am with you.
Then the tapping stopped. The stool ceased to move. This time it remained still for two full minutes. I was ready to push my chair away when it finally started up again. The stool appeared agitated. Jittering. Sliding a bit, then pushing back. Was Charles doing this himself?
“Are you the spirit who was tapping before?” Delphine asked.
“Who are you?” she asked.
The stool tapped four times. Then stopped.
Then one tap.
Then a long flow of even taps. Charles counted twenty-one. Then a stop.
Then seven taps.
It had taken me one second to hear what it took the stool several minutes to spell out. One word, Daughter.
Then it stopped for a slight pause before starting up again. Immediately the stool tapped out four more taps.
I knew this word too, long before its last letter tapped out. I put the two words together.
“Who are you?” Delphine asked once more.
The spirit identified herself this time by tapping out her name. Letter by letter.
“Is it truly you, Didine?” I asked. “Is it you?”
I did not have to wait for the tedious taps. I knew. Nevertheless a single tap confirmed it.
“Are you happy?”
“Where are you?”
“How can we be with you, my dearest?”
“Do you watch over us and see our unhappiness?”
As a student of human nature, I have trained myself to read faces and see what is in someone’s heart regardless of the words they use. As that stool tapped out its answers to the questions we were asking, I watched those present for chicanery and guile. Was Charles exerting some kind of pressure upon the stool? Could he have been so desperate as to make it move out of grief? Or so cruel as to make a joke of such a somber occasion as this?
I asked him outright and he assured me he wasn’t manipulating the stool. Were my other children in on it somehow? Or my wife? She claimed to suffer because of my dalliances, but she didn’t hate me enough to punish me like this. No, Adele was not capable of such a hoax. In fact she was sobbing and our daughter, her mother’s namesake, was crying with her.
No, this was no prank. Sybil’s tripod had come to life.
Outside the wind picked up, sending plaintive pleas to the sea, who answered with roars and splashes. Nature communicates all its attitudes better than any man’s words.
I asked Didine one last question.
“Will you come back to talk to us more?”
One glorious tap. The yes I had yearned to hear.
And so, in a matter of moments, a life changes.
I who had never been haunted, who had been skeptical of visitations, suddenly accepted all possibilities. Or as a priest would say, in that moment, I allowed the devil into my life.
But the priest would be wrong. I did more than allow him in. I gave the devil a warm hearth and a hospitable place to rest for as long as he wanted one. I gave him access to my very soul.
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Meet the Author
New York Times bestseller M. J. Rose grew up in New York City exploring the labyrinthine galleries of the Metropolitan Museum and the dark tunnels and lush gardens of Central Park. She is the author of more than a dozen novels, the co-president and founding board member of International Thriller Writers, and the founder of the first marketing company for authors, AuthorBuzz.com. She lives in Greenwich, Connecticut. Visit her online at MJRose.com.
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The most stunning novel I've read this year is SEDUCTION by M.J. Rose. I've not read tons of historic fiction, but it is a genre I am finding I very much enjoy. I've found many of the historical books have a contemporary feel to them. This is not the case with SEDUCTION, I immediately felt transported back in time. Rose's writing style was haunting, aged and authentic. SEDUCTION moves back and forth between Victor Hugo's story taking place in the 1840's and present day. While reading Hugo's story I was mesmerized and I wasn't pleased when I would begin the next chapter where I was back in the present with Jac. Here's the thing, I wasn't pleased when I left Jac's story back to Hugo either. I found myself completely engrossed in each of their stories never wanting to deviate being equally fascinated by both stories as I was trying to figure out the connection. This was my first book by M.J. Rose I've read and I am now a fan! I was incredibly taken in by SEDUCTION, a suspenseful fictional account of Victor Hugo using an outline of his real life. He is living in Jersey in political exile from Paris. His eldest daughter drowns. In an effort to know she is alright Hugo enters the word of séances evoking a sinister entity. The present day story is about Jac L'Etoile, a mythologist who is suffering from a great loss and looking for an escape. Jac receives a request to help her old friend, Theo. Her adventure takes her to Jersey, for the first time...or is it? She is hoping to discover the island's Celtic history, but while there she and Theo begin searching for the lost journals of Hugo and suddenly everything begins to intersect. SEDUCTION had me totally engrossed, it's beautifully written and made my heart race making it difficult to put down. I am in awe of how talented M.J. Rose is as a writer, her writing is brilliant! I could gush and gush about this novel! Once you think you know what's going on you will soon realize you don't! Phenomenal! A suspense filled novel from beginning to end! I am highly recommending this!
M.J. Rose’s Seduction was so incredibly written that it kept me under its spell the entire time. Rose's writing is beautiful, like poetry, and incredibly evocative. Now when it comes down to trying to summarize the plot, I find it rather difficult to explain without losing so much of its essence. There are really three different plots unfolding throughout the book, but they are intricately interwoven. The first story line (chronologically-speaking, anyway) takes place in Celtic Britain on the eve of Roman invasion. Owain, a Druid priest living on what would later be called the island of Jersey, faces the ultimate test of his faith, one that will have repercussions well beyond his own lifetime. The second story line features famous author Victor Hugo, who lived on the island of Jersey in the 1850s and faced a spiritual and psychological battle on his own after the death of his beloved daughter. He left behind a record of that struggle, and over one hundred and fifty years later, Jac and Theo try to find it and make sense of it. Jac L’Etoile, who was featured in The Book of Lost Fragrances (which I have not read but definitely plan to) is at the heart of the third story line, and she is the tie that binds all of the stories together. Having experienced a troubled childhood, Jac always suffered from strange hallucinations. As a teen she was sent to a special treatment center where the staff practiced somewhat unorthodox treatment methods. Her therapist Malachai became a life-long mentor. He was a staunch believer in reincarnation, but Jac was never convinced that her hallucinations were the result of past-life flash-backs. She did, however, become fascinated by mythology, and as an adult, she built her career on it. She wrote a book and hosted a TV show where she tracked down the origins of myths. This myth-seeking leads her to the island of Jersey, which is deeply steeped in Celtic mythology, after receiving an invitation from Theo Gaspard, a friend from her days at the treatment. Will Jac lose herself in the memories of the past, or will she be able to harness her special gift and move forward in the present? Confused yet? I promise it will all make sense when you read the book. Many questions are raised here about memories, the ripple effect caused by one single event, past lives, and what makes us who we are.
I received a free copy of this book from the publisher through First Reads. I have enjoyed M.J. Rose's Reincarnationist Series from the beginning. The common thread through the series has been Malachai Samuels, of the Phoenix Foundation, a society dedicated to the study of past life experiences and reincarnation. Malachai was more heavily involved in the first three books, which all had different main characters. Book 4, The Book of Lost Fragrances, introduced Jac L'Etoile, a former patient of Malachai Samuels who was being plagued again in her adult life by what she believed were hallucinations. Malachai was more loosely involved in Book 4. Book 5, Seduction is also centered around Jac L'Etoile. Seduction is probably third place for me in the series. Part ghost story, and part reincarnationist theory, Rose’s writing does not disappoint. She has a style of writing that keeps you turning pages. Her imagery is vivid, you can see the places and people she describes, feel as if you have been there. And, she has to be one of the only writers I know who can create a main character I actually dislike, and still keep turning pages and wanting to know what’s coming next. I do not like Jac. I think she is stuffy, self-absorbed, and I cannot for the life of me picture her as pretty or attractive. But – the story itself is so good, and the writing so vivid this still gets 4 stars.
Seduc­tion by M.J. Rose is another novel in the Rein­car­na­tion­ist series. This is the fifth book in the series and deals with past lives as do the other books. Vic­tor Hugo, famous French nov­el­ist, has lost his 19 year-old daugh­ter to the sea. In a self imposed exile on the Isle of Jer­sey, the griev­ing father has started to par­tic­i­pate in hun­dreds of séances try­ing to con­tact his lov­ing daugh­ter. In the process Hugo claimed to have talked with such lumi­nar­ies as Plato, Galileo, Shake­speare, Dante, Jesus and even Lucifer. Jac L’Etoile who seems to have no rest from life’s dra­mas arrives on the Isle of Jer­sey hop­ing to inves­ti­gate the island’s Celtic roots. Jac’s friend, another trou­bled soul by the name of Theo Gas­pard, hopes she’ll him dis­cover Hugo’s lost con­ver­sa­tions with the “Shadow of the Sepulcher”. Seduc­tion by M.J. Rose is a detailed and some­what haunt­ing novel. This Gothic tales touches on rein­car­na­tion (as do the other books in the series), love and loss, pain and fam­ily secrets. Half the book takes place in present time, the other half in the past in which author Vic­tor Hugo is a major part of. While I do enjoy Ms. Rose’s work and writ­ing style, the fact that Hugo was in the book was a major draw for me. While there is some romance in the book, as well as a few para­nor­mal ele­ments (not the nor­mal genre I read) they are sub-stories to the main nar­ra­tive. As the other books in the series, this one also deals with find­ing about past lives and how they affect indi­vid­u­als to this day. While the book can be read as a stand­alone book, I felt that it was more of a direct sequel to the pre­vi­ous one, The Book of Lost Fra­grances. The char­ac­ters in the series grow with each book and I believe that the reader will enjoy Seduc­tion much more if he/she read the pre­vi­ous novel. The nar­ra­tive will appeal to those who liked the pre­vi­ous book, I have very lit­tle inter­est in the para­nor­mal and/or incar­na­tion but I do enjoy a good story. The book is well writ­ten and Ms. Rose keeps devel­op­ing the char­ac­ters in each novel. At the end of the book the author pro­vides a very infor­ma­tive chap­ter about Hugo, his exper­i­ments with the para­nor­mal and what is his­tory and what is fic­tion in the narrative.
Historical fiction is “my thing”, and I have been a huge fan of M.J. Rose since I first read her book “The Reincarnationist”. I am also a fan of books that deal with the paranormal, time travel, memory travel, ESP etc. No one does this particular genre better than M.J. Rose. I was thrilled to read her latest book, Seduction”. It did not fail to delight me, and as usual when I read her books, I could not put it down. Last year when I read “ The Book of Lost Fragrances” I did not think that M.J. Rose’s writing could get any better, but she has proven that she has with this, her latest book. Jac L’Etoile is the main character in this book. She is a mythologist, and she is skeptic who tries to stay grounded in the world of science and reality. Her character will utterly captivate you! Jac has ‘gifts’; she has visions that are often precipitated by scent, visions that speak of memories, and ESP . As a skeptic, Jac has struggled to live with her gifts and she tries to deny her talents, and does not want to acknowledge them. Her family was well know perfumers in times past and scent is the main sensory tool for Jac (more on that in “Fragrances”). You might consider reading “The Book Of Lost Fragrances”. Reading ‘Fragrances’ might help you to ‘flesh out’ Jac’s character which in turn might make reading “Seduction” even more enjoyable for you. That being said these are truly stand-alone books as well and you will enjoy reading them in what ever sequence you choose. The plot of “Seduction” moves between the present (on Jersey, the largest of the Channel Islands) and the 1840’s during the life of Victor Hugo. Hugo has moved from Paris to Jersey after the death of his beloved daughter, Leopoldine. She had drowned in the Seine River when she was 19. Unable to recover or find any consolation Hugo is introduced to the world of mediums and séances. He spends many years trying to contact Leopoldine through the use of séances, mediums and trances; with Hugo carefully transcribing his ‘conversations’ with the in a series of long lost journals. One of Hugo’s communicants is, perhaps, the most troubling, as well as the darkest. An evil entity who calls himself the “Shadow of The Sepulcher”. He fears he may have gone too far and eschews the mystic world for a time. Jac, who in the present, is struggling to deal with some of her own personal demons is invited to Jersey by her one time love Theo Gaspard who asks for her assistance as he investigates Jersey’s long lost secrets of an ancient Celtic culture. Additionally, Theo’s grandfather believed that Hugo had been entangled with the dark spirit of the Shadow of the Sepulcher (aka the devil?). Theo knows of some neolithic monuments and some hidden water side caves that he believes are important to his research about the Celtic societies and his grandfather’s belief in the dark evil of the ‘the shadow” that, he feels, may have somehow cast a long tinge of shadow over the spirit of islands. I think that it is difficult to blend two, nearly separate, stories, as well as expertly blend fact and fiction, and yet Ms. Rose manages it with great aplomb. There were just a few moments in the book when I felt that the stories were a bit too separate, but in mere sentences I felt the continuity once again. Rose has such a talent for superlative story telling! I love how historical facts are expertly interwoven with her fiction. You have to go and review the real history behind her work to understand how factual some of her work really is ! I look forward to each of her books with great anticipation, and her writing seems to just keep on getting better! Her characters are well developed and captivating, her plots are well constructed and beautifully connected. Yes, I really AM a fan and I do believe that this book will appeal to readers who love great fiction in general, historical fiction, paranormal fiction, time travel, and romance.
I am a fan of M.J. Rose's books and this one did not disappoint me in one bit. The suspense had me with my nose in the book until the wee hours of the morning and only then did I stop because I had to sleep. This book is full of suspense and intrigue. I like how M.J. takes a historic novelist and weaves a spellbinding story of his life. Can you imagine what it was like for him to lose his daughter due to drowning, he must have been devistated and then he start taking part in seances and claims he is having conversations with many people of the past including the Devil. One thing I enjoyed about this book is how it is told from three different views in three different time period. You have Victor in the 1800s, the Druids, and Theo in modern day. Seduction will take you on twists and turns and is not for the light hearted. Another thing I liked was the weaving in of history along with the mystery. I have to say there is some sex in this book, as well as ghost stories and mystical things so this book is not for everyone. All in all I enjoyed this book and will continue to read more books by this author. I received this book in exchange for a fair and honest review.
There are a handful of authors who create a sort of dichotomy in me when it comes to their books, meaning I don’t care so much for some and can’t stay away from others. M.J. Rose is one of those authors in that I don’t really get pulled in by her Butterfield Institute series or her other novels—just not my cuppa—but I’d walk miles to get the latest in the Reincarnation series. The quality of writing is top-notch no matter what the book is but there’s just something about the latter that takes it all to a new level. For the initiate, it’s not really accurate to refer to the Reincarnation books as a series because the first three are standalones while Seduction is a sequel to the fourth book, The Book of Lost Fragrances; the reader just starting could read the first four in any order but should read The Book of Lost Fragrances before Seduction. All five share the common theme of reincarnation and, of course, all are a blend of past and present. Victor Hugo, author of Les Miserables and numerous other works, would appear to be the most unlikely of candidates for belief in spiritualism but, in fact, he did engage in it, including many seances in an effort to reach the spirit of his beloved daughter. Part of Hugo’s political exile was spent on the Isle of Jersey and this is where he began his participation in the world of spiritualism. It is here that mythologist Jac L’Etoile finds herself experiencing a life that is far different from her own and, in so doing, we learn much about this man that makes him real, someone with hopes and tribulations we don’t normally consider with those historical figures who have become larger than life. Jac has a sensitivity to smell and Ms. Rose evokes those aromas that surround Jac with a sense of being there that made me occasionally believe I was detecting these scents myself. That’s just one of the ways this author brings her characters to life and, whether they’re villains, heroines or just normal people, you don’t forget them. I can’t ask anything more of an author when it comes to character development. Ms. Rose is not too shabby with plotting either and I simply love the deft way she mixes history with romance and intrigue, keeping the reader entertained and never overwhelmed by all the twists and turns. Seduction is a story you won’t want to miss.
The writing in this book was like a delectable treat, each page a different layer of expertise waiting to lifted from the page. Rose does have a way with words. Nothing overly pretentious or any attempts at pseudo intellectual space filling drivel. Instead it was a steady stream of confident and beautiful prose. The author mixes the boundaries of fact and fiction. Intermingling the life of Victor Hugo with the fictitious plot. The fact that the main character Jac relives the past lives of others, as opposed to her own, isn't reincarnation as one knows it per se. It wasn't delved into enough and left me with unanswered questions. Why does she see the trodden path of others? How is she linking into that memory? I wonder where the author is going to take that particular gift or experience in possible future books. There are two storylines, the Gaspard's grandfather and his obsession with the occult and finding V.Hugo's written account of what he discovered during his stay in Jersey. At times I felt that was a little ambititious with one story vying for more attention than the other. It made some of the scenarios seem a little out of sync with the rest of the book.. In the end I think the title of this book gives an indication of the real meaning and message in this book. Seduced by the devil? The devil within or just the subconscious desires that rear their heads. The forbidden desires that need to be silenced by others and those that have them by hiding behind a mysticism that can neither be proven or disproved. I received a free copy of this book via NetGalley.
I loved this book! I thought it was one of her best books if not the best so far.!! The very idea of past lives is very interesting and she makes you really think about it and the believe it's possible. I'm definitely reading this again!
Book Info: Genre: Paranormal Reading Level: Adult Recommended for: People who like a reading experience that is sensual, with beautiful language, paranormal, romantic fiction, those interested in past lives and reincarnation Book Available: May 7, 2013 in hardcover, Kindle and Audiobook formats Trigger Warnings: attempted murder, human sacrifice My Thoughts: From the first line, “Every story begins with a tremble of anticipation,” I knew I was going to love this book just as much as I've loved this whole series. I picked up the first three books in the series three years ago after reading and loving the Butterfield Institute books (which are not related to this series, but which I also loved), and really enjoyed them, so I was so excited last year to be able to read an ARC of The Book of Lost Fragrances from NetGalley, and even more excited earlier this year to learn M.J. Rose was forming a “street team” of fans to spread the word about her remarkable stories. “Now wait a minute, Katy,” some of you are saying. “These sound a lot like paranormal romance to me, which I know for a fact you hate!” Well, yes and no. There are definitely elements of romance in these books, but it is subsumed to the story itself. There's an underlying and long story arc through these books about various people searching for meaning in their lives by seeking out information about their past lives. There are elements of erotica, however understated, in the Butterfield Institute books, but the Reincarnationist series … it's very difficult to place them into a specific genre. But the stories all deal with finding information about past lives, and how current lives intertwine with past lives, and how unfinished business from past lives can affect one's current lives, so there is a lot of metaphysics and a lot of the supernatural. It's really quite fascinating. While the first three books in the series are only loosely connected, although containing the overstory, Seduction is a direct sequel to, and continues part of the story from, The Book of Lost Fragrances . While you could read these two books without having read the first part of the series, I strongly recommend that you read the entire Reincarnationist series from the start or you might end up with a misapprehension concerning Malachi. The language in M.J. Rose's book is lovely, lyrical, sensual. It's like rubbing a soft piece of velvet against your skin, or petting the soft nose of a young foal. It's something to revel in and enjoy. This particular book delves into mythology, the Celts, Victor Hugo, reincarnation, past-life regression and many other fascinating ideas and thoughts. Character development for Jac and Malachi is mostly done in previous books, but the new characters we meet are as well-developed as I would expect from M.J. Rose. The only issue I had was with the language used by Victor Hugo and his associates; I do not think they would use “got” and “get” the way we do in modern days. I think their language would be more precise and grammatically correct. But that was a very minor issue. This book—this whole series—will appeal to people who are interested in reincarnation and past lives, who enjoy a well-told story with beautiful language, who enjoy a reading experience that is sensual and lovely. Genre-wise, I think fans of literary fiction, paranormal suspense, and romantic fiction will all enjoy these stories. Definitely check them out. I know I've loved the lot of them. Series Information: Seduction is the fifth book in the Reincarnationist series. Book 1: The Reincarnationist ; I read in 2010 or 2011, but didn't review. 5 stars Book 2: The Memorist ; I read in 2010, or 2011, but didn't review. 5 stars Book 3: The Hypnotist ; I listened to audiobook in 2010 or 2011, but didn't review. 5 stars Book 4: The Book of Lost Fragrances ; read and reviewed March 2012. Review linked here where formatting allowed. If you like this author's style, you can also check out The Butterfield Institute series. Prequel: Lip Service ; I read in 2010 or 2011, but didn't review. 5 stars Book 1: The Halo Effect ; I read in 2010 or 2011, but didn't review. 5 stars Book 2: The Delilah Complex ; I read in 2010 or 2011, but didn't review. 5 stars Book 3: The Venus Fix ; I read in 2010 or 2011, but didn't review. 5 stars Disclosure: I received this e-galley from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own. Synopsis: In 1843, novelist Victor Hugo’s beloved nineteen-year-old daughter drowned. Ten years later, Hugo began participating in hundreds of séances to reestablish contact with her. In the process, he claimed to have communed with the likes of Plato, Galileo, Shakespeare, Dante, Jesus—and even the Devil himself. Hugo’s transcriptions of these conversations have all been published. Or so it was believed. Recovering from her own losses, mythologist Jac L’Etoile arrives on the Isle of Jersey—where Hugo conducted the séances—hoping to uncover a secret about the island’s Celtic roots. But the man who’s invited her there, a troubled soul named Theo Gaspard, has hopes she’ll help him discover something quite different—Hugo’s lost conversations with someone called the Shadow of the Sepulcher. What follows is an intricately plotted and atmospheric tale of suspense with a spellbinding ghost story at its heart, by one of America’s most gifted and imaginative novelists.
A delightful weekend read. Beautifully written, with gripping characters. An utterly enchanting thriller that rouses your senses and leaves you wanting for more. Pure entertainment. A must have.
MJ has done it again. Marvelous love story that takes you back in time to the beginning of a love that transcends countries, families. Sensual, riviting this book will stay in your mind long after you have finished reading it.
Slow and dreadfully boring start. So slow, in fact, that I couldn't make it through the book despite having no other reading material and being stuck in the middle of nowhere with no Internet. I hate bookbub for ever suggesting this one.
Last year as I started the new year it seemed like every book I read had something to do with time travel. This year every book I read has some connection to reincarnation. Talk about being drawn to certain types of books, right? I'll be honest, I didn't set out to string a bunch of these types of novels back to back. It just happened that way and if you know anything about Carl Jung, nothing is a coincidence. Seduction by M.J. Rose is the fifth installment in her Reincarnationist series. I found this series several years ago after winning book 4 in the series via the GoodReads First Reads program. The premise is quite easy to grasp (we all have past lives) and there are tools/artifacts in the world that can help us connect with our past lives. Jac, the main character, is in denial about past lives even though she seems to be drawn into situations that seem to be big neon signs screaming at her that past lives DO exist. Her denial draws her into intense siutations that create the driving force for most of the plots in the series. I like Jac the skeptic. She's always questioning the world and people's beliefs. I'm also a bit envious of Jac's job as a researcher and traveler. She gets to travel to exotic locations in search of finding the truth behind mythologies and legends. Okay, so maybe, Jersey, the location for Seduction isn't that exotic, but there are Celtic ruins, strange legends and a connection to Victor Hugo. Honestly, Seduction is a bit of a mess. The story picks up shortly after book 4, The Book of Lost Fragrances, ends. And because it has been several years since I finished book 4, I struggled to remember exactly what happened. Rose did not implement any sort of recollection or recap of the plot within book 5 and so many times when Jac was vaguely remembering something that happened in the last book, I found myself skimming as I couldn't remember the details. There are three distinct storylines in Seduction that just don't connect. Two of the timelines (the Celts and Victor Hugo on Jersey) take place in the past and are not connected in any way and the one in the present (the Jac, Ash, Theo and Naomi love square) is only loosely connected to the two past timelines. It was quite frustrating as in previous books in the series the historical plot drove the happenings in the present. The whole point of the novel in the end was to reveal Jac's special gift and her tentative acceptance of that gift. The revelation of her talent was confusing and written hastily and took place in just the last 60 pages of the book. I'm nervous to read book 6 in this series as I also found it on my bookshelf while taking stock of the books I own for the Shelf Love Challenge. In looking back over my reviews of the last 4 books and in reflecting on book 5, it appears the series is moving away from the elements I liked most in the first few books—historical fiction with ties to the present time presented in a suspenseful storytelling style. An Afterthought I found Rose's afterwards quite fascinating. Anyone with an interest in writing should grab a copy of the book, maybe at your library, and read the last few pages. She talks about her inspiration for the book, how she wrote the book and what the images on the end papers of the hardcover are from. It's really cool! This review was originally posted on Second Run Reviews.
Seduction was such an interesting book, and at the same time it wasn't at all what I was expecting it to be. I think I was excepting something that focused on the now with the occasional glimpse at what Victor Hugo went through while he grieving for his daughter, but that wasn't what I got at all. Instead it started with Hugo beginning his Exile from France, and then it made periodic jumps to the present to follow Jac. Apparently this book falls as the 5th book in a series, which did make some parts of it confusing. There were a lot of references to things that happened in the last book that made following what was happening a little confusing. The time switch was also very confusing because it wasn't consistent. Sometimes the jumps would span 3-5 chapters in one time period, at one point there was a jump back to the Vikings. It was confusing, but interesting. I cared less about Jac and her story, it was a little interesting, but she had so much personal drama that related back to the previous books that I didn't care to know about as it related to this one. There were somethings that were really interesting like how the reincarnation theories came together in this. The writing was spectacular, and the plot really drew you in. I was intrigued by the different connections that were drawn between the past and present and how everything worked out. It was really interesting and I would recommend it people that enjoy history and the ideas of mystisicm. I would however recommend starting at the beginning so you don't miss out on all the special details.
This book takes you back and forth through the centuries, Paris as it was then, and the mind of the great writer Victor Hugo. It gives insight into the past and the deepest levels of human communication and awareness.
I have mixed feelings about this book. I received a free copy from GoodReads First Reads in exchange for review. A couple friends have recommended M.J. Rose to me for awhile now but, when I requested this book, I wasn't aware that the story is a spin-off from a series. The book does stand on its own but I don't think I should have starting reading Ms. Rose's work with this book. I was fascinated by the perfume-making, and wanted more of that storyline than was provided here. I may give the rest of the series a chance just so I can read more about that aspect of the main female character, Jac L'Etoile. It was cool and new, something that's not been a million times. Every page drips with Gothic Romanticism. Highly recommended for fans of the genre. I found it difficult to relate to the characters, especially Lucifer because I expect Lucifer to be more of a b'dass.
What is the power of seduction, is it a willing lover, calling you to their bed, or your hearts desire. For many people they would believe the devil is in the details. In this book the author looks into the desires of the heart and mind. This is an interesting take on a mystery. One set in the 1850's with notable character of Victor Hugo, looking at his desire to see his lost daughter. The other set in modern times, with Jac L'Etoile, longs for an explanation to the hallucinations that have plagued her since the death of her mother. Both following Celtic ruins and ghost stories. Set in the mysterious sea bound island of Jersey. A third section in 56 ad with the Celtic people, looking at the seduction of grief, and the guilt of the individual. This a deep and meaningful book, with in sites into Psychology, Anthropology, Archaeology, and the A cult. The History and the people of Jersey, and the individual struggles of men over time like Victor Hugo. With fresh snippets of information about art, jewelers, and perfume that make the reader dive into the well developed characters, and hope for the best of out comes.
Cant believe this series over!! Sad...
I received an advance copy of this book from Net Galley. I thought I'd read all of The Reincarnationist series, but apparently I missed the one before this; however, the author gives enough backstory so that I wasn't lost when reading this novel. I had mixed feelings about this book. On the one hand, I've always been fascinated by reincarnation ever since I saw the movie The Reincarnation of Peter Proud on TV years ago and read the book Audrey Rose by Frank De Felitta. The three other books I've read in The Reincarnationist series were very interesting and enjoyable, and so was this one - at the beginning. Somewhere in the middle of the book, the story seemed to take another path, like it had lost its way. The mysterious and Gothic setting was very appealing to me, and I liked the supernatural elements included in the book; however, the story could have been shortened, and the storyline with Jac and Theo seemed to drag. Before it was over, I really didn't care for either of them. I was expecting an electrifying ending, but that was also disappointing and just left me questioning the point of the whole book. With the other two storylines, Victor Hugo and Owain and Gwenore, I knew they had to be connected somehow and had my suspicions but, again, the explanation at the end was very anticlimactic. Maybe if I'd read the book before this one, I'd feel differently but, overall, I felt the story lacked development and the purpose of some characters and connections wasn't made clear.