Praise for Scent of Darkness
“Anyone with a nose can tell you that pheromones are dangerous. But in this Louisiana-based novel, Scent of Darkness, Evangeline learns that lesson the hard way. When her grandmother dies, she leaves behind a perfume, created from Evangeline's own scent, that makes this plain girl so irresistible that strangers bury their faces in her hair. Soon she's torn between Gabriel, a quiet student, and Michael, a fiery artist. Berwin captures New Orleans’ mystical juju perfectly.” —Entertainment Weekly
“Elegant, introspective . . . [A] sumptuous faux memoir—a story of first love, obsession, youthful sexuality and coming of age. . . . Buy this pungent romance for your niece’s graduation, then try to look innocent when she elopes with the postman.” —Carolyn See, The Washington Post
“Profound thoughts are deeply explored by the protagonist Evangeline (aka Eva) in Scent of Darkness. . . . Fascinating . . . Which path will Eva choose and with what outcome? Will the powerful scent be used for evil or good? To answer this question would be to give away the twists and turns in Scent of Darkness—and that would certainly be unfair, for Scent of Darkness is thoroughly engrossing.” —Laura Schultz, New York Journal of Books
“Berwin follows Hothouse Flower and the Nine Plants of Desire with a tale about the mysterious and luscious world of the aromata, professional perfume makers. . . . Berwin’s prose is poetic and measured, and her enchanting novel will leave readers searching for a scent of their own.” —Amber Peckham, Booklist
“Berwin’s Creole-flavored romance . . . will provide plenty of pleasure to readers who enjoy a touch of magical realism in their fiction. Fans of such atmospheric writers as Alice Hoffman will find much to enjoy here.” —Bette-Lee Fox, Library Journal
“In Scent of Darkness, Berwin has created a compelling story surrounded by the mysterious and exotic world of New Orleans, where tarot cards foretell what’s yet to be, and fragrance is viewed as an ethereal, mystical creation capable of changing one’s life forever. . . . Can a person truly be only of darkness, or of light? Or is it possible that we're all a little bit of both?” —Amber Castens, The News-Gazette
Praise for Hothouse Flower and the Nine Plants of Desire
“The great escapist novel . . . [A] shameless guilty pleasure of a romp that involves black panthers, poisonous snakes, scorpions, and the Adonis-like son of a Huichol Indian shaman . . . [A] sultry, psychedelic summer soufflé of a read.”—Elle
“Sensual, voluptuous . . . Berwin vividly evokes the mosquito-loud, velvety blackness of a rain forest night.” —National Geographic Traveler
“Berwin makes a clever imaginative leap in her first novel, creating her own horticultural myth and then fashioning a lively novel around it.” —The Boston Globe
“Take two parts Carlos Castañeda, one part Sunset garden book, and top with a splash of Indiana Jones . . . Shameless, sweet, and deceptively potent.” —Santa Fe New Mexican
“Seductive interludes and exotic adventures define Hothouse Flower and the Nine Plants of Desire . . . A guide on plant mythology, spirit animals, curanderos (healers) and the mystery that can guide us to spiritual discovery, if only we open up to it.” —Austin American-Statesman
“A psychedelic adventure.” —The Wall Street Journal
“[A] grown-up fairy tale full of mysticism, shamans, and animal spirits. Light and breezy, it’s also full of romance.” —Fort Worth Star-Telegram
“Mesmerizing . . . transports the reader to the dark, hot bayous of Louisiana, where Tarot card readers, fortune tellers and healers populate the story . . the setting of New Orleans exudes the smells, sounds and sights that only Louisiana can conjure up. Engulfed in the heady mix of scents and lust, Evangeline learns that sometimes what looks like a gift can turn out to be a curse . . . sensual.”
—Shelley Civkin, Richmond Review
Evangeline is a wallflower, always blending into the background and never really noticed by anyone. Her grandmother Louise is the exact opposite: a perfumier, with a deep belief in fortune-telling, voodoo, and other occult arts. When she dies, Louise leaves Eva a special gift: a scent created especially for her. But this is no ordinary perfume; once applied, it won’t come off, and suddenly Evangeline finds herself thrust into the limelight. Now the heroine in her own mystical adventure, swept into the exotic surroundings of New Orleans and Louisiana voodoo, Eva is caught between two lovers and must choose only one. But which man—the light or the dark—will win her heart?
Verdict Berwin’s Creole-flavored romance (after her best-selling debut Hothouse Flower and the Nine Plants of Desire) will provide plenty of pleasure to readers who enjoy a touch of magical realism in their fiction. Fans of such atmospheric writers as Alice Hoffman will find much to enjoy here. [See Prepub Alert, 8/16/12.]—Leigh Wright, Bridgewater, NJ
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The bequest of a mysterious vial transforms a woman into a scent seductress. Evangeline, whose grandmother Louise has just died, does not consider herself particularly beautiful or talented. Louise, who was known to practice dark arts, leaves Evangeline her house in upstate New York (Louise moved from New Orleans years before). When Evangeline enters a room she vowed never to unlock, she discovers a small bottle of perfume, which, when applied, imparts an irresistible scent. Suddenly, Gabriel, a man previously out of her league, is her lover, and together, they move to New Orleans where he is a medical student. Once there, Evangeline encounters all manner of signs and omens, such as a dire tarot-card prophecy that she will spread evil and break hearts. The city itself, forever hot and steamy, echoes Evangeline's turbulent state of mind as she finds herself inexorably drawn to Gabriel's friend, Michael Bon Chance, a charismatic but mediocre painter who seeks to exploit Evangeline's fragrance to catapult him into the upper echelons of the art world. At Michael's triumphant show, consisting mainly of nudes of Evangeline painted without her knowledge, Gabriel walks away in disgust. Before Evangeline can explain, a dog bites her, and the wound festers. (Bringing out aggression in dogs is an unfortunate side effect of her pheromone-rich aura.) Now she must rely on the quirky 14-year-old son of a neighbor she has never met to take her to his grandmother, who practices her own version of the dark arts. Evangeline soon finds that her olfactory attractiveness does not compensate for the yawning void in her soul, but she will be hard-pressed to learn the lesson Louise intended to impart with her gift. Although evoking the peculiar exoticism of New Orleans with precision, Berwin's prose labors hard to impart profundity to what is basically a pastiche of gothic staples (the forbidden room, the never-seen invalid mother, etc.). An overly stylized parable with intermittent flashes of pleasant spookiness.