Saturday, April 19, 2014

The Collector of Dying Breaths

M. J. Rose

Florence, Italy—1533: 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 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, Rene 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, is trying to recover from personal heartache by throwing herself into her work, learns of the 16th century perfumer who may have been working on an elixir that would unlock the secret to immortality. She becomes obsessed with René le Florentin’s work—particularly when she discovers the dying breathes 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… a purpose for which she believes the ends will justify her deadly means. This mesmerizing gothic tale of passion and obsession crisscrosses time, zigzagging 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. (from Netgalley)

My Thoughts

Jac L’Etoile has been enticed by a wealthy brother and sister to research the possibility of bringing back the dead by mixing their last, dying breath with an ancient elixir created by a perfumer from the 1600‘s. She is intrigued by the concept and has her own personal reason for wanting it to work.

I first met the character of Jac L’Eoilte in The Book of Lost Fragrances. Jac has the ability to go back to past lives. She struggles with trying to understand some of the visions. In The Collector of Dying Breaths, she “sees” the story of Rene le Florentin and his lover, Isabeau, who works as a spy for Queen Catherine of France.

This book is told in alternating chapters of past and present. The author has a wonderful ability to draw the reader into the story from the very beginning. I found both Jac and Rene’s story to be very interesting and liked the way the author connected these two individuals from two very different time periods. This was a great tale from start to finish!

My thanks to Atria Books, via Netgalley, for allowing me to read this in exchnage for an unbiased review.

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