Book Review: The Collector of Dying Breaths

March 4, 2014 Book Review, reviews 4

Book Review: The Collector of Dying BreathsThe Collector of Dying Breaths by M. J. Rose
Published by Simon and Schuster on April 2014
Genres: Fiction, Historical, Supernatural, Thriller
Pages: 384
AmazonBarnes & Noble

From the internationally bestselling author, a lush and imaginative novel that crisscrosses time as passion and obsessions collide 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 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 becomes obsessed 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.

The third novel featuring mythologist and perfumer, Jacinda {Jac} L’Etoile, reveals the depth of Rose’s talent.  In The Book of Lost Fragrances we were introduced to Jac and her unique ability to see past lives; to actually experience the past life – stepping into a time warp and feeling the emotions, smelling the scents of the time period, and reliving the tragedies over and over.  In Seduction Jac stepped back into Victor Hugo’s time while in the present Jac was in a frantic hunt for her brother and closest family member. {and only immediate family member}.

“Every man had two souls,” he said.  And he was watching mine wage a battle with each other.  “You are strong Rene.  Tragedy has tempered you.  Your determination can be either your salvation or your ruin.  Go after what you want, but not ruthlessly.  Explore the ramifications.  Pay attention to cause and effect.  Weight your actions against your desires.  It’s critical you understand.” (p. 34)

The Collector of Dying Breaths is a deeply sensual novel – almost like City of Dark Magic but more philosophical about love and passion.  The writing is flawless, the characters grow exponentially, the bad guy is really, really flawed and Jac especially seems to finally come to terms with her gift/curse.  The passages about Rene le Florentine and Catherine de Medici are fascinating – learning how perfumery was seen as alchemy and sometimes even dark magic in that era was like watching an exceptional documentary on the Medici’s.

It is not imperative to read all three books in order but why would you not want to – watching as an author grows and expands, becoming better and better with each consecutive book ~ and that’s saying a lot as I’ve read every one of M.J. Rose’s novels!  The Jac L’Etoile series has shown great depth to Rose’s writing, becoming more literary and less paperback novelish {does that even make sense?}

All this I do for you.  To see you again.  To be with you again.  Please God, it will work.  Because without you I am lost to the world. (p.153)

If you are looking for exceptional literary suspense with a bit of fascinating history intwined then please rush out to pick up this series – M.J. Rose does not disappoint at all with the three novels and by the third you will be blown away by her ability to draw you in {and I do mean draw you in – I finished the last half of the book while sitting for FOUR hours at the DMV and almost missed my turn because I was reading and so lost inside The Collector of Dying Breaths!}

And is this cover not the BEST?!?  It’s so evocative, lush, dangerous . . .just like the book!  Read it and tell me what you think!

the collector of dying breaths book tour


Many many thanks to Amy and Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours for including me in another great historical fiction read!



m.j. roseAbout the Author

M.J. Rose is the international best selling author of fourteen novels and two non-fiction books on marketing. Her fiction and non-fiction has appeared in many magazines and reviews including Oprah Magazine. She has been featured in the New York Times, Newsweek, Time, USA Today and on the Today Show, and NPR radio. Rose graduated from Syracuse University, spent the ’80s in advertising, has a commercial in the Museum of Modern Art in NYC and since 2005 has run the first marketing company for authors – The television series PAST LIFE, was based on Rose’s novels in the Renincarnationist series. She is one of the founding board members of International Thriller Writers and runs the blog- Buzz, Balls & Hype. She is also the co-founder of and

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

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


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