Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Review: The Collector of Dying Breaths by MJ Rose with INT Giveaway

The Collector of Dying Breaths

MJ Rose

Genre: Historical Suspense
Release date: April 8, 2014
by Atria Books
ISBN13: 9781451621532
also available as an ebook
Hardcover, 384 pages


From one of America’s most imaginative storytellers comes a passionate tale of love and treachery, spanning the days of Catherine de Medici’s court to the twenty-first century and starring a woman drawn back, time and again, to the past.

In 1533, an Italian orphan with an uncanny knack for creating fragrance is plucked from poverty to become Catherine de Medici’s perfumer. To repay his debt, over the years René le Florentine is occasionally called upon to put his vast knowledge to a darker purpose: the creation of deadly poisons used to dispatch the Queen’s rivals.

But it’s René’s other passion—a desire to reanimate a human breath, to bring back the lives of the two people whose deaths have devastated him—that incites a dangerous treasure hunt five centuries later. That’s when Jac L’Etoile—suffering from a heartache of her own—becomes obsessed with the possibility of unlocking Rene’s secret to immortality.

Soon Jac’s search reconnects her with Griffin North, a man she’s loved her entire life. Together they confront an eccentric heiress whose art collection rivals many museums and who is determined to keep her treasures close at hand, not just in this life but in her next.

Set in the forest of Fontainebleau, crisscrossing the lines between the past and the present, M.J. Rose has written a mesmerizing tale of passion and obsession. This is a Gothic tale perfect for fans of Anne Rice, Deborah Harkness, and Diana Galbadon. [from the publisher]

My thoughts

My first encounter with M.J. Rose was after reading Seduction (read my review here). Since that time she has become one of my favorite authors and I have set about devouring everything she has written one by one.  Needless to say I was over the moon to hear that M.J. Rose had a new release and immersed myself the very moment it arrived.  dived into it the moment it arrived.

The Reincarnationist Series by M.J. Rose is a popular set of stand-alone adult fantasy novels and The Collector of Dying Breaths is the sixth installment.  The aforementioned, Seduction, was the fifth installment and trust me they are truly standalone individual works, the collection in its entirety is a treat wholly onto itself, more than a collection of novels; it is a tour de force.

I've regressed, in her latest, The Collector of Dying Breaths; Rose again presents two overlapping narratives which are wholly mingled one with the other even though they are separated by time.  The first of these the reader encounters is set in a sixteenth century Italian monastery.  René is the apprentice to Serapino, the monk who administers to the ill by concocting remedies from nature. René is a capable and gifted student and soon Serapino tells him of his belief that life can be reanimated by capturing the last breath of the dying and combining it with a herbal recipe that Serapino is working on, but has yet to come up with the right mixture.

Serapino passes away and the monks accuse René, who never joined their order, of his murder.  So while René is falsely accused his situation looks hopeless.  That is until none other than Catherine de Medici arrives to request his services to her court as she is soon to marry the Dauphine of France.  René assumes his role as the official royal perfumer in Catherine’s new French court.  While at the monastery training in potions and herbs he discovered that he also had a nose to identify and create perfumes.  Of course, Catherine was also aware that he was knowledgeable in the art of poison, an art the Medici's were known to especially appreciate.  

Soon René Le Florentine becomes a popular fixture at court for his gift for creating not only unique scents for the women but aphrodisiacs for lovers and crèmes for the face and body.  Catherine meanwhile is feeling very insecure in her marriage as she is unable to seduce the Dauphine, who prefers his mistress.  René cleverly devises a remedy, a crèmes that will induce her to extreme sleepiness and a scent for Catherine to drive her husband wild.  Catherine is also resorting to consulting with a man knowledgeable in the black arts, but in winning her husband to her bed it is René that provides the cure.  All the while he is still carrying on the work of Serapino; trying to reanimate souls from their dying breaths.

True to form, even with this rich multi layered intriguing narrative surrounding René and Catherine de Medici she gives her reader another, just as mesmerizing modern day tale that is tied in many ways to the first.  Fans of the Reincarnationist series will remember Jac L’Etoile who has returned to Paris to the bedside of her beloved brother who is mysteriously dying.  Just before falling ill Robbie was working on an important project which he wants to inform Jac of and encourage her to complete his last project; sadly he passes away before he is able to reveal many details.

The L'Etoile family business is perfumery and though Robbie had operated the company it is Jack who possesses "the nose."  Jac is also plagued by what she calls memory lurches brought on by scents.  During these lurches she sees her own past lives and remembers her own past memories.  Jac does not welcome this ability but feels it is a barrier to her living a happy life.   

From the little information gathered from Robbie Jack makes her way to an estate outside Paris where Robbie had been working on a project for a very eccentric heiress.  The reader discovers that the estate had belonged to René Le Florentine, royal perfumer for Catherine de Medici.  His collection of vials of dying breaths has been discovered and his quest revealed and Jac discovers that her brother had taken up the task of creating the formula to reanimate a dying a breath. 

Jac is shocked by the project, but compelled to complete Robbie's last project, she is also intrigued by the heiress as well as her estate which contains enough mysteries to intrigue the myth hunting Jac to accept the project.  Jac, with her ability to detect scent draws the reader and the modern characters back to the world of René Le Florentine through her lurches as well as a sense of familiarity Jac feels for the estate and to René himself.

The Collector of Dying Breaths is a magically constructed tale that weaves the past and the present in such a mesmerizing and entirely convincing way.  I loved the addition of Catherine de Medici to the novel and felt she truly added something special to The Collector of Dying Breaths.  Truly it was genius to weave Catherine, her court perfumer into a series that already revolved around Jac L'Etoile and the multi-generational family perfumery was nothing short of magic. 

M.J Rose has truly granted the literary world a wonderfully unique series, which includes The Collector of Dying Breaths.  Indeed almost every time my mind remarks on a smell I remember something from one of the novels.  Indeed, The Reincarnationist Series has infiltrated my life, has made me think of things, such as smells, with a bit more depth and often ponder the notion of reincarnation itself.  I assure you if you are a skeptic on that topic Rose will go a long way in convincing you otherwise.

The Collector of Dying Breaths truly captures your imagination and pulls you inside its pages.  The novel is filled to the brim with unique characters which each evoke a gamut of emotions that make the novel, despite its array of characters, wonderful imaginative provoking descriptions of scenery as well as a fairly complex dual narrative that is subtly weaved one around the other and despite all of this it is a novel you cannot put down, indeed I read it cover to cover without breaking so transported I was by the wonder that is the imagination and the written word of M.J. Rose.

Of course, I recommend it without hesitation, indeed if you miss it you wouldn't know a good novel if it smacked you in the face!

Advanced Praise for the Collector of Dying Breaths

“Mysterious, magical, and mythical, this book is as heady as the fragrances, potions and elixirs that saturate the pages.Twists and turns abound in this book. It had me guessing to the very end. What a joy to read!” New York Times Bestselling author Sara Gruen, Water For Elephants

“History, mystery, ambition, lust, love, death and the timeless quest for immortality—a riveting tale of suspense.” —B. A. Shapiro, New York Times bestselling author of The Art Forger

“From the labyrinthine alleyways of 16th century Paris to the danger-infused woodlands of 21st century Fontainebleau, M.J. Rose has crafted a superb, mesmerizing tale of two people separated by centuries yet linked by a haunting secret. Poison, obsession and undying love have never been so enticing—or so lethal. I could not stop reading it!” – C.W. Gortner, The Confessions of Catherine de Medici

“With an alchemist’s skill, M.J. Rose mixes present and past with the dark scent of love and an intricate mystery, creating a blend that is splendidly, spookily magical.” —New York Times bestseller, Susanna Kearsley

About the Author

M.J. Rose, is the international bestselling author of 13 novels:  Lip Service,In FidelityFlesh TonesSheet MusicLying in BedThe Halo EffectThe Delilah ComplexThe Venus Fix,The ReincarnationistThe Memorist,The HypnotistThe Book of Lost Fragrances, and Seduction.  Rose is also the co-author with Angela Adair Hoy of How to Publish and Promote Online and with Randy Susan Meyers of What to Do Before Your Book Launch.

She is a founding member and board member of International Thriller Writers and the founder of the first marketing company for authors: AuthorBuzz.com. She runs the popular blog; Buzz, Balls & Hype.

Getting published has been an adventure for Rose who self-published Lip Service late in 1998 after several traditional publishers turned it down. Editors had loved it, but didn’t know how to position it or market it since it didn’t fit into any one genre.

Frustrated, but curious and convinced that there was a readership for her work, she set up a web site where readers could download her book for $9.95 and began to seriously market the novel on the Internet.

After selling over 2500 copies (in both electronic and trade paper format) Lip Service became the first e-book and the first self-published novel chosen by the LiteraryGuild/Doubleday Book Club as well as being the first e-book to go on to be published by a mainstream New York publishing house.

Rose has been profiled in Time magazine, Forbes, The New York Times, Business 2.0, Working Woman, Newsweek and New York Magazine.

Rose has appeared on The Today Show, Fox News, The Jim Lehrer NewsHour, and features on her have appeared in dozens of magazines and newspapers in the U.S. and abroad, including USAToday, Stern, L’Official, Poets and Writers and Publishers Weekly.

Rose graduated from Syracuse University and spent the ’80s in advertising. She was the Creative Director of Rosenfeld Sirowitz and Lawson and she has a commercial in the Museum of Modern Art in NYC.

She lives in Connecticut with Doug Scofield, a composer, and their very spoiled dog, Winka. [from her website]

Giveaway: $25 amazon gift card (INT)

Please leave a comment indicating your actions to earn entries into the contest.

  • 1 entry for sharing about The Collector of Dying Breaths on Twitter (with url of post included) in comment.
  • 1 entry for sharing about The Collector of Dying Breaths on Facebook (with url of post included) in comment.
  • Entries without email addresses will not be accepted!
  • One winner will be chosen at random from The Most Happy Reader and will be forwarded to the author, joined with the winners from all the other participating blogs, and then two winners will be chosen from this selection.    


Tuesday, March 25
Review + Giveaway at The Most Happy Reader
Wednesday, March 26
Review + Giveaway at A Bookish Affair
Thursday, March 27
Review + Giveaway at
Musings of a Writer and Unabashed Francophile
Friday, March 28
Review + Interview + Giveaway at
Vvb32 Reads
Saturday, March 29
Review + Giveaway at Words And Peace
Sunday, March 30
Review + Giveaway at
Ciska’s Book Chest
Monday, March 31
Review + Giveaway at
Queen of All She Reads
Tuesday, April 1
Review + Giveaway at Books A To Z
Wednesday, April 2
Review + Giveaway at I Am, Indeed
Thursday, April 3
Review at Lisa’s Yarns
Friday, April 4
Review at Blog in France
Saturday, April 5
Review at Doing Dewey
Sunday, April 6
Review at Valli’s Book Den
Monday, April 7
Review + Giveaway at Wildmoo Books
Tuesday, April 8
Interview + Giveaway at Book Nerd
Wednesday, April 9
Review at An Accidental Blog
Thursday, April 10
Review + review video at
Kerrie Ann Salsac / Writing For Life
Friday, April 11

Review at Mystery Playground
Sunday, April 13
Review + Giveaway at Making My Mark


  1. thanks so much for your fabulous review! you are definitely a fan, lol, and for good reasons, this is quite a book!

  2. My absolute pleasure... So glad I had the honor of starting the tour!

  3. shared on www.facebook.com/cyn209

    thank you for the giveaway!!

    cyn209 at juno dot com

  4. Wow~ just wow. This looks like an awesome read and I've gladly added it to my TBR. Thanks for sharing an outstanding post today. I shared on the following sites:





  5. I am just beginning to read SEDUCTION. I will check out your review.

    THANKS for a great post.

    Silver's Reviews
    My Blog

    1. Now I understand your comment about the Seduction Review. Please let me know what you think about the novel. I will pop over and follow your blog so we can keep in touch.

  6. I shared on Twitter.1:23 PM - 31 Mar 2014@DeniseDuvall2
    I shared on Facebook. https://www.facebook.com/denise.duvall.10
    I shared on Pinterest.http://www.pinterest.com/pin/504332858243829558/


Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts!!

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