The Collector of Dying Breaths by MJ Rose (pub date April 8, 2014)
A lush and imaginative novel that crisscrosses time as a perfumer and a mythologist search for the fine line between potion and poison, poison and passion…and past and present.
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.
I’ve been a fan of MJ Rose for about two years now, and I fell in love with her “Resurrectionist” series after I read Seduction last year. The Collector of Dying Breaths is a follow-up to Seduction, and also features the brilliant mythologist and perfumer Jac L’Etoile.
After suffering a personal tragedy, Jac uncovers a 500 year old mystery that was thought to only be the stuff of myth. In a historic French chateau, Jac finds an extensive collection of dying breaths owned by famous 16th century perfumer Rene le Florentin. Rene was supposedly working on an elixir that could be the key to immortality, and his work could give Jac the answers she has been looking for…or destroy her.
I loved this book; I enjoyed it even more than Seduction! Jac is a wonderful protagonist: dynamic, compelling, and real. Her intelligence and spirit set her apart from other people, but her fragility and tenderness make her relatable. Her obsession with the dying breaths mirrors Rene’s own obsession with death and immortality. Rene’s story is just as gripping as Jac’s, and the two tales are blended seamlessly to create this intense, beautiful story of love and loss.
If you’ve never read MJ Rose before, the “Resurrectionist” series is a great way to get started. Don’t miss out on The Collector of Dying Breaths. It’s an imaginative, passionate, and suspenseful story that’s sure to stick with you long after you’ve finished!