The Collector of Dying Breaths (Atria, April) is the follow-up to The Book of Lost Fragrances and Seduction. They all feature Jac (short for Jacinth) L’Etoile, a young woman who is part of a perfume dynasty in France. She was joined in the previous novels by her brother Robbie, her on-and-off boyfriend, Griffin North, and her mentor, Malachi Samuels. These three books are part of a larger collection of books built around a theme: reincarnation.
Jac has experienced past-life regression or “memory lurches,” as author M. J. Rose terms it. She sees herself in prior lives interacting with Griffin’s prior incarnations, to no good end in each case. In addition to being able to sense her own past lives, she apparently can also “see” the lives of others. In this book, Rose presents a well-researched—but definitely fictionalized—look at the 16th century French court of Catherine de Medici and the life of a perfumer of that time period, René le Florentin, one of the people Jac can “see.”
In the present time, Melinoe Cypros, an heiress à la Christina Onassis, and her stepbrother, Serge Grise, were working with Robbie on a mysterious project, until Robbie’s untimely death. Now they want Jac to finish what Robbie started. René, they think, had perfected the art of reincarnating the dead using their last dying breaths, and Melinoe wants Jac to finish recreating that formula. Oodles of money bought Melinoe some exquisite objets d’art, and that same money pile, she thinks, will help her obtain this desire.
Part thriller, part erotic romance, part historical fiction, M. J. Rose has successfully crafted her own genre. Initially turned down by all the big publishing houses because her early efforts did not conveniently fit into any of the genres of the time (1998), M. J. Rose subsequently proved that a book—with careful promotion and word-of-mouth praise—could be sold on the Internet. That led finally to a print book deal. M. J. Rose has had the last laugh, and her large reading audience has benefitted from her perseverance.
M.J. Rose: http://www.mjrose.com/content/author.asp (photo taken by Judith Pushett)
Perfume cover: http://www.turismo.intoscana.it/allthingstuscany/tuscanyarts/santa-maria-novella-perfume/