Title: The Collector of Dying Breaths
Author: M.J. Rose
Source: from publisher for France Book Tours
Review Summary: Although the writing of this book included bits that were melodramatic and bits that were dry, I really enjoyed the action-packed plot, complex characters, unique mythology, and rich grounding in historical fact.
Jac L’Etoile has been hiding from her past. She’s avoided joining the family perfume business, is skeptical about her visions of past lives, and tries not to think about her ex-boyfriend Griffin. However, her brother’s death will force her to confront all three as she tries to finish his final project: reconstructing an ancient formula for reviving someone using their dying breath. Through her visions, she learns about the originator of the dying breath project, René le Florentin. René is both a perfumer and a poisoner for Catherine de Medici. Only by learning about René’s tragic death can Jac hope to avoid the same fate.
I’m surprised the writing is on of my least favorite parts of this book, because at the beginning it was fantastic. The first few pages introduce us to René’s story. The writing is lush and beautiful, haunting even, with the author sharing just enough information that I was hooked. Unfortunately, I didn’t feel that way for the rest of the book. The dialogue and Jac’s thoughts often seemed melodramatic to me. There were a handful of long info dumps, often with information about Jac’s past, which I found dry. They were helpful though, as I never felt lost jumping into this sixth book in a series. There was also a section with three sex scenes in a row, which were well written but didn’t all seem necessary to me and so slowed the plot. The writing may also have kept me from feeling very immersed in the book. I was curious about what was going to happen next, but I didn’t feel compelled to keep going until I found out.
Although the writing wasn’t my cup of tea, everything else about this book really worked for me. Reincarnation is an old idea, as are the suspicions that Catherine de Medici kept a poisoner. In this book, the author completely refreshed these ideas, treating them in a new and fascinating way. Better still, they are rooted in history, with a historical note available to help the reader sort out fact and fiction. The characters were another strength of the book, very complex and intriguing. René and Jac both face some tough moral choices and don’t always make the best decisions. They are understandable decisions though and help flesh out their characters. Several of the relationships are very complicated, including René’s relationship with Catherine and the relationship of a step-brother/step-sister pair who get involved in the present day quest. Jac’s relationship with her brother isn’t as complex, but it’s heartwarming and a great addition to the story. The plot was a tad predictable, but still fun and full of action. Even though the writing could be better, I would recommend this to fans of books such as The DaVinci Code for it’s great characters, interesting historical background, and nice helping of drama and adventure.