Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Jenn's Review: The Book of Lost Fragrances

Summary:  A sweeping and suspenseful tale of secrets, intrigue, and lovers separated by time, all connected through the mystical qualities of a perfume created in the days of Cleopatra--and lost for 2,000 years. Jac L'Etoile has always been haunted by the past, her memories infused with the exotic scents that she grew up surrounded by as the heir to a storied French perfume company. In order to flee the pain of those remembrances--and of her mother's suicide--she moved to America. Now, fourteen years later she and her brother have inherited the company along with it's financial problems. But when Robbie hints at an earth-shattering discovery in the family archives and then suddenly goes missing--leaving a dead body in his wake--Jac is plunged into a world she thought she'd left behind.  Back in Paris to investigate her brother's disappearance, Jac becomes haunted by the legend the House of L'Etoile has been espousing since 1799. Is there a scent that can unlock the mystery of reincarnation - or is it just another dream infused perfume?
The Book of Lost Fragrances fuses history, passion, and suspense, moving from Cleopatra's Egypt and the terrors of revolutionary France to Tibet's battle with China and the glamour of modern-day Paris. Jac's quest for the ancient perfume someone is willing to kill for becomes the key to understanding her own troubled past.

Review:  I was really excited when the publicist offered M.J. Rose's The Book of Lost Fragrances because I loved her last book, The Hypnotist (my review).  The Book of Lost Fragrances is the fourth book in her Reincarntionist series and it's a rare series where you don't have to read the other books to enjoy the one you have in hand.

This is one of those books where, even though I didn't like the protagonist, I still loved the book.  I wanted to shake Jac, quite frankly.  When you keep having visions there is usually two ways to deal, either accept them or go mad, but Jac has found a third way, explaining them away with Jungian archetypes.  I understand why she is so reluctant to accept her visions, they've terrorized her since she was a child, but her long winded explanations have got to sound far fetched even to her.  Yet, once you have a coping mechanism, it's hard to let it go.  Still, her hard-headed realism make it difficult to like her.

Although it seemed slightly incredulous that all these stories tied together, I must say that I loved the Chinese-Tibetan story line.  There is a good dose of frightening reality (there is so much to which we turn a blind eye in that region) that makes this such a heartbreaking story.  I liked that this ending had more promise of hope that in the real world.  I loved the concept of scent memories being an access point for past lives.  I have a very sensitive nose and great scent memory so the thought of a certain scent being able to regress one beyond this lifetime is intriguing.  I thought Jac's lesson from her past life was interesting, and I honestly would have liked to see a little more closure with this storyline, but I understand why Ms. Rose left it this way.

I don't want to spoil the mystery by saying too much more, but this is a fantastic suspense novel, filled with past, present, and a glimmer of hope for the future.  I still have yet to read the first two books in the series, but I'm definitely going to because I adore M.J. Rose's ability to spin a story.

Final Take:  4.5/5

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