Mythologist Jac L'Etoile returns to Paris after wrapping up her television shows for the coming season to find her beloved brother, Robbie, dying. Robbie is slipping away, and no one can find the cause. Poison is suggested, but the toxicologists have been unable to identify it.
After Robbie's death, Jac is distraught. When she is approached by Melinoe, a very wealthy woman, and her brother Serge to complete Robbie's final project, she at first refuses, but feeling close to Robbie at their chateau, she agrees to complete the project. Melinoe and her brother Serge commissioned Robbie to find the elixir that would unlock the vials of dying breaths left in the chateau by Rene le Floretin. Rene, perfumer to Catherine de Medici, lived and worked in the chateau where he was trying to unlock the secret of the dying breaths.
The story shifts from the court of Catherine de Medici to the present day. Although telling a story in two time periods can be tricky, M.J. Rose carries it out perfectly. The two plot lines fit together aided by Jac's ability to remember past lives, both her own and those of others.
The book is filled with fascinating glimpses of the world of the perfumer both in 16th century Italy and the present day. The topic of reincarnation is presented in a realistic fashion as are the historical details of the Medici court. Although this book is a paranormal romance with a core mystery, the book is much more. It is intelligently written. The characters are well rounded, and the settings are enticing.
I highly recommend this book. Even if you haven't read the previous books in the series, this book can be read and enjoyed as a stand alone novel. It may entice you to read the two earlier books.
I reviewed this book for Net Galley