I began this journey with Jac L'Etoile in Seduction and I admit it was a bit difficult getting into the rhythm of the way the book is put together. The historical perspectives were very much like Jac's memory lurches and were a bit disconcerting. I've read several books in the series culminating in Collector of Dying Breaths. I wondered how M. J. Rose would incorporate perfumes and reincarnation into the story and now I know.
Jac's brother is dying from some unknown disease and he's going quickly, so quickly he does not have the time necessary to tell Jac everything she needs to know to carry on his work before he is gone. Robbie wants Jac to finish his work discovering the combination of fragrances to complete the project and infused the collection of dying breaths so they can be used to reanimate the men and women whose last breaths were caught. Knowing she must also work with Griffin is difficult enough, but the memory lurches remind Jac why she has distanced herself from Griffin. If the memory lurches are the result of her relationship with Griffin, she will once again cause his death. She cannot have that on her hands.
Jac's life is far from tranquil or uncomplicated and have always been since the memory lurches began. She is close to realizing what she experiences are past life memories of hers and others' lives. That is something she is reluctant to believe, that souls can come together again and again in new bodies with the same agendas and fates. That is what makes this series complicated and a bit redundant. After all this time, Jac should be ready to accept what she already knows: reincarnation is a fact and she has a gift not a curse.
Collector of Dying Breaths is set along the same lines that M. J. Rose began this series with and the memory lurches have become less disconcerting at least to this reader. Rose's ability to recreate the past and make it believable and fascinating is wonderful. Translating that information through Jac's abilities has ben a little rough around the edges and yet that lurch is part of the charm of the series and of Jac's stubbon refusal to embrace her abilities.
The one part of Collector of Dying Breaths that makes me sad is that it seems this series is now ended with the resolution of Jac's fears and the realization of long held hopes. Time moves on and even stubborn Jac must embrace the future, especially after yet another near death experience.
The manner in which Rose weaves the threads of reincarnation and Buddhist teachings throughout the series is masterful and the characters are memorable, even those that exist for more than a few sentences or pages. Rose writes rich and wonderful characters with complexity and texture that ooze reality. Nothing is ever as simple as it seems and clues are salted at just the right places to keep readers turning pages and moving through the web of deception and discovery.
I do not doubt that someone once tried to capture the dying breath in order to find a way to bring the dead back to life or that perfumes were part of that alchemical reaction in some distant past. I also do not doubt that Rose has yet more fascinating stories to tell and characters to reveal that will send this reader plunging into the worlds and stories she concocts. I have enjoyed many of Rose's series in the past and look forward to many more in the future. Collector of Dying Breaths is one of my favorites, not because of the resolution of so many conflicts, but because of the way in which Jac L'Etoile has grown and adapted to a world set on shaking ground. I'd give this one 4/5 stars but only because I think Jac should have embraced her talents long before now and because Nostradamus played such a small part in this tale, especially since he created a fragrance of sorts that was said to have protected against the Black Plague, which was rampaging through Europe at the time the Florentine perfumer was working out his alchemical tool for reincarnation. Brava!