Really, why wouldn't you want to pick up this book with that glorious cover? I was happy to receive an ARC of this book, which is out in early May. Thanks to Atria/Simon & Schuster for feeding my M.J. Rose addiction.
Seduction continues the story of Jac L'Etoile, a young woman who we first met in the previous equally fantastic novel The Book of Lost Fragrances. I would suggest reading that book first; you will definitely have a few loose ends if you read Seduction alone since there are characters from the first novel that play roles in this one; story lines do run over a bit, too.
Jac flies to the Isle of Jersey, in the Channel Islands, to revisit old friend Theo and explore all the Celtic monoliths and sites around the island. Jac is famous for a show she produces about investigating the origins of myths, and this is a perfect opportunity to dig into a new place and find untapped Celtic myths.
Her background with Theo is complicated. Both first met as young teens when they attended Blixer Rath, a clinic for troubled young people in Switzerland. This place is a bit out of the ordinary; it treats teens who have extraordinary issues and uses hypnosis and past life therapy among other treatments to get to the root of problems. Here, Jac and Theo form a bond that sees them experiencing the same dreams, and drawing the same symbols in art class--independent of each other. Just what is their connection?
Oh--and enter Victor Hugo, he of the Les Miserables fame. Yep. He's a big part of this story, too. He lived on Jersey in the 1850's, and dabbled in seances, desperately trying to contact his dead daughter, who drowned in a boating accident. He comes in contact with something called The Shadow of the Sepulcher--could it be the Devil himself? Whatever it is, it beckons Hugo with a tempting offer--sacrifice someone else, so his daughter may live again.
How is Jac tied to Theo and the island? Theo's family lives in Wells in the Wood house, which is such an extraordinarily described home that I really want it to exist. I would live there if I could. His wife has recently died; he has a very prickly relationship with his brother, Ash, and his two aunts are troubled by everything past and present that has affected the family. Oh, what a mix of mysteries!
Jac's extraordinary sense of smell plays a big part in this novel. Her family business of perfumery is again part of this story; it has connections to Jersey that will unfold as the story moves along. There is a lot going on in this novel; it's a great one for readers who enjoy unraveling a mystery cloaked in a bit of the supernatural--and reincarnation. It explores the theory that we are all haunted by past lives and actions taken that must be addressed and put to rest. We come back to fix things; we come back with the same people because karma demands it. I will say I loved how it all ends--and thought it very clever how Jac finally realizes her gift, and what to do with it.
Fans of Susanna Kearsley, Barbara Erskine, and anyone who enjoys historical fiction with some paranormal elements will enjoy M. J. Rose. She writes a great story, and you can tell she has taken much time to research and craft a story that's hard to put down.
This book will be available in early May in hardcover, and as an e-book.
Rating: 7/10. I would recommend reading The Book of Lost Fragrances first, to introduce you to Jac and other characters that show up in this novel. I would consider this a series, and this is the second novel.