Author: Jean Lowe Carlson
Series: Three Days of Oblenite #1
Release Date: 23 March 2013
Gryffine Toulunnet is cursed to steal life with her kiss. Repressed and miserable, she is free of her curse but once a year, upon the heady death-festival of Rollows. Until her curse marks dashing barman Jessup Rohalle as her soulmate in a single night of passion. Destined to meet again, Jessup finds Gryffine and opens her restricted life into pleasure, causing Gryffine to fight her curse's isolation. But Gryffine's dark draw to kill is shared by another, a man bitterly cursed like she, a secret that Jessup can never know. And only her dark lover understands her suffering.
~ Excerpt ~
Jessup chewed his lip a moment. “Some of the old stories are true, Gryffine. And I think yours is one of them. Though I admit… it’s a very strange version of what I traditionally hear.”
Gryffine frowned. “What have you heard?”
“The tale of the Boy and the Bones. It’s the traditional story of Rollows. A young boy touches some bones and is cursed with the Kiss of Death, with which he kills his own mother. It’s where the Rollows toast comes from.”
“I’ve heard the story.”
Jessup looked at her oddly. “You have?”
Gryffine nodded. “The evening we first met. I was with my mother at the Gypsun market that afternoon, and I heard an old raglady telling it to a group of youths at one of the bonfires.”
“So you know how it goes.”
She nodded again. “But I’m a woman. And my curse didn’t start from touching some old bones.”
He shrugged. “Other than that… don’t you think the story describes your situation perfectly?”
Gryffine lifted an eyebrow.
“Come on.” Jessup pinched out the incense and stood. “Let’s have dinner in the Gypsun Quarter. I’ll take you to Aeshe and then we can find Rennet and talk to him about your manse.”
Gryffine took his proffered hand and stood, then made for the outer door of the sepulcher. “This way. I’ll show you the backyard before we go.”
They pushed through the heavy stone door and into the sunlight, flooding down on what was turning out to be a perfect spring afternoon. The air was moist and refreshing after the dry musk of the sepulcher, and Gryffine’s mood lifted to the radiant sun and the bright-tempered man at her side. They shoved the stone door shut and traipsed the gravel walk through the verge to the back porch. She was already tripping up the steps with a much lighter heart when a small pull came at her hand from Jessup.
“Hold on a tic. What’s that?”
“What?” Gryffine glanced over, then followed his gaze to a small fenced-off area with a wrought-iron railing that contained a fixture of the manse she had come to accept as one of its many oddities. Inside the railing, upon an extra side-swath of the stone back porch, sat an ancient wrought-iron coffin, its vellum gone and the bones inside long turned to dust under the protection of the gables and eaves. But as Gryffine glanced at it, she, too, noticed something about the coffin that made the hair of her neck stand on end.
Within the confines of the wrought-iron, right where a corpse’s chest would once have been, grew a single, perfect yellow day-flower, nodding its sunburst head to the light spring breeze.
Jessup grinned at her. “Should I sneak through the bars of the railing and go touch it?”
But a rush of alarm went through Gryffine just then, and she hastily gripped Jessup’s arm, drawing him back. “No! Leave it alone.”
“It’s just a day-flower. They probably grow there every spring.”
Gryffine shook her head. “There have never been any lowers there. Mother tried every spring to grow some. She hated the coffin but was too superstitious to move it. She sprinkled lenou-seeds in the bone-dust, flush-horn seeds, pennybright. Everything she could think of. Nothing ever grew.
“Huh. Must have sprinkled day-flower seeds at some point and one finally took.” But even Gryffine could tell that Jessup’s teasing tone had gone to one of wary caution. “I’ll speak to Rennet about getting that whole thing off the porch and putting it in the sepulcher where it belongs.”
Gryffine swallowed and nodded. “That would be best, I think.” She tore her eyes away from the nodding yellow flower and tugged him up the porch, trying to put it from her mind.
~ Review ~
I found the premise of this book quite unique sounding, so I was thrilled when I was asked to review it for part of the blog tour. As soon as I received my copy I dove right in. Carlson has crafted a fantastic world! It's dark, but not overwhelmingly so, and packed with an intricate history. And I really liked that the celebration of Rollows evoked a sense of comfort for me.
Gryffine is a wonderfully complex character; a strong protagonist who comes to learn that she carries a curse which will kill anyone she kisses the majority of the year, and has to come to terms with what life has dealt her. I adored how Gryffine first crossed paths with Jessup during a Rollows night, and finds him again in a time of heartbreak. Then there's Jessup, a Gypsum man who is so, so devoted and passionate towards Gryffine that he's willing to work around her curse.
There were a couple of issues I had with Breath, one of which is the novel's pacing. It was very herky-jerky; it frequently left me confused as to where I was in time, and what side and personality of Gryffine's I was going to be seeing. Plus, the ending left me a little unsatisfied.
All things considered, I was quite happy with Carlson's Breath. I enjoyed following Gryffine as she came into her own, and found her HEA. I look forward to having a chance to pick up Tears and Blood, and further experience the world she's created.
~ About the Author ~
You can find her at:
~ Other Books in This Series ~
ABOUT THE SERIES - Three Days of Oblenite (3 novels)
This darkly romantic, gothic paranormal fantasy series is rife with superstition, piety, and the devious nature of the mystic. The three novels take place in a dark version of Victorian-era Paris, and feature three characters cursed with the gifts of a dead saint. Swept up in the torturous undercurrents of their desperate curses, their lives collide in desire, lust, power, obsession, addiction, fervor, desperation, and death.
“Breath” features a young woman cursed to celibacy and unable to find love because her kiss kills, all except one night a year.
“Tears” tells the story of a young man cursed to feel bliss when he is whipped, and the religious conflict he feels as he finds himself in a relationship with the man who brings him release.
While in “Blood”, a brilliant surgeon cursed with blood that heals descends into a desperate underworld, addicted to working miracles. And in the seedy Gypsun Quarter at the edge of the Saints Commons, there is no blessing that can save those cursed to depravity, darkness, and permission. They can only save themselves
Series: Three Days of Oblenite #2
Release Date: 4 May 2015
Pious half-Gypsun Phillip d’Auvery is tortured. His soul is pledged to his god, but Phillip’s life has a darker aspect that drives him to the scourging lash of the Padrenne of Saint Sommes Cathedral year after year. For Phillip’s curse is a bliss that can only be found when pain smites him until tears are shed. His blissful curse alienates him until Phillip discovers a man who understands pain and power, the stern Oruthane d’Iver. As Phillip’s love for his dominant lover grows, the two are exposed, and danger begins to follow them. But there is no greater danger than the dark secret smoldering in Phillip’s heart, which will threaten everything dear to him.
Potential Triggers: intense BDSM with whips.
Series: Three Days of Oblenite #3
Release Date: 26 June 2015
Brilliant surgeon Aulen Gregoire discovers by an accident of fate that his blood causes patients to survive death. His ability to steal patients from death's clutches turns into obsession, and the blessing becomes a curse as his own vitality is ripped away, craving the bliss of saving lives like a drug. Unleashed like a howling creature, his vast addiction drags him down to the deadly blue lights of the city's most desperate, where Aulen becomes the Angelus of the Catacombs. And before his need is through, it will cost him everything; his position, friends, family, and his life.
Potential Triggers: male rape, sexual coercion