My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Published September 15th 2011 by Lansen Publishing
'Set in New York and Paris amid the glamorous and competitive worlds of art and real estate, Scorpio Rising takes the reader from the late 1940s to the 1960s through the tumultuous lives of its heroes.
There is Alex Ivanov, the son of a Russian immigrant and part-time prostitute. He yearns to escape his sordid life and achieve fame and fortune. His dreams of becoming a world-class builder are met with countless obstacles, yet he perseveres in the hope of someday receiving the recognition he craves.
Half a world away, Brigitte Dartois is an abused teenager who runs into the arms of a benefactor with an agenda all his own. When she finds out that her boss has an ulterior motive, she flees again, determined to earn her living through her art. This career brings her fame, but also the unwanted attention of her early abuser.'
Well, I have to admit that I haven’t experienced so many different emotions while reading a book before than I did when reading this one.
While reading Scorpio Rising I felt sorrow, disgust, frustration, bewilderment, annoyance, sympathy and empathy all at different stages during the book. When I finally finished reading the book I couldn’t decide how I actually felt after coming to the end.
The main characters, Alex and Brigitte, are both very driven characters in their own way and are both a big product of their harsh individual upbringings.
Alex is driven in a very hard, no nonsense way where his life revolves around work and study just so that he can constantly better himself and one day achieve his dream of becoming a rich man. This means there is no room for any social life or getting to know others on a friendly level in his life and woman are practically throw-away items to him.
Brigitte on the other hand, is also very driven but is a bit more personable as a character than Alex. She seems to be quite naive in some respects and doesn’t seem to realise the ulterior motives behind what others do for her until it’s too late.
The story takes us on the journey of these two individuals from childhood to adulthood as they deal with their own life hurdles on different sides of the world.
A certain event eventually takes place where Alex and Brigitte meet and after a time realise that their lives are not complete without the other one. This book ends on a bit of a cliffhanger which makes you want to get straight into reading the second instalment, The Sting of the Scorpio, just to see what eventually happens.
Overall, Scorpio Rising moves at a pretty constant pace that keeps the reader engaged and wanting to know what is going to happen next. The only issue I had was when Alex and Brigitte finally meet towards the end as this part of the story seemed a bit hurried to me and I don’t feel that they fully developed together enough as a couple. Other than that I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys books that can be a bit eye-opening at times as this one will definitely leave you thinking after reading certain parts.
On a more personal note, I have to admit that certain parts in this book made me a bit sad at times. Brigitte's son ends up being diagnosed with a certain condition that one of our dogs struggled with and we ended up having to make the decision to put him to sleep in January of this year because of it. It probably sounds stupid to some of you that I got sad associating a character's condition in a book with a dog we once had but it was a very emotional and trying time of our life spent attempting to treat him before we eventually had no choice but to do what was best for him in the end. Anyway, this story is totally irrelevant to the book but I just felt compelled to share.
Today I have some questions that have been answered by Monique to share with you all in addition to the Guest Post from yesterday:
Q: The beginning of the novel starts off abruptly and with a lot of very physical, sensual, and even taboo themes. What made you decide to start Scorpio Rising this way? How do you think your readership reacted initially?
Alexander Ivanov is an irresistible charmer, and I wanted to illustrate this from the start. It was also important that I create a reason for his mistrust of women. Abused children often become victims of sexual predators because of their immense need for love. And often, these children grow up and gravitate toward others very much like them. This is why I also chose to make Brigitte an early victim. Throughout the book, I tried to show the duality these early experiences gave them, their strength manifested in their work, and their weakness manifested in their insecurities and unhealthy life choices.
is an effective backdrop for Brigitte and the final scenes of the novel. Why did France, and specifically Paris, stand out to you as the setting you wanted to use rather than Canada or a closer city? Paris
I chose cities that most resembled my main characters—New York for its fast pace, its huge ambition and opportunities and for what we often think of when we think New York, skyscrapers and multi-million dollar real estate deals. This was the perfect representation of Alex. Paris, on the other hand, makes me think of everything that is beautiful, beginning with romance and art, representative of Brigitte.
Q: Though the story starts with Alex, Brigitte’s chapters grow longer and more detailed. Was this something you planned or did Brigitte grown on you as a character? How did you decide to use the competition in
as a method of linking the two characters? Did you ever consider keeping them from meeting? Paris
These two characters were destined to meet. And as exciting as the first novel is, the sequel is where the action really starts. Everything revolves around Alex and Brigitte’s relationship. But to answer your question, yes, Brigitte grew on me. She is such a wonderful character, so strong yet so flawed. And being a bit of an artist myself, I found myself enjoying her struggles and her successes.
Q: What novels and authors inspired you to write Scorpio Rising? Are any themes from these novels alluded to in your story?
I don’t know that any specific authors or specific books inspired me…except maybe the Centaine series by Wilbur Smith. I just love books with really strong characters that are as lovable as they are sometimes despicable. I wanted to create a cast that wouldn’t leave readers indifferent.
Q: Which character was your least favorite to write? What about that character made him or her so difficult to convey? Do you feel you successfully developed him or her?
The most difficult character to develop was Lucien. I wanted readers to see him for what he was, but still disguise his real motives from Brigitte.
Q: Sex is a great example of power and how some characters, such as Anne and Alex, use it to try and exert their will over others. While you wrote Scorpio Rising, did you expect sex and power to play such strong roles? How do you think the novel would be different without the aspect of sex?
I was very careful to write sex scenes that were not graphic. I wanted the reader to know that sex was taking place, but without going into details. When I write, I always keep in mind that my parents and my children will be reading this. Chuckle. Sex, however, is an important tool to use when illustrating manipulative behavior.
Q: While Lucien and Anne will be in the second book, Sting of the Scorpio, can your readership expect to see any other characters that have a negative impact on the protagonists’ lives?
We can say goodbye to Lucien, but Anne Turner does return and although her presence in the second book is relegated to short but regular sections, her role is pivotal. You’ll be seeing enough of her to make her your favorite evil character again.
Q: Brigitte doesn’t seek to have power or control over anything but her own life. What was the goal in creating such an opposition of control between her and Alex?
Brigitte’s entire reason for being is to earn the love of her husband. She truly believes that if she is good enough or tries hard enough, she can get Alex to change. How many of us believed that when we were younger. Those flaws are so easy to see in a character from a book. Too bad we don’t always recognize them in ourselves until life has given us a few harsh lessons.
Q: Who was your inspiration for Gigi? Does he represent any specific theme or have any relation to another work? Will other Gigi-like characters appear in the sequel?
I just wanted to have fun, and also to poke a bit of fun at Alex, for being so macho. Many readers have told me that they had to put the book down, laughing to tears at the Gigi scene. And that’s exactly what I hoped it would do—give us all a good laugh.
Q: Gender and sexual orientation play very specific roles in Scorpio Rising. For example, Fortune often mentions that he is gay and was never interested in Brigitte as a lover. He often is expressed as resenting his previous protégé, Cigogne, for cheating him out of his money. How do Fortune’s sexuality and his desire for money work hand-in-hand?
Two of the strongest driving forces in human nature are love and money, and love is often defined as sexuality, and money is often expressed as power. I’ve also noticed that the more powerful men often seem to have the greatest libido. I read somewhere that testosterone is largely responsible for a man’s ambition—which might explain why the rich and famous are often such carousers—so I linked the hunger for money and for sex in my most ambitious characters.
Q: With Sting of the Scorpio already released, what are you currently working on?
I have a finished a novel—still unpublished—currently being considered for a Hollywood movie. This is incredibly exciting for me. I keep reminding myself, however, that the chances of it getting produced are slim to none, but just being considered is a huge compliment. I’m also nearing the finishing line of my first murder-mystery for Penguin, after which I’ll probably take a few months to finish a few other projects I’ve had to put aside. I have so many stories floating around in my head that I’ll never be without material, or without a break for that matter. J
Please don't forget that Monique is having an exciting 99cent promotion for her books, Scorpio Rising and The Sting of the Scorpio all this week and is also doing a mega giveaway on her blog. Go check it out to win gift certificates to Amazon and free books! http://moniquedomovitch.com/