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Black Venus    by James MacManus order for
Black Venus
by James MacManus
Order:  USA  Can
St. Martin's, 2013 (2013)
Hardcover, e-Book
* *   Reviewed by Elizabeth Crowley

James MacManus takes viewers to the romantic, but dark era of nineteenth-century Paris. Poet Charles Baudelaire is mesmerized when he meets the beautiful cabaret singer, Jeanne Duval. Their passionate but dysfunctional relationship inspires Charles to produce his most daring poetry yet. But as Jeanne watches the once alluring Charles disintegrate into a drug addicted unappreciated poet, the years she has devoted to their relationship prompt her to bid farewell to the infamous Baudelaire forever. Yet, their all consuming passion cripples both poet and singer leaving them in a toxic relationship which threatens to destroy them both.

Cabaret singer, Jeanne Duval, was suspicious when the well-dressed poet declared his infatuation with her. But Charles Baudelaire's luxurious apartment was more than Jeanne Duval had ever experienced. Soon the poet was showering her with pricey gifts and introducing Jeanne to the life of a mistress of the elite. But as the years passed, Jeanne realized how she had thrown her life away on a poet who drank away what little wealth he managed to acquire. The life of luxury Charles Baudelaire once provided is exchanged for dingy hotel rooms and the deterioration of Charles' career and health. Romantic, yet forever emotionally detached, Baudelaire fails to keep the attention of his muse, who he calls the Black Venus.

When Jeanne Duval decides to leave Charles forever, the poet's publisher will go to any lengths to keep the Baudelaire's muse by his side. But Charles' overbearing mother vows to remove the woman she considers her son's downfall from his life. When Jean must make the ultimate decision between finding the life she always dreamed of and staying by the side of the man she devoted her youth to, she finds herself surprised by the decision that sets both their future in stone.

Black Venus delivers a passionate period romance that history and poetry buffs will fall in love with. James MacManus' descriptions of nineteenth-century Paris are bold and vivid. Even readers who are not familiar with Charles Baudelaire's poetry will be smitten by this forbidden romance. Featuring a cast of familiar writers and artists, Black Venus is a masterpiece. Charles and Jeanne's torrid relationship will leave readers eager for more details about this unlikely but notorious couple.

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