Rene Natan


Since I was a little girl I wanted to be a storyteller. At recess time I would gather some of my schoolmates and entertain them with stories—some of my own, others just summaries of books I read. When I retired, after a career as a professor of computer science at The University of Western Ontario, I reverted to my old passion. I took several e-courses on fiction writing and began putting down my plots. So far I have written eight novels, several short stories and co-authored a novella. The genre varies from romantic suspense (Mountains of Dawn, The Collage, Cross of Sapphires, Operation Woman in Black, The Red Manor) to thriller (The Jungfrau Watch, The Blackpox Threat, The Bricklayer). Most of these books are available on

The Blackpox Threat won First Place in the 2012 Five Star Dragonfly Award and was a Finalist in the 2011 National Indie Excellence Award; The Bricklayer got an Honorary Mention in the 2012 San Francisco Book Competition.
Visit me at or send an email to


Romancing the Tone:
Review of Rene Natan’s Mountain of Dawns
By Frank Mundo

Mountain of Dawns opens with a bang, literally: an explosion which kills one young woman named Kathy Alcin and injures another named Tanya Caldwell.
22 year-old Tanya Caldwell is an artist, “a dreamer” and a student at the Mackenzie Academy for the Visual Arts in Vermeil, Ontario, 80 miles outside of Toronto. “…Quiet. Well-mannered. Neat,” Tanya’s “a bit strange…like all creative people”. Orphaned as a child, Tanya dreams of dusty roads and the fosters homes she has bounced in and out of throughout her childhood. With no family, no money, and with no apparent connections to the world other than her art, Tanya seems harmless and rather insignificant in the grand scheme of things. So, why in the world would anyone want to kill her?
The explosion we learn, however, is not an accident, but a car bomb. A mob-style hit which seems to have been intended for Tanya, who had only loaned her car to her roommate for the day. Oddly enough, we learn that this isn’t the first (and won’t be the last) attempt on Tanya’s life as we follow her through the twists and turns of Rene Natan’s novel billed as a Romance/Thriller.
Okay, I know what you’re thinking: Oh no, Romance novel, right? Those cheesy books at the grocery store with a glossy, embossed picture of a pastel, ruffle-bloused Fabio and his big tan man-boobs on the cover. That’s what I was thinking too when I was asked to review it. Thankfully, this is not one of those books (which, depressingly, by the way, are among the most sellable and most sought after manuscripts in all of genre fiction these days). Mountain of Dawns is far more thrilling than romantic in that sense. As Tanya flees to the Riviera (a safe haven for her art as well) she does have a romantic affair with a publisher named Kevin Matwin, and does meet up with an Italian Count with suspicious international connections and serious clout. But the “romantic” element, if anything, is linked more to a type of storytelling made famous by “sentimental” writers of the past, writers such as Harriet Beecher Stowe or the Bronte sisters, and not the modern, escapist bologna that titillated housewives hide under their mattresses. In fact, Tanya Caldwell resembles, as a character, the character Jane Eyre in many ways, from her orphaned childhood to her mysterious ancestry and surprising windfalls.
The plot of Mountain of Dawns owes quite a bit to the plot of Charlotte Bronte’s famous feminist romance Jane Eyre as well. Those familiar with Bronte’s story know that I can’t say much more about the plot of Natan’s novel without spoiling the twists and surprising turn of events which link the innocent Tanya Caldwell to the financial motive of her corrupted and desperate would-be killers. Those unfamiliar with Jane Eyre (which I was forced to read in five different lit classes over the years) will just have to take my word for it.
Natan’s style, however, does differ from Bronte’s in that it lacks the strong biased tone and the heavy-handed ultra-sentimentalism of the old-fashion Romance novels. At times her prose even seems a bit journalistic and somewhat detached, (void of that tone or bias so apparent in those early romantic works) despite her story’s extremely personal nature and clever plot twists -- a story which closes, as it opens, with another surprising bang. Personally, I think her book might’ve benefited from a first person point-of-view, with a biased Tanya Caldwell at the wheel. After all, there’s nothing wrong with a bias in fiction. Honestly, I prefer it. I’ve even come, in many instances, to expect it. It is what creates the tone of most fiction.
But, then again, I’ve always had a bias toward the first person narrative.

Mountain of Dawns is Rene Natan’s first novel published in 1999 by Juppiter99 (available both in eBook and paperback versions) at very reasonable prices. Her other novels include Cross of Sapphires and The Collage (reviewed by Adrienne Jones and available in The Swamp’s “Review Archives“). Natan is also the author of shorter works Killing on Mount Yula, A Pair of Wings for Christmas, and Operation: Woman in Black. She is currently at work on a new novel.

From the Social Media

From the Press:
From the Frankie Boyer BLOG: frankie-boyers-guest-line-up-for-wednesday-7611.html
From KEMW-FM radio station Dr. Jim Lee presents Rene Natan: Interview

Smashwords Interview

Why do you write?
So many reasons…but the most compelling is that a story often bubbles in my mind and that story wants to be told. But to whom, may you ask, to what kind of readers? To those who react to the events of life in a fashion similar to the way I do; in other words I write for people who vibrate at a frequency close to mine. Writing is a form of communication, a search for twin souls.
Then, there is the process of building—not much different from an architect’s job. What a writer creates has to stand up; single parts have to fit together; they have to relate to each other in one way or another.
I also love the excitement of creation, of forging characters with strong and often conflicting personalities so that action follows almost naturally.
Finally, writing is a way of expressing the real myself, of living my emotions—all of them—without worrying about being judged. The characters can be blamed for any wrongdoing or thinking—no penalty for the author.
How do you choose a theme or the background for your stories?
The theme comes from a particular event I’ve witnessed, seen on the news, or heard somewhere. Then I ask myself, what if the circumstances were different, or how would I have reacted had I been there?
For example, when our family house was destroyed and we moved to the country from the city, the change of environment hit me hard. I was an eight-year old, and I remembered the reaction I experienced. Different neighbors, different school, different playground…so, my first novel, Mountains of Dawn, recreated that setting. I chose as protagonist a little girl who is shuffled from foster home to foster home, and only after reaching majority age she finds out who she really is, why her parents were killed, and why her life is in danger.
In another novel, Operation Woman in Black, I portrayed the hardship experienced by one of my stepdaughters, whose third child was born severely brain-damaged. Her strength and courage inspired my novel. My protagonist, a man of the law, has to split his time between devising clever traps to catch dangerous criminals and looking after his mentally handicapped daughter who, unexpectedly and surreptitiously, becomes pregnant.
In The Jungfrau Watch I used as background the suffering of some of my old Italian acquaintances who fell victim to the Red Brigades’ kidnapping and blackmail. I chose as protagonist a member of the same, who, stranded in foreign land after the collapse of the Soviet Union, finds refuge in Canada, fights his former controller and, after much tribulation, redeems himself.
The Red Manor is a family saga; the Lord of a vast and ancient manor leaves his Italian home to go live with his Canadian son, hoping to escape the curse that seems to hang on his castle. But the troubles believed to be caused by the curse continue, as the unearthing of two precious cups, once Red Manor possessions, prompt the criminals to follow the Lord of the manor in the new country.
I used this novel to touch on the hardship older people face when they are uprooted from their motherland.
Read more of this interview.

Where to find Rene Natan online

Twitter: redmanor
Facebook: Facebook profile

Where to buy in print


One Holiday, a Life-time Memory
Price: Free! Words: 7,810. Language: English. Published: February 1, 2013. Category: Fiction » Romance » General
(4.00 from 2 reviews)
Landed in Italy with the idea of spending the summer admiring the many masterpieces of Italian art, Larry Burton bumps into a girl on the run. She’s clearly in trouble, but she’s also awfully attractive. Against his best judgment, Larry decides to help her. He’s drawn into strange and potentially dangerous situations…but shouldn’t a vacation be also a bit of an adventure?
The Elf Hat
Price: Free! Words: 3,470. Language: English. Published: November 27, 2012. Category: Fiction » Anthologies » Short stories - single author
Glenda Vaillot is at the local Christmas parade when her little boy is kidnapped. Hearing impaired, and counting only on Zufolo, her service dog, Glenda hunts down the kidnappers.
A Pair of Wings for Christmas
Price: Free! Words: 5,440. Language: English. Published: November 8, 2012. Category: Fiction » Young adult or teen » Fantasy
Kendrick Malloy is a bright, healthy young man who could achieve anything in life. Unfortunately he often prefers to take shortcuts and avoid working. But when the life of six-year-old Mateo is at stake, he hesitates no more. He jumps in front of a truck and saves the boy’s life.
The Ghost Detective
Price: Free! Words: 7,890. Language: English. Published: October 12, 2012. Category: Fiction » Mystery & detective » General
PI Denys Bellami is in his office when a quake shakes the earth. Within seconds Denys becomes a guest of the White Valley, where ghosts reside. But what about the investigation he was working on? He makes the case to the Great Light: well, Denys will be able to continue investigating but he won’t be allowed to participate in any physical actions. It’s a big challenge, but Denys accepts it.
The Collage
Price: Free! Words: 85,780. Language: English. Published: August 16, 2012. Category: Fiction » Romance » Suspense
(5.00 from 2 reviews)
A clever plot entraps beautiful Allison Summer in a web of deceit and violence. Alone in her struggle, she doesn’t know whom to trust: not her father, not her husband, not even the handsome man who pledges his love to her. But when the life of the man she loves is at stake, Allison takes control of her destiny. And she will not stop until the innocent are free and the guilty secured behind bars.
Mountains of Dawn
Price: Free! Words: 96,520. Language: English. Published: July 15, 2012. Category: Fiction » Romance » Suspense
(3.50 from 2 reviews)
‘Pack and Leave’ are the words that twenty-two Tanya Caldwell, orphaned at the age of six, heard many times as she wandered from foster home to foster home. After she narrowly escapes two murder attempts, she hides in the hills of the Italian Riviera. She has just found peace, inspiration for her paintings, and romance when those responsible for her parents’ death surface again.

Rene Natan’s tag cloud

Smashwords book reviews by Rene Natan

  • Murder at the Break on Sep. 24, 2012
    (no rating)
    It’s mayhem at Meredith University when the corpse of a philosophy professor is discovered. Barrett Wilson has been shot to death, the police conclude, and it happened when the campus was deserted because of the Christmas holiday. Dr. Charles Douglas, a professor of philosophy specializing in the work of Michael Foucault, and his wife Kate are prompted to help detectives DeVries and Bolster to discover who murdered Barrett Wilson. A number of suspects surface quickly. There is Janet Milford, Barrett’s old girlfriend, Richard Dalton, Barrett’s graduate student and lover at the time of murder, and Chet McKay, a close friend of the deceased interested in epistemology. Charles himself is not completely exempted from suspicion, as he used to have disagreements and heated discussions with his dead colleague. As the plot unfolds, Charles discovers a mysterious list of rare books, their titles hidden under the listing of an inexistent undergraduate course. The books are collection items of great value. At first nobody can find a company that may have been involved in auctioning or buying these books. Then another murder occurs, followed by a suspicious death. The mystery thickens as a beautiful real estate agent enters the scene. It’s a conspiracy now, and Charles and Kate keep investigating, thus putting their life at risk. Life on campus at Meredith University, located in the small town of Kingsford, is described with a keen sense of humour; the knowledge-based osmosis that exists in an academic environment is well depicted, as Charles gathers information from colleagues of different departments—often leisurely, over a cup of coffee or at lunch break.
  • Sorrento Beach on Oct. 04, 2012
    (no rating)
    Between playing volleyball on a famous Santa Monica’s beach and stringing a tennis racket, protagonist Paul Townsend plays sleuth. His friend Jack Rosen has disappeared and his house ransacked. Jack’s past is a sad one, as his family was wiped out at the end of World War II by the Russian army. Memories of Paul’s youth at a prestigious high school in Winfield, Kansas surface here and there; his encounters with beautiful actress Jennifer Ryan are full of passion and desire, while a new romance appears on the horizon. As the search for Jack progresses the name of Jerry Moberg comes up; when Paul and his friend Tom Ruderman pay a visit to Jerry they are mystified by what they learn. Jack Rosen, aka Isaiah Rosenberg is part of a spying ring involving selling cutting-edge technologies to the Russians. Ivan Sokolov, a movie producer from Germany, enters the scene but the man is not who appears to be; the mystery thickens and soon “Townie” finds out that playing detective can be a very dangerous game.
  • Buried In Benidorm on Nov. 14, 2012

    A defrocked priest becomes a PI…a corpse is buried in a sand bunker for a golfer to find…What better start? On the insistence of the bishop in Alicante, Max Castillo investigates the murder of Anthony Ortega, a real estate businessman of dubious repute. A young woman, Caridad, and a young man, Aurelio, whom Max helped when he was at the service of the church, are useful connections in providing him with information and protection against dangerous criminals who don’t want Max to dig into Ortega’s past. Old and new crimes, and carefully guarded secrets are revealed as the story proceeds. There are speculative transactions--the buying and selling of parcels of land along the Costa Blanca--in which the Alicante diocese is involved; the old relationship of a retired priest with two altar boys; the infidelity of beautiful Esperanza, Ortega’s wife; the murder of Hilario Miguel, Ortega’s business partner on the verge of bankruptcy; competitions and gambling at the La Blanca golf course; the attempt of a French criminal ring to extort money from a local gangster… Aboard his boat, anchored in the Benidorm harbor, Max spends time meditating on the need for religious believes, and on the reasons he abandoned the priesthood. His frequent meditations are accompanied by equally frequent intakes of beer. Consulting the land registry of Gandia and vicinity (where most of Ortega’s properties are located) allows Max to pinpoint the culprits. In a meeting reminiscent of Agatha Christie’s climatic finales, Max convenes all the people even marginally involved in the two murders and, with the help of inspector Nicky Garcia, offers proof of the murderers’ culpability. My take on the book. Set in Spain, “Buried in Benidorm” is a refreshing mystery where violence is present (as required by the genre) but not glorified. The suspense is built step by step, scene by scene; several personas populate the story and almost each of them is a candidate for murder. Written by Rene Natan, First place, 2012 Five Star Dragonfly Award for the Blackpox Threat Finalist in the 2011 National Indie Excellence Award for the Blackpox Threat Honorary Mention, 2012 San Francisco Book Competition for the Bricklayer
  • The Pursuit of Emma on May 13, 2014
    (no rating)
    The Pursuit of Emma by Chris Doherty If you ever think of learning a fast transition from your quiet job as an accountant to that of an expert con-man, this book is ‘an essential’ for you. It will take you from scaring mafia’s bosses with a stern look of self-confident intimidation to stealing precious artifacts from well-protected museums or even top-model safes. Things sound treacherous at times, at other times unbelievable—a man risking his life to find Emma, the woman who made him happy for years and suddenly disappeared. But love provides Tom with courage and endurance as he pursues his goal—the danger of losing his life being a negligible detail in view of Emma’s survival. Rene Natan,