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I always 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. My life, however, took a different turn, and I ended up following a career in information technology (as Professor Irene Gargantini). This over, I reverted to my old passion: plotting intrigues and mysteries and creating romantic or passionate encounters. I took several e-courses on fiction writing and began jotting down my tales. So far I have written nine novels, several short stories and co-authored a novella. The genre varies from romantic suspense (Mountains of Dawn, The Collage, The Loves and Tribulations of Detective Stephen Carlton, The Woman in Black, The Red Manor) to thriller (The Jungfrau Watch, The Blackpox Threat, The Bricklayer, Fleeting Visions). See www.vermeil.biz
As an author, my goal is threefold: having fun in writing, entertaining the readers and offering them an uplifting vision at life.
Second place, the 2015 Five Star Dragonfly Book Awards for The Woman in Black
Silver Medal, the 2015 Global Ebook Awards for The Loves and Tribulations of Detective Stephen Carlton
Honorable Mention, Second place, the 2015 Five Star Dragonfly Award for The Woman in Black, Honorable Mention, 2014 San Francisco Book Festival, for Fleeting Visions
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
From the Social Media
From the Press: http://newsblaze.com/story/20110320075530zzzz.nb/topstory.html
From the Frankie Boyer BLOG: http://frankieboyer.typepad.com/blog/2011/07/ frankie-boyers-guest-line-up-for-wednesday-7611.html
From KEMW-FM radio station Dr. Jim Lee presents Rene Natan: Interview
Review of Mountains of Dawn
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.
Review of The Blackpox Threat
The Blackpox Threat
A Rene Natan Novel
An Old Line Publishing Book
It is my belief that not many readers of this review have dreamed of becoming a spy for their country. In reading The Blackpox Threat by Rene Natan, you will meet Tamara Smith of London, Ontario who was challenged to do this very thing. It wasn’t an easy decision as the nightmares of her early youth had finally begun to fade, and she was living a comfortable life. Her parents, political refugees from the USSR, had been murdered because of her father’s covert activities. Endangering her own life was the last thing on her mind when she accepted a job with the Modano Company—Ship Me Safely—as a public relations person. Her boss, Charles Modano, hired her to assist at his antique shop two days a week and also asked that she occasionally accompany him to social functions where many potential buyers of antiques were contacted. The Modano Company had an excellent reputation for shipping valuable items without incurring any damage. At thirty-two years of age, Tamara felt the need for financial security and to have a relaxed, stable life. She loved her job and life was good. However, her new job brought challenges that she could never have anticipated!
Vassilli Petrovic and Brad Wilson asked her to become involved in a dangerous covert operation in which she would actually spy on the company where she was now enjoying employment. Vassilli had been a lifetime friend who helped her before and after her parents’ death and she owed him much. But she didn’t owe anything to Brad Wilson, who was ever so determined that she go along with their request. She had been singled out because of her position with the Modano Company whom they suspected of handling the shipment of some very dangerous cargo. But what was this cargo? Tamara learns that it is a deadly virus called “The Blackpox” and that it is on its way to Canada. And so this beautiful woman who hadn’t wanted to leave her comfort zone agrees to participate in this dangerous mission; the operation is called “Bullfrog.”
Tamara is giving some special training as well as recording devices and other equipment to help her carry out this undertaking with as much safety as possible. It is, however, her father’s gun—a Smith and Wesson—registered in her name that gives her the most confidence.
The characters in this novel are all believable, and their personalities developed skillfully by the author who employs natural sounding dialog to move the exciting plot forward at a fast pace. Along with the excitement and danger, there is a romantic interest that slowly develops between Tamara and a young man named Justin Devry. Although she is obviously attracted to him, she is not eager to get involved because of her connection with “Operation Bullfrog.” Personally, I wasn’t sure I trusted him or even those involved with her in the covert operation. As it turns out, there was a mole in their team—someone they all trusted with their lives.
Boris Youkenoff, a man knowledgeable in microbiology and organic chemistry, had worked in a natural, underground cave in Western Ukraine where there were the remains of an old lab that had been established by the Soviet Union for the development of biological weapons. When he meets Frank Milton, who has expertise in Biology, they become a deadly duo focused on coming up with a virus that would make them rich. Then there was Nekton who would go to any lengths to get hold of the virus. Just how many people were involved in this threat? Was there a vaccine? Could they be stopped by “Operation Bullfrog?”
Tamara faced many hurdles in her short spying career that included murder, her own kidnapping, betrayal, and other breathtaking twists and turns. This is a mesmerizing novel, and individuals who purchase it will agree with me that it is a “must read.” I give The Blackpox Threat my highest recommendation.
Bettie Corbin Tucker
For Independent Professional Book Reviewers
Review of The Red Manor
The Red Manor
In reading The Red Manor by Rene Natan, I found myself totally captivated by the storyline, the characters, and the creativity of the author. With a book of this caliber, we reviewers tend to say, “I just couldn’t put the book down once I started to read it.” Although a cliché, I can honestly say that this is how I felt as I eagerly progressed from chapter to chapter of The Red Manor, anticipating what would follow.
Christopher Sandcroft, one of the main characters, is introduced in the first chapter as he agonizes over his decision to move his father Lucio from the Red Manor, a castle in Italy that had been in the family for 600 years. Chris was taking him to Harrisville, Canada to live with him in a magnificent house where he hoped this elderly man in a wheelchair would adjust and find some contentment. The son was very well off, having taken over a company his grandfather had started that built seismographs as well as some other equipment. Living with Christopher on his estate was Kathy, the housekeeper and her husband Gideon who was in charge of maintenance. Before long Chris hired Lillian Carrigan as a caregiver for his father who very slowly seemed to be adjusting to his new surroundings. Lucio liked the staff and the fact that a few paintings from the family collection had also made the trip to his new living quarters; however, in the back of his mind he often thought about the ancient curse that had been cast on his family, one that predicted the extinction of the Red Manor and its occupants. By going with Chris to live in Canada, he hoped to break the curse. When his other son Rick had lost his life at sea as a young child, his wife had left Lucio and taken Chris to Canada to live. Rick and Chris had been identical twins.
As the storyline unfolds, readers are introduced to other characters—some friendly and trustworthy while others are sleazy and dishonest. The Howards, friends from England who had stayed at the Red Manor in the past, visit Lucio and his son in Canada. The visit opens a door that leads to danger and romance. The romance is between Vivian, the visiting couple’s daughter and Chris. A spark of an old romance is rekindled and quickly grows into a serious relationship. The danger involves a search for two missing cups of historical value that were once part of a collection of four that had been manufactured for a coronation. Lucio had given the two missing cups to his wife when she moved to Canada. When found, the publicity leads to much more than they had bargained for.
Among the twists and turns, readers learn that Lillian Carrigan is raped by a man who looks very much like Chris but, of course, it wasn’t him. If you are thinking that his supposedly-deceased twin brother is the one who attacked Lillian, you would be wrong. DNA cleared Chris, and identical twins have the same DNA. But why did this man look so much like Chris and why did he rape Lillian? Also who later broke into the Sandcroft estate to steal what they believed to be the valuable cups?
Chris returns to Italy to take care of a life-threatening situation. As all the pieces of this intriguing puzzle fall together, readers will feel satisfied when they read the final chapter. Although there is a funeral; there is going to be a wedding.
This is an exceptionally well-written book by a very creative author who has researched her material and knows how to keep the eyes of readers riveted to the pages. The storyline reflects realism, the description is outstanding, and the dialog flows naturally. I give it my highest recommendation as a “must read.”
Bettie Corbin Tucker
For Independent Professional Book Reviewers
The Red Manor
Reviewed by Reta Ross
In the Red Manor Rene Natan has a total grasp of the lifestyles of the affluent as well as that of Romania gypsies. The juxtaposition and polarities are fascinating and the rip-off mentality of the fleece-artists knows no bounds.
Lucio Sandcroft, Lord of the Red Manor, is burdened by an ancient family curse, the loss of his son, Rick, and the subsequent abandonment by his wife. To add insult to injury she took the remaining son, Rick’s twin, Chris Sandcroft when she absconded to Canada.
Lucio’s wealth, although extensive, can’t compensate for his depression over the family curse and its predicted threats. Wheelchair bound he is almost at his wits end when his, now grown son, Chris, asks him to come to Canada and move in with him, he accepts, hoping to escape the curse.
Chris is equally as wealthy as his dad, Lucio, thanks to his success in running his grandfather’s seismographs manufacturing company. Christopher’s estate is managed by Kathy and her husband, Gideon. Leaving no stone unturned in his efforts to ensure the old man is well cared for he hires Lillian Carrigan to tend to his every need. Lucio hoped the move to Canada would somehow dispel the ancient curse which foretells the annihilation of the Red Manor and its occupants. Even if the curse was overturned by this maneuver there was still the pain of losing his other son, Rick, who was washed overboard at sea as a young child. The sons were identical twins.
Other characters—thicken the plot, the Howards from England who once, while in Italy, stayed at the Red Manor. Their daughter, Vivian, accompanies them to Canada and she and Chris fall in love. The Howards are keen on tracking down some valuable heirlooms, a couple of coronation cups, Lucio had given to his wife. Discovery of the cups generates publicity which brings undesirables out of the woodwork. The sub-plot focuses on a couple of Gypsies who exploit, use and abuse all and sundry in order to feather their nests. The cast of characters under their thumbs makes for an interesting mix.
Lillian Carrigan gets raped by a man who looks like Chris but it is not him. Twins share the same DNA and tests prove the rapist was not Chris or his supposedly-deceased twin brother. So readers are left to ponder over the resemblance, the rape and the break and entry.
The story unfolds in an intriguing and fascinating way. It is loaded with plot twists and surprises. Rene Natan is usually one for happy endings but often it seems like this won’t be one of those time.
The theme of twins’strong bond woven throughout and the angst over the missing twin is crafty and clever and keeps everyone on their toes.
Review of Fleeting Visions
5.0 out of 5 stars Got me pinned in the book for hours February 18, 2014
By Earl Reylan Sarsuelo
Amazon Verified Purchase
All puzzles are getting solved in a very sophisticated manner. Detective Stevenson, a remarkable law enforcer tied up his career to a case he's been handling for several months only to end up doing it all over again after a missed operation. I do not want to be spoiling the readers, but I might say some details that you will find interesting in the book.
I got seriously pinned down in to reading the early chapters of the book. Every character has its unique issues and personalities, yet all of them are delivered well to the public. Each plot/scene of one's character is simultaneously telling us his personality and life and his role in the entire story. I consider that as an asset in making books like this very intriguing. Jocelyn, is an example of a highly intimidating character but boosting with charm and is seriously attractive. Det. Stevenson even got his first regrets being single(spoiler alert!) after a scene with Jocelyn.
One thing I really love most about these kinds of stories is that the continuity and the interconnection of scenes and events are puzzling enough to be interesting but not reaching to a point where readers dont get any idea over it - they dont get BLANK. Rene Natan wrote this book with ease and the concept is somewhat very clear in her mind. I was envisioning everything as I read. That's why I skipped a meal in reading this(not a good example but a good thing).
I am commending the author Rene Natan for a well written, highly thought of, careful selection of characters, and intensifying book. A very good read. I recommend this to lovers of Thriller stories.
on Dec. 22, 2014 :
Savina Thompson is on a mission of investigation… that's why she's reluctantly impersonating a call girl: to help a detective solve a mystery that has kept his investigation at arm's length. But her mission is about to become a lot more complicated; not only because a new speech emulation program is enabling her to pull off the switch so far, but because she is also becoming more involved in the detective's already-complicated personal life.
And this is the tip of the iceberg.
On the face of it, The Woman in Black is a mystery. It's also a thriller and a novel of psychological suspense, as each protagonist has lot to win - and a lot to lose - in a complex game that is revealed in bits and pieces, chapter by chapter.
Like a good game of chess, moves and countermoves result in each side holding key pieces - but not the ability to make the winning move that will definitively end the standoff.
And that's what makes The Woman in Black so compelling: in the end, it's all about the standoff. The unpredictability is what counts - and what makes this story such a winner. It's rare for a seasoned mystery/detective reader to say one can't quite see it coming until the end - but it's the case here, and the winning gambit that makes The Woman in Black more than a cut-and-dried case of investigation, romance, or crime.
(reviewed the day of purchase)