Professor Gabriel Emerson has embarked on a passionate, yet clandestine affair with his former student, Julia Mitchell.Sequestered on a romantic holiday in Italy, he tutors her in the sensual delights of the body and the raptures of sex. But when they return, their happiness is threatened by conspiring students, academic politics, and a jealous ex-lover.
When Gabriel is confronted by the university administration, will he succumb to Dante's fate? Or will he fight to keep Julia, his Beatrice, forever?
In Gabriel's Rapture, the brilliant sequel to the wildly successful debut novel, Gabriel's Inferno, Sylvain Reynard weaves an exquisite love story that will touch the reader's mind, body, and soul, forever.
Release Date: May 22, 2012 (eBook); August 29, 2012 (paperback)
Publisher: Penguin Berkley
Genre: Contemporary Adult Romance
Purchase at Amazon or Barnes & Noble
"I love you. Madly." Something about the way her voice sounded in his ear made his heart quicken. "I love you, too. I love you far too much, I'm sure. But I don't know how to love you any other way."
Review: Gabriel's Rapture begins exactly where Gabriel's Inferno left off. Gabriel and Julia are in Italy while he is presenting a speech on Dante, and they finally consummate their hot, yet tumultuous, relationship. There are some very hot scenes in Italy, and Gabriel is earnestly, head-over-heels, in love with Julia, his Beatrice. Julia has always been in love with Gabriel, so she takes this all in stride as she revels in their being together. Gabriel is not shy is his affection for Julia, and even introduces her to his colleagues as his finacee more than once, although he has not actually asked her to marry him. The love these two share is the life altering type, and Gabriel lets it be known that Julia will be his love forever.
"Julianne, we will never be equals. You are my better."
Once they are back in Toronto, Julia continues along with her school work and her dissertation topic. She is contemplating where she will study in the following year to achieve her Doctorate degree. Gabriel continues teaching and seems happy enough about their arrangement. Julia is wise enough to not just throw in the towel and move in with Gabriel. She requires space to complete her degree work and doesn't want to move things along too quickly with him. Unfortunately, ex-lovers and scorned admirers put into play a plan to separate Julia from Gabriel. Cue the angst and drama. Gabriel and Julia are put through a difficult process when the University accuses Gabriel and Julia of impropriety. Christa is accusing Gabriel of sexual harassment, while accusing Julia of sleeping with Gabriel in exchange for higher grades. Throughout this entire, heartbreaking process, Gabriel makes decisions without Julia's input in an attempt to save her academic career. It ends very badly, although Julia is spared from a terrible academic fate.
"I would have done whatever it took to save you." His voice and his expression were grave. "Even if that meant I had to spent eternity in Hell."
There is a long stretch of this book where Julia and Gabriel are separate and growing personally on their own. There were some crossed signals and missed messages along the way, but this is truly what allows for Gabriel and Julia to become the people they are at the end of this book. Gabriel goes on a spiritual journey where he discovers that he truly wants to change - that he wants to be a man that is worthy of Julia's love, but he also wants to be a better person than he has been previously in his life. He decides that whether he ends up with Julia is not the question - being a better man for her is, even if he can never have her heart. He wants to change because, as he puts it, "he was an insufferable ass." He comes to the conclusion that loving Julia is enough for him and loses some of his self-centered nature.
He grimaced and dropped his voice to a whisper. "I'll love you forever, Julianne, whether you love me or not. That's my Heaven. And my Hell."
Once Julia and Gabriel are free of the obstacles in their way, it is nice to see that Julia does not fall all over Gabriel, welcoming him back with open arms. In their time apart, Julia grew a spine. She wants to be treated with respect and makes Gabriel work before she will let him back into her life. Julia insists on trust with Gabriel, no matter what the circumstances are.
There are still some trust barriers and personal barriers that these two must cross before they can truly be what one another needs and deserves. I wish I could say that I disliked Gabriel. He is a pig headed character. Mercurial and rash, dramatic and educated, prone to fits of temper and very secretive...yet I love him. He's a character that suffered in his own private Hell in the two books in this series, and came out the other side as a better man. Learning what love truly is, he has become one of my favorite contemporary romance figures.
Julia, on the other hand, was never my favorite heroine. She does grow up a bit in this book, and is no longer a push over, yet I still didn't care for her all that much. She has this annoying habit of crying. All the time. Seriously. I was beginning to wonder if this girl ever got through any vaguely personal situation without crying. I would have liked to have seen a much stronger Julia by the end of this series, not just an incrementally stronger Julia.
Here's to Sylvain Reynard who successfully gave us an addictive, well-written book filled with complex characters and complex situations. If there's any way to my heart in fiction, it's a seriously messed up character, and Reynard delivered that in spades. My only hope is that we see more of Gabriel somewhere down the line, reveling in his new found happiness.
"I want to be your first and your last. I love you, Julianne. I offer you my heart and my life."