Book Review: Gabriel’s Rapture

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Gabriel's RaptureGabriel’s Rapture by Sylvain Reynard

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The sequel to Gabriel’s Inferno follows the same route of its predecessor in that it is smart, sexy, and heartfelt. Picking up where the first left off, Julianne and Gabriel continue their romantic getaway in Florence, Italy. They remain wrapped in bliss until returning home, where every obstacle imaginable threatens to tear them apart.

One of Gabriel’s ex-lovers is out for revenge, while a lovesick suitor is desperate for Julianne’s affection, (and poses serious competition). However, both of these issues are relatively minor in comparison to the outright violation of the university non-fraternization policy. Gabriel’s plan to remain chaste until the end of the semester was misguided and the college administration is very aware of an inappropriate relationship between a professor and a student.

All of these problems highlight the cracks in an already fragile relationship. Issues of trust, equality, and jealousy create an internal struggle in conjunction with everything going on around them. The connection that Julianne and Gabriel share is put to the ultimate test, which leads to an evolution of sorts for both individuals. Gabriel embarks on a journey to come to terms with his past and transform into the man he wants to be, while Julianne finds the strength she never knew she had.

When these two characters evolve past their demons, the love they have for one another only grows. For all the strife they endure, the last few pages make it all worthwhile. This is a love story from beginning to end that sizzles with sensuality and crackles with wit.

While Reynard’s writing is elegant as ever, Gabriel’s Rapture falls a little short of the first book in the series. It’s clear the author did incredible research on legal procedures, but the scenes that include these details draw on much too long. On the other hand, scenes where more details would have been welcomed whip by with little or no attention, (such as a particularly romantic day between Gabriel and Julianne). Had it not been for this imbalance, the rating would stand at four stars instead of three.

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c.b.w. 2013

Book Review: Gabriel’s Inferno

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Gabriel's Inferno (Gabriel's Inferno #1)Gabriel’s Inferno by Sylvain Reynard

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

After reading more than a few romance novels, it’s quite refreshing to come across a love story that has a brain. Julianne Mitchell is a graduate student intent on completing her thesis on Dante’s Inferno. Memories of her past loom over her, but she is a vibrant and sharply intelligent woman. Her professor, Gabriel Emerson stands out in a crowd both for his intelligence and striking good looks, but he too, is weighed down by a past for which he punishes himself relentlessly. Adding intrigue is the history the two share together, but only one remembers.

Sparks fly rather quickly, but self-control is necessary in order to abide in the non-fraternization policy of the university. While the physical attraction is heated and undeniable, Julianne and Gabriel connect on a chaste level that leads to a heartfelt and rewarding connection. The result is a deeply satisfying love story.

Peppered throughout the book are well-chosen references to Dante’s Inferno and Tolkien, which add another level of sophistication to an already cerebral romance. Sylvain Reynard’s fusion of intellect with steamy physical interaction gives proof to the notion that romance novels can be smoking hot and smart at the same time.

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The only thing holding me back from giving this book five stars is a personal preference regarding point of view. Reynard’s writing is gorgeous, but the use of third person omniscient can sometimes be a little confusing. I prefer novels where point of view is grounded in one character and does not deviate.

View all my reviews on Goodreads

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c.b.w. 2013