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 rapture 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 be forced to share Dante’s fate? Or will he fight to keep Julia, his Beatrice, forever?
When I read Gabriel’s Inferno last July…I had no expectations of the book or author other than that I’d seen a lot of people saying positive things about it on Twitter and Goodreads. I was intrigued by the cover and the synopsis, and so early one Saturday morning I downloaded it to my Kindle and began reading…and I couldn’t stop. I read the entire book that day and I fell in love with the story, characters, and the beautiful writing….O the writing…descriptive perfection for one who favors that style…that would be me.
Gabriel’s Rapture begins where Gabriel’s’ Inferno left us…in Florence, Italy. Not a bad place to be. I have to say that I had to reread the very first sentence about 5 times before I could move on because of the visual it created for me. In fact, I’ll admit that there were a lot of moments like that for me while I read through the first time. I’m an extremely visual person…one of those people who “sees” the book happening as I read. Perhaps that’s one of the reasons I enjoy SR’s writing so much. He paints such vivid scenes with his words, and I have great appreciation and admiration for that because I feel like I’m witnessing the story as he tells it.
While in Florence, Gabriel and Julia experience getting to know each other better both emotionally and sexually. I find it interesting that while I’m sympathetic to Julia’s insecurities, I find myself feeling worse when Gabriel’s come to the surface. I think it makes him even more endearing as a character…not that I need any help with my adoration of him mind you. He’s almost always so sure of himself (to the point of arrogance) while Julia has always been lacking in self-confidence. I will tell you that during GI, I sometimes struggled with that part of Julia’s make-up, but I think it’s more a case of me remembering how awful that can feel, and not wanting to, rather than a character flaw. It took quite a while before Julia earned a place in my heart. But she did.
I had a great time during the Professor’s lecture. Envisioning him standing there talking about Dante and artwork?!? Very cool and informative. I looked up the pieces that were mentioned btw and I encourage you to do the same. The fun continues after the lecture…Geez, Gabriel. I gotta say that he’s hot when he’s hot. Steamy hot. You might want to have a cold wash cloth at hand…just sayin’.
Christa Peterson. Isn’t that a name that just makes you want to slap something…or kick something…really hard?!? O. Me too. We get to learn more about her which I found helpful…not that it changed how I feel about her, but it’s great character development, and as she figures so prominently, and is integral to what happens down the road I think it’s necessary to understand her a bit better. There’s also a flashback to a certain Starbucks scene that is a real treat. I was outside on my balcony when I read it, and I was laughing…yes, out loud. I have a neighbor that can verify that.
I won’t outline every wonderful moment of passion that Gabriel and Julia share (much as I’d like to) but I will tell you that I think you’ll be as happy as I am with all the sensuousness that SR gives us. It’s beautiful, romantic, and spicy enough to make you feel…well…the way we want to feel when we read love scenes. Gabriel’s Rapture delivers the “goods” in an elegant package. It reminds me of the difference between eating a store-bought chocolate cake versus a seven layer confection from a 5 star restaurant. Adequate versus luscious. Gabriel’s Rapture is indeed luscious. I for one have an entirely new appreciation for showers, and lavender poofs…I think you will as well.
Upon their return to Pennsylvania for Christmas, Gabriel and Julia must face some very unpleasant events. First and foremost for me is finally meeting Paulina. If that name sends fear up and down up your spine…you’re not alone. No matter what… a shared past that includes a child can cause actions and reactions that have far-reaching consequences. There are many highly emotional scenes that involve Paulina in this part of the story, and I don’t mind sharing with you that I broke down and wept for everyone involved at the end of chapter 12, including for Paulina. Well done SR.
At this point the story takes us to Toronto for the first time in the book, and after a few nicely written set-up chapters…all hell breaks loose. Let me say that again…ALL HELL BREAKS LOOSE! Christa Peterson returns with a vengeance. Since the synopsis mentions this, I will use part of the same sentence in reference to Gabriel and Julia and what comes next… “their happiness is threatened by conspiring students, academic politics, and a jealous ex-lover.” That my friends is an understatement of monumental proportions. The things that occur had my heart racing, and my adrenaline pumping. I kid you not. You are about to embark on an emotional roller-coaster ride. From this point on I couldn’t read fast enough, nor could I stop reading.
I alternated between complete rage, tears, sadness and despair for both Gabriel and Julia. I totally understand the need they both feel to protect each other…BUT…HOLY CRAP! They make a mess of things… with plenty of help from all parties involved. My heart just aches for them while at the same time I want to jump into the story and throttle them both…repeatedly. Just writing this makes me hurt all over again. The last thing that I want to happen to this couple…happens…they are separated by the choices of one, but with the help of many.
As the story moves forward Gabriel experiences so many different things that touched my heart. I finally realized that in order for him to be able to come to terms with all of the ugliness of his past, and to be able to forgive himself and to grow emotionally…to become a better man…he really does need to go through the journey he finds himself on…without Julia. With that realization…I felt better…I felt hopeful. And of Julia during this time? After the initial pain and humiliation she suffered, she handled herself with a grace and dignity that was truly wonderful, and inspiring.
Eventually, Gabriel and Julia meet again. I think my heart stuttered a few times as I read it, and I found myself holding my breath. The scene is unforgettable, and I can call it to my mind’s eye instantly thanks to the way SR wrote it. It’s unexpected and haunting and beautiful and brilliant. Don’t expect a quick fix or an instant “happily ever after” though. I don’t believe that easy will ever be in the cards for this couple, and to be quite frank…at this point I think it would have been a wrong choice if SR had written it that way. I would have been disappointed. Some things have to be earned by the characters and reader alike, or they aren’t worth it. As a reader I appreciate and value that.
It’ll take hard work and time to repair the damage that was caused between Gabriel and Julia, but there are many delightful moments that await you in the last hundred pages…sweet things, funny things, surprising things. I think you’ll be happy and satisfied at the ending that SR penned for us.
I said at the very beginning that when I read Gabriel’s Inferno for the first time I had no expectations of the book or author. That wasn’t the case with Gabriel’s Rapture. Knowing what SR was capable of left me with very high expectations for the sequel. When I received the e-ARC from the publisher I was both excited beyond description and apprehensive in the extreme. What if I didn’t like the story? What if the writing wasn’t all that I wanted or expected it to be? These were the questions that plagued me…until I began reading.
Gabriel’s Rapture is one of the best books I have ever read. I don’t say that lightly, or without thought. It has a perfect blend of romance, heartbreak, humor, and sex. I read it twice in four days. I will read it again…soon. It’s just that good. My recommendation is that YOU read it as soon as you can.
My rating for Gabriel’s Rapture…
A strong and unequivocal 5 out of 5 hearts
Lemme give you a visual…
Some last thoughts…
I wanted to share just a few of the many things I absolutely FLOVED–
I feel I would be remiss if I failed to mention something that I haven’t been able to get out of my mind… “sticky little leaves.” WoW! If that doesn’t tug at your emotional heart-strings after you read it?!? It’d be a shame. I won’t say anything else because I don’t want to spoil it but be on the lookout.
The page with S.I.R.
amuse bouche … OMG! Srsly SR…that deserves a standing ovation!
The emotional growth that both Gabriel and Julia go through. I didn’t think it possible to feel a stronger attachment to these characters than I already did. I was wrong.
The balance SR creates between humor and heartbreak. It’s not an easy thing to accomplish, but it was done masterfully in this story.
Clearly, Gabriel IS indeed a sex god…and I want him…bad 😉
The Snarky Narrator (Parenthetically speaking, of course)
You nailed it! I wouldn’t want one thing different, and I rarely think that let alone say it.
The admiration I have for your storytelling and writing is overwhelming.
The gratitude I feel towards this gift that you’ve given is appreciated beyond measure.
Thank you seems inadequate, but it’s what I have to give you in return. Thank you!
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