63 of 65 people found the following review helpful
on May 21, 2012
"I want to be your first and your last. I love you, Julianne. I offer you my heart and my life."
The man is in love. *throb, throb, throb* Ah, yes, that's my heart. Can you hear it? Gabriel is definitely DEE-lish! Gabriel is worshipping his beloved Julia. She's the light that would shine in his darkness, and he'd do anything to protect her.
"She is not my equal; she is my better. She is my sticky little leaf."
Gabriel's Rapture picks up right where Gabriel's Inferno left off. Gabriel and Julia are spending some time in Italy. He is teaching her the pleasures of sex. It was a lovely part of the book. You could feel their love and they were truly happy. *bliss* However, when they return their happiness is threatened by intrigues, and the resentment is palpable. Gabriel and Julia's love is on the verge to succumb to the "enemy". But Gabriel said to Julia:
"Not even Hell could keep me from you."
I really enjoyed their interaction. It was enthralling and thoughtful.
"Everyone wants to know where evil comes from and why the world is riddled with it. Why doesn't anyone ask where goodness comes from? Human beings have a tremendous capacity for cruelty. Why is there goodness at all?"
Gabriel found redemption. He began to realize how he'd been given chance after chance. He found grace and love but he'd thrown it away repeatedly. But Julia told him:
"Grace isn't something we deserve, Gabriel." Julia said softly. "It comes from love. And God wraps the world in second chances and sticky little leaves and mercy, even though some people don't want them."
Hi kissed the back of her hand. "Precisely. In the crypt of the Basilica, something happened. I realized you couldn't save me. And I found--peace."
"Sometimes we search for grace until it catches us."
"How are you not an angel?" he breathed.(...)
I loved the part where Gabriel is reminiscing a lot. He is asking for forgiveness and he is expressing his guilt. Gabriel is by far not perfect. When he is troubled, his bottle of Scotch is his dear friend. Did it help, Gabriel? I doubt so. Of course he knew it and he realized that he needed to do something before he became trapped by his old coping mechanisms. He didn't want to ruin is future, after all.
Gabriel is always afraid to lose his beloved Julia. For that reason the atmosphere felt a bit sad and melancholic at times.
The conflict with the university's administration was excellent. It was really mesmerizing to witness their struggle. In addition, the author pulled off quite an amazing plot twist when he included The Letters of Abelard and Heloise. Wow, I adored it--it was very clever and enchanting at the same time!
I love great quotes and one thing's for sure, Sylvain is a very talented author and provides some wonderful quotes. Always. Books are a matter of the heart. I loved Gabriel's Rapture but somehow I had a hard time to decide how to rate this story. While I was incredibly wowed by Gabriel's Inferno, I felt that something was missing here. With that said, I believe that Gabriel's Rapture would have benefited from tighter editing in parts. Once or twice it dragged a little bit--it's nothing major, though. Further, there was a scene between Gabriel and Julia when he was talking about his past, and Julia judged him rather quickly. I found her behavior pretty self-righteous, and it didn't suit her at all. Where was the shy and kind-hearted woman?
Again, Sylvain writes with great care for details. I adore his way of intertwining literature, art, food & wine and music. You have great taste when it comes to music, Sylvain. Kudos! I was listening to Peter Gabriel's Blood of Eden all day long. So beautiful.
The love scenes are not overly steamy and yet I think they accommodated Julia. I don't see the shy and innocent woman as a sex goddess, after all. They are nicely done and you will find the best love scene at the end of the book. Yes, I agree, there's a huge difference between eros and lust. The romance between Gabriel and Julia is very charming and heart-warming, and they truly deserved their HEA! Enjoy!
"To my Beloved, my heart is yours and my body. My soul, likewise."
30 of 32 people found the following review helpful
on May 23, 2012
Love, Love, Love these wonderful books! I am a re-reader and I know that GR is going into the rotation along with GI. Sylvain, keep em' coming!!! Just like GI, I couldn't put GR down, I will be reading them both again over this long weekend. Thank You, Thank You, Thank You Sylvain Reynard!!! A fan for life!
51 of 58 people found the following review helpful
on June 4, 2012
I was a huge fan of Gabriel's Inferno, the first book in this series by Slyvain Reynard. I mean a HUGE fan. In fact, that book made it onto my list of favorite books of all time and books that I could read over and over again. I loved it so much. But, weirdly I think, I was not really looking forward to this sequel. In my mind the story ended absolutely perfectly, and I wasn't in any hurry to see that the practically happily ever after ending of that story didn't end up being so happily ever after. But the day of the release of this book came, and I found that I couldn't stay away. I wanted more Gabriel and Julia, so I took the plunge and purchased this book.
How did I like it? Well, I was disappointed, but I will admit that I was a lot more disappointed after reading the first half of the book than I ended up being at the conclusion of the book. In short, after a rocky beginning I thought that the book redeemed itself by the ending. Why the disappointment? Three reasons primarily. First of all, one of the things that I absolutely loved about the first book was that Julia and Gabriel were both significantly flawed. They had some real issues that they needed to work through, and these issues were preventing them from really giving themselves to each other. However, through their love for one another they were able to overcome those problems and find true love. Gabriel's Inferno was a story of redemption. I loved that. However, in this story it turns out that Gabriel wasn't entirely open about all that he was doing in his life. He hadn't told the whole truth, and for that reason there are still some significant things for the two of them to work out. In addition Julia is still really working through issues of her own insecurity. Despite all that Gabriel did to assure her of his love and devotion, she she questions whether he truly loves her unconditionally. Some of this is his own fault, but a lot can be pinned to her own issues. By itself this wouldn't have been a big problem, but after making such a big deal in the last book about how love conquers our past difficulties, it felt like the rug had been pulled out from under me when I discovered that the ending of the last book hadn't been as genuine as I believed it to be. Having said that, however, I do recognize that this is a realistic portrayal of relationships in this regard. Our lives don't automatically just become a bowl of cherries after significant trauma. It takes lots of time and work to overcome our difficulties. So ultimately this wasn't enough of an issue to ruin the book for me.
The second problem that I had with this book was the way that it was paced. The entire first 40% of the book contained scene after scene after scene of Gabriel's and Julia's lovemaking. Over and over and over. Different location, different intensity, but sex, all the same. I will say that the lovemaking scene at the end of Gabriel's Inferno had to be one of the best sex scenes in all of literature. His concern and love for her as he loved her was absolutely beautiful. So I'm not totally opposed to these sorts of scenes showing up in literature, but it was excessive in this book. If you are the type of reader who is totally into this sort of thing, you will probably not feel the same as I do, but for me I don't want to read a sex book with a story crunched into it. No. I want a story that moves me first. In the first half of this book there was not a story. I get it. Gabriel is an attentive lover. It doesn't take dozens of scenes to drive that point home. Let's move on. I shouldn't have to wait for half of the book before a real story emerges.
Third, the language of the book got into eye rolling territory for me. In Gabriel's Inferno I loved the way that Gabriel and Julia talked to one another. I loved that they were so academic. I loved the way that the story of Dante was interwoven throughout the story along with the beautiful Italian language. Loved it! In this book it didn't work so much for me. It just came across as so pretentious. At sex scene #5825 of the book when they were calling each other Professor and Miss Mitchell or Beatrice or whatever I started getting annoyed with it. I don't know why exactly, but I think that it was because of the nature of the problem that arises within this story. At one point in the story Gabriel and Julia are separated. These two people were so in love, but Gabriel couldn't figure out a single way to explain what was going on in normal everyday language. Why in the world did he decide to leave these literary references to explain himself? Who does that in real life? Even when he finally has the chance to explain himself I found his reasoning to be off. Terribly annoying.
One more small complaint -- Christa was a major pain in the rear in this book. A major pain. She caused so much trouble, but in the end her story is just dropped. What happens to her? Does she get away with her mischief making? I didn't really care for her as a character. She seems a bit too one-dimensional, but I still feel as if she deserved an end to her story so that she wasn't just hanging around in the background of the story without any resolution. But this was just a small complaint.
So it seems as if I have just been dogging this book for this entire review, but it isn't all bad. There are some great parts to the book. If I had written this review at the end of the first half of the book it would have been a two star review. But the last half of the book was much better and it reminded me of the things that I loved about the first book, so I felt much better having finished the book.
What I liked:
Paul. What a great friend he was to Julia! I loved this character. I wish that there was more of him in the book. Unfortunately he chose to share all of his goodness with the wrong girl. Julia could never be happy with him because Gabriel was too dominant of a love for her. Unfortunate, but ultimately it was for the best for Paul.
Some of the descriptions of the Italian country. Although I wasn't a huge fan of the beginning of the book, I did enjoy the scenery and the description of the art, literature, and food.
I'm not sure if I totally like the way that this played out, but I was glad to see that there was some resolution about the fraternization that took place between Gabriel and Julia in the previous book. I always thought that they were really skirting around the rules with their professor/student relationship. Although technically they didn't break any rules, they still were not faithful to the spirit of that law. In this book they faced the consequences for that. Like I say, I wasn't a big fan of the way it was handled by the faculty and administration, but I was glad that it was handled so that the two of them could find a good way forward.
The message of the last half of the book. Gabriel is a mess. He has some work to do to correct the mistakes of his past. His beginning of true redemption comes as he revisits Italy and comes to recognize a higher being, a higher purpose, and a better way of living. The change in him as a character was wonderful to read. In the end Julia is told by Gabriel's adoptive father that "sometimes relationships can be conduits of grace, and I know you've been one for my son." I think that that sums up the lesson of this story. Julia and Gabriel are both conduits of grace, helping each other find the redemption that they need. That was beautiful to read, and an amazing message for the end of these two books about these soul mates.
Although I was not as big a fan of this book as I was of Gabriel's Inferno, I think that there will be many who will enjoy this book. Just read through my problems and my likes and see if you are willing to take a chance on this one. Syvain Reynard is still obviously a gifted author, and I expect more great work from him in the future. But from me for this one ... three stars.
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on May 22, 2012
I love Gabriel's Rapture as much as Gabriel's Inferno. I purchased the kindle version last night while I wait for my actual book copy to arrive. I had to force my self to bed because I just couldn't put the story down. I can't wait to go home and finish reading the story tonight. Great job Sylvain Reynard! I can't wait to see what next great story you come up with.
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on June 20, 2012
I read Gabriel's Inferno over the weekend and then HAD to start Gabriel's Rapture. I adored both of them, I was captivated by the story between Julianne and Gabriel, and how they found their way to each other. The anticipation of the consummation of their love was great and absolutely worth the wait. The lovemaking scenes and even those depicting the physical and emotional affection between the two were beautifully written.
I just finished reading Gabriel's Rapture and have to admit becoming emotional reading about Gabriel in Italy and his pain over being separated from his love, Julianne. I was crying and had to put it down for a few minutes. And, then when I picked it up again, had to finish it to know that they were back together and happily forever.
I love reading and do so voraciously, and there are some books that move me tremendously, so much so that I will re read them again and again. These are 2 such books and I thank Sylvain Reynard for providing these stories, so wonderful that I feel compelled to comment.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on August 3, 2012
(Warning: Spoilers ahead!)
There's a longstanding belief that sequels don't live up to the original, "The Godfather Part II" notwithstanding. That makes it all the more pleasurable to read "Gabriel's Rapture," because the book disproves that axiom so thoroughly. It takes the superb groundwork set in the first book, "Gabriel's Inferno," and builds upon it to give the reader a rich and rewarding continuation of Gabriel and Julia's story.
We meet up with the couple where we left them at the end of "Gabriel's Inferno:" in Florence, where they've deepened their passionate affair while immersing themselves in all this cultured city has to offer. Sylvain Reynard draws us into the beauty of Italy and makes us feel as if we're experiencing everything along with Gabriel and Julia. Glorious artwork, most of which is housed in the Uffizi museum, is highlighted. A number of musical selections provide a lovely accompaniment to the couple's tender moments. There are romantic dinners, and even more romantic and erotic tangos in museums and their hotel room. The reader sees and feels these perfect touches, and it's another testament to Reynard's writing that it's a sensual experience for us, too. When Gabriel and Julia have intimate moments in Florence or Umbria, readers feel as if we are right there with them, and it makes us wish all the more that we could be.
Even as we're enjoying this sojourn in one of the loveliest countries in the world, we get the sense that it can't last. Vacations never do, right? Neither does that heady sensation that comes when you find your other half and love them body and soul for the first time. Surely enough, shortly after Gabriel and Julia return to Toronto and their daily lives, they find that reality has intruded in the form of a complaint that threatens to reveal their love affair, which is prohibited by University of Toronto policies that forbid fraternization between teachers and students. As the investigation into their relationship grows more serious, it becomes apparent that Julia's career will be short-circuited before it even starts. In order to spare her, Gabriel sacrifices himself at the altar of academic bureaucracy, but the ultimate penalty is that it means the end of their relationship.
It's heartbreaking to see the bitter turn of events, particularly since we know both Julia and Gabriel bear responsibility for what happened, though Gabriel seems to shoulder more guilt. (As the professor and academic mentor, and certainly the more experienced of the couple, he's probably right to do so.) After so many struggles to acknowledge their love for each other - so many misfires and miscommunications, so much anger and fear over their past - they finally fulfilled the destiny ordained by their night in the orchard so many years ago, only to have it denied by the very institution that, ironically, reunited them.
And yet...and yet...I came away realizing that if they hadn't gone through this separation, they may not have survived as a couple despite their great love. They were better off because they grew individually and were forced to mature emotionally on their own. The heartbreak they endured gave them a better respect for what they had and almost lost. It's an astonishing thing to see because as you're reading it, you realize how rare it is. They acknowledge that the first rush of love, while real, couldn't be sustained because they'd pinned too many of their dreams on it. And in the process, they'd idealized each other in a way that also couldn't be maintained, and ultimately, could have undermined the strength of their genuine bond if the University hadn't interfered. In a way, they owe Toronto a debt of gratitude for it.
Julia is understandably devastated by the separation. Having been so careful to trust Gabriel, she feels as if she's been duped and begins to doubt that he ever loved her. She tries to reach him but the only communication is a brief e-mail from Gabriel that bluntly tells her to stop. She even goes to his condo and finds that everything is gone, except for the clothes that he'd bought for her just months ago, when their feelings for each other still lay just under the surface of their skin. It's especially heartbreaking to watch Julia's efforts to complete her Master's degree in Dante studies, a subject that's an emotional minefield considering that it reunited her with Gabriel. But she perseveres and even thrives under the supportive friendship of Paul and the firm, guiding hand of her advisor, Katherine Picton.
Gabriel embarks on a journey he hoped he would never have to take; one where he's alone, without Julia. Before their relationship, Gabriel lived an empty, dissatisfied existence - one with professional fulfillment but without hope of finding the love and grace he truly craved. He's forced back into that existence now that he and Julia parted, and it's especially cruel for Gabriel. Having finally known true joy and unselfish love, he feels the loss all the more bitterly. Reynard skillfully draws a picture of a man again skating along the edge of his own destruction, driven to despair by the loss of a woman who inspired the redemption he believed was always out of reach. But just as we worry that Gabriel's old vices will again draw him under, we see that the virtues learned in his time with Julia have had a lasting effect. He returns to Italy, at first to mourn, but then to find faith and grace in his circumstances. We also see another facet of the Professor's genius as we gradually realize he'd planned a way out of their situation that would help both of them.
But the real victory - the real uplifting part of this story - is Julia's newfound strength. She mourns, too, but is determined to forge ahead with the life's work she's chosen for herself and her studies. A romantic alternative is offered to her, but Julia knows it would be unfair to both of them for her to settle when it comes to love. Even when Gabriel returns, she doesn't accept him easily. She's wary, careful; though her heart is sure he's its ultimate destination, she has now seen too much to fall back into old patterns. On the one hand, it's almost humorous that she makes him work so hard for it, but on the other, it makes perfect sense, and it's brilliant. Julia comes out of adversity and heartbreak a smarter, stronger woman. And she knows what's at stake. If she and Gabriel are to truly flourish together, they need to confront their weaknesses and the issues that they tend to repress. I came away from this book loving Julia almost as much as Gabriel does.
At the end of the story, I thought of one of my favorite quotes, from "Zoo Story" by Edward Albee: "Sometimes it's necessary to go a long distance out of the way in order to come back a short distance correctly." Julia and Gabriel were forced away from each other, but they were smart enough to appreciate the lessons learned from the experience. They loved each other enough to allow it, and they put those lessons to good use once they returned to each other.
There are literary and artistic references within the sequel, as there are in "Gabriel's Inferno." I found these genuinely enhanced my reading experience, as they often sparked an interest in finding out more about a painting or in reading a book I hadn't considered before.
One last thought: Gabriel's Rapture is again told through the eyes of the Snarky Narrator. His wry humor and asides are a welcome part of the series. I'm really fond of him, and I've come to think of him as the couple's guardian angel. Even though he's as pointed and sarcastic as ever, you sense that he wants the best for Gabriel and Julia.
9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on September 16, 2012
I jest, of course.
One word for this book; erratic. Some of the content is wonderful, 5 star quality stuff, some of it is annoying, and some of it is actually a bit cringey.
If you've read Gabriel's Inferno, which was brilliant, then I do recommend you read Gabriel's Rapture, because ultimately it is a satisfying conclusion, but be prepared to wince and huff a bit along the way.
****** SPOILERS FROM HERE ******
The fantastic connection that the author develops between Julia and Gabriel. It's astonishing. It's also the reason for so many 5 star reviews.
The literary references and the fabulously romantic settings.
Some of the writing and some of the concepts the author explores are wonderful.
WHAT DOESN'T WORK
Is it me, or was Gabriel so over-the-top redeemed by the end that he seemed meek and emasculated? Some of Gabriel's "caring" was, quite frankly, a bit back-away-slowly-dysfunctional. His behaviour became so over-romanticised that it became a cringeworthy parody of what women expect from a romance rather than a depiction of a genuine and real relationship.
Some of the dialogue, particularly some of the romantic stuff uttered by Gabriel, was so over-the-top that any right-minded woman would be booking a plane ticket to Paul's place, where at least she could be sure of having a sensible conversation.
Both their behaviour was so baffling at times that even I, who live in a dream world (!), couldn't suspend my disbelief.
The obstacle to their relationship felt really contrived and much of the story was driven by (I can hardly say it) The Misunderstanding. (Wash my mouth out)
Christa. Where is she? The story lacked that satisfying "Grr! Foiled again!", stamps foot, and exits moment.
I am not a fan of the "Sweet + virginal + Weak = Good" equation of romantic heroines. Got to be honest, Julia could be really pathetic and annoying. I thought her goodness became cloying, and some of her expectations ridiculous. Similarly I think the author overused the religious themes to try to create a sense of of the spiritual in their relationship.
Overall, it resulted in that kind of overdone Susan Elizabeth Phillips-esque effect where the author just goes too far and tries too hard. I found the inclusion of the miscarried baby, the Franciscans, orphans, homeless etc etc. weirdly manipulative and overly sentimental. What man puts a scan picture of a miscarried baby in a frame on his desk? It's just too weird. I also felt that I was being preached to at times, especially regarding a pro-life agenda. Either write religious pamphlets or romance novels. Please don't try and combine them both.
That said, the ending was very satisfying which, we all know, causes women to leap to the computer in their droves to offer up 5 star reviews as tokens of their thanks. Sorry. I wish I could do that, but it just wasn't good enough.
Want another superb college romance like Gabriel's Inferno?
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on May 21, 2013
Gabriel's Rapture picks up right where the previous book left off: sex. After wandering around Italy, going to the lecture, Julia being hit on by another professor, more sex in different positions, and so on, the couple finally returns to the states. Honestly, aside from the "everything that could go wrong does" scenario, nothing really happens in the book. Seeking to get revenge over her perceived slight in the first book, Gabriel's other Dante PhD brings charges against Gabriel and Julia, Gabriel's old flame returns to win him back, Julia is briefly threatened by an old friend, and the couple are forced into separation.
Ug, this book was predictable. The sex was boring and too overdone. It felt as though I was reading a dime store romance; however, those are usually better written. My biggest beef was with Gabriel's lecture and his portrayal of courtly love. For someone who is a Dante specialist, it was completely astounding that such filth would leave his mouth. I found myself just as distressed as the rest of his audience during the lecture. And, yes, I would have gotten up and walked out. In addition, the whole comment about the Spartans was WRONG! The boys were told, by their mothers, to come home with their shields or ON them (ἢ τὰν ἢ ἐπὶ τᾶς). The shields were so large that the men would have to drop them in order to run away. Therefore, if they came home without them, they were cowards. The bodies of the fallen were carried home ON the shields. Hence the statement: come home with your shield or ON it. In addition, if you're going to talk about the real Battle of Thermopylae, please use the real event. If you must use a movie, The 300 Spartans is far more accurate than 300.
There was absolutely no character development in the characters. Also, there were no real secondary characters. Granted, people such as Paul are returning, but they couldn't even be classified as supporting cast.
As with the characters, the setting is just about as lackluster. The author goes into detail while in Italy; however, everything in the states is just meh. I couldn't decide if the author felt it would be a waste of time to describe the setting to us or if she just lost interest.
The only thing I can give the book is the fast pace. Furthermore, it kept me reading. While I was upset by some of the university proceedings around the relationship, I was very curious to know what happened, the ruling, and so on. With that, the pages did keep turning. In addition, all of the medieval art references and the quotes from medieval texts were lovely and made my heart soar. However, I'm not sure if that's enough to save the book.
Will I read the next book? Yes. Why? It might be simply because I am a glutton for punishment, I want to get pissed off, or I'm just too damn curious. That being said, unless you like the Fifty Shades books, don't read this series. If you like medieval lit, culture, and art, stay away from these books!
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on September 8, 2012
It's difficult for me to put in to words how much I loved this book. This is one of those series that sticks in your mind. I read the first book, Gabriel's Inferno, at the beginning of the year and while reading it, I had mixed feelings about the story. However, it remained on my mind for weeks after. As I took time to absorb it, I fell more and more in love with the characters, the story, and the writing. I'd probably write a very different review today than I did then. So, how did this sequel measure up? I really, truly, loved it.
I loved that the story picked up where we left off at the end of GI. Gabriel and Julia are in Italy attending a conference and taking time to enjoy their new relationship. I found that I fell more in love with Gabriel while they were there. He loves Julia completely. He treasures, not only her mind, but her body. While he is dominating, I felt like he was patient with her and really very sweet. He was sensitive to her needs and feelings.
In the first book, Julia irritated me a bit, but I felt like she became a stronger character in this book. She's not as easily influenced or scared to voice her opinion. She trusts her feelings for Gabriel and is able to let go of her insecurities and enjoy the intimacy she shares with Gabriel.
As with the first book, there is a fair share of drama. Gabriel and Julia are forced to deal with the consequences of their actions. This part was the most difficult to read. My tears were flowing and my belly ached for them. I may have had a support group to get me through till the end.
As for the smexy....it was pretty darn hot. This is an erotic book, so there are some graphic sex scenes, but it's written in such a gorgeous, romantic way. It does exactly what it's supposed to; gets you hot and bothered, but also makes you swoon. It's definitely a tribute to how beautiful the writing is.
Once again, I found myself enraptured by SR's flawless writing. Gabriel's Inferno and Gabriel's Rapture are books I will always treasure and are among my top 10 reads of this year. If you haven't been introduced to this series, you must go check it out! I highly recommend it.
Because of the mature content, this series is most appropriate for the 18+ age group.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on October 16, 2012
I'm going to preface this review by saying if you loved Gabriel's Inferno, you'll probably love this book too.
While I thought book 1 was okay, I didn't love it the way that most people seemed to. And the things I didn't like there were only amplified in this book, all while telling one of the most boring and predictable stories I've read in a long time. I felt like I was rolling my eyes every other page at the author's condescending tone and overly verbose writing style. The frequent references and quotes of literature were unrealistic and pretentious. So many of the scenes were too long and didn't add anything to the story. I'm not going to spoil anything here, but I'd be surprised if anyone didn't predict the "complications" that arise in this story based on what happens in book 1. I put this book down 2 different times before reluctantly forcing myself to return to it. I was so happy for it to be over.
I do have to say that there are some things that redeemed this book. The writing is technically excellent. I'm not sure if that's the writer or a really great editor, but aside from the very odd narration style (again, why does the narrator care what Gabriel's feet look like?), there are very few mistakes made. The second half picked up the pace and was much easier to get through than the first. Once all that predictable self-imposed drama was complete, it was a much more interesting story.
Obviously, I'm in the minority here in my opinion on the book, so I'd caution anyone reading this to ignore my review and give this book a try if you enjoyed Gabriel's Inferno. But, if you had reservations as I did about the first book, take my advice and skip this one altogether.