9 February 2016

Gabriel’s Rapture by Sylvain Reynard

Hey everyone,

With only 27 books left on my to-be-read pile I finally got around to reading Gabriel's Rapture, the second book in Sylvain Reynard's hugely popular Gabriel's Inferno series. I went in with high expectation, after all I gave Garbiel's Inferno five stars when I read it, so surely I would love Gabriel's Rapture? Yet something about this book didn't work for me.

The book:
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?

My thoughts:

Now I will admit that it has been several years since I read the first book in this series so for the first few chapters I merely reacquainting myself with the characters and plot. It was my impression that this book starts almost straigtht after the other ones finishes. Gabriel and Julia are on holiday in Italy enjoying the culture, the food and the freedom that being another country gives them. If I remember correctly this trip is a celebration of their relationship as Julia and Gabriel are technically no longer professor and pupil. They are finally able to act on all the passion and desire that has been building between throughout the year. Of course with this couple nothing ever goes smoothly. Even during this time of happiness and bliss the cogs of their downfall are already being put into place back in Toronto.

I wandered in the darkness looking for something better, something real. I found you, and I'll be damned if I'm going to lose you.

It once all this drama began that I became disconnected from Gabriel's Rapture. I found myself actively disliking Julia and Gabriel, and I wasn't particularly keen on any of the secondary characters either. Every sentence was written so profoundly and meaningful, every action was dissected and interpreted a thousands different ways until the original thoughts and feelings of the characters became lost. The communication between Gabriel and Julia was appalling, often they wouldn't talk to each other, and when they did everything was misconstrue and taken out of context. I kept asking myself is this a couple that have fun together? Do they enjoy spending time together? Or like their literary counterparts Dante and Beatrice are they instead so focused on the ideal of love that the reality of a relationship falls by the wayside?

You are my water. Making love with you is all I need to quench my thirst. Why would I throw this away for water from the ocean?

Now I can't imagine that Sylvain Reynard's writing style changed so dramatically from Gabriel's Inferno to Gabriel's Rapture so instead I must assume it is my reading taste that has altered. Clearly eighteen-year old Lucy loved the romantic and hyperbolic style of this series but 22 year old me does not. I want to read books with strong characters, both male and female, couples I can route for, plot-lines that keep me gripped and world-building that transports me to another place and time. Yet in Gabriel's Rapture I was almost offended by the character of Julia, she was so feeble and defenseless. Constantly being put into the role of the 'innocent doe-eyed virgin', with all the men in the novel rushes to her rescue. Even when she does speak up and show some back-bone her opinions are largely ignored by almost all the other characters. In my eyes she was a character that other either bullied or fell in love with. She didn't feel like a real person to me and I therefore struggled to connect with her. Outside of her love for Gabriel I wasn't sure who she was meant to be.

You are my sticky little leaf. My beautiful, sad, sticky little leaf, and I want to see you happy and whole.

All of these reasons made it difficult for me to give Gabriel's Rapture higher than two stars. Although I know thousands of people loved this book and the entire Gabriel's Inferno series, for me this just doesn't have the elements I'm currently looking for in my romance books. The writing is truly beautiful, if a little too profound and long-winded at times, also I love the literary and artistic references that abound this series. It is for these reasons that I have given Gabriel's Rapture two stars. If I was rating this purely on the romance between Gabriel and Julia it would have been less.

My rating:
Happy reading and see you next time!