Passionate. Romantic. Enrapturing.
I was instantly absorbed again by Gabriel and Julia’s story as they battle their insecurities, their past and their hopes for their future. It was a perfect conclusion to one of my all-time favorite series.
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- Gabriel’s Inferno: Amazon | Amazon UK | B&N
- Gabriel’s Rapture: Amazon | Amazon UK | B&N
- Gabriel’s Redemption: Amazon | Amazon UK | B&N
Professor Gabriel Emerson has left his position at the University of Toronto to embark on a new life with his beloved Julianne. Together, he’s confident that they can face any challenge. And he’s eager to become a father.
But Julianne’s graduate program threatens Gabriel’s plans, as the pressures of being a student become all consuming. When she is given the honor of presenting an academic lecture at Oxford, Gabriel is forced to confront her about the subject of her presentation – research that conflicts with his own. And in Oxford, several individuals from their past appear, including an old nemesis intent on humiliating Julia and exposing one of Gabriel’s darkest secrets.
In an effort to confront his remaining demons, Gabriel begins a quest to discover more about his biological parents, beginning a chain of events that has startling repercussions for himself, Julianne, and his hope of having a family.
It was almost exactly at this time one year ago that I finished reading book 2 of the series, Gabriel’s Rapture. I was captivated by the striking dichotomy between Professor Gabriel Emerson’s profound brokenness and fearless arrogance. How could a man so intelligent and bold who seemingly had the world in his hands be so deeply shattered by his past? The series enthralled me. I was so pulled in by its characters whom were so well developed and nuanced. The books were well written, the words infused with passion and romance. The English nerd in me reveled with each literature reference and the entangled life of Academia felt all-too familiar and intriguing. (In true SR parenthetic style, it should be noted that I indeed am married to a professor myself.) So, I began to read this third installment with a year to slow the original momentum of my experience and I admittedly feared it wouldn’t have the same impact it had so many months ago. I was wrong, however. I was instantly transported back into the intensity, volatility and passion of Gabriel and Julianne’s love story.
“Gabriel was a consuming fire. His passion, his desires, all seemed to overtake the desires of those around them.”
We begin this third book six months into their marriage, after they finally overcame the external forces that divided them for so long. In this chapter of their story, Gabriel and Julia tackle the forces within themselves as they finally face past demons and deeply buried insecurities. I felt the narrative was very introspective, with their inner thoughts highlighted in a dual POV format. It’s clear how much they love each other… their passion was always palpable with Gabriel’s fiery intensity constantly pushing their relationship to the precipice of an unbridled emotional explosion. You never seem to know when he’ll push Julianne too far. Gabriel wars with himself as he continues to struggle with the past… the mistakes he’s made, the loved ones he’s lost and the secrets of his biological parentage. Unable to often control his anger, possessiveness or controlling ways, he either erupts unfairly at Julia or internalizes his emotions. Despite the ardent love he feels for his wife, he doesn’t feel deserving of happiness.
“Gabriel had changed in myriad ways since Julianne was his student. But he had yet to abandon his belief that he was not worthy of sustained happiness.”
Julia is now thrust into the stress of graduate school as she worries about her ability to stand on her own, outside of Gabriel’s sweeping academic shadow. Her personality, which at times seemed feeble in the other books begins to strengthen, but is still often crippled by the desire to please the man she loves. Her unease is magnified by Gabriel’s desire to have children since all she wants to do is complete and excel in her graduate program. How can she deny Gabriel a child born out of love? Is she being selfish? Her questions, insecurities and fears pound her every thought as she begins to fall apart.
“Julia worried about her ability to say no to his deepest longing. She’d be overwhelmed with the desire to please him, to make him happy, and in doing so would sacrifice her own happiness.”
There were times I truly loved Gabriel for the intense way he loved Julia. His happiness is so inextricably tied to her and he is able to say words that would melt any woman to the floor.
“For you, my love, I would endeavor to pluck the stars from the sky, only to shower them at your feet.”
But truth be told, an consistent with his past mistakes, there were also times where he was simply a jerk. His inability to face the issues he hides inside make him even more explosive and mercurial, hurting the person he loves the most. And despite the fact that Julia’s unconditional love for him “chipped away at his self-doubt,” he begins to keep secrets that begin to fracture their already fragile relationship. One must wonder if their love, as fiery and soul-deep as it burns, is as ill-fated as the story of Dante and Beatrice. Could Gabriel and Julianne survive their circumstances?
“His secrets were hurting her. He knew that. But he couldn’t unburden himself until he’d found a solution. He didn’t want to appear weak and undecided, or worse, to watch her compassion change into pity. He’d rather alienate her temporarily than lose her respect.”
Their own struggles are intensified when some of the external forces we thought forgotten try to muck things up once again. I actually really loved the last quartile of the book which infused more angst and uncertainty. I also thought this book seemed to weave more religious threads thoughout as our irascible and internally tortured protagonist searched for his own redemption. Sylvain Reynard even counterbalanced the intensity of the book with some witty moments noted parenthetically. I loved those lines!
(Desk sex can be very, very good, but it’s important to remove the staplers first.)
In the end, what continued to strike me was how deeply I have been pulled in to every book in the series. The romance, the seduction, the passion, the characters, the style of the writing are all elements that seamlessly work together to deliver an unforgettable story about love. To me, this was a perfect conclusion.
“You’re the only woman who ever persuaded me to give my heart. And you still seduce me, Mrs. Emerson. Every day.”
I’m interested in the way literature can help us explore aspects of the human condition – particularly suffering, sex, love, faith, and redemption. My favourite stories are those in which a character takes a journey, either a physical journey to a new and exciting place, or a personal journey in which he or she learns something about himself/herself. I’m also interested in how aesthetic elements such as art, architecture, and music can be used to tell a story or to illuminate the traits of a particular character. In my writing, I combine all of these elements with the themes of redemption, forgiveness, and the transformative power of goodness. I try to use my platform as an author to raise awareness about the following charities: Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep Foundation, WorldVision, Alex’s Lemonade Stand, and Covenant House. For more information, see my Twitter account.