Gabriel’s Redemption by Sylvain Reynard
About a year and a half ago (time flies) I binge consumed two amazing books: Gabriel’s Inferno and Gabriel’s Rapture. The novels, by author Sylvain Reynard, were a great read, even more so because of the subject matter (the main characters study Dante, which I had zero knowledge of before reading) and the author.
Well, he or she is a mystery. Nobody knows who Sylvain Reynard is, and whether he (or she) is male or female or using a pen name. Rather than detracting from the trilogy (or duet as it was then), the mystery of the writer, and wondering how a man could write a story like this one, contributed to the whole experience. (For the purposes of this review, I will refer to the author as ‘he’. Also I will posit my own theory that Sylvain Reynard is either a fancy academic with a secret addiction to Harlequin romances or a little old lady in a flowered hat who never leaves the house.)
Apparently, Renaud wasn’t going to write a third book. He intended for the story to end with the last page of Rapture. But fans begged, pleaded and demanded that the tale continue. And so he acquiesced and wrote a conclusion: Gabriel’s Redemption. But was it a good idea? Was he done with the story? Did we need our T’s and I’s crossed? Let’s discuss.
Of course after we read a plot summary (I’m being a snarky narrator which is a plot device used by this author).
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.
Sylvain Reynard is a good writer. Maybe even great. Handling the deep subject matter of Dante scholarship along with the intricacies of this story, creating well-developed characters and a great romance – that takes talent. So from that perspective, the third book was definitely a good idea.
Finishing off Gabriel and Julianne’s story, sharing what happens after the book hangover (you know, when you finish a great book and all you can think about is what the characters are doing now ) seems like it would be great. In this case, maybe the after was better left to the imagination. Gabriel’s Redemption wasn’t nearly as compelling as the other two books. It was good, but it wasn’t GOOD. You know what I mean. Like breathless. So from that perspective, the third book may not have been necessary.
So, it’s 2/2 (one for and one against) . We can call it a draw and say that this novel finishes off the trilogy nicely, if not with fireworks (good). While it lacks some of the intensity of the first two books (not good), it was a lot less ‘churchy’ – the main characters are catholic and like to talk about their faith (good). Gabriel and his sexiness was toned down a lot, and the dirty bits were pretty blah (not good). We had our present wrapped up nicely with a big smile and a bow (good), even though it all felt a little bit like Wonder Bread when we wanted a decent bagel (not good). The bad people got their due and the good people got theirs (good). And I could go on.
Gabriel’s Rapture Series
Basically, if you loved Gabriel’s Inferno and Gabriel’s Rapture you’ll like Gabriel’s Redemption. And you’ll be waiting with bated breath for Syvain Reynard’s next offering (It’s excerpted in at the end of Redemption and I do believe teased within the text if you pay close attention.)
Recommend Factor: 7/10
Unputdownable Factor: 8/10
Hot Factor: The groundhog says six more weeks of winter.