Berkley / December 3, 2013 / $16.00 print, $7.99 digital
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 Julianne 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's Gabriel’s Redemption is sheer romance at its best:
“Have you ever made love in an orchard before?”
Her eyes widened and she shook her head.
“Then I’m glad I’m your first.”
She tightened her grip on his hand. “You’re my last, Gabriel. My only.”
Professor Gabriel Emerson is a tortured soul because of his haunted past, but when it comes to his wife Julia, he is a healed man. Julia brings out the good in him. The caring and gentle man beneath Gabriel’s dark and dangerous exterior has been revealed because of her. Her love has transformed this self-destructive man into a passionate poet, and together their love is adoring, sweet and completely sweltering. The romantic theme in Gabriel’s Redemption is fueled by their love of Dante and Beatrice from The Divine Comedy.
Gabriel tugged her until she was standing in front of a photograph of herself. She was in profile, her eyes closed and her long hair held up a pair of man’s hands. She was smiling.
The picture was one that Gabriel had taken back in Toronto, when she’d first agreed to pose for him. She looked at the tag underneath. The photograph and read the following,
Ah, beauteous lady, who in rays of love
Dost warm they warm thyself, if I may trust to looks,
Which the heart’s witnesses are wont to be,
May the desire come unto thee to draw
Near to this river’s bank, “I said to her,
So much that I might hear what thou art singing,
Thou makest me remember where and what
Her mother her, and she herself the Spring.
“Those are the words Dante speaks when he sees Beatrice for the first time in Purgatory.” Gabriel touched her face, and his eyes met hers with searing intensity. “It was the same for me. When I saw you in Cambridge after being separated from you, I remember those words. Just seeing you, standing in the street, made me remember all I’d lost. I was hoping you’d see me and come to me.”
Gabriel pulled her against his chest as Julia’s eyes filled with tears. “Don’t cry, my sweet girl. You’re my Beatrice and my sticky little leaf and my beautiful wife. I’m sorry I’ve been such a bastard. I wanted to show you how important you are to me. You are my most precious masterpiece.”
Julia gazed up at him.
He swiped his thumbs under her eyes before pressing his lips to her forehead. “You’re my Persephone; the maiden to my monster.”
As exquisite as Gabriel and Julia’s romance is, like most newlywed couples, they have their share of disagreements. Gabriel wants a child and oh boy, can he be persuasive.
“I want to plant my child here.”
As his words echoed in the clearing, Julia froze.
“I’d like to have a child with you.”
She caught her breath. “So soon?”
His thumb moved over her skin. “We never know how much time we have.”
Julia thought of Grace, his adoptive mother, and her biological mother, Sharon. Both died at younger ages but under very different circumstances.
“Dante lost Beatrice when she was twenty-four,“ he continued. “Losing you would be devastating.”
How can a girl deny him anything?
Their disagreements didn’t stop at wanting children. Gabriel’s self-destructive behavior seemed to surface when reminded of his past and Julia had a need to be independent. Luckily, their love overcame their differences every time and their coupling or make-up sex sizzled.
A single finger traced up to the nape of her neck, gliding across her shoulders. Another pillow was placed under naked breasts before he stretched her arms above her head.
“A work of art.” He breathed in her ear before kissing just behind it, drawing the skin into his mouth. His palm traveled the length of her back twice before exploring her bottom and legs.
The bed shifted and the music changed to Sting’s “I Burn for You.” Julia felt more than a fluttering of desire. She could feel his presence next to the bed, but she heard nothing until he set a couple of objects on the table. She turned her head in the direction of the sound, but Gabriel placed a hand over her eyes, blocking her sight.
“Do you trust me?"
“Good.” He passed this hand over the back of her head, pulling her hair to one side. “I’ve missed you these past few days. I’ve been looking forward to getting reacquainted.”
Gabriel’s Redemption conveys its romantic foundation throughout every disagreement, the gloomiest moments, and the sweetest of kisses. It is an example of why I fell in love with romance.
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Sage Spelling writes book reviews for her blog http://sagespellingsbookshelf.blogspot.com/ She is a compulsive reader, writer and a happily ever after kind of girl. Follow her on Facebook: Sage Spelling and Twitter: @SSpellingAuthor