Gabriel’s Rapture (Gabriel’s Inferno #2)
Penguin Books AUS
Copy courtesy of the publisher
Professor Gabriel Emerson and his former student Julia Mitchell have made it through to the end of the semester and have escaped to Italy, where Gabriel is to give a lecture, to begin their relationship properly now that she is no longer his student. They spend their days exploring Italy and learning more about each other – in the emotional and physical sense. Gabriel has begun Julia’s introduction to the sexual side of their relationship although she worries constantly that she’s not enough for him. She wonders whether or not he finds her lacking, given all of his experience and the activities he’s engaged in previously with women far more adept and confident than her.
Julia finds more to worry about when the two of them return home. Their new found happiness is threatened by a combination of a jealous ex-lover, a spurned fellow student and the politics and rules of academia. When both of them are summoned to face inquiries into their conduct, everything they have worked for threatens to come crashing down around them. In an effort to protect Julia from ruining her academic future, including a prestigious PhD offer from one of the top universities, Gabriel is willing to do absolutely anything to make sure she comes out of the inquiry with no professional consequences. Even break her heart.
I almost always find that the second book in a trilogy is the most difficult to read and review (with a few exceptions). In a trilogy such as this one, the second book kind of struggles to get off the ground. The end of the first book brings the two lovers together and they begin to embark upon a proper relationship, although this is not without its hiccups. Julia is insecure about Gabriel’s former lovers, Pauline in particular and she struggles to let go of his past, constantly judging him on it. They are still keeping secrets from each other and although they have times where they are blissfully happy, their emotional turmoil means that there are plenty of misunderstandings and difficult moments. And so the beginning of this book is a bit dull as they navigate a luxurious holiday in Europe and constantly reassure each other of their undying love amid beautiful surroundings and Gabriel waxing lyrical about Botticelli’s art and muses and applying it all to Julia.
Then they return to reality and the second semester of Julia’s course and things begin to pick up. There are people out to sabotage them and although the villains in this book are comically so they are mere catalysts for the drama: the real dilemma that Gabriel and Julia face is functioning as a couple in the real world when both of them are damaged and in Gabriel’s case, unwilling to do things to fix his damage. Although Gabriel has done much to overcome his previous addiction and has been clean for some time, Julia sees (I think someone actually points this out to her) that he merely replaces one thing with another, coke with alcohol and also, her. He has an addictive personality and although he’s quite devoted to her, there are times when he doesn’t appear to take her very seriously. They still have communication issues and they only get worse as this book goes on, although this is partially escalated by two lawyers who each want to exonerate their clients and place all the blame on the other party in the inquiries the university holds into their interactions. Julia makes a grave mistake which forces Gabriel into action and she’s so self-conscious and lacks in esteem that she doesn’t even realise what he’s doing even though it’s incredibly obvious. And the thing that bothered me a little was that even when she finally finds out exactly what he did do, she doesn’t really seem to grasp the consequences that much because she’s still wallowing in her self-pity. It was a little frustrating, I just wanted her to get over the devastated damsel routine and have a little faith. Because there isn’t much of a relationship if you can’t have faith in the fact that your partner loves you. Why would you want to be in a relationship if you thought so strongly that they didn’t?
It took me a good 100p to warm up to this book and it made me reassess a few things on what I like to read. Often I find myself wanting to read about a couple after a book has ended, just to see them doing normal things, being happy in a relationship. I got that with the beginning of this book and I actually found that was the part of the book I enjoyed least. I began getting interested when Gabriel and Julia’s world started to fall apart and it was interesting to study the two characters and watch how they chose to handle it, especially towards the end when they were separated for some time. Julia is 23 but in my opinion she’s quite a young 23 and this might be because she hasn’t had a relationship before and she hasn’t learned that she can also function on her own, separate and independent of her other half. She just kind of goes through the motions rather than lives and it makes the age difference between them seem much greater than 10 years. Hopefully her time doing her PhD will mature her and give her confidence in herself and her capabilities and she won’t come to see Gabriel as so god-like. He’s a man, with plenty of flaws.
Book #313 of 2013