This book begins right where “Gabriel’s Inferno” left off, on a romantic holiday in Italy. As often is the case during an exotic vacation, the main characters (and the reader) are more than happy to partake in the pleasurable and sensual experiences that overwhelm a couple during the early days of their relationship. With Sylvain Reynard’s gift as an intelligent and romantic storyteller, all involved would likely be content to linger in such bliss for eternity.
In this setting it can be easy to ignore the obligations and responsibilities of life; however, as the realization of Gabriel and Julia’s love affair becomes common knowledge to those around them, problems begin to emerge. It quickly becomes impossible for the two of them to ignore the inevitable complications that arise from embarking on a passionate journey whose foundation was constructed under controversial circumstances.
After all the darkness Gabriel and Julia experienced in their respective pasts, the easiest thing the author could’ve done would have been to give these characters their guaranteed happiness at the moment they truly become one. But as one reads “Gabriel’s Rapture,” it becomes clear that Reynard wanted to do what was right by the characters and the world created in the first book, not just what was easy.
I read with rapt attention as I studied a couple who (in some ways) came to feel more insecure and unsure of one another as their relationship progressed. Even before departing Italy, the new lovers are caught up in moments of jealously and self-loathing that only provide increasing tension and drama once they return home to immerse themselves among their families, friends, colleagues and enemies.
The resulting developments in the continuing story of Gabriel and Julia are not always enjoyable to witness, but one should always remember that anything worthwhile in life is never easy to achieve. As a reader, I admire how Reynard further developed his characters by allowing all their doubts and fears and jealousies to nag at one another. To me at least, it made Gabriel and Julia all the more human and all the more relatable. And in the end, it made everything all the more satisfying.