Author: Sylvain Reynard
Genre: Contemporary Romance
My Copy: Review Copy via Penguin
Add to: Goodreads
Sylvain Reynard’s Gabriel’s Redemption is the highly anticipated final book in the Gabriel’s Inferno series. The series was originally conceived as two books, but Reynard changed his mind after readers pleaded for a third. If you haven’t read the series, I do recommend you read the first two books before proceeding to Redemption because Reynard does revisit past characters and gives you character backgrounds that will leave you lost otherwise.
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.
Before I proceed to the review, I want to say, that it pains me to give this book the rating I do, because I adored Gabriel’s Inferno and really enjoyed Gabriel’s Rapture. Alas, I’m in the minority that didn’t enjoy Gabriel’s Redemption.
What I did like was the softening of Gabriel in a particular scene involving an orphanage and being called Superman by the children. I really liked seeing Gabriel out of his element and finally putting the past regarding Maia away. I just adored seeing Julia presenting at Oxford. I cheered for her as she delivered her first paper and high-fived her when she was able to handle her own regarding Christa and her questions. I do believe we needed this scene in order for Gabriel to realize how amazing Julia is in the academic world when given a little space.
Ultimately, what didn’t work for me was how clichéd Gabriel’s Redemption was. Julia doesn’t want a baby and wants to focus on school, but Gabriel wants one. I’ll leave out what happens so you’re not spoiled, but I’m so disappointed because I understand Julia’s worry. It’s one I’ve had for her since she married Gabriel because I know women in academia having children and how it postpones a lot for them. Several good friends got pregnant during their final coursework for the PhD and several years later still aren’t done. So my worry for Julia is perfectly justified and I know she’ll have a good career regardless of the outcome, but I wanted so much more for her. I wanted Gabriel to want more for her too and in the end, I was disappointed. The first two books in the series left me emotionally drained and I cared about the fate of each character, but midway through Gabriel’s Redemption, I couldn’t summon the energy to care. Also, Reynard attempts to give closure to every character. So if you’ve been wondering what happens to Simon or Natalie, you’ll get closure, but the way Reynard works them into the narrative, it’s not related to Julia and Gabriel’s story. While it’s nice that he goes back to tie up lose ends, I feel at times that like real life some answers aren’t known and that’s the beauty of life. Furthermore, there are still some unanswered questions regarding a few characters. I have a feeling Reynard will be revisiting Paul in his next novel.
In the end, I just feel Gabriel’s Redemption was lackluster. It read like a long epilogue that just wouldn’t end. Julia and Gabriel fight, she locks herself in the bathroom, make up sex ensues, and repeat this scene a few more times. I know newlyweds have sex, but Reynard has these two fornicating left and right that I’m surprised Julia can even walk the next day much less get out bed. At one point, Gabriel is impatient because Julia announces she’s menstruating and while he understands, he’s busy counting down the days to sexy time. I’m surprised he doesn’t have her menstruation cycle memorized. I know readers asked for a third novel, but in this case, I do feel that an epilogue or a novella would have been more than fine.
Die hard Gabrielites will no doubt love Gabriel’s Redemption. If you’re unsure about picking this up, I recommend reading a sample first and maybe a few reviews in order to determine your interest or borrow a copy from a friend.