Please read on to read my review of Finding Gabriel by Rachel L. Demeter. I read her first, The Frost of Springtime, and found the writing to be beautifully evocative and intriguing. Finding Gabriel is set in 19th century France, and incorporates history and tumult that was present in this historical fiction / romance title.
I expected good things from this story going in, I was impressed with Demeter’s ability to weave a story into historical events, and present the necessary background information, imbue it with evocative words and phrases that give the reader a solid sense of place, while giving characters life and breath on the page. She had brought this in my introduction to her work, The Frost of Springtime, so I was excited to receive an opportunity to review her new work.
Set in 1815, with some flashbacks to pertinent moments, Gabriel de Laurent is back from the war, finding life and all he has lost too much to bear. A horribly broken man, he has decided that life is no longer worth the struggle, and he has decided to take his own life. Surely, this is not a ‘proper’ introduction to a character, but Demeter makes it work by placing one who is significantly younger and yet unbowed by the trials of her own difficult life in Ariah Larochelle. She takes in this wounded, close to death man, and decides he shall be her “project.
With a touch of a slow start, and frequent insets from the past, these two characters are developing a backstory as their current moment progresses. We learn of their issues, their struggles and fears, and what has brought them each to this moment. Ariah’s steadfast (and near martyr-like patience) with Gabriel’s attitude are at times, wearing, but we see from the frequent moments inside each character’s head the changes and growth as it occurs. I wished for more direct interaction between the two, but several things hold back their willingness to share of themselves and take a chance at offering their hearts. Secondary characters help to fill out their relationship and the story, bringing in moments away from the underlying questions about the ‘will they or won’t they’ relationship status.
As before, Demeter brought forth a lovely story rich in history with two characters that encourage you to read on, read more as you hope for their happy ending. A sense of fatalism follows both Ariah and Gabriel, and the story does carry the same tone, while moments of great joy shine brightly, these are not two characters who are happily moving through life. Perhaps that makes their connection feel more visceral: both have lost much, and realize the fragility of life and the bonds you make, but the gradual reliance on one another, the growing affection and connection are all the more present because of those overriding emotions imbedded in each page of this story.
Title: Finding Gabriel
Author: Rachel L. Demeter
Genre: Historical Romance, Historical Fiction
Published by: Momentum (Pan Macmillan)
Published on: 27 August, 2015
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Colonel Gabriel de Laurent departed for the war intending to die.
After a decade of bloodstained battlegrounds while fighting in Napoleon's army, Gabriel returns to the streets of Paris a shattered and haunted soul. Plagued by inner demons, he swallows the barrel of his flintlock pistol and pulls the trigger.
But fate has a different plan.
Ariah Larochelle is a survivor. Orphaned at twelve and victim to a devastating crime, she has learned to keep her back to walls and to trust no one. But when she finds a gravely injured soldier washed up on the River Seine, she's moved by compassion. In spite of her reservations, she rescues him from the icy water and brings him into her home.
Now scarred inside and out, Gabriel discovers a kindred spirit in Ariah—and feelings he imagined lost forever reawaken as he observes her strength in the face of adversity. But when Ariah's own lethal secrets unfold, their new love is threatened by ancient ghosts. Can Gabriel and Ariah find hope in the wreckage of their pasts—or will the cycle of history repeat again?
Perfect for fans of Gaelen Foley's Lord of Ice and Judith James's Broken Wing, Finding Gabriel features all the dark romance, searing passion, and historical intrigue of The Phantom of the Opera and Les Misérables.
A copy of this title was provided via Author for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.