A gritty, cerebral and emotional tale of love
Robin Schone has managed to take an ugly, turn of the century plot line - death, destitution, need, and rape of the psyche - and create an intimate, beautiful book. Her characters, though harshly wounded, are strong, resilient and determined although like all of us, they try hiding their secrets and basic needs behind a facade of aloof independence.
Victoria, born a child of privilege yet disdained by a mysogamist father, leaves her home to become a governess, a precarious job choice that ultimately makes her a pawn in a devious game played by an unknown man to assuage his envy and hatred. Manipulated by events, Victoria finds herself starving on the streets, selling her few belongings, her pride leaving her only one final thing of value - her virginity. Manipulated but thinking it her own decision, she decides to auction her virginity in the House of Gabriel, a well known 'tavern' that offers every known carnal pleasure.
Gabriel, known as a blond untouchable angel, was born in poverty and despair and with Michael, his darkly beautiful childhood friend, was trained as a prostitute from age 13, Michael to serve women while Gabriel served men. Both were highly successful until Gabriel was tricked, chained, abused and humiliated by two men. In the subsequent fourteen years, Gabriel has not touched a woman, unable to admit a need for love or that he is worthy of it, he concentrates all his efforts and wealth from his "House" to discovering those men and destroying them before they can further destroyed him. While suspecting that his abusers mean Victoria to be the weapon that will destroy him, he 'buys' her because he remembers the feel of hunger he sees in her eyes.
Dark and highly erotic, "Gabriel's Woman" is a story about hope and trust, about loyalty and the family of other wounded souls who've found sanctuary and worth in the House of Gabriel. It is a story about compassion, commitment and faithfulness, about retribution and redemption. It is a story about love and the mental and emotional price of love, as well as an unusual love story.
This was the first book I read by Ms. Schone, but I recommend it highly to anyone like me who wants a solid story line, well developed characters, a few unexpected plot twists, and good strong writing. Not only do I consider it a satisfying 'keeper' to be read often, but I am now searching for more of her offerings.