A Thousand Steps

A Thousand Steps
A Thousand Steps by T. Jefferson Parker

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Finding Gabriel by Rachel L. Demeter Virtual Book Tour + Giveaway!


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 and pulls the trigger.

But fate has a different plan.

Ariah Lorochelle is a survivor. Orphaned at twelve and victim to a devastating crime, she has learned to keep her back to the walls and 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 ghost.  Can Gabriel and Ariah find hope in the wreckage of their past- or will history repeat again?
Perfect for fans of Gaelen Foley's Lord of Ice and Judith James' Broken Wing. Finding Gabriel features all the dark romance, searing passion, and historical intrigue of The Phantom of the Opera and Les Miserables.
Excerpt :
Ariah grew heady, weak at the knees. Gabriel’s kiss was bruising. Unyielding and desperate. Their tongues dueled an erotic tango. Murmuring into her mouth, he slanted his face and deepened their kiss to impossible limits. He possessed her. Drank in her very spirit. She yielded to the passionate onslaught, surrendering mind, body, and soul – if only for this moment.

It seemed that Gabriel was lost to a primitive hunger . . . a hunger to claim what was rightfully his. He ravished her without restriction, allowing his darker side – the side she’d fallen for nearly a month prior – to take over. He kissed her with purpose, with every grain of passion, branding her forever.
He kissed her with the intention of winning her soul.

Finding GabrielFinding Gabriel by Rachel L. Demeter
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Finding Gabriel by Rachel L. Demeter is a 2015 Momentum publication. I was provided a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

“There is no paradise on earth, but there are pieces of it. What there is on earth is a broken paradise.” _ Jules Renard

Sometimes I just can't find the words to convey my personal experience with a book, and this may be one of those times.

This is a dark, often painful story, on the one hand, and on the other it's a romance deeply drenched in true love, hope, forgiveness and redemption. I was on the edge of my seat, stunned by anger, moved by grief, and uplifted by love's power to transform and heal.

Gabriel is a French soldier who has lost everything a man could lose, he's torn, broken, and dead inside, knowing nothing but blinding, all consuming heartbreak. Out of his mind with grief, he puts a gun in his mouth and pulls the trigger. However, his life doesn't end there… in fact, it's just beginning.

Ariah, an orphaned girl, having known nothing but hardship most of her life, tortured by the past, is raising a sickly child alone with her sister, while her husband has gone away to war. When she finds Gabriel in the River Seine, she pulls him to safety, saving his life.

She brings the stranger home and nurses him slowly back to health. While in the beginning she is only concerned with keeping Gabriel alive, once the danger has passed it's impossible to deny the connection they have, each knowing they are kindred spirits - One disfigured physically, the other emotionally.

As time passes they will forge a deeply moving bond, will fall madly in love, and we will see the pain and scars from the past begin to melt away right before our very eyes. But, the ghost from the past will come racing back with a vengeance, haunting them in ways they never imagined...

Be still my heart! This is the type of book I seek out, but seldom find. An author that defies current conventions and trends, unafraid to write about harsh crimes, tackle the deep, emotional pain of loss, of tragedy, and recreate the brutal reality those living in France endured during and after the war. Topics addressed here range from coping with post war trauma, abuse, death, murder, forbidden love, and dire living conditions, giving the reader a realistic and authentic look at the stark reality Gabriel and Ariah are living in.

“ Hope is nothing more than a poison… venom that seeps into your veins, slowly consuming your mind, body, and soul…”

The writing is simply beautiful, haunting, and striking, verging on literary prose, which captured my attention and kept me riveted and immersed in the story.

I enjoyed the change of perspective by having the novel set in France and appreciated the author's obvious research which helped create the engrossing atmosphere within the country during the climax of the Neapolitan War.

Categorizing this book alongside the standard historical romance out there at the moment, may not be doing it justice, because the thing is, Gabriel and Ariah have real and weighty issues to deal with. They must face true adversity and draw up the strength and courage to face it, to deal with it, and survive it. There is no defiance of polite society's rules, no pompous rakes or rouges, no silly, simpering, spoiled virgins, no shallow romantic conflict, because the conflict here is life or death, it's soul searching; it's thought provoking; it's harsh, grim, even gritty, but the reward is that much sweeter because of it.

“Here is my secret. It is very simple: It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.” Antoine de Saint- Exupery.

But, isn't this a romance novel? Absolutely!! The real thing.. love, deep, and true. The kind that last forever, the kind that will weather any storm, the epic kind, the kind you always remember more.

“Consume me. Make me yours today, tomorrow, and always.”

I admit tears stood in my eyes on more than one occasion as I watched these people go through a transformation only the power of love could manage. My heart broke on some occasions, but in the end, I was smiling through the tears.

“ I see a man who is still handsome, who is noble, and who is, above all, a fighter”

I love the disfigured and tortured hero and the strong female heroine whose strength, mental toughness, and fortitude led the charge! Ariah's character is a prime example of quiet inner strength that she doesn't ponder on repeatedly. She only reminds herself that she's a survivor, and soldiers on no matter what life tosses at her and does so with grace and dignity.

This type of historical novel is rare, and sadly the sweeping and epic sagas of bygone days have all but disappeared, which has sadly reduced the historical romance novel to a hollowed out and gutted, tepid shadow of what it once was.

Maybe like trailblazers before her, Rachel has the power and talent to set a new precedent, one historical romance is in dire need of, in my opinion, to put it back in the groundbreaking role it once held, where it took a risk, held no prisoners, did what no one else dared….

This story has all of that and I loved it from beginning to end!

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Rachel L. Demeter lives in the beautiful hills of Anaheim, California with Teddy, her goofy lowland sheepdog, and her high school sweetheart of eleven years. She enjoys writing dark, poignant romances that challenge the reader's emotions and explore the redeeming power of love.

Imagining dynamic worlds and characters has been Rachel's passion for longer than she can remember. Before learning how to read or write, she would dictate stories while her mother would record them for her. She holds a special affinity for the tortured hero and unconventional romances. Whether crafting the protagonist or antagonist, she ensures every character is given a soul.

Rachel endeavors to defy conventions by blending elements of romance, suspense, and horror. Some themes her stories never stray too far from: forbidden romance, soul mates, the power of love to redeem, mend all wounds, and triumph over darkness.

Her dream is to move readers and leave an emotional impact through her words.

Don't be a stranger!
Rachel loves to connect and interact with her readers:

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  1. Wow, Julie. Thank you so much for this beautifully written and deeply heartfelt review! I'm blown away and truly moved beyond words. THANK YOU!

    Now pardon me while I attempt to wipe this ridiculous smile off my face. <3

  2. Question to the author: How important are names to you in your books? Do you choose the names based on liking the way it sounds or the meaning? Do you have any name choosing resources you recommend?

    1. Thanks for the question!

      Actually, a ton of thought goes into the selection of my characters’ names. I always ensure their meanings symbolize the story in some way. For example, in Finding Gabriel, Ariah means “lioness” in Hebrew—and she often behaves very much like a mother lioness when it comes to protecting her loved ones. :-) Plus, she is blonde and quite fierce at times. “Gabriel” represents one of the archangels in the Old and New Testament. (Though the story itself contains no religious undertones.) I have a long list of first and last names (categorized by gender and ethnicity - i.e., French, English, etc) of ones that I particularly like. When it comes to selecting names for new main characters, I browse through the list, first going by how they "sound" and "feel", narrow down the list to a handful, then do some research into their meanings (and pick off that).

      For secondary and minor characters, there are many great generators that create authentic sounding names ... there's an iPhone app, as well, though the name of it escapes me at the moment. I wouldn't depend on these generators for main characters, but they work very well for populating the rest of your story! A quick "name generator" google search is all you need. ;-)

  3. Rachel, I can't wait to read this. I also love these kinds of stories. Thanks to The Book Review for introducing me to Rachel. Good job, both of you.


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