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
After a tragedy destroys Gabriel de Laurent’s world, he decides to become a soldier, fully intending to die and end his pain. Ten years of fighting finds him still alive and still suffering. With no more battles to fight, he decides to end his own life. Much later, Gabriel will remember that just as he pulled the trigger, he sent a prayer out for a second chance. As Gabriel is a noted marksman, and is using a fine pistol, there should have been no doubt as to the outcome. But even the finest gun can malfunction, and Gabriel lies gravely injured, but alive, on the riverbank. Ariah Larochelle sees Gabriel, and somehow manages to drag him back to her home, where she tends to his injuries as best she can until the doctor arrives. When he gets there, the doctor realizes that the injuries have been self inflicted and lets Ariah know. Still, they both do their best to save his life.
Eventually Gabriel awakens to find himself part of the small household consisting of Ariah, her young daughter, and her sister. He’s now suffering intense physical pain, along with the mental anguish that’s been his companion for the last ten years, and is bitterly sorry to still be alive. Yet, his savior, Ariah, has a healing effect on him, both body and mind. While Ariah may be helping Gabriel, she has been fighting her own demons for years, due to a brutal incident which happened to her as a teenager. Somehow, though, these two damaged people find what they need in each other.
Their romance is very slow building, making it all the more beautiful. Ariah learns to trust, and Gabriel has become a much better man than he was ten years ago. As Ariah finally feels confident enough to be intimate, Gabriel is able to make her feel cherished and safe. She, in turn, lets Gabriel know that his horrible scars don’t detract from his appeal and masculinity. Ariah’s daughter and Gabriel have also become very close, and it would seem that a happy ever after is imminent. But it’s not to be. The past comes to intrude in drastic fashion, tearing apart their new love and fledgling happiness.
Rachel Demeter has written a very unique book which has stayed with me. This book is dark, gritty, and graphic. Yet, her language is almost poetic at times, and the book becomes uplifting and hopeful. It’s a story of romance, passion, love, redemption, second chances, and forgiveness. Finding Gabriel is a powerful and emotional read that affected me greatly. This is by no means a light read, but I recommend it most highly. I look forward to future offerings from this wonderfully talented author.