on December 10, 2003
I get very disappointed when authors include characters from other stories but don't explain these previous characters or other story properly in their current story, and assume the reader has read the previous book. I was confused during the first half of the book just trying to piece together Michael's and Gabriel's relationship. I had no idea what happened to Michael, but it seemed to be very crucial to understanding Gabriel and "Gabriel's Woman". I had no real history about Gabriel's relationship with Micheal or what really happened that precipated the situation with the "first" & "second" man.
Though I'm familiar with Schone's erotic writing style, it was hard to accept Victoria getting anally raped during only her 2nd sexual experience with Gabriel. The phrase "a boy who wanted to be an angel" also begins to grate after the 20th time it's written and begins to lose it's meaning.
The story was decent (when I knew what was going on) and I loved the ending, but parts did seem to drag, and though filled with erotic setting, I didn't get as wrapped up in it as I did in The Tutor.
on January 31, 2002
And by that I mean no real passion between the hero and heroine, although there are plenty of sex scenes, and passion seems to exist between Gabriel and Michael.
Gabriel, who we first met in The Lover, now gets his own story. Like Michael, he is a former male prostitute. He now owns the House of Gabriel, and is constantly on his guard, awaiting "the second man"--trust me, you don't get much more insight than that until the last chapter. Gabriel's "love" interest is Victoria, a destitute young woman who decides to lose her virginity to the renowned prostitute. Just a couple of hitches--Gabriel does not allow ANYONE to touch him and, even if he did, did Victoria get sent to him by his nemesis?
I have read all of Ms. Schone's books, and aside from The Lady's Tutor (which belongs on EVERYONE's top ten list), each one has progessively gotten darker and more clinical than the last. Although I rushed out and bought The Lover in its first week, I did not write a review for it because to this day I cannot decide if I like it or hate it. What originally attracted me to her work was that the heroine was an older, more assertive character. She was average-looking, and no ingenue. In other words, she was unlike 95% of all female romance characters, and a refreshing change.
Since that first book however, Schone's heroines have mostly been virgins, and instead of dealing with and conquering their personal issues, they tend to just get sucked into the hero's pathos. In this book, for instance, Victoria needs to lose her virginity in order to avoid unwanted attentions; and although she is a gentlewoman, she has to work for a living because she has been cast out by her father. But almost immediately upon meeting Gabriel, all her issues get put on the back burner, and she decides that she must make it her mission in life to seduce him and help him deal with his emotional baggage. For most of the book, she is just an outlet for Gabriel's hurt and a tool to be used against him. What happened to the mature, complex women, Robin????
As I read Gabriel's Woman, the words "cold" and "clinical" came to mind often and, judging from the reviews here, I was not alone. Graphic sex scenes abound, and avid fans of authors like Thea Devine or Susan Johnson will love Schone's books. For those of us who prefer more plot development and sex scenes that reflect the characters' passion for one another, it is better to check this book out from the local library. The sex scenes are mainly used as a catharsis for Gabriel, and are calculated and mechanical instead of passionate and spontaneous. What is also a turn off, as some other reviewers have mentioned, is that many of the encounters seem to be uncomfortable or downright painful for Victoria. In most of them, her achieving sexual pleasure seems implausible as well as an afterthought.
In addition, Schone has adopted the style of giving the reader esoteric glimpses into the hero's conflict with the villain, and of not actually spelling it out until the end. While this is an interesting and ingenious concept, the passages are written in such a cryptic manner that they only make one feel left out, since the heroine and the reader are the only ones who don't know what is going on. I spent so much time trying to decipher Gabriel's past and defining different characters' roles in it that I continuously got pulled out of the story, which is never a good thing.
Usually when I look back on a romance novel, I can pinpoint the exact moment when each character fell in love with the other. I could not do so here; these two characters seem to be together because they have no other options, and although there is compassion, I could not really detect any love or need between Gabriel and Victoria.
on September 28, 2001
The story is clearly a sequel to "The lover". You should read it first to fully understand "Gabriel's woman". If you consider "The lover" too gothic and sinister for your taste, leave this out. The atmosphere of the book reminded of the atmosphere of some of the novels of Stephen King. Death, mystery and destruction practically lurks behind every corner. The story is a very interesting, suspenseful one. It fills in the gaps that "The lover" left. You will also see what has become of Michael and Anne, this alone is worth the read. And you finally understand why Gabriel cannot forgive himself for what has been done to him.
The story is about Gabriel, Michael' friend from "The lover" as you might have guessed. It starts with the reopening of the house of Gabriel, half a year after the story of Michael and Anne ended. A woman appears on the scene who wants to auction off her virginity. Gabriel at once suspects her to be an accomplice to the second man (him again!), yet nevertheless he purchases her. He soon discovers that Victoria knows nothing and is only meant as a decoy for him. Both of them desires to be touched and crave for physical intimacy, but are unable to accept their wishes. Victoria is the more daring one of them and eventually overcomes her and Gabriel's inhibitions. She is deeply affected by and drawn to Gabriel's extreme physical beauty. He looks like an angel, so he must be one like in a fairy-tale. She therefore wants to save him and stops at nothing to do so. In one of the saddest and most troublesome sex scene I have read so far in Schone's novels she offers Gabriel her "other orifice" to experience what he has experienced. 24 hours or so after she has lost her virginity she has that sort of sex with Gabriel. The experience is a very painful one and is realistically described. But despite of or because of the physical pain that is inflicted on her she has a climax. The whole scene is very cold and clinical and made me shudder. I personally don't care if heterosexuals unnecessarily ruin their sphincters but I certainly don't expect things like that in a Victorian romance novel. But this is not enough: Victoria has now developed a taste for exotic sex acts. She dreams of bondage sex, having sex with an artificial phallus and about other sex that is so weird that I cannot describe it here. Well, that was not what Victorians dreamt about. Even a notorious sex-crazed Don Juan like the Victorian Walter ("My secret life") didn't do all of the things mentioned in Schone's book (the idea never crossed his mind). And he really was a wild and wicked one. If you want an accurate picture of what kind of things free-loving Victorians drove crazy read Charles Deveraux' "Venus in India" or the pre-Victorian "Fanny Hill" by John Cleland. The sex acts described there are surprisingly innocent. Schone should do her homework. She is right that Victorians were quite sensual and very much interested in sex. But they didn't need kinky or exotic acts to get aroused. They weren't influenced by and surfeited of the medias. Lucky times for love! And I do really get annoyed by Schone's theory that true ecstasy is only achieved by complete submission of the woman and the combination of lust and pain (nota bene: Not for the man! He can have fun without having to suffer and submit). Where do she get those ideas? Perhaps she got a little bit inspired by the Marquis de Sade? Let him rest in peace, please. In her previous books she dealt with that in a more subtle and erotic way (like incredibly tight built woman meets man who is built like a stallion), here it is much to obvious. The only beautiful and painfree sex act was described in the end and I really loved it although I didn't care much for the couple for I couldn't see much love and tenderness between Victoria and Gabriel. They freed themselves from their inhibitions and explored the boundaries of sexual pleasure and that was that. If Schone had made Victoria a streetwalker who was saved by Gabriel and who loved him for a long time, the whole thing would have appeared differently. But she had to be a well-bred virgin who knew Gabriel only for a couple of days, the equivalent of Anne and Michael in "The lover". For the two couples I see only one way to further spice up their sex lives ( for they have already tried most of the things possible within days). Exchanging of partners! Gabriel with Anne, Victoria with Michael, Michael with Gabriel, Anne with Victoria...at least that would be funny and not so depressing. The only true love story was between Gabriel and Michael. I would have liked them to become lovers in the end for they were a dream couple. There were real and substantial love between them and I found it far more touching to imagine a dark-haired angel teaching a fair-haired angel to read and write than imagining Gabriel and Victoria having kinky sex together. This was the most loving and caring act in both stories. Schone doesn't seem to appreciate homosexuality, yet she appreciates homosexual acts between heterosexuals. Chacun à son goût. She breaks taboos of the genre but unfortunately the wrong ones. She still is a promising author, therefore I give three stars instead of two. I hope she will regain the wonderful erotic power of her earlier works like "The lady's tutor" and "Awaken my love".
on October 20, 2001
This dark story is about Gabriel who we met in The Lover and Victoria, who is another virgin who needs sex tutoring. Gabriel is the typical schone hero. He is a tortured hero who was a victim of homosexuals. Though wonderfully written, i didn't find it erotic at all. Sure, the sex scenes are kinky but it lacks warmth and tenderness. The only love story here is between Michael and Gabriel - they are too close for comfort. I got the impression that the feelings they have for each is other is more than friendship if you know what i mean(almost like a homosexual bond). But Schone is a good writer that's why i gave it 3 stars.