Dreaming Up Gabriel
In the month before The Taming of the Duke was published, Eloisa ran a contest on this website asking readers, who had first met Rafe in Much Ado About You, what they thought Rafe’s illegitimate half-brother would be like and why he was in Taming. Eloisa blithely thought it would be easy to pick a winner.
Well…not so! Not only were there hundreds of entries (each of which she read with great pleasure), but the pure amount of heart and emotion and pleasure that was poured into the question made it impossible to choose a “winner.” Every single entry was a winning one. Gabriel was a shape-shifter: readers depicted him as a robber, a solicitor, a soldier, a morphine addict, a boxer, and a journalist. In some entries, he took after his name (the angel of vengeance) and in quite a few entries, he resembled Rafe – because he really was Rafe and no Gabe truly existed!
Overall, the entries were amazingly passionate, interesting and fun to read. Eloisa was tremendously honored at the time, imagination and affection invested in her characters. In the end, she created a pastiche of creative entries: the people who dove farthest into their own imaginations and created Gabriel from scratch, giving him scenes, dialogue and remarkable motivations.
So…with the authors’ permission . . . HEEEEERE’S GABRIEL!
Sara from Northridge was able to tell us exactly why Gabriel Spencer showed up in Rafe’s life:
Gabriel had never been one for magic or superstition. To his mind, a cat was a cat, regardless of its color, and if the toadstools in the forest happened to be growing in a circular formation, well, he would have been far more perturbed if the mushrooms spelled out his name. No, Gabe Spencer prided himself on being a man of logic and intelligence, not at all the sort to be swayed by an old crone’s ramblings. And yet, he couldn’t seem to shake her words from his mind. Over and over they played, taunting and tantalizing him, clawing at his brain till he thought he d go mad. All he had done was tell her the date of his birth, the 22nd of May. Those rheumy old eyes had cleared as she laughed and clapped her gnarled hands together. “The twin’s a Twin. The twin’s a Twin,” she’d repeated, obviously delighted.
R.B. from New York was more interested in the effect on Rafe of Gabriel’s appearance:
Gabriel’s function in the story is twofold. Firstly, he helps to fill the hole in Rafe’s life since his older brother died. Rafe turned to drinking because of his grief and loneliness over the loss of his brother. Although Gabriel cannot replace the brother he lost, Rafe will once again have that special connection that one can only have with a sibling. As he realizes that he has people to love and live for (Gabriel, Imogen), Rafe will give up drinking and begin to really live his life again.
Eleanor from Nashville saw Gabriel as a spur to Rafe’s own ambitions:
Cheerful laughter coming from across the drawing room where Gabriel and Imogen were chatting caused Rafe to abandon his gloomy thoughts. Gabriel leaned close to Imogen’s ear and whispered something that Rafe could not hear. Whatever it was, it must have been incredibly amusing, for Imogen laughed again. When her laughter faded, she turned and caught Rafe’s eye.
“Don’t scowl so, Rafe. You look as if you are suffering from a toothache.”
“No, my dear,” Rafe replied. “I’m suffering from an entirely different kind of ache.”
Cay from Rockport agreed with Eleanor, but seems to have seen Gabe as being a little bit more involved in Imogen’s life than Eleanor imagined!
Broad, naked shoulders drew her eye. She silently studied the figure in the bed. A mass of brown hair lay on her pillow; muscles rippled down that back to a very trim waist. Her eyes continued downward, past his covered buttocks to the long limb just sticking out of the covers. She sighed and whispered, “Oh, Rafe, why are you here?”
…Then she blinked as she looked into cold gray eyes. “Who are you?” Gabe sat up in bed and smiled with such a roguish grin, Imogen took a step back and stared. Looking at him from head to toe trimmed hair, hard muscles, flat abdomen, and long limbs, he reminded her of her dream Rafe… Imogen felt a tremor run through her spine as he proclaimed, “I am Gabriel Spenser, the Duke of Holbrook!”