The Raven. Synopsis.
“Raven Wood spends her days at Florence’s Uffizi Gallery restoring fine works of Renaissance art. But an innocent walk home after an evening with friends changes her life forever. When she intervenes in the senseless beating of a homeless man, his attackers turn on her, dragging her into an alley. Raven is only semi-conscious when their assault is interrupted by a cacophony of growls followed by her attacker’s screams. Mercifully, she blacks out, but not before catching a glimpse of a shadowy figure who whispers to her…
When Raven awakes, she is inexplicably changed. She returns to the Uffizi, but no one recognizes her, and more disturbingly, she discovers that she’s been absent an entire week. With no recollection of the events leading up to her disappearance, Raven also learns that her absence coincides with one of the largest robberies in Uffizi history – the theft of a set of priceless Botticelli illustrations. When the baffled police force identifies her as its prime suspect, Raven is desperate to clear her name. She seeks out one of Florence’s wealthiest and elusive men in an attempt to uncover the truth about her disappearance. Their encounter leads Raven to a dark underworld whose inhabitants kill to keep their secrets.
Once in a great while a book comes along that you can’t put down. Sylvain Reynard’s The Raven is one of those books. I fell in like with Reynard’s literary prowess with his Gabriel’s Inferno trilogy; after reading The Raven, I can say I am head over heels, crazy, twerking in the street Miley style, Tom Cruise chair-jumping, forget that bass, Meghan Trainor is sure to be all about this novel, IN LOVE with this man’s prose. He has my undying book devotion until pen doth us part. The Raven is everything you could want in a good read: intelligent, witty, thrilling, sexy and hard to let go of. It’s the type of book you’ll spend all night reading and not feel guilty about it in the morning. You’l l even want to take it home to Mom. It’s hard to express how much I love this novel, but I will try.
Let’s dish about the heroine of the book, shall we? Raven Wood is strong, feisty, determined, witty and real. She has overcome adversaries with grace and lives a life of purpose. This woman knows how to make the proverbial lemonade out of lemons. She compassionate and brave, to use the vernacular, she is a total bad ass. In a book age where the romance genre is inundated with wimpy, subservient, spineless, superficial women, Raven is a breath of fresh girl power air. I love her.
Of course you can’t have a heroine without a hero. Enter The Prince, who is very much an alpha, Byronic male but atypical in his otherworldly abilities. At first glance he seems mercurial, but underneath beats a tender but tormented heart. Still, he is a force to be reckoned with, but Raven is up to the task. Together, they are a formidable match. The chemistry between the two leaps off the pages.
Reynard, in signature style throws in literary, cultural, historic, art and aesthetic references. There’s a strong Machiavellian theme throughout the book and a huge nod to Cupid and Psyche. He’ll also have you clamoring to catch the next flight to Florence, Italy. The Florence Tourist Board owes him a commission. You’ll feel like you are taking the Renaissance Walk and touring the Uffizi Gallery. You’ll gain a new appreciation for the rich history of Florentine art. There are even analyses of a few of the great artworks of the Renaissance, deftly explaining them in terms of the religion and politics of the time.
Reynard took some creative risks with this novel and did it in an audaciously ambitious way. The dividends pay off. His style is terse but lyrical, bold and edgy Gritty and visceral. His voice is original and commanding. The novel manages the delightful tricks of being harrowing and romantic, suspenseful and intellectual. He effortlessly weaves in themes of justice, mercy, loss, hope, love, redemption and good old-fashioned fortitude of character. The Raven is a fearless and flawless read by a remarkable author.
Excerpt from The Raven
In the distance, the Prince could hear voices and muffled sounds.
He approached silently, almost floating across the floor.
Desperate groans and the rustling of fabric filled his ears, along with the twin sounds of rapidly beating hearts. He could smell their scents, the aromas heightened due to their sexual arousal.
He growled in reaction.
The corridor was shrouded in darkness but the Prince could see that the professor had his wife up against a window between two statues, her legs wrapped around his waist.
Her voice was breathy as she spoke, but the Prince tuned out her words, moving closer so he could catch a glimpse of her lovely face.
At the sight of it, flushed with passion, his old heart quickened and he felt the stirrings of arousal.
It was not his custom to observe rather than participate. But on this occasion, he decided to make an exception. Careful to remain in the darkness, he moved to the wall opposite the couple.
The woman squirmed in her lover’s arms, her high heels catching on his tuxedo jacket. Her fingers flew to his neck, undoing his bow tie and tossing it carelessly to the floor.
She unbuttoned his shirt, and her mouth moved to his chest, as murmurs of pleasure escaped his lips.
The Prince felt more than desire as he watched the woman’s eager movements. He caught a glimpse of her exquisite mouth and the toss of her long hair that would no doubt feel like silk between his fingers.
She lifted her head to smile at the man who held her close and he could see love in her eyes.
The Raven – Book One of The Florentine Series 2/3/15