Gabriel, Marius 1954-(Madeline Ker)
GABRIEL, Marius 1954-(Madeline Ker)
PERSONAL: Born 1954, in South Africa; married; children: two sons, one daughter. Education: Attended University of Newcastle graduate school as a doctoral candidate.
The Original Sin, Bantam (New York, NY), 1992.
The Mask of Time, Bantam (New York, NY), 1994.
House of Many Rooms, Bantam (New York, NY), 1998.
The Seventh Moon, Bantam (New York, NY), 1999.
ROMANCE NOVELS; UNDER PSEUDONYM MADELINE KER
Aquamarine, Harlequin Books (New York, NY), 1983.
Ice Princess, Harlequin Books (New York, NY), 1985.
Impact, Harlequin Books (New York, NY), 1987.
The Wilder Shores, Harlequin Books (New York, NY), 1987.
Troublemaker, Harlequin Books (New York, NY), 1989.
Stormy Attraction, Harlequin Books (New York, NY), 1989.
A Special Arrangement, Harlequin Books (New York, NY), 1990.
Tiger's Eye, Harlequin Books (New York, NY), 1991. Worldpool, Harlequin Books (New York, NY), 1992.
Also author of numerous other titles for Harlequin as Madeline Ker, including Alpha Male, Danger Zone, Out of the Darkness, and Voyage of the Mistral.
WORK IN PROGRESS: A mystery novel set in the seventeenth-century tentatively titled The Coral Necklace.
SIDELIGHTS: In late-1970s Britain, sunk in recession and industrial turmoil, Ph.D. candidate Marius Gabriel submitted a manuscript for a novel in a desperate attempt to stave off his creditors. Unusually, for both a man and a Shakespearean scholar, Gabriel had written a romance novel, and when Harlequin accepted it, the young author assumed the pen name Madeline Ker to conceal his identity. Aquamarine, written in just ten days, is a classic romance that includes a beautiful, virtuous English heroine, a handsome, somewhat dangerous Sicilian hero, and a rich uncle's eccentric will that brings these two together. Harlequin director Jackqui Bianchi saw something special in the manuscript and invited the author to London. Under that pseudonym, Gabriel has gone on to publish twenty-eight romances for the company and is one of only a few men to become a successful Harlequin author. Actually, Gabriel had entered the romance field at an interesting time, when passive maidens fearful for their reputation were giving way to feistier, more realistic heroines and grittier plots. Ker's novels stood out for their passionate sex scenes, as well as the solid research that went into their exotic locales. It was a highly successful union of author and publisher, but eventually Gabriel decided to put Madeline Ker to rest to write under his own name.
Gabriel's first novel under his own name was The Original Sin, a "positively riveting tale of love and loss that spans three continents and as many generations," according to a Kirkus Reviews contributor. It is the story of wealthy, pampered Mercedes Eduard, whose comfortable life is suddenly shattered when her daughter is kidnapped by a man who demands ten million dollars for her release, a sum even Mercedes finds difficult to come up with. Gradually, both Joel, the kidnapper, and Eden, the victim, who goes through a painful drug withdrawal, emerge as fully realized characters; the kidnapping itself reveals an accumulation of buried secrets. "The climax—the revenge, if you will—is a real stunner," concluded Chicago Tribune Books reviewer Joyce Slater.
Gabriel followed The Original Sin with Mask of Time, "a satisfying Nazi/Cold War potboiler," as one Kirkus Reviews contributor described it. Beginning in the immediate aftermath of World War II, the novel opens with a disparate cast of characters, including an American named Joseph who is trying to get out of a Latvian displaced persons camp, a penniless Englishman named David who wants to win over a bride who can give him the money and connections he needs, and an Italian woman who dies giving birth to an illegitimate daughter, Catarina. Catarina grows up to become Kate, who is threatened by sinister forces that somehow trace back to Joseph and David. To save her mother, Kate's daughter Anna must uncover the past, and the book moves back and forth between the chaos of war-torn Europe and the more tranquil but still dangerous post-Cold War era. "Gabriel nicely ties these plot threads together in a largely unexpected climax," concluded Library Journal reviewer Barbara Kemp.
Gabriel's next romantic thriller is House of Many Rooms, the story of Dr. Rebecca Carey, who gives up a daughter for adoption but must fly to her rescue thirteen years later when she sees her picture in the newspaper. It turns out the girl, Therese, is suspected of starting a fire that has killed her adoptive mother and is now on the run with her adoptive father, Michael. Rebecca tracks down their hideout in Italy and, pretending to be a nanny, insinuates herself into the household, hoping to protect her unstable daughter and find out the truth. As her attraction to Michael grows, Rebecca faces a choice between her child and the man she loves, uncomfortably aware that either one could be a murderer. Publishers Weekly reviewer Sybil Steinberg found that Gabriel's "characters have enough depth to sustain a reader's interest through to the end, even if his serviceable prose sometimes detracts from the suspense."
With The Seventh Moon Gabriel produced what Steinberg called in another Publishers Weekly review a "suspenseful blend of wartime adventures and history [and] a highly atmospheric, labyrinthine saga of international politics and lost families." This time, events trace back to the Asian theater of World War II—specifically, the Malay peninsula, where a young Eurasian mother named Francine was forced to abandon her little girl, Ruth. Believing that Ruth was killed by Japanese invaders, Francine is shocked when Sakura Ueda shows up at her Manhattan office, claiming to be Ruth. Library Journal reviewer Margaret Ann Hanes found that the novel lacked suspense and "Sakura seems strangely flat and lifeless"; however, the critic noted that the book "manages to pull off a somewhat climactic last few pages." For Steinberg, "the narrative is most effective when Gabriel . . . focuses on Francine and on her skeptical, defensive and complicated feelings."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Chicago Tribune Books, May 24, 1992, Joyce Slater, review of The Original Sin, pp. 4-5.
Kirkus Reviews, February 1, 1992, review of TheOriginal Sin, pp. 130-131; February 1, 1994, review of Mask of Time, p. 86; April 1, 1998, review of House of Many Rooms, pp. 420-421.
Library Journal, February 15, 1994, Barbara Kemp, review of Mask of Time, p. 184; October 15, 1999, Margaret Ann Hanes, review of The Seventh Moon, pp. 104-105.
Publishers Weekly, March 9, 1998, Sybil Steinberg, review of House of Many Rooms, p. 47; October 4, 1999, Sybil Steinberg, review of The Seventh Moon, pp. 59-60.*