by Sylvain Reynard
Summary: Enigmatic and sexy, Professor Gabriel Emerson is a well respected Dante specialist by day, but by night he devotes himself to an uninhibited life of pleasure. He uses his notorious good looks and sophisticated charm to gratify his every whim, but is secretly tortured by his dark past and consumed by the profound belief that he is beyond all hope of redemption.
When the sweet and innocent Julia Mitchell enrolls as his graduate student, his attraction and mysterious connection to her not only jeopardizes his career, but sends him on a journey in which his past and his present collide.
An intriguing and sinful exploration of seduction, forbidden love and redemption, “Gabriel’s Inferno” is a captivating and wildly passionate tale of one man’s escape from his own personal hell as he tries to earn the impossible…forgiveness and love.
Source: I purchased a Kindle copy
It’s difficult to review this book. I loved parts of it, such as the references to Dante’s Inferno and the way the story paralleled Dante and Beatrice in certain ways. The darkness of Gabriel and his path to redemption was interesting to me. However, other parts were absolutely awful and weird, especially the emphasis of virginity, purity, and shyness. In fact, I’m quite sure that I disagreed with most of the themes.
Julia Mitchell was shy. She wasn’t really a person at all. She was a virgin. Her only experience with anything sexual was a strange tryst with a friend’s brother in an orchard in which he kept asking if she’d done anything and was glad to be her first and called her Beatrice. And an abusive ex boyfriend who constantly put her down for denying him sex.
Gabriel Emerson was a professor and specialist of all things Dante, which was Julia’s passion and why she was in his class. He was a jerk and immediately picked on Julia for some reason, until it was discovered that she was a friend of his sister’s and he tried to be nice to her.
Paul sat next to Julia and tried to make her feel better about the professor being a jerk. He instantly liked Julia and tried to court her. He was creepy as fuck. But he was supposed to seem like the harmless “right choice” love interest to counteract the taboo one. He called her Rabbit, which she was totally fine with even though that’s weird, and compared her to the Velveteen Rabbit and was over the top with rabbit references. Julia considered him a good friend and even kissed him because of his generosity. Seriously, Paul’s point of view really disturbed me for some reason.
Gabriel was different, but often just as creepy. He noticed that if he was nice to Julia, she “came alive” and didn’t crawl into her shell and he was captivated by that. He loved the fact that she was so virginal and innocent because he felt like she was redemption. The same billionaire meets virgin themes were there and of course, they formed a relationship. But he wasn’t looking to awaken her sexually. Instead, he was looking to redeem himself by abstaining and felt like the path to redemption was through loving her the right way.
I don’t understand books like this. It rubs me the wrong way to have a guy treat a woman like a naïve child. Gabriel was often nice to her and when they were on the same equal ground, their romance was great. But too often, he controlled the situation. It just isn’t romantic to see a guy call a woman little girl.
I hated that the book glorified virginity and treated Gabriel’s past like he was tainted and could only redeem himself through repressing his urges while also keeping his girl in the dark. Maybe it’s just that this book and other similar books are contemporary and they look to create danger where there is none. In the paranormal romance world, there is true danger and the caveman instincts make a little more sense and maybe the love interest killed or had blood on his hands.. which would make him dangerous and scary. In a contemporary world, demonizing his sexual past just seems weird to me and unhealthy. You’re into what you’re into and if you repress any part of that, you’ll just end up unhappy in the long run, IMO.
The book wasn’t badly written and I enjoyed the complexity of the romance. Gabriel and Julia had sort of a second chance romance in a way and I enjoyed watching that unfold, however flawed it was. If the themes of billionaire romances don’t annoy you, then I recommend the book. It was definitely better in many ways than similar books because it was a bit more in depth and well written. Sadly, if you’re expecting the book to rise above the billionaire romance stereotypes and be a super amazing book, it’s just not going to do that.