Warning – This review contains a multitude of spoilers for book one. If you haven’t read book one, this one will make no sense!
Gabriel has been asked to give a guest lecture on Dante in Italy. He takes the opportunity to whisk Julia away with him and romance her in one of the most romantic cities in the world. He wines and dines her, generally showing her what being a relationship with Professor Gabriel Emerson is all about. For the first time in their relationship, they can just be together without worrying about the consequences of their relationship. Neither of them seems to remember just how small the world of Dante enthusiasts actually is.
Upon their return, it seems that news of their relationship has spread further than they could have anticipated. Both of them are dragged before the Dean; a Professor should never be able to date one of his students. Now his job is on the line and her grades are in question. With both of their futures under threat, Gabriel does the only thing he can think of to protect their futures by leaving and breaking all contact with his beloved Julia.
But with Julia assuming that he has sacrificed their relationship for his job, will he ever get the chance to be with his beloved again? And with the wealth of people clamouring to keep them apart, are the odds stacked against our reincarnated Dante and Beatrice.
Let me begin by saying that this book should only be read after the first; it will make no sense otherwise. I read this book on the strength of the first one. I loved the angsty tale of Professor Emerson and the virginal Julia and was more than willing to read this one. I won’t say I was disappointed, but I will say that I expected an entirely book than what I got.
Gabriel was the draw for me in the first book and remains the draw for me in this series. He is such a moody, tortured, arrogant sod that he really is quite swoon worthy. In this book, I didn’t get to see much of the side of Gabriel that I loved. At the beginning, he was his usual smug/suave self and I was so happy; when he decided to get a little steamy up against a wall with Julia in a museum I literally drooled! But when they get back and the shit starts to hit the fan, he becomes someone else entirely. He doesn’t really fight for their relationship; yes he doesn’t have many options, but it was disappointing to see how quickly he gave in. His unilateral decision to end their relationship, to save her chances of a future education, really hacked me off. He wanted an adult relationship but treated her like a child when he didn’t allow her a say in the way that their relationship preceded. I just didn’t like it. His transformation after the break-up was unnerving; it was like a more matured Gabriel had emerged. Yes, this one was a bit less arrogant and a bit less smug, but the smoother edges made me like him a little less (call me twisted :D). There are glimmers of the old Professor lurking around, but I felt he was less intense and angsty, the two major qualities that drew me in the first place.
The one thing I consistently adored throughout the book was the romanticism of their relationship in his mind, that she was the one thing that kept him going. As he matured, he seemed to realize that words alone would not keep his relationship alive and I can’t say I didn’t like seeing him crawl a little 🙂 I applaud Mr Reynard for showing that real relationships take work.
It was a complete role reversal with Julia as I actually liked her more in this book. In the first book she was a lot naive, whiny and a little bit of a push over. In this one, I actually respected her a little. She was a little pathetic in the weeks after Gabriel’s departure (this fit with her previous character) but I liked her resolve when he came back. She was stronger, more resilient and had a lot more backbone…I actually liked her!
The multitude of people lining up to break these two up is staggering; they must have been awful in a previous life. It added nicely to the tension and created a lovely plot which kept me engaged. At certain point, scenes and dialogue were drawn out a little too much for me, but for the most tale flowed quite nicely. I felt sorry for Paul, the whipping boy of our little tale. He loved Julia but really had no chance, even if she gave him a sniff of one when Gabriel disappeared. I hope he finds his HEA at some point.
Overall this tale was a very enjoyable tale, but I feel it lacked the intensity and angst of the first one. I enjoyed Julia’s character far more and enjoyed the development of the relationship. The side characters make this story and, although the ending was obvious, the path to how they got there was fun to read. If I hadn’t have been constantly comparing it to book one, it would have been amazing….
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