Series: Gabriel's Inferno #1
Published by Penguin Group Australia on 2012-08-23
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.(
I’m struggling to sum up my thoughts and feelings on this book. It’s not very often that I am left so affected by a book, but this one took me on a roller coaster ride of emotions. The writing was truly beautiful; the dialogue was rich, eloquent and littered with classical literature references. I have read a review where it was stated that the dialogue was “lyrical” (from the blog A trail of books left behind), and that’s the best way I can describe it; Gabriel speaks as if he is from the time of Dante, and I fell completely in love with him. At certain points, I despised both of these characters, yet not once did I ever fall out of love with their story. The writer kept me engaged in this very human story from start to finish. I recommend this book highly, although it isn’t what I would class as a “light read”. I also should state that this book is only the first half of their tale, and the second half is due to be released at a later date. Its gone straight to the top of my auto buy list, as I simply must read more about Gabriel and Julia!
When we meet Julia, she is attending the class of the famous Dr Gabriel Emerson, Dante specialist and straight up hunk. Gabriel takes an instant dislike to the quiet little mouse, immediately bawling and screaming at her in his lecture. When a misunderstanding occurs, he doesn’t hesitate to throw her off the course. Little does he know that he has met her years ago, as she is the best friend of his adopted sister. He began her fascination with all things Dante, and the fact that he doesn’t recognise her is devastating to Julia. She wanders home, drunk on tequila, when Gabriel, feeling a little guilty for his horribly rude behaviour, picks her up and takes her home. Once there he proceeds to make her feel incredibly bad about her poor conditions, belittle all her belongings and treat her like a charity case. As I said, there are times when these characters are hard to like.
After assuming she is going hungry, Gabriel takes her out to dinner, and from then on begins his fascination with the student he shouldn’t want. He tries his hardest to push her away, wanting to a) keep his job and b) keep something so innocent and pure away from his evil self. When his sister Rachael comes into town and demands that they all spend time together, he finds himself completely starting to become mildly obsessed with Julia. She has always loved him, therefore has no intention of pushing him away. However, can they even start a relationship knowing that they have so many deep and dark secrets that they refuse to share with each other? Especially when these secrets have created the people they are today, and actively influence their day-to-day decisions?
I’m going to come right out and say it. Gabriel is INTENSE. I have never met such a flawed individual that I liked so much in a book. At the beginning of the story, I hated him. I actively despised the arrogance of the man, with his elitist attitude and materialistic ways. In most romance books, this is a shield and isn’t what the hero actually is. Gabriel is different because this is exactly what he is; he just has a few added extras that he hides really well! On the surface, he is the arrogant professor who drinks, whores and seems to think he is Dante. When we start to unravel his complex character, I realised that the past had not so much left its mark on him but a bloody big crater.
The way he treats Julia is appalling at the beginning of the book, but then, when he realises that he adores her, he just made me swoon! He treats her like she is the only girl in the world, and the way he speaks to her is pure poetry. Money is no object, he wants to wake up with her everyday and he literally treats her like some precious object that he must cherish. Like everything else he does, however, he does come across as quite intense in his relationship with her. He is incredibly jealous and stupidly possessive, but this was a good thing as it caused a little bit of a change in Julia.
Julia at the beginning of the book was a limp lettuce. She couldn’t see beyond the teenaged experience she had with Gabriel and so she allows him to treat her as he pleases. It’s only when she begins to realise that the Gabriel she has in her head is highly romanticised, and doesn’t actually exist, that she realizes that she cannot allow him to overpower her decisions. After this, I started to like her because she became more relatable. Before, she was this scared little girl that had no business trying to have a relationship with someone as intense and tortured as Gabriel, but after, I thought she stood a fighting chance of standing up to his many demons. There are many obstacles in the path of true love; some of them physical, but the majority are emotional demons that they both need to fight.
This novel is thought provoking, entertaining and beautiful. The characters are complex, flawed but incredibly human. I loved their story and I loved the interwoven threads of the story of Dante and Beatrice. The amount of research that went into this book was amazing; I don’t think I’ve ever read anything quite like it. There isn’t a lot of sex in this book (I know…a rarity for me :D) but it fits with the character building. I cannot recommend this tale more!