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. – Goodreads
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I want to give this 3 1/2 stars but I can’t work out how.
I tried three times to start this book and then a few Facebook friends decided to set it as a reading project so I dedicated a space of time to starting it again. At 1/3 of the way in I thought I was totally hooked. I was a little desperate about having to put it down and go to work. My investment, I thought, was complete.
But then, when I got past the half way point, the boredom set in again. I don’t doubt that Reynard’s ability to weave in all those renaissance elements to a modern day love story is quite amazing and makes this work unique. I would go as far as to say that I am in awe of his talent and attention to detail. BUT as a personal preference, the slow agonizing pace of the love story bothered me. In fact, by 3/4 of the way through, it downright annoyed me. The voices in my head were yelling at him to just get the hell on with it.
The other aspect that lost me, was Gabriel’s language. I know he is an expert and an academic, but there were times when I wanted to slap Gabriel and tell him to stop being so f’ing pretentious. What started off as a little unique and seductively quirky started to come across as creepy and gratingly archaic. I know it gave him an ‘other-worldly’ quality, but if I dated someone that went on like that I would start to doubt their sincerity. There would be moments where I would be thinking ‘you’re having a go, aren’t you?’ So from that point of view Gabriel wasn’t a romantic hero that grabbed me but I can see how he could appeal to other readers. Julia/Julianne/Beatrice (how many names does this girl need?) went from interesting to strong-willed and intelligent to a little bit pathetic and troubled and back again. Part of me cheered when she seemed to realize that Gabriel was perhaps a little too messed up to commit to and started to back off. She was certainly learned and could quote the classics back to Gabriel as good as she got but she became a little simpering towards the end so I was ready to smack her for a whole other reason.
Having said that, I still have great respect for Mr Reynard’s authorial talent. He is lyrical and interesting in his prose. He creates great images of the ephemera of the story. I just wouldn’t be saying to anyone that this can be compared to FSoG. There are some fundamental differences that go beyond the fact that he is simply a better writer than EL James that just might disappoint someone reading it on that basis. It is, however, a really nice loves story.
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