Julianne is going to University of Toronto to pursue a master’s program, studying Dante’s Inferno. While she is there, she discovers that the embittered Professor of Italian Studies is none other than Gabriel Emerson, the older, adopted brother of her best friend, Rachel. When Julianne was a young teen, Gabriel had captivated her and wooed her with words fromDante’s Inferno. Now an adult, Julianne still harbors love for him but carries a dark burden. Can Gabriel cease being a jerk long enough to love Julianne?
I tried to avoid this book. I tried to look the other way as the book lusted after me. I tried to ignore it as it flaunted its cover at me. I picked this book up at so many stores only to put it down – until I finally succumbed to curiosity and actually bought it.
Why the hesitation? I heard this was yet another Twilight fan fiction made into an “original fiction”. I heard how it was being touted as the new Fifty Shades of Grey. I had read reviews saying it was “meh” to “awful”. Romance and erotica aren’t really my genres of choice.
So why did I succumb? To explain, I’ll have to get a wee bit more personal than I’m sure many of you would like but is critical to understanding why I tried to give this book a chance.
Although I read a lot of fantasy, scifi, and such, I like romantic books. I like romantic pairings that have older men coupling with younger women. I like the idea of a wealthy older man taking care of a brilliant, innocent young woman (I know this probably says weird, horrible things about my psyche, but I’ll live with it, as I live with drinking diet colas). And I do like it when the couple has to fight with each other a bit before they can break past their internal barriers and fall in love.
Minus the wealthy part, Teacher-Student romances are the best places to find this. You have the older, wiser, respected man, who’s seen the world and probably has his own jaded opinions about it, meeting up with his student, a brilliant young woman, relatively new to the outsider world that thinks optimistically and positively about everything. Toss in some sexual tension, some real trials and I’m hooked.
THAT was the book I was expecting, no WANTING to read when I picked up Gabriel’s Inferno. I wanted to read about a tortured teacher being naughty with his student. I wanted to read about two people being changed by meeting each other. I wanted some bite in the relationship that morphed into passionate love.
Instead, I have this long, dry tale about this timid girl (whom other people nickname “Rabbit” withOUT her approval) who is nearly constantly picked on by her friend’s brother (who SOMEHOW doesn’t remember her), who is SOMEHOW the best professor of Dante while only being 33, in between long, heavy-handed odes to and Cliff Note recitations of Dante’s Inferno.
NOTE: I have never had the opportunity nor the desire to read Dante’s Inferno. It is probably one of the many things that makes me a horrible person, but it’s true. Because of this fact and because I don’t want to spend hours trying to make sense of Wikipedia pages and Cliff Notes that will only horribly skew Dante’s Inferno for me and the reader, I am not going to judge this book based on the accuracy of the information on Dante’s Inferno nor am I going to compare the themes the book may use from Dante’s Inferno with the source material. So if that is what you are looking for, you will need to search out a different review.
NOTE: I’m going to be bringing up this book’s title a lot and because I am lazy, I will be specifying Gabriel’s Inferno as just Inferno. If I mean to reference Dante’s Inferno, I will do so by its entire name and not shorten it.
There is a lot of ground to cover here, so let’s start diving in.