Title: Gabriel's Inferno
Author: Sylvain Reynard
Professor Gabriel Emerson, a specialist in Dante and the art of seduction, believes he has already earned his exile to the lower circles of hell. Since redemption is impossible, there is no reason to refrain from indulging in a life of pleasurable sin, using his notorious good looks and sophisticated charm as a means to gratify his every whim. But when he meets Julia Mitchell, a brilliant, lovely, and innocent grad student with the achingly familiar eyes of an angel, all of his cynical convictions are challenged.
Her mysterious allure and the havoc she wreaks on his self-satisfied existence cause him to lash out at her, while her quiet beauty and innate goodness consistently undermine his control, tempting him beyond measure. Despite surviving a traumatic childhood, nothing has shaken Julia's faith that redemption is possible for everyone-everyone but her. Her unworthiness torments her, since the only man she will ever love has managed to forget her very existence, failing to even recognize her when they reconnect.
Too naive to see that Gabriel's hostility is a mask for his increasing obsession with her, Julia forces him to come to grips with his past while she continues to unwittingly torment his senses. His fascination grows into a dangerous preoccupation, for Julia is forbidden fruit . . . Will Gabriel survive the inferno, or will he succumb to the flames?
I have to admit I think this book is brilliant, and I really enjoyed it.
Julia is a grad student who finds herself reunited with her first love, who do to certain circumstances doesn't remember who she is. Julia has built Gabriel up so far in her mind, that she is unprepared for the reality of who he really is. Julia is confused by his abrasive behavior when they first meet, and struggling to understand why he can't remember the night they shared. To make things worse no matter how bad he treats her, she can't let go of him. Julia sees his moments of kindness, his weakness towards her, and the love he really shares for his family.
Gabriel is a broken man in the truest sense of the word. He has demons from his past that he has tried to overcome. He meets Julia and recognizes that it is something about her that stirs him, and he's uncomfortable with his reaction to her. To hide his uneasiness from her, he lashes out at Julia, and treats her gruffly. Gabriel is unsure of himself in her presence, and it brings out the worst, and the best in him.
Julia and Gabriel both have to get over the demons of there past, if there is ever going to be a future for them.
This romance was dark and sweet at the same time. I liked Julia's personality, that she would always try to see the good in people, and not lower herself to be unkind to people even though they were to her. I also like how she would never give up hope on Gabriel even when her heart was in despair. I thought she was a strong heroine, especially given the events from her past. There were plenty of times I felt sorry for her, and was near tears while reading. There were also plenty of times in the book where I found her dialog witty, and amusing. I thought the author did a good job with that.