Author: Sylvian Reynard
Pages: Oversize paperback, 546
Publisher: Omnific Publishing
Opening Lines: "The poet stood next to the bridge and watched as the young woman approached."
"Engimatic 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 in his graduate student, his attraction and mysterious connection to her not only jeopardizes his career, but sens him on a journey in which his past and his present collide."
~ Jacket copy
I first came across this book after reading Fifty Shades of Grey. Admittedly, I was rather skeptical about it due to the issues presented in James’ series. However, the allure of The Divine Comedy and medieval literature could not be ignored. That being said, I was unwilling to spend a ton of money to buy the book. Luckily, I was able to get a copy from a used bookstore down in Colorado. Score! We had tons of credit :)
Julia moves to Toronto to pursue a MA degree focused on Dante. Even though Toronto was her backup, she was relieved and scared to find that her first love, Gabriel Emerson, was the leading Dante specialist at the university. And now, six years after their first encounter, she finds herself in his Dante seminar and with him as her thesis advisor. However, even though they shared a beautiful moment in an old orchard, he doesn’t remember naming her his muse or the soft promises he made to her.
While struggling under his abrasive nature, Julia does everything she can to either forget that fateful evening or holding out hope that he will finally remember her. And, when he does finally remember his Beatrice, he has to fight against the university’s policies, his dark past, and her insecurities to make a relationship work.
I liked and disliked this book. There are a lot of mixed feelings rattling through my brain whenever I think about it. All of the references back to The Divine Comedy, Paradiso, great medieval minds, the story of Abalard, and other medieval literary stuff, made me extremely excited and my heart soar. Had I received a MA degree, it would have been in medieval studies with a specialization in medieval literature. For me, it was like coming home. And, to be honest, it made me desire to read The Divine Comedy again. Sadly, after searching through my old school books, I couldn’t find it :(
Even though I absolutely loved that part of the book, I couldn’t stand Julia or Gabriel. Julia was an extremely weak and unbelievable character. And the fact that she hummed her contentment and bit her lower lip drove me absolutely nuts! I honestly cannot understand what the allure is to completely stupid, innocent, and naïve virgins. To me, she was extremely one dimensional, under developed, and completely unsympathetic. I found myself wanting to slap her. Even growing up in a conservative Christian home, I still thought her naiveté was ridiculous!
Using the Byronic hero for the major lead in a romance/erotic novel seems to be common. Frankly, it’s getting rather old. Yes, I understand that a fully sensitive man is not necessarily desirable, but this tall, dark, and handsome bullshit is boring. Granted, I fully understand the allure to the bad guy and wanting to tame the guy in black leather. However, it’s still kind of boring. If I want to embrace those fantasies, I’ll remember when I was a teenager and loved frontmen of bands and wanted to run away with Johnny Rzeznik. Or I could think about my dangerous passion for Kurt Cobain. But, seriously, don’t we need to outgrow those at some point? And, along with those fantasies, I felt as though I was drowning in teenage melodrama! Come on, Julia is twenty-three and Gabriel is thirty-three!
As with Fifty Shades, I cannot understand why “fucking” is considered so horrible and detestable. Julia kept going on about how you cannot truly love someone and “fuck” them. Hmm, sounds pretty juvenile to me. Even as a virgin teenager, I could tell you that “fucking” was desirable. I’m sorry, but raw, animalistic shagging can be quite nice. Everything has a time and a place.
If Julia had mentioned Nine Inch Nails one more time, I would have ripped the book in half! First of all, the only song she likes is also on the album she hates. Also, Downward Spiral . . . Let’s not go into the meaning of that. And, I’m sorry, Trent Reznor has a nice voice. Also, Closer happens to be my default ringtone. For someone who hates the band, she certainly knows a lot about them. That seems rather strange to me.
The buildup between Gabriel and Julia was irksome. Had I been in her place, all of the teasing, foreplay, and so on would have driven me up a wall. Plus, taking until the last ten to twenty pages of a 546 page book to finally have sex was a little too much and drawn out. And can we just say that Simon was predictable?
In a lot of ways, the book was just like Fifty Shades. There are elements I absolutely loved, and things that I loathed. And, as strange as it sounds, it was one of the rare books that I found myself composing a soundtrack to (it shall be posted on Saturday). If you’re curious, give it a try. However, don’t be surprised if you feel as though you’re back with Christian Grey. And, after my adventure with this book, I do plan on reading the next. It was a quick read, and it really did draw me in. It gets under your skin, and you can feel it long after it’s been finished.
Current Pages: 4898