Gabriel's Inferno wins my award for "Biggest Disappoint in a Highly Anticipated Novel for 2012". For months I've been reading rave reviews about thisGabriel's Inferno wins my award for "Biggest Disappoint in a Highly Anticipated Novel for 2012". For months I've been reading rave reviews about this book so when it recently became available on audio, I picked it up. The premise of the story is much like that of several other books that are currently popular in contemporary romance...handsome, dark, brooding man in his late 20's insanely attracted to beautiful, innocent woman in her early 20's. He is rich and she is not, he is sexually experienced while she is not. They both have secrets from their pasts that are mentally crippling, and to bring these secrets to light is the key to unlocking their hearts and ultimately leading them to a HEA. I love this "new adult" genre and with the multitude of 5-star reviews at both Goodreads and Amazon, I assumed Gabriel's Inferno would be a sure thing.
My first and biggest issue with this book is the heroine, Julia. She kisses a guy for the first time when she is 17 and develops a crush on him. Okay, not unusual. She sleeps with a picture of him under her pillow for the next 6 years. Hmm, okay I'll even give her that one (although it might be a little shaky that she was still doing this at age 23). She moves from home to do her graduate studies at a college where her crush, Gabriel Emerson, is a professor; and - no surprise - she is studying the Italian poet, Dante, which happens to be Gabriel's area of expertise. The night they had been together oh so long ago, Gabriel likened himself and Julia to Dante & his love Beatrice...a comparison where the lines seem to have blurred for both of them. More so for Julia, however, because she never moves on past that ONE night spent with Gabriel. For the next 6 years she has absolutely NO love life except for a 6- month stint with a senator's son who mentally abuses her on a daily basis. Why does she stay with him? Who knows...but the girl definitely has some serious self-esteem issues that are made worse by this relationship. Although they NEVER have sex during the time they are a couple, she is traumatized by his blatant threats to "fuck her like an animal" and then by finding him in bed with her roommate. And I mean traumatized to the point where she is one step away from a mental breakdown.
How the hell is this girl functioning in real life? Aside from having absolutely no self-worth, she is painfully shy and afraid of her own shadow. She is insecure and distrustful, self-conscious and self-effacing. How could she possibly have gone to Italy to study, alone, and survived? And now, just the thought of Professor Emerson being upset with her over something inconsequential has her literally packing her bags to return home before she has even met with him, resigned to her fate of being a failure. Living in a state of perpetual fear - of the past finding her in the present and of the present heading into an unknown future - doth not a stable girl make.
My second issue is with Gabriel. Mysterious and brooding, he carries a shameful secret that propels him on a downward spiral to self-destruction. And of course he is actively involved in mindless sex that involves pain (although this is merely alluded to in the first book). He is also looking for his "Beatrice" from that one night 6 years ago, yet does not recognize her in the form of Julia until she tells him it is so. Never mind that she is best friends with Gabriel's sister and his parents are like family to Julia. Apparently they never cross paths before or after that one night. When Gabriel learns who Julia is, his whole attitude changes and he is in awe of her...putting her on a pedestal so high that no degree of suspending disbelief can justify. Which brings me to the last issue I have with this book...
Julia's virginity. WTF is so special about her purity that it is the focal point of the second half of the book? She tells Gabriel she would've given it up to him that one night long ago on more than one occasion; now, however, he is going to pay the price for being absent from her life for 6 years and for unknowingly being the object of her unrequited love. And Gabriel is fine with that - he, who has been trolling for sex on a nightly basis for most of his adult life - is now going to practice celibacy until "his kitten" is ready. My question is WHY??? Is it because they decided they were Dante & Beatrice after one kiss in an orchard (side note: Gabriel was high on cocaine that night)? Is it because he sees Julia as a scared little kitten that needs protection and guidance (suspiciously bordering on "daddy" issues)? It is not her vivacious personality because she pretty much lacks one altogether. It is not her beauty because Gabriel has supermodel-type women at his beck and call. Whatever the reason, Gabriel becomes a man possessed and completely alters his lifestyle for her. Spouting romantic verse and Danteisms, delivering roses, chaste kisses and PG-rated touches, Gabriel commences with Dante's 800-yr old philosophy of courtly love to win Julia's heart (and get in her pants). It was noble. It was pure as the driven snow. It was chivalry at its finest.
It was boring.
If having sex for the first time is going to be such a big part of a story, there should at least be some sexual tension leading up to the act. There is none. In fact, when it finally does happen, it is rather anticlimactic. In reality, Julia would probably be termed a "dead lay" because she really isn't into the act at all. Ever.
Aside from my opinion of the actual story, I think the author did an excellent job in terms of research on the subject of Dante and structuring the story to incorporate the information into modern life. She also has a fluid writing style that gives the dialogue an authentic feel. I am going to read the sequel, Gabriel's Rapture, because I hear there is an abundance of sex (right up my alley) and because I am somewhat invested in Gabriel & Julia's relationship and not satisfied with the HFN ending of this book. I enjoyed the various mini-dramas involving the secondary characters (comprised of Gabriel's immediate family members) and hope that their situations are readdressed in the sequel. Also, I'm hoping for an evil woman or two to resurface from Gabriel's past and try to cause problems, only to have the new and improved Julia (sex will do it every time) defend her man and kick some ass!
Reading this book reminded me why I LOVE indie authors...you just can't get a sweet, touching romance like My Heart for Yours from a book turned out bReading this book reminded me why I LOVE indie authors...you just can't get a sweet, touching romance like My Heart for Yours from a book turned out by a publishing house!...more