February 15, 2013

REVIEW: Gabriel's Inferno (Gabriel's Inferno #1)

Gabriel's Inferno (Gabriel's Inferno #1), by Sylvain Reynard
Published April 4, 2011
Publisher:  Omnific Publishing
Format:  Paperback - own
Genre:  Adult Contemporary Romance

Rating:  3 STARS

(From Goodreads) 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.

I had to sit and stew on this one for a bit. Truthfully, as soon as I read the last page, I was prepared to give Gabriel's Inferno 4 or even 4.5 stars. But, then, as I digested the details and the characters, I found it lacking in many ways. 

First off, it felt like Gabriel and Julia were caricatures of who they were supposed to be - especially Julia. For entire 500+ page book, Julia is scared of her own shadow. She's meek and weak and a bit of a doormat. She's everything I don't like in a female lead. I gave her allowances because she apparently had this big bad thing happen in her past, which involved a guy, so this obviously played a hand in her current state of mind. I've got to tell you - when we finally find out what this big, bad event was, it was a bit unbelievable. And, extremely anticlimactic.

Then there's Gabriel. He started out being an uber-ahole. I mean, he was HORRIBLE. Then, with a few words from Julia, he changes. And, I mean, he does a 180. On a dime. It is explained why, and, it all goes back to a chance encounter seven years earlier when he was drunk and high. Seriously. Those few hours that one night apparently changed his life so dramatically that all logic and reason went on a nice vacay. 

Gabriel was incredibly patient with Julia. Almost annoyingly so. He was doting and attentive and sweet. He would ask her about her past and she just couldn't talk about it because it was too emotionally compromising. And he would pet her hair and snuggle up with her and tell her it was okay. See, my biggest problem with this is that there are no guys out there like this. How is it that the books I read about vampires and werewolves seem more real than Gabriel? No one - guy or girl - is  like Gabriel. Once he decides his whole world is Julia, he never once acts like a jerkface. Sorry, but everyone acts like a jerk every now and then. Not Gabriel.

What's more, is that for some reason, when I found out that the author was a male, it made it even more frustrating. Is that really how he thinks guys are? Really? I know that shouldn't have any bearing on how I look at this book, but for some reason, it does. 

While I was reading the book, I was definitely captivated by Gabriel's and Julia's story. I couldn't wait to discover their secrets and see them finally come together - in every sense of the word. Despite Gabriel's constant placating, a lot of the time, he seemed really sweet and romantic. It was for these reasons that this book received the three stars that it got. I never thought I'd find myself wishing for a guy to NOT be so romantic. But, I guess there's a first for everything.

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