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Gabriel's Inferno Paperback – September 4, 2012
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About the Author
Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
Professor Gabriel Emerson’s voice carried across the seminar room to the attractive brown-eyed young woman who was seated at the back. Lost in thought, or lost in translation, her head was down as she scribbled furiously in her notebook.
Ten pairs of eyes swung to her, to her pale face and long lashes, her thin white fingers clutching a pen. Then ten pairs of eyes swung back to the professor, who stood perfectly still and began to scowl. His scathing demeanor contrasted sharply with the overall symmetry of his features, his large, expressive eyes, and full mouth. He was ruggedly handsome, but in that moment bitterly severe, which rather ruined the overall pleasing effect of his appearance.
“Ahem.” A modest cough to her right caught the woman’s attention. She glanced in surprise at the broad-shouldered man sitting next to her. He smiled and flicked his eyes to the front of the room, back to the professor.
She followed his gaze slowly, looking up into a pair of angry, peering blue eyes. She swallowed noisily.
“I expect an answer to my question, Miss Mitchell. If you’d care to join us.” His voice was glacial, like his eyes.
The other graduate students shifted in their seats and stole furtive glances at one another. Their expressions said what crawled up his ass? But they said nothing. (For it is commonly known that graduate students are loath to confront their professors with respect to anything, let alone rude behavior.)
The young woman opened her mouth minutely and closed it, staring into those unblinking blue eyes, her own eyes wide like a frightened rabbit.
“Is English your first language?” he mocked her.
A raven-haired woman seated at his right hand tried to stifle a laugh, smothering it into an unconvincing cough. All eyes shifted back to the frightened rabbit, whose skin exploded into crimson as she ducked her head, finally escaping the professor’s gaze.
“Since Miss Mitchell seems to be carrying on a parallel seminar in a different language, perhaps someone else would be kind enough to answer my question?”
The beauty to his right was only too eager. She turned to face him and beamed as she answered his question in great detail, making a show of herself by gesturing with her hands as she quoted Dante in his original Italian. When she had finished, she smiled acidly at the back of the room, then proceeded to gaze up at the professor and sigh. All that was lacking from her display was a quick leap to the floor and a rubbing of her back on his leg to show that she would be his pet forever. (Not that he would have appreciated the gesture.)
The professor frowned almost imperceptibly at no one in particular and turned his back to write on the board. The frightened rabbit blinked back tears as she continued scribbling, but mercifully she did not cry.
A few minutes later, as the professor droned on and on about the conflict between the Guelfs and the Ghibellines, a small square of folded paper appeared on top of the frightened rabbit’s Italian dictionary. At first she didn’t notice it, but once again, a soft ahem drew her attention to the good-looking man beside her. He smiled more widely this time, almost eagerly, and glanced down at the paper.
She saw it and blinked. Carefully watching the back of the professor as he drew endless circles around endless Italian words, she brought the paper to her lap where she quietly unfolded it.
Emerson is an ass.
No one would have noticed because no one was looking at her, except for the man at her side. As soon as she read those words, a different kind of flush appeared on her face, two pink clouds on the curve of her cheeks, and she smiled. Not enough to show teeth or what could be dimples or a laugh line or two, but a smile nonetheless.
She raised her large eyes to the man next to her and looked at him shyly. A wide, friendly grin spread across his face.
“Something funny, Miss Mitchell?”
Her brown eyes dilated in terror. Her new friend’s smile quickly disappeared as he turned to look at the professor.
She knew better now than to look up at the professor’s cold blue eyes. Instead, she put her head down and worried her plump lower lip between her teeth, back and forth and back and forth.
“It was my fault, Professor. I was just asking what page we were on,” the friendly man interceded on her behalf.
“Hardly an appropriate question from a doctoral student, Paul. But since you asked, we began with the first canto. I trust you can find it without Miss Mitchell’s help. Oh, and Miss Mitchell?”
The frightened rabbit’s pony tail trembled ever so slightly as she lifted her gaze.
“See me in my office after class.”
More About the Author
I'm interested in the way literature can help us explore aspects of the human condition - particularly suffering, sex, love, faith, and redemption. My favourite stories are those in which a character takes a journey, either a physical journey to a new and exciting place, or a personal journey in which he or she learns something about himself/herself.
I'm also interested in how aesthetic elements such as art, architecture, and music can be used to tell a story or to illuminate the traits of a particular character. In my writing, I combine all of these elements with the themes of redemption, forgiveness, and the transformative power of goodness.
I try to use my platform as an author to raise awareness about the following charities: Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep Foundation, WorldVision, Alex's Lemonade Stand, and Covenant House. For more information, see my Twitter account.
Top Customer Reviews
Enter "Gabriel's Inferno."
Like a good lover, this book is thoughtful, deliberate and profound. Each character is nuanced, and each moment is strategically delivered. I'll spare the plot summary since several other reviewers did a great job at it, but I will say that it's been a long time since I read a book that was so well organized. Scenes that seem inconsequential reappear as important background later in the book, and each peripheral story line is elaborately folded into the bigger picture. This book is absolutely exquisite.
Julianne is an intriguing heroine, because she is the anti-Bella, anti-Katniss of the major blockbuster dichotomy. She is neither vapid and ungrateful, nor aloof and merciless. She does not adhere to the idea that a woman must either be a damsel in distress or a dragon lady. Julianne is something entirely different - she is broken and rebuilding. I normally despise meekness (in fictional characters and in real people), but I found her timid nature endearing, because beneath it was the soul of a lion. She knew how to choose her battles, and when she chose to let loose, she knew how to leave a mark. The best summation of her character was the scene when Christa screamed insults at her, and Julianne refused to lower herself by responding in kind.Read more ›
As a reader, I am drawn to books that are character driven and this novel is one of the strongest I have come across in quite some time. Reynard's male characters elicited strong responses from me from the very beginning and continued to do so throughout. For example, there's Paul the fellow graduate student who always made me feel a little creeped out and in need of shower after reading scenes which required his presence. And then of course, there is Gabriel who, on the one hand is a total rat bastard and on the other is just so completely compassionate and caring. Gabriel is by far the strongest, most damaged, and most fascinating character in this book. To the world, Gabriel is a buttoned down professor who specializes in the works of Dante and favors bow ties and expensive suits. Then there's the other Gabriel, the man with passions that run deep and inhibitions that are virtually nonexistent who has a taste for fine food, fine wine, and morally ambiguous women.
Gabriel's story alone would be enough to keep the casual reader interested but for those looking for more substance, meet Julia. Julia is the only female character of significance in this novel and like the male characters she elicited a very strong response from me. Unfortunately that response was not always a good one.Read more ›
What I liked:
- The author's diction and structure. I found myself occasionally needing to look up words, language translations, references, etc. For once, I didn't feel like my IQ dropped a few points by reading a romance novel.
- The unveiling of the story. I was very impressed with the way the book started out, where the reader's knowledge of what was going on is very limited. There were so many questions going through my mind that refused to allow me to put the book down until I figured everything out. While I was not as impressed as I hoped to be once that happened, I very much enjoyed the ride.
- The cultural parallels. This book felt like it was researched thoroughly and painstakingly planned. There were so many references and parallels to art, music, and literature, and I am fairly confident that I only uncovered a small percentage, based on the fact that I never read the Divine Comedy.
What I didn't like:
- The length. This book was very long - almost unnecessarily so. Some descriptions or internal monologues went on for pages and pages, when they didn't seem necessary. There is one love scene in particular that I was hoping to be dazzled by after waiting for it for so long, but it kept going and going and going for so long that I got bored. I never thought I would say this, but sometimes for these scenes, shorter and sweeter is better.
- Julianne's/Beatrice's pedestal. I enjoyed the book immensely up until about 2/3 - 3/4 of the way through.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Similar story to 50 shades without the bondage and explicitness. Enjoyed the building of the relationship between Gabriel and Julianne.Published 6 days ago by SPhilyaw
this is a wonderful book infact I have now read it 5 times since I purchase itPublished 24 days ago by Tammy Gross
So glad I finally read this. Kicking myself for waiting so long. Love this novel so much. Sylvian's writing style makes me feel like I am in the room with Gabriel and Julia. Read morePublished 1 month ago by vlbksf
Loved this book, it was , I can't even put into words how amazing this book was. Thank you so much for writing it.Published 1 month ago by Kindle Customer
Characters were great and well defined, but I couldn't help but think can we get to it already. I will read the next, but will read something else that isn't such a tease. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Melissa Nicholas
I can tell you how amazing this book was. Please buy this beautiful love story, I promise you won't regret the time spent with these charactersPublished 1 month ago by I love things you hate