By Sylvain Reynard
Julianne Mitchell is a grad student writing her thesis on the works of Dante. At the University of Toronto where she is studying, Professor Gabriel Emerson is considered the residing Dante expert. Shy by nature, Julia is extremely nervous around the Professor and bumbles her way through the class. When Gabriel’s younger sister, Rachel, comes to visit him, the reasons for Julia’s nervousness become apparent. Julia and Rachel were best friends in high school; Julia was almost part of his family. Mollified and embarrassed by the way he’s been treating Julia, Gabriel goes about making amends for his previous behaviour, while his sister’s less than subtle match-making plans hatch. Aware of the University’s no tolerance policy for relationships between Professors and their students, Gabriel is careful not to cross the line. However, the more time Gabriel and Julia spend together the more Gabriel is drawn to her. What Gabriel doesn’t remember is that he and Julia share a past; one passionate night that Julia has held close to her heart for six years.
This reader did not like this book. The writing is very forced with gauche foreshadowing and wordy metaphors. The author draws parallels between the romance of Julianne and Gabriel and the romance of Dante and Beatrice. While this reader does not claim to be anywhere near a Dante specialist, it felt like the author was showing off her Dante knowledge with awkward literary references that seemed out of place and unnecessary. There is very little character development, more an unraveling and revealing of emotional issues as the book progresses. Because of this, the characters are simply flat and annoying. Overall, the book was too long. It failed to build upon itself and instead just plodded along until you simply stopped caring. The author did not develop the crucial aspects in the novel that would have made it alluring – the dangerous relationship between the professor and his student, the past history between the characters, and the professor’s possessiveness. All of these things could have been used to develop steamy sexual tension between the characters! Instead they fueled the character’s overly emotional issues and insecurities.
Frankly, there is very little eroticism in this book. In fact, there is only one sex scene at the very end of the book. Since this book is being recommended as a follow-up to Fifty Shades of Grey, it seemed important to include a review. That being said, I truly feel that whomever recommended this book completely missed the mark. This book contains the same emotional angst and past psychological trauma as Fifty Shades of Grey, with none of the sex… Correct me if I’m wrong but I believe the majority of people reading Fifty Shades of Grey are fascinated by the ‘kinky fuckery’ in the book! Not only did this book not include anything erotic, but a judgmental light is cast on ‘non-vanilla’ intercourse.
“‘I would never, ever, fuck you. Clear? One doesn’t fuck an angel.’
‘Then what does someone like you do with an angel?’ Her voice trembled slightly.
‘Someone like me would cherish her…’”
Julia is an extremely naive, idealistic woman whose goodness is able to save Gabriel from his ‘darker’ past. The only erotic hints in the book are when Gabriel’s past is discussed, which this reader wanted more details on however ‘Julia felt instantly ill.’ In short, if you are looking for an erotic read, or even a good read, do not read this book.