Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Book Review: Gabriel's Inferno

Dressed as he was and brooding, he looked very much like a character out of one of the Bronte's novels. As Julia approached him, she silently prayed to Charlotte that Gabriel would be one of her ilk and not of her sister Emily's.
-from Gabriel's Inferno by Sylvain Reynard

If there's anything to be said about 50 Shades of Grey mania, it's that the series has proven it's easy to succumb to the seduction of an mindless romantic read. As I admitted Monday (with more than a little guilt), I devoured the 50 Shades trilogy behind the privacy of my Kindle over the course of a week. When I was done with the series I looked to Amazon to recommend something that would fill the void and it led me to Gabriel's Inferno. The main difference between the two books is that 50 Shades of Grey is missing the mental stimulation to balance all of the physical stimulation, something Gabriel's Inferno manages to provide consistently.

Gabriel's Inferno by Sylvain Reynard is a romance novel so it is not without it's eye-rolling cheesiness, it's over-the-top romance and more than a few scenes that might make you say, "Yeah. Right. That was too perfect" (of course the dude is rich and the girl is beautiful, duh.). That said, the characters are flawed in ways unlike many other romance novels and the author explores these flaws with more depth and range than is usually given in such stories. Without giving too much away, Gabriel's Inferno is the carefully woven stories of Gabriel, a young college professor, and Julia, a graduate student. Initially I was a bit weary trying to piece together what was going on because the author slowly develops how Gabriel and Julia are connected, but once I was able to see the basis of their story, I could not put the book down (I read it over the course of 3 days). The connection between Gabriel and Julia is very much like that between Christian and Ana in 50 Shades of Grey; if you liked being both infatuated and annoyed by Christian then you will probably enjoy Gabriel as well.

The book is replete with literary references and if you aren't familiar with at least Dante's Inferno then you might not get as much out of the book as someone who is. I enjoyed the literary depth, although I must admit at times it got a little annoying, like the author was as pretentious as Gabriel (perhaps she wanted the reader to feel how Julia felt at his literary snobbery?). But that's also the stimulating part of the book: it keeps your brain muscle working and you have to think back to the novels you read in college and use that knowledge to fully appreciate the story. I was very impressed that a romance novel would require so much effort from my brain, it was very refreshing.

Bottom Line: If you're looking for an intelligent romance novel that won't leave your brain feeling like mush, this is the perfect story for you. If you're coming off the 50 Shades wagon and are sad to say goodbye to Christian and Anastasia, Gabriel and Julia will have you just as smitten because they are slightly more realistic (despite their impeccable and unrealistic knowledge of practically everything). Just a word of warning to the hardcore Christian Grey fans: Not nearly as much sex in this one, just a whole lot of sexual tension (It's awfully ironic that between all of the books I review this week, this one has the raciest cover and least amount of "adult content" haha). ★★★/5

  All book reviews are 100% my opinion. All books & characters belong to their respective authors. Book Review FAQ.

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