The Gabriel’s Inferno series is a romance collection that has a special place in my heart, and is one that I decided to re-read at the start of this year when I realized that I had never gotten around to reading the third and final book in the series. I am so glad that I decided to spend the first part of 2019 with these characters and revisit a story, and particularly a setting, that I have always been very fond of!
The Gabriel’s Inferno series documents the relationship between Julianne Mitchell, a graduate student and Dante enthusiast, and her family friend turned professor, Gabriel Emerson. Sylvain Reynard truthfully had me at professor. The thought of reading a book about a man who loves literature so much that he’s decided to base his entire career around it was (and still is) incredibly appealing to me!
This has a lot to do with the fact that, when I first picked up Gabriel’s Inferno and Gabriel’s Rapture, I myself was a student in university who had big plans to get my PhD and become a professor (albeit of Victorian literature, rather than Dante’s works). To make this series even more intriguing, I was studying at the University of Toronto, the very same school that Gabriel teaches at and Julia attends in the first two novels. Reading about my beloved university, all the spots on campus and surrounding areas on Bloor Street, was an absolute pleasure when I was still attending the school, but was even more of one now, years later, after my graduation. No, I never did end up getting my PhD (although I am doing my dream job currently in a very creative environment), but I did obtain my Master’s in English from UofT, just like Julia, and returning to that wonderful campus in my mind’s eye over the past little while has been an absolute treat.
Clearly, it’s pure nostalgia that has me going back to this story and thinking about it again and again. I will admit that the first book doesn’t have a polished flow to it necessarily – for example, Reynard avoids using contractions for some reason and it’s all “it is”, “he had”, “I am”, etc. – but the story is incredibly compelling and unique, and there is a lot of sexual tension! I would say, though, that the second book, Gabriel’s Rapture, is actually superior because although the first quarter of the story is a bit repetitive and lovey-dovey, the middle section when Gabriel and Julia face some HUGE and terrifying threats to their relationship was heart wrenching and extremely exciting. I was literally breathing heavily as I read some of the scenes – and this is even after I had already read the book before and knew what would happen!
This time around, however, it was the third book, Gabriel’s Redemption, that touched me the most. It figures that this was the one book I didn’t read the first time around, and it’s not surprising to me because in Gabriel’s Redemption Gabriel and Julia are in fact (SPOILER ALERT!) married and beginning a domestic life together. When I was still a student without a boyfriend, this wasn’t a very appealing or relatable storyline to me…but now…as a wife who is one day intending to become a mother…well, let’s just say, I could relate to it pretty seriously! Gabriel’s Redemption is without doubt the best written of the three books, and I really appreciated that Reynard took more risks with the narration, delving into many different characters’ perspectives and bouncing around in time more. The overall plot was sequenced and organized a lot better, and I found myself with tears in my eyes a few times, especially toward the end. I found this to be an incredibly strong conclusion to the series, and on a personal level, I was sucked into the conflicts and story. I also do always appreciate a good ol’ fashioned happy ending and this one did not disappoint!
Overall, I would definitely recommend the Gabriel’s Inferno series to fans of contemporary romance novels. It is a unique story with characters that go way past the usual romance clichés and the academic setting is one that is quite unique for this genre. I had a great time re-reading the series and will likely do so again in the future!
My Favourite Quotes from the Series
“Truth sets one free, but love casts out fear.”
“‘This is my happy ending.’”
Gabriel’s Inferno: ❥❥❥(out of 5)
Gabriel’s Rapture: ❥❥❥.5 (out of 5)
Gabriel’s Redemption: ❥❥❥.5 (out of 5)
Girl with a Green Heart