This is the first book in a trilogy about Professor Gabriel Emerson and Julia Mitchell. Let me start out by saying that this one of the best books that I read in 2013! It is beautifully written and you can see all of the research that went into the author’s writing of this novel.
This book starts out with Julia, who is enrolled in Professor Gabriel Emerson’s Dante seminar. She does not have a very good encounter with the professor at the start of her semester. He is very rude to her and belittles her in front of the class. Julia is a very timid and skittish young woman who cowers down to the harsh professor. He is not the same man that Julia remembers from years gone by. She is best friends with Gabriel’s younger sister, Rachel, and basically grew up at their family home. Gabriel, however, is ten years her senior and wasn’t home very much to remember her…except for one night in the apple orchard behind their house.
Things do not progress the way Julia would like. She is constantly being humiliated by Gabriel in one way or another. Reading these parts was hard, because I really felt her emotions and felt how small she must have felt at his harsh words. Julia did not have the best childhood. Her parents were divorced and her mother was an abusive alcoholic. Her father was a decent man, but he was always busy with his job and his community involvement instead of focusing on being a good dad. Julia’s love life in her undergraduate years was a catastrophe. Things happened to her that left her vulnerable and afraid to be in a relationship.
Gabriel’s past was one that he certainly was not proud of. He was adopted at a later age after his mother passed away. He struggled to fit in to the “perfect” family. His adoptive parents loved him very much and always did their best by him. Gabriel was always a very intelligent man, but when he was in university, he became involved with drugs, alcohol, and had a very promiscuous lifestyle. To say that Gabriel has skeletons in his closet is an understatement. His mistakes follow him around and gnaw at his soul….he is truly tormented.
When Gabriel finally remembers who Julia is, he is filled with remorse for the way that he has treated her. She is in love with the idea of him and the way he was all those years ago when they first met, but he has a lot to make up for with her. He tries to get closer to her and wants to work on building a friendship with her with hopes of it turning into a relationship. Julia would like nothing more than that, but she is very guarded. Gabriel constantly feels that he is not worthy of the young and innocent Julia, but he wants her just the same. Gabriel has lived a life of excess. He has inherited a lot of money and does not want for anything materialistic. He has also lived a highly sexual life, having had many meaningless sexual encounters over the years.
As their relationship and feelings grow for one another, they are faced with problems in trying to keep their relationship a secret. He is her professor and the university has a strict non-fraternization policy. There are also other road blocks that they have to face, such as, jealous students, old lovers, an ex-boyfriend, and pasts that haunt them both.
I could go on and on about this book, but I won’t because I don’t want to give too much away. I highly recommend this book! It was such a well written book with fabulous characters that will stick with you long after you finish reading it.