– Ohhh Professor Emerson –
5+ Star SPOILER Review
Where to even begin…. Gabriel Emerson is a graduate/doctorate professor of Italian Literature at a Canadian university specializing in Dante. Julianne Mitchell is a student – but not just any student…
At first, you think you’re going to fall into the typical forbidden romance between a professor and his student – ohhh but it’s so far from that.
We dive into a story that has a past – a present – and hopefully a future.
The story is thick – there is so much going on between the past and the present and the fact that Gabriel doesn’t remember Julia in the first half of the book, he doesn’t remember the fact that she was his younger sister’s best friend in high school, or that his mother Grace had loved her as a second daughter – and that Julia too was in mourning after Grace passed away. He was too wound up in his own bullshit (as always) to see her – to remember her – or their orchard.
Julia went to Canada for him – but also, having had the opportunity to attend Harvard, her minimal finances kept her from going – but she knew Gabriel was in Canada and thus she followed him there so to speak. She was older now, he had asked her to find him in Hell the last time they’d spoke. And finding herself in Hell in Philadelphia with her ex-boyfriend Simon she was glad to be so far away from everyone back home.
Gabriel, having returned from Pennsylvania and his mother’s funeral – finds Julia and degrades her as a student, explaining that their student/professor relationship isn’t going to work – she’s worked his last nerve after leaving a note of condolences regarding his mother’s death, with out paying attention she wrote it on a small scrap of paper that her friend Paul had scribbled “Emerson’s an ass” on the other side – Gabriel had found it right after receiving the news of this mother’s death and had planned on removing Julia’s from her position in the Italian Studies program.
As Julia is walking home to pack the rest of her apartment up – the rain is pouring down and of course, Gabriel find’s her in a rain drenched state and offers her a ride home. Once inside her tiny apartment he starts to pity her and regrets is drastic decision to kick her out of the program. He goes out of his way to invite her to dinner for a proper mean – afraid that she is starving while putting herself through school, her tiny studio apartment doesn’t even have a proper kitchen, only a microwave and hotplate to cook with.
It’s now that we find out the past of their relationship – Julia and Rachel are teenage girls in high school. Grace invited Julia over for dinner to welcome home her son Gabriel home from college for a weekend – this would be the first time Julia would meet him, even though she had stolen a photograph of him from Rachel’s room – she couldn’t help herself she thought he was so handsome in his Cambridge rowing uniform – windblown brown hair and piercing green eyes. But the scene she walks into isn’t what she expected; she finds Rachel and her boyfriend Aaron huddled on the couch – the glass coffee table broken into pieces. When she asks what happened, Rachel explains that Gabriel came home, fought with their father, broke her brother’s nose and that her mother was in her room crying. Rachel escapes with Aaron and Julia goes to comfort Grace. On her way upstairs she hears a noise outside on the patio – she goes and finds Gabriel sitting on the patio drinking a beer – he’s drunk but she’s still curious about him. She sits down and offer’s her a beer – asks her if she’s even had one before, when she shakes her head no. He asks her to go for a walk with him out into the abandoned apple orchard – and holds his hand out for her to take. He asks her if she’s ever held the hand of a boy before, she shakes her head no, and he simply say’s
“Then I’m glad I’m your first.”
Gabriel throws out a blanket for them to lie on. He holds her in his arms, and goes to fetch her an apple as she never did eat the meal that was intended for them. There under the stars Gabriel kisses her for the first time – her first time – and again say’s he’s glad he’s her first. He calls her Beatrice and explains the story of Dante and Beatrice – and how she was going to be his brown eyed angel to bring him back to the light. He says his soul is damned and that she needs to come looking for him – she will find him in hell. Julia doesn’t quite grasp what he’s telling her – though he’s quoting Dante’s Inferno – he believes that Julia is his angel. He holds her, kisses her gently and they fall asleep under the stars – in that apple orchard. In the wee hours of the morning Julia awoke to find herself alone – abandoned. Not knowing the area she panics and yells for Gabriel – but no answer comes. She stumbles and falls – frantically trying to find her way out of the trees – time passes and she finally finds the back of Rachel’s home again. She leaves and comes back later that afternoon to see Gabriel – but he’s already left, Rachel explains that his parents put him into rehab and he’s already gone. She-is-devistated. She doesn’t tell anyone, especially Rachel about the night in the orchard – she holds on to her pain and decides that when the time is right – she will find him, she will search for him – even in hell she will find him.
But it isn’t until Gabriel’s sister Rachel visits Canada that Julia and Gabriel start to get closer. Rachel and Julia re-connect and you can tell the attraction to Julia is building within Gabriel. He notices little things about her – and how truly pure she really is. Not just her virginity, but with everything she does – how she prepares her tea, how clean her apartment is, how good she is – through and through. He’s attracted to that, because he believes he’s a man made of sin and that his soul is damned to hell for things that happened in his past.
There are a few snippets here and there where Julia believes that Gabriel remembers her – remembers their orchard – their kiss – their night under the stars when she was just a teenager. The night she fell in love with her best friend’s tormented older brother. The reason she studied Italian in high school – and the reason she’s studying it in graduate school now – all because of him. They’ve been living separate lives – but still – their future was bound to bring them together again.
Julia finds Gabriel at a night club drunk – and being pawed at by one of his graduate students. She finagles Christa out of the situation and gets Gabriel out of the club before she returns from the restroom – she takes him home, he kisses her, pressing her body up against the wall of his apartment and then promptly vomits on her. Julia cares for him, taking him out of his clothes, washing the sick off of them – and putting him into bed. This is when he see’s her in the moonlight through his bedroom window and calls her Beatrice…. and Julia grasps onto that sliver of hope that he remembers. She spends the night, wakes early to prepare him breakfast including a little hair of the dog, leaving him a note on the tray written in Italian of her love. She is dancing around in his living room, wearing only one of his t-shirts and boxer shorts. Not hearing him as her iPod plugged into her ears he startles her by yelling what the hell are you doing? She drops her orange juice – the glass smashing onto the floor along with her hope. He’s rude – and cruel to her. Not remembering a thing from the night before she gather’s her clothes and starts to head out the front door when he stops her, asking her harshly for an explanation of what happened the night before. Julia is stubborn – she leaves him standing in the doorway of his apartment in his boxer shorts as she makes her way to the elevator – he chases after her and as the doors are about to close, Julia finds recollection in Gabriel’s eyes as he calls out – “Beatrice?” She nods and says yes, you kissed me in an apple orchard once…. and the doors close as the elevator descends to the lobby.
Gabriel is stunned – thinking he had dreamed about the brown eyed angel in his apple orchard – coming to the realization that that evening in the orchard was just a vision to get him out of his drug induced haze – god’s way of giving him a second chance. When he had woken up that morning, he had gone walking to find a place to re-leave himself and to find some food for them to eat. When he had returned to the blanket his angel was gone – he was still quite drunk from the night before and wandered back to the house. When he passed out in his bedroom, his father woke him up abrupt and explained to Gabriel that they were escorting him to rehab. Gabriel asked his mother and father were Beatrice was, but they didn’t understand what he was talking about, assuming he was still intoxicated.
It wasn’t until 10 years later as he’s walking back into his apartment that the realization hit him that his brown eyed angel was real – his Beatrice was real – and he had been a complete ass to her.
Julia heads home and locks herself up in her apartment for days. Not going to class, not taking calls nothing. Gabriel comes to her apartment and stands in the rain hoping that she will answer his calls, answer his texts, his emails anything – but nothing. When his seminar class comes and goes without her presence he starts to fear something has happened to her. He writes her a letter, she tears it up, he sends flowers, she throws them onto the sidewalk. Her stubbornness out-weights her rational and she can’t face him. She’s really just giving him a taste of his own medicine. Since she’s been in his presence he’s been nothing but rude and hoity toity. Now that he realizes who she is he wants to make amends, but she’s not ready to allow him too.
Finally after a week or more she goes to seminar class – Paul having been concerned for her well being is relieved to see her in one piece. Gabriel see’s her in the main office retrieving things from her mailbox and changes his entire seminar class – hoping to get her attention and show her that he is remorseful for not realizing who she was. This blows up in both of their faces when they get into an argument about Dante and Beatrice – throwing in their own issues, along with Gabriel’s ex-girlfriend Paulina whom Julia believes he is still fucking – after he left her at dinner one night after Paulina had called him. Gabriel tells Julia in front of the entire class to meet him in his office after class – you can feel the tension leap off the page he’s so angry. Paul tries to get Julia to leave with him, to allow Gabriel to calm down – but Julia knows the real reason as to why Gabriel was so upset – airing out their personal issues in class under the disguise of Dante’s love affairs.
When Julia entered Gabriel’s office – the tension is thick – and a small IKEA chair is in pieces in the corner of his office – he is standing with his back to her – and scowls at her when he finally speaks – insisting that nothing like that ever happen again in his class – and that someone could have figured out their argument was personal and not a discussion in class. His tone is cruel – but she stands her ground and just as she is about to turn and leave he stops her – lightly touching her arm and asking her if she was giving up so easy, if this charade in his class was all for nothing – and why wouldn’t she talk to him, why wouldn’t she let him explain or apologize, why was she shutting him out just when they’ve found each other once again!
It’s all very tragic – and extraordinarily romantic….
The two start off slow – Gabriel is very slow in his seducing nature – he wants to care for her, and even though he never thought he believed in love, or that he was deserving of it – he finds himself of course, falling in love with his Beatrice… his beautiful, pure – brown eye’s angel….
But they can’t really be together – he’s still her professor, she his graduate student and the University of Toronto has a very strict fraternization policy that could land one or both of them in a lot of trouble if they dared continue their courtship. Gabriel insists that they can be friends, friends hang out – they have dinner – hold hands – kiss on occasion – perhaps even share a bed if they were to just hold one another. And they fool themselves in to believing they’re not breaking any rules as they continue their relationship throughout the fall semester – as far as going back home to Pennsylvania together for Thanksgiving to visit their family. Julia stay’s with Gabriel at his family’s home – as it is their first Thanksgiving without Grace. And Julia’s father is spending it with his girlfriend and her daughter, of which Julia is not a fan of…. seeing as she is the one that slept with her ex-boyfriend Simon – when she walked in on them in their dorm room having sex – to NIN – Animal…. this is why she still, to this day detests NIN or anything Trent Reznor sings.
Julia spends the afternoon with Rachel making cocktails and preparing for Thanksgiving Dinner – no one quite knows yet accept for Rachel, Aaron and her father – that Gabriel and Julia are a couple. Julia insists on hiding it from her father – whom believes Gabriel is still a drug addict he had to bail out of trouble when he was younger. Julia goes to her father’s house to spend some time with him for the holiday’s, when he gets a call that there is a fire at the local bowling alley and has to head in and aid with the volunteer fire fighters. When her father leaves, Julia continues wrapping up the wasted dinner and pies and hears the front door open – thinking it’s her father she starts unwrapping the food to make him a plate – but in walks Simon, her ex-boyfriend. He’s angry with her, as the last time he contacted her on her birthday Gabriel had answered the phone and basically told him to fuck off – not to contact her again. But Simon is convinced that Julia has some short of video or photographs of them in a compromising position that could hurt his politico Senator father. They argue, fight – and Simon pins Julia on top of him – scaring her, taunting her he bites he neck and draws blood – marking her and laughs. He say’s she’s finally going to give it up to him after making him wait all that time while they were together, and calls her as frigid bitch.
Julia kicks him and makes a run for it up the stairs, she kicks him again sending him flying down the stairs but not before he damages her ankle. She runs into her bedroom, throwing the dresser against the door and calls Gabriel on his cell phone – he doesn’t answer so she leaves a frantic message for him to come to the house that Simon is there and has attacked her – all the while Simon is breaking down the door and Julia is succumbing to the fact that he is going to rape her – and then kill her.
Just as Simon is breaking through the door she hears a car drive up and loud drums of someone running up the stairs – and then a loud thump – she looks out the window and see’s Gabriel on the front lawn punching Simon in the face over and over again, finally kicking him unconscious – yelling at him to stay down. The police arrive, Simon is arrested – and Julia goes to the hospital. Gabriel, his father and Julia’s father are all in the waiting room – waiting for any word of her condition and Gabriel lay’s into Julia’s father for leaving her alone in the house – and for giving Simon her phone number in Canada – and failing as a father to protect her. They argue and argue until Gabriel’s father steps in. Julia comes out – limping on crutches with a sprained ankle and a bandage on her neck from the bite mark – that will surely leave a scar. She refuses to go back to her father’s house, and goes home with Gabriel so he can take care of her. Now even his brother Scott realizes that they’re a couple – as he doesn’t understand why Gabriel would have ran to her rescue – believing that he’s just a selfish asshole. Simon is released on bail – and Julia and Gabriel return to Toronto to finish out the Fall Semester, which will mean they are able to date out in the open once she is finished with his seminar – and he finds her another academic adviser.
Gabriel is given an invitation in Italy to give a lecture on Dante during the Christmas holiday, to which he invites Julia. Her dream come true – spending the time away with the man she loves – in the country they both adore – that really brought them together. They have decided to wait to have sex for the first time – for when they arrive in Italy. Gabriel wanted to make it as special for her as possible – as romantic as he could – to show her that he loves not just her body, but her mind and soul. That her body was made to be pleased by him – and him alone… it’s deliciously romantic the things he say’s to her to prolong their love affair – without even being truly physically intimate. He’s trying to build her back up after Simon beat her down. He wants to convince her of her beauty, of her sexuality – that she is truly beautiful inside and out – and not the cold fish he made her feel like.
Gabriel also explains to Julia that he can’t be truly intimate with her until she knows all of his demons – that there are secrets he has that she may not approve of – that she might leave him over. Finally, he makes her dinner one evening and confesses what has been eating at them for weeks – the explanation of his Maia tattoo – and the reason he can’t have children. He confesses to her about Paulina – that she was a woman he went to college with – had a sexual relationship with – just sex. That she cared for him, but that he was so wrapped up in school and a growing cocaine addiction (to perform better in school) that he treated her abhorrently. And that Paulina had gotten pregnant – and even though at first he had said to have an abortion – and tossed her out – she kept coming back for more. She left a photo for him at his apartment one day of their baby and it finally hit him – he was going to be a father. He came home one evening in a drug addled haze, passing out on the couch – not even checking his apartment to see if Paulina was there – this was how little he cared for her. The next morning he found her passed out – covered in blood in the bathroom. She had been there all night – while he was passed out in the couch from a cocaine binge. She had lost the baby, nearly lost her own life – and ended up in a psychiatric ward for a time. Gabriel was determined to support Paulina financially after that – she had a hard life coping with what had happened and found herself in and out of jail for numerous drinking and driving charges. Her parents had disowned her when she found out she was pregnant – as Gabriel had refused to marry her. She had no one but him. Even after years separated – Gabriel would still run to her if she needed him. Out of guilt perhaps for the loss of his daughter Maia. Julia explains to him that she doesn’t hate him – and that he shouldn’t hate himself. That what happened to Paulina was tragic but it wasn’t his fault, a number of reasons could have caused the miscarriage. She proves to him that she loves him no matter what – regardless of his past. Even though, she still has reservations about his relationship with Paulina.
After the semester is over they leave for Italy, finally able to bring their relationship out of their apartments – and to show their affection for each other in public. They make love for the first time – and it’s everything and more that they could imagine – or we as reader’s could imagine. There aren’t words that can describe the passion and romance that Reynard writes with these two – its true romance, butterflies in the stomach – goose bumps on your body passion you feel through his words. (Yes he – the author is a he.)
They have an amazing vacation in Italy, traveling, making love, eating amazing food – everything you could possibly want. Gabriel was an amazing pursuer when he was courting her, but now that they have finally made love? He’s her lover in all senses… mind…. body …..and soul.
They return to Penzylvania in time for Christmas – and Julia mends things with her father. She even stands up for herself when Simon’s girlfriend, Julia’s old college roommate comes to confront her about the charges against Simon. Threatening her that if she doesn’t drop the charges she’ll put a video of Julia giving Simon a blow job all over the internet – Julia calls her bluff and walks off. Finally standing up for herself Julia walks out of the restaurant with her back a little straighter. Though, she makes her way to Gabriel’s family home – and they’re all sitting around enjoying each other’s company – a knock at the door comes and Paulina walks into the home. No one in the house realizes who she is accept for Gabriel, his father and Julia. The tension is thick – so thick you can’t breath. Julia leaves to go upstairs – leaves Gabriel to deal with her – to which he disappears for hours, taking Paulina to a hotel and telling her not to come back to his parents home. It’s nearly 3am when he return and finds Julia asleep in the guest room – not his old bedroom where they had shared a bed the night before. He explains the situation to her and Julia tries to reason that he needs to quit supporting her – that she will never be well if he doesn’t cut her off and make her stand on her own feet – she will always cause trouble in their relationship. He soothes her – they quit arguing – and fall asleep. The next day when they’re opening Christmas presents Gabriel opens the last gift under the tree addressed to him – but without a giver’s name. He opens it and finds a framed black and white photograph – of a baby…. of Maia that Paulina had left for him the night before. He stomps out of the house – through the back yard to their orchard.
She finds him – comforts him and finally he’s able to start picking up the pieces of his guilt and start putting it behind him.
They starts delving into the relationship – spending their nights together as Gabriel can’t seem to be with out her when he sleeps. He even visits her tiny little studio on occasion to share her bed. Then Julia is awarded with a letter from Harvard – she’s been admitted into their doctoral program for the following scholastic year – and given a hefty finance package that will allow her to go. She and Gabriel discuss how they will work their relationship being apart, Gabriel even suggest he’ll take a sabbatical to join her at Harvard for the first year – yet Julia still fears that they will be separated. Gabriel prepares a job application – somewhat hidden from Julia to one of the university’s in Boston so that they could be together – when he doesn’t get it, he’s devastated. But deep down – he knows no matter what they will find a way to be together. And things are finally starting to fall into place for these two – or so we think!
Isn’t that how it always goes?
Once they return to school Julia is contacted by the Dean’s office and notified that a complaint has been filed against her by a fellow student – with Gabriel’s aid she hires an attorney. Gabriel isn’t concerned at first thinking that their relationship couldn’t be the issue as they had been careful, she was no longer his student – and he had found her another academic adviser. But when Julia goes to the meeting she’s notified that Christa Peterson has filed a complaint against Julia for having an inappropriate relationship with Professor Emerson. As fate would have it, a man Julia briefly met in Italy at Gabriel’s lecture – had had an affair with Krista – and relayed information of Gabriel’s fidanzato (Fiance’) whom he had met at his lecture.
The jig is up – the cat is out of the bag – he’s caught with his pants down!
Julia wants to stand their ground – admit of their relationship and explain that they did nothing wrong – damned the consequences. Gabriel on the other hand is trying to keep Julia from loosing her academic career – a scandal such as this would follow her anywhere she studied and could jeopardize her ride to Harvard – including her admission if the collegiate investigators decided to take their precious time with a lengthy investigation, holding onto the grade Gabriel submitted on behalf of Julia’s adviser. On the eve of their meeting with the board, Gabriel goes to Julia’s apartment – climbing the side of the building up to her bedroom window and entering – he ferociously makes love to her up against the bathroom door – kissing her passionately – and deeply, trying to show her exactly how he feels through his touch – yet, he doesn’t say a word to her. They lay in her bed after their love making – he holds her in his arms inhaling the vanilla scent her hair often has… and leaves her in the night. Julia awakes in her tiny, cold apartment – alone.
Julia doesn’t see Gabriel again until their meeting with the collegiate investigators. Gabriel doesn’t say a word, allowing his attorney to do all the talking. He simply sits there motionless – not even making eye contact with her. After Julia stands up and outs them of their relationship – Gabriel tenses and realizes he doesn’t care about his tenure – or position – and sacrifices himself and their relationship to protect her. After Julia admits to the board that they were a couple – that he didn’t pressure her into anything – they were together of her own accord. Gabriel finally ends his silence and asks that Julia is removed from the room in order for him to give a statement. We have no idea what happens while they are in there – all we know is that Gabriel and his attorney enter the hallway to which Julia runs to him asking him frantically how it went. Gabriel barely acknowledges her – his attorney barking at her to leave him alone, that she’s done enough damage. Julia’s confused – and hurt that he’s not coming to her – no comforting words – no don’t worry – no I love you…
She realizes he’s given in – he’s given up on them and bowed out to keep his job. He cast her out – killed their relationship to keep his damned career!
She yells at him that they were supposed to be in this together! That he gave up on them without even giving her a chance! And that the night before, in her apartment – he had just merely fucked her against a door – Gabriel is breaking at her words – and tells her he has never just fucked her – and that is below her to even suggest it – he insists that she read the 6th letter to Helloise from Abelard and of course Julia misconstrues it as the ending of that ancient relationship consisted of Abelard’s castration and Helliose thrown into a nunnery after he was done with her – he merely cast her out. Gabriel should have known from previous conversations with Julia that she would see it this way – but he had to believe she would read the 6th letter and realize the true meaning of what was happening.
She’s crushed – and asked to re-enter the board room. She is confronted with the panel of collegiate investigators one last time – and told that she is free to go and no formal charges will be filed against her, and the grade that her adviser gave her for Professor Emerson’s seminar will stay the same. Julia walks back out into the hallway – she and Gabriel exchange one last glance – and depart out the doors…. she goes home confused, angry and upset. She can’t call him – she can’t go see him – yet when it’s become too much she does anyways. She wants answers – she wants an explanation that after everything they have been through – after everything they have been to each other how could he just throw her away like that? When she enters his apartment she finds it empty… he is gone… he’s left her… without so much as a goodbye.
AND we’re left with that bitch of a cliffhanger. Julia has to explain to her father that Gabriel has dumped her – and all but abandoned her – Rachel can’t imagine why he’s done it, because Julia had changed him – she made him whole. Julie has nothing left to do but prepare for her move to Boston – on her own – alone – with out her love by her side….
I’ve read and re-read this book a number of times – and listened to it’s audiobook countless times – if you’re into audiobooks, check this one out – the narrator John Morgan’s voice? Is exactly how you hear Gabriel as you’re reading – dreeeeeeeeamy!
Luckily though, we’re in for a treat this Christmas as he announced a third book – Gabriel’s Redemption!
Oh MORE Professor Emerson? Yes pleeeeease!
- Book Review: Gabriel’s Inferno by Sylvain Reynard (mymanybookboyfriends.wordpress.com)
- Man Candy Monday: Gabriel Emerson from the Gabriel series by Sylvain Reynard (bookishtemptations.com)