The unveiling of a set of priceless illustrations of Dante’s Divine Comedy at the Uffizi Gallery in Florence exposes Professor Gabriel Emerson and his beloved wife, Julianne, to a mysterious enemy.
Gabriel may have acquired the illustrations only a few years ago, but unbeknownst to him, they were stolen a century earlier from the ruler of Florence’s underworld.
Now one of the most dangerous beings in the city is determined to reclaim his prize and exact his revenge on the Emersons—but not before he uncovers something disturbing about Julianne…
Don’t miss the first novel in the Florentine series, The Raven, available February 3, 2015.
Praise for the Gabriel Trilogy
“The Professor is sexy and sophisticated . . . I can’t get enough of him!”—USA Today bestselling author Kristen Proby
“[In Gabriel’s Inferno and Gabriel’s Rapture,] I found myself enraptured by Sylvain Reynard’s flawless writing. Gabriel’s Inferno and Gabriel’s Rapture are books I will always treasure and are among my top ten reads of last year.”—The Autumn Review
“An unforgettable and riveting love story that will sweep readers off their feet.”—Nina’s Literary Escape
“Sylvain Reynard’s writing is captivating and intense . . . It’s hard not to be drawn to the darkly passionate and mysterious Gabriel, a character you’ll be drooling and pining for!”—Waves of Fiction
Sylvain Reynard is the New York Times bestselling author of The Raven and the Gabriel Trilogy, including Gabriel's Inferno, Gabriel's Rapture, and Gabriel's Redemption.
About the Author
Read an Excerpt
PARADISO, CANTO VI BY SANDRO BOTTICELLI
A lone figure lurked in the shadows outside the Prince’s villa, which overlooked the city of Florence. From the villa’s windows, one could enjoy an incredible view of the skyline—even at night.
Not that the figure was able to enjoy that prospect.
The Prince used strange magic to repel others of his kind, or so the figure averred. Half a block from the villa, which was more like a fortress, he felt nauseated and uneasy, his muscles twitching. No wonder the Prince had ruled the city for so long. No one was able to set foot inside his gates, let alone challenge him physically.
Tonight, however, the Prince would be challenged. And some of his most precious possessions would be taken.
In the distance, a key scraped in a lock and a heavy iron gate swung open. The figure’s spine straightened, his senses alert.
A middle-aged man clutching a leather bag began walking toward him.
The figure left the sanctuary of the shadows and crossed to meet him, moving swiftly and silently.
“Gianni?” he called to the man.
Gianni increased his pace.
“Master,” he murmured in Italian. He bowed deferentially.
The Master took the bag and opened it. His pale hands eagerly shuffled through the stack of priceless illustrations, counting them under his breath.
His gaze lifted to peer over at Gianni. “Is this all of them?”
“Yes, Master. One hundred in total.” Gianni’s eyes were wide, unblinking, as if he were in a trance.
(And so he was.)
“Did anyone see you?”
“No, Master. The servants are asleep and the Prince is not at home.”
“Excellent.” He grasped Gianni by the shoulder, forcing him to make eye contact. “You will return to the villa and retire to your room. In one hour you will awake and remember nothing that has passed between us.”
“Go. Be sure no one sees you.”
With another bow, Gianni returned to the fortress.
The Master watched as he closed and locked the gate, before entering the impressive building through one of the side doors.
The Master muttered a Renaissance curse, spitting on the ground. The principality of Florence should be his. For years he’d stood aside, watching, waiting for the day when he could seize control of the city.
On this evening, it seemed his patience had been rewarded. He’d undermined the Prince’s confidence in the security of his fortress and stolen his most precious possession. Surely he could wait a little longer to uncover the Prince’s secrets so he could destroy him.
His eyes alighted on one of the illustrations—a pen and ink drawing of Dante and Beatrice—before closing the bag and breaking into a run. In an instant, he leapt from the Piazzale to the road below and disappeared into the night.
The Prince of Florence stood on the first floor of the Uffizi Gallery, contemplating murder.
A crowd of the city’s human elite swirled around him—men in tuxedos, women in floor-length gowns—as the arrogant, insufferable Professor Gabriel Emerson filled the Renaissance structure with his insipidity.
The Prince had killed before. He was discriminate in his choice of victims and only on rare occasions did he take pleasure in it. This was going to be one of those occasions.
He was fleet of foot and cunning in the extreme, his supernatural strength compounded by his intelligence. No doubt he could reach the American professor and break his neck before anyone noticed something amiss.
The Prince fantasized about sprinting across the floor, executing the professor, and fleeing through a window before any of the one hundred guests paused in sipping their sparkling wine.
Human beings were easily deluded. Probably they would credit the professor’s death to a sudden, spontaneous stroke, having no idea what stood in their midst.
The Prince’s body tensed at the tantalizing thought, the muscles in his forearms contracting beneath the sleeves of his expensive black suit.
A swift death was not in keeping with the magnitude of the professor’s crime, which included considerable insult in addition to personal injury. The Prince prided himself in his commitment to justice (as he defined it), so he discarded the possibility of a quick execution.
The professor must be made to suffer and that meant his beautiful wife must suffer, also.
She was standing near her husband and wearing a red dress, the color of the garment acting like a flag before a bull. Certainly, she’d captured his attention.
He stared intensely, taking in every aspect of her figure.
As if she felt his eyes, her gaze moved to his.
She looked away quickly.
Mrs. Julianne Emerson was younger than her husband, petite, and in the Prince’s view, much too thin. Her eyes, which by all accounts were very pretty, were large and dark. Her face put him in mind of Renaissance paintings—elegant of neck and cheek.
The Prince indulged himself in admiring the professor’s wife as the fool droned on and on in Italian about how she’d persuaded him to share his copies of the original Botticelli illustrations. His ignorant remarks only fanned the flames of the Prince’s anger.
They were his illustrations, not the professor’s, and they were original, completed by Sandro Botticelli himself.
Clearly, the professor, in addition to being a thief, was a Philistine who couldn’t tell the difference between an original and a copy.
The Prince began constructing new and elaborate methods of torture, combined with a primer in art history, while ignoring the professor’s wordy praise for his wife’s philanthropic work with orphans and the homeless. Too many human beings hoped their deeds would cover their sins and save them.
The Prince knew too well the futility of good works.
The Emersons trafficked in stolen property. They had acquired artwork the Prince had tried to recover for over a century. In addition, they had the temerity to march into the Prince’s city, offer his illustrations to the Uffizi, (while claiming them to be copies), and make a spectacle of themselves. It was as if they had constructed the most detailed and elaborate way of inciting his ire.
Now their lives were forfeit.
The Prince continued to stare in the direction of Mrs. Emerson, his gray eyes unseeing.
Then, something caught his attention. For no apparent reason, the young woman blushed, gazing with longing and love at her husband.
In that instant the Prince was reminded of someone else—a woman who had looked at him with the sweet blush of youth and a heart filled with longing.
The old memory twisted inside him, like a snake.
“My challenge to you this evening is to enjoy the beauty of the illustrations of Dante’s Divine Comedy, and then to find it in your hearts to celebrate beauty, charity, and compassion in the city Dante loved, Firenze. Thank you.” The professor bowed as he concluded his remarks. He walked over to his wife and embraced her, to the sound of loud applause.
The Prince didn’t applaud. In fact, he scowled, muttering a curse about Dante.
He appeared alone in his contempt, the only member of the crowd of Florentine elite who did not clap. Certainly, he was the only one in the room who’d actually engaged Dante in direct conversation and informed the Poet he was an ass.
The Prince took no pleasure in the recollection. He disliked Dante then and now, and he hated the world Dante constructed in his magnum opus.
(The Prince did not consider the incompatibility between his love for Botticelli’s illustrations and his hatred for the text they figured.)
He adjusted the cuff links of his black dress shirt, which featured the symbol of Florence. He would follow the Emersons, and when they were out of sight of witnesses, he’d attack. He simply needed to be patient.
Patience was a virtue he possessed in abundance.
As the guests mingled and refreshments were served, the Prince kept to himself, eschewing conversation and refusing the food and drink on offer.
Human beings usually had one of two reactions to him. They either sensed he was dangerous and gave him a wide berth, or they stared, sometimes approaching him even before they realized they were moving in his direction.
He was handsome. One might even say he was beautiful, with blond hair, gray eyes, and a youthful appearance. His body, although less than six feet tall, was lean and muscular beneath his black suit. Given the power he wielded, his posture and movements were strong and purposeful.
He was the predator, not the prey, and so he had little to fear. In this room, for example, he had nothing to fear except exposure.
He nodded briefly at Dottor Vitali, the director of the Gallery, but avoided speaking with him. Indeed, the Prince’s anger also extended to the director, for he, too, had trafficked in stolen goods.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I found this story extremely intriguing and captivating! Sylvain Reynard has such a specific writing style, so eloquent, it almost has an old fashioned feel to it but it's modern and fresh. I don't know how to explain it but I really, really like it! Great introduction! It had this dark and mysterious feel to it and there's a great paranormal element at play. The Prince is fascinating and complex. I loved all the little details learned about him. There is definitely an interesting dynamic in the city where the Prince lives with those of his kind and I liked it a lot. I was excited and anticipating what would happen next. There was a nice amount of conflict in this with some action thrown in, my kind of story! I really liked how the story was laid out and got a good feel for the Prince’s world. All the characters that were introduced were interesting as well. I’m excited to see what will happen next. I really liked how Gabriel and Julia (from the Gabriel’s Inferno series) were tied into the story as well. They are always so romantic and sensual together and you could definitely feel that in this. I found the Prince’s fascination with the Emerson's extremely intriguing, he just couldn't seem to pull his thoughts away from them. Romantic and mysterious, beautifully written. I am highly anticipating The Raven now! Complimentary copy received for honest review.
The Prince is an intense introduction to Mr. Reynard’s new paranormal romance series, The Florentine, which also overlaps with his Gabriel’s Inferno series. Although I have yet to read the final book in the Gabriel’s Inferno series, I didn’t feel as though there was any information revealed in The Prince that would serve as a spoiler for Gabriel’s Redemption. On the contrary, it merely served to stoke a strong desire within me to buy the book so that I can spend some more time with Gabriel and Julianne because while The Prince may find Professor Emerson to be insufferable, I do not. Because The Prince is a cross-over novella, there are two storylines playing out. The first involves a set of Botticelli illustrations that the professor owns, illustrations that were stolen from The Prince over a century ago, illustrations that The Prince wants back and is willing to kill for. No, not willing to kill for, but rather he intends to kill for. During these parts of the novella, fans of the Gabriel’s Inferno series get to catch up with the couple – presumably after the third book – and see how their relationship continues to move forward. This storyline – The Prince’s revenge – does not play out in its entirety and fans must read The Raven to learn more. The other storyline is actually the introduction of Florence’s otherworldly underworld and its ruler, The Prince (and yes, that is the only name by which he is referred to or addressed as in the book). While it is clear that The Prince is not human, the book never comes out and states exactly what he is. That said, all hints, clues and innuendos point to him being a vampire and apparently a very old one at that. After a terribly executed and failed assassination attempt on his “life,” The Prince must prepare for war… And thus the stage is set for The Florentine series and my countdown to the release of The Raven begins. I received a complimentary copy of the book in exchange for an honest review. Reviewed by Angela at Crystal's Many Reviewers!
This was a good transition novella from Gabriel's world to the Prince's world. Seeing them overlap was interesting because we never had any indication of the supernatural in Gabriel's trilogy. There was the quest for betterment of self, but not vampyres. I found the Prince's fascination with the Emmerson's intriguing, and hope to see his mind changed on his plans for the Professor in The Raven, or the Shadow. So, now, I must read the Raven to find out more about the Prince :-)
Ruthless, cold, obsessed...the Prince is all this and more. I love that the Emersons make an appearance throughout the novella and hope they return in the Raven. So many new characters introduced in this and I just don't know who to trust; the danger, intrigue, and mystery is nail biting.
4,7* I read "The Raven" first and it did me no wrong :) and let me tell you, I'm more curious now. I welcomed the dark and all those stars in the sky, they look very appealing. As well for the Professor. Is it me or Florence makes Gabriel naughtier? Loved all those dark characters and I, now, need to know more about Niccolo, Lorenzo, Ibarra and Aoibhe. The Prince is a dangerous creature full of angst and shows no mercy, that inner battle worried me then and now, but would he change in the future? Ride on your Triumph and see your old friend Hope as much as you need! The last battle, the physical one on the roof scared me. I know there is that hint of righteousness in him and I hope the sequel to "The Raven" will make him peace. How could I forget Sylvain Reynard's writing style, never! It's tattooed in me. This Novella like any other work of art that Sylvain writes was beautifully crafted. Thank you Sylvain! Don't leave us hanging! I need the sequel!
This book is a wonderful blending of Florentine scenic descriptions with a riveting storyline. I didn't realize this book was out and first when I picked up the sequel, The Raven. I stopped The Raven to read this in order to enjoy the full array of the storyline and it was absolutely a great and quick read. You will love it. Happy Reading.
Horrible storyline. If I wanted to read a supernatural book, I would have read one. Why throw in two non-supernatural characters from a non-supernatural series like an afterthought?
i liked this. very good introduction to the new series.
Intriguing turn in the saga. I love the overlap.
I enjoyed the Gabriel trilogy, but I'm not so sure about this change in direction for Sylvain Reynard. Vampires???
NUMBER OF HEARTS: 3 REVIEW: After reading Gabriel’s series I was super excited to learn the Sylvain was going to be doing another series. To say this series is going to be a tad bit different would be a total understatement. The Florentine series has a huge paranormal element to it. That being said The Prince connects The Florentine series to the Gabriel’s Inferno series. which means I hope we get to see more of Gabriel in the future. Until then I can’t wait to get a my copy of book one The Raven. Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this book from NetGalley & PENGUIN GROUP Berkley, NAL / Signet Romance, DAW in exchange for an honest review. This review is my own opinion and not a paid review.
The Prince was a very interesting and quick read. It takes place in Italy, where the Prince (Who turns out to be the Ruler for all supernatural beings) is angry that Gabriel Emerson has stolen or illegally obtained his artwork. Artifacts that were stolen from the Prince centuries ago. Because of this, the Prince believes that justice must be served and Gabriel has to be killed, but things don’t go according to his plan thankfully. His attention is diverted momentarily when there is an attack on Florence. It was great to see Gabriel and Julia make a little appearance again. I think they will always be one of my all-time favorite couples. But make no mistake; this series is not really about them. I liked learning more about the Prince and his motives. He seems to be a very intriguing and complex character. Sylvain Reynard has introduced us to a brand new world that is supernatural, suspenseful, mysterious, romantic, and dark. I cannot wait to see how this series develops. This novella definitely wet my appetite for Sylvain Reynard’s upcoming book, The Raven. *I received a copy of this novella from the publisher, plus I also bought my own copy.*
There are so many things to be said about SR's writing and this new venture into the Paranormal. World-building as a whole is difficult. To build a world that already exists in another world? Genius. Yes, this directly parallels with the Gabriel's Inferno series and it's done in such a genius way that I'm in awe. So much of SR's writing is lyrical and poetic. Richly described and ornately executed. This novella, though short, is no exception. There are so many subtle hints and teases throughout this book that I think THE RAVEN is going to just blow the doors off of this genre with it's new and different approach to the paranormal.
3 - He was the predator, not the prey. Stars. The Prince is a really great bridging novella, seamlessly blending the past with the future, by offering glimpses of Gabriel and Julia Emerson from the unforgettable Gabriel’s Inferno Series, as well as introducing the reader to the elusive Prince of Florence, and how their lives come into contact as a beginning to The Florentine Series. There are a few little teasers and a lot of scene setting going on in this novella as well. The light and beauty of the Florence you view when you read of Gabriel and Julia’s times visiting the city, as well as the darker, harsher and wholly different underworld of Florence that you get to glimpse through the eyes of The Prince and his subject’s. A teasing, and intriguing start to the The Florentine Series, Sylvain Reynard’s The Prince offers the reader, just the merest taste of the thrills and spills that can be expected in the forthcoming release The Raven which is due for publication on 3rd February 2015, I am looking forward to continuing the adventure! ARC generously provided via the publisher, in exchange for the above honest review.