Tempting Faith by Crystal Hubbard
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I remember when I realized I was in love with Keanu Reeves. It was when I watched Point Break. The scene when Keanu is soaking wet, and looking over his shoulder. The water was dripping off his black hair, and made his shirt cling to the taut muscles of his chest and biceps. It was love as only a fifteen year old girl can feel. It was a profound feeling. Yet, I can't imagine how Faith must have felt when she looked at the big screen, and she realized the man she was in love with, the man she lost, was on the big screen. Such is the story behind this wonderful novel.
Ten years ago, Faith and Alex formed a connection in a little town in West Virginia called Booger Hollow. They couldn't have been more different, and not in the obvious way. Alex was dirt poor, considered trailer trash. Faith was the pampered daughter of one of the richest men in town. But they were friends. They were deeply in love. A deadly storm took Alex away from Faith. And her heart with it. But she moved on.
Thus, seeing the very man she loved so very much on the movie screen was a painful moment. To think that Alex wasn't dead at all, but was now Zander Baron, movie star. Faith is in the position to find out what and who Zander really is. To make him face his past. She is a reporter for a celebrity magazine, and asks her editor for his story.
However, when Faith and Alex reconnect, they both realize that the story is nothing compared to the fact that their love never died, but is stronger than ever.
This book is one of those that sinks into you. It makes your stomach hurt as you ponder the incredible gift of true love, but have to face that true love doesn't solve all the problems in the world. Yet, there is the hope that love does conquer all. I felt it so profoundly, I had to put it down at times before I could muster the courage to keep reading. (It sounds silly, but it's so true).
I was prepared to be angry at Faith, thinking she would sell her love for Alex out for her revenge against him, and for a big headline. Thankfully that is not the case. Faith is a character you cannot help but love and like. She's kind, loving, and has not forgotten where she came from. She might have been a rich kid growing up, but she never acted like it. In fact, she one of the few people who gave Alex unconditional love and acceptance. My heart ached for what she suffered, thinking the boy she loved had died.
At the same time, my heart bled for Alex/Zander. If you like tortured heroes, you'll love Alex. It was intensely painful to read the flashbacks and to see how he suffered at the hands of his parents, and at the indifference and scorn of the townspeople. He was beaten and starved by his father, humilated and ignored by his mother. You wonder how people can be so cruel and hateful. I could see why he shook off the dust of that town and never looked back. But he never forgot about Faith. It seems callous at first glance, the way he walked away from her, but you have to look deeper. Faith was an unreachable dream. Faith was way too good for Alex in his mind. He thought he was doing what was best for her.
I feel sad at the ten lost years between Alex and Faith. But then I had to look at it the way I try to look at unfortunate events in real life. If the bad doesn't happen, how can the good happen? Alex needed to build his life and make something of himself. Find the self-confidence and self-worth he needed to know that he was worthy for Faith. That he was worthy period. Her saying it might not have been enough, you see.
This was a beautiful, heartfelt book. Ms. Hubbard shows her incredible, deft skill as a writer in the crafting of this love story. She manages to write a story that will break your heart with the poignant angst of young love lost and pain suffered from the cruelty of humanity, yet make you laugh out loud in other scenes. She ably juxtaposes the lazy rhythms of small-town life against the fast-paced, larger than life happenings of Southern California with all its glamour and glitz.
I used to live in Southern California, and I can testify that Ms. Hubbard captured it so well. The beauty of the mountains, the arid desert, the beautiful surf, the natural loveliness that seduces and captivates you. In sharp contrast to the facade of glitz that is Los Angeles and Hollywood. She made me miss the beauty of the setting of Southern California, but reminded me that I was glad I came back to Texas and the simple good things it had to offer this soul.
I liked that she showed how well Zander and Faith were able to adapt to the environs and the lifestyle of Southern California, but didn't lose their innate sense of what is valuable in life. Had she not done this, I probably would not have enjoyed reading about fancy clothing, expensive wine, and glitzy parties. Yet I did, because it showed how flexible and multi-layered our protagonists are. And at the same time, it made me glad that they both made it out of Booger Hollow and forged lives for themselves.
The most powerful aspect of this story was the strong, intense bond between Faith and Alex/Zander, one that never died, even though life had separated them for ten years. The love scenes are very detailed, almost erotic. But they have a beauty because they show that the attraction between Faith and Alex comes out of their intense love for each other, and the power of them expressing their connection physically.
I like that although there is some conflict between Faith and Alex, it's not so ugly that you feel their love is compromised. They have some issues to work through as Faith wants Zander to remember who he is and embrace the man she fell in love with. Zander wants to let go of the past and the ugliness of it. I could identify with both of them. You can't know who you are, unless you know where you came from. And you can't reach full potential, if you can't put the past into perspective and nullify its ability to cripple your growth. I think that Zander just had to be ready to face who he was in all ways. He needed the right catalyst, and he found it.
I can't say how much I loved this love story. It's very modern in some ways, but timeless at the same time. It reaffirms the power of the bond of love. How two souls can meet and become connected in a way that nothing can sever. People can go out of each other's lives (and live separate from each other), but when they come back together, their love is stronger because it never perished despite the time spent apart, and they have each grown as human beings fully able to realize that love. I'm such a romantic. I know that. I'm glad that Ms. Hubbard is too. This book surely shows that she is. Thanks for writing this fantastic love story, Ms. Hubbard.
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