Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Publication Date: 3/25/14
Rating: 4.5 stars
Number one bestselling author Jane Green gives a powerful portrayal of a marriage rocked by betrayal in the stunning Tempting Fate.
When Gabby first met Elliott she knew he was the man for her. In twenty years of marriage she has never doubted her love for him - even when he refused to give her the one thing she still wants most of all. But now their two daughters are growing up Gabby feels that time and her youth are slipping away. For the first time in her life she is restless. And then she meets Matt . . .
Intoxicated by the way this young, handsome and successful man makes her feel, Gabby is momentarily blind to what she stands to lose on this dangerous path. And in one reckless moment she destroys all that she holds dear.
Consumed by regret, Gabby does everything she can to repair the home she has broken. But are some betrayals too great to forgive?
I am a long time fan of Jane Green's, and was a bit blown away when I received a request to review Tempting Fate. Green's novels played a huge part in my early to mid-20s, and I will always hold a lot of affection for her work. However, despite my being a fan, I did go into Tempting Fate with some hesitation due to the subject matter. I don't typically have a lot of luck with books about cheating within a marriage, with Covet by Tracey Garvis-Graves being the only one that I can remember truly loving.
When I was younger and considered myself to be quite smart, I thought the world was black-and-white. Right is right and wrong is wrong. If you cheat you are a filthy person and you deserve everything coming to you. And while that is often true, I now know that there are many, many shades of gray in the world. And when I see this happen in a relationship, I now first say to myself "I wonder what was going on behind closed doors". I honestly don't try to give other couples relationships too much thought, it's enough responsibility to make sure that my own is in a good place, but I do realize now that many different elements can contribute to leading people down a different path.
However, I cannot connect with a book with this subject matter when it is romanticized, when the character(s) do not face realistic consequences, and when it feels as if the events are meant to be salacious or erotic rather than portraying a crisis of character, a moment of weakness, and examining how the protagonist ended up in that situation. For me, it can't just be "the guy is hot, and no one understands me". I want to know what has driven the character to risk everything, and what are the consequences. The reason I am apparently writing an essay on marriage and infidelity is that I feel as if I need to explain why Tempting Fate worked so well for me. It's weird that I feel as if I need to explain or defend my position on the subject matter, that's not my responsibility. But I do know that many, many readers will look at the book description and immediately make snap judgments and assume the book is not for them. And, I respect that opinion. But I do know that it worked for me and it will work for many other readers, particularly those who enjoy Women's Fiction.
Once again, Jane Green has delivered a novel that many women will connect with. While we may not all undergo the same circumstances, I think many will see pieces of themselves in Gabby and in her marriage. Let me be clear, Gabby makes multiple wrong and hurtful decisions. She goes into the situation innocently, but soon realizes that she's flirting with disaster, does not stop herself, and hurts the ones she loves. It's sad, and it can be infuriating. But what makes Gabby such a sympathetic character is that Green gives her a strong sense of self-awareness. You see all the small moments that lead Gabby astray. They don't excuse her behavior, but you understand her. No one can be as hard on Gabby as she is on herself.
When I began Tempting Fate I assumed that the story would be leading up to Gabby's presumed betrayal of her marriage. While that is the impetus for the plot, Tempting Fate is just as much about the aftermath, and every decision and consequence that comes after. What happens with her husband, her children, the other man, her best friend, and even her mother. What makes this interesting, is that despite the bad decisions, I never felt as if there was a true "bad guy", even in regards to Gabby and the Matt, the other man. They're misguided and make selfish decisions, but are essentially nice people who feel remorse. And her husband Elliott, he is a great man. As far as the marriage goes, hurtful decisions were made and some things can be unforgivable. But I also know a shared history, a deep bond, and the love that comes from knowing someone as well as you know yourself can also overcome a lot. And in the end, that is what Tempting Fate was about for me. Every aspect in regards to the betrayal and the marriage are handled thoroughly and carefully. No one gets a pass and I appreciate that Green did not rush.
I recognize that this review is more about my personal feelings, and the aspects of Tempting Fate that I connected with, more than the technical aspects of the plot and writing. But to be honest, when I read this book, that is what I was truly focused on. The third person present tense that Tempting Fate employs actually isn't my favorite narrative style, but I was so focused on the story that it didn't even register after the first paragraph. And maybe the ending was a bit too tidy, but by that point, I was truly satisfied with the way things turned out. I had traveled a huge emotional roller coaster with Tempting Fate and when I reached the end, I was happy that I got on.
I realized Tempting Fate will not work for all readers. But I do believe that if you do enjoy give it a chance and allow the entire journey to play out, you might end up like I did, happy to have read such a honest and emotionally captivating story.
Elliott was what she was looking for. From the minute he started talking to him he made her feel peaceful. It was as if she recognized him. There were no violins, halos, no crashing stars and bolts of lightning. It was simply a quiet recognition.
You, she thought, I know you.
And it is peace that has been the defining factor of their relationship. Unlike her childhood, where she never felt particularly wanted, or noticed, or happy, or safe, she feels all of these things with Elliott.
They have built a beautiful life together, with beautiful children, a beautiful home.
Why on earth, Gabby thinks, as she closes the front door after the girls have gone to school, would I do anything to screw this up?
She became addicted to the thrill, the roller coaster of highs when he emailed, the lows when he didn't. Looking back, which she tries not to do, she can only think of it as an addiction; short-lived, intense, unmanageable. It poured over her, leaving no room for reason or rationale. She couldn't have stopped it even if she'd wanted to. And she did want to, she never wanted it to go as far as it did. She just wanted to feel beautiful for a bit longer; to feel alive; to feel wanted.
Audiobook lovers: I have a sample of the Tempting Fate audiobook to share with you, narrated by a author Jane Green. This sample is courtesy of Macmillan Audio.
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