Monday, June 10, 2013

Book Review: Divine Temptations by Nicki Elson

by M. J. Joachim

Community is an amazing thing requiring the essence of a delicate balance, where unique and intriguing personalities develop relationships forming the rhythm of life, as it rejuvenates itself day after day amidst mundane routine, expected trials, overwhelming joys and unexpected tragedies. Familiarity is constant for most, while belonging takes effort and a willful desire. 



It is easy to relate to Divine Temptation’s main character, Maggie, a working mom, divorced mother of two – not because I’ve ever been one, but because it is such a common occurrence in today’s society. As a cradle catholic, it was also way too easy for me to relate to the setting for Nicki’s story – I know well the large and small communities that play off each other, necessarily and unnecessarily clamoring for a brighter spotlight. The dynamics for such a setting, however, could take place almost anywhere, a large corporation, hospital, PTA etc. Politics seem to be just about everywhere in real life, which makes the backdrop of this story easy to identify with, even if one isn’t familiar with catholic communities and rituals.

Most Catholics won’t refute that guardian angels are real – it’s something we believe by faith; Maggie clearly needed hers throughout the story. She was faced with the ultimate task of dealing with way too many personal obstacles simultaneously, and in her need to feel like she belonged (a sense of community), she blurred the lines of physical and spiritual realms. It’s not unheard of, even if it isn’t commonplace. More than this, however, Maggie became vulnerable. In other words, she was an easy target.

It’s what happens when life is constantly throwing lemons at us, and we simply don’t have enough sugar to make lemonade. In our efforts to substitute with something, anything, we sometimes have the tendency to get lost by the twists and turns of the journey, ultimately making it impossible for us to see the forest through the trees. It’s a cliché, I know – but when you read the book, you’ll see why it fits so perfectly in this review. 

I wish I could say Maggie was going along minding her own business and was merely a product of circumstance, but she wasn’t. She was a messed up character determined to make readers see those less than admirable qualities in ourselves. She was a woman trying to do her best in life, all while rebuilding her life into what it might have been, should have been, could have been. And she was a “real” woman with needs and desires every real woman has.

Along comes Mr. “I don’t know my purpose, but I’m here to be a shoulder for you to cry on if you need it,” Guardian Angel, who Maggie affectionately names Evan. Friendship develops, turning into passion and lustful desires both Maggie and Evan must fight to control, and well, you can imagine how quickly things get complicated, can’t you? No, probably not, because Nicki doesn’t hold back when describing the intimacy that finally takes place between Maggie and Evan. 

Except it doesn’t…

Not really…

The ultimate battle of good against evil rears its ugly head once more, only this time, Maggie’s vulnerability has gotten her into some serious trouble – the kind that priests are willing to die for in the battle to save souls at any cost. This time Maggie must finally step up to the plate and become who she was always meant to be, a woman of substance who doesn’t blur the lines of physical and spiritual realms – a woman of humility who accepts responsibility for her actions and owns up to her human failures when things go wrong, as we all know they have a tendency to do sometimes. 

No longer the victim, Maggie transforms into a woman with newly discovered strength that has the power to make a difference, as she acknowledges her true place in the many communities that make up her world. She accepts the consequences of her actions, recognizing how they affect so many more people than those in her immediate circle. 

Divine Temptation is definitely being added to my Recommended Reading List. This book was intense, more than a little hard to put down, even to take time out for a meal or to switch the laundry. The message was startling, real and relatable, while the fantasy kept me focused and eager to find out what happened next. From beginning to end, Divine Temptation by Nicki Elson captured my attention and let me escape into a world unknown, all the while sharing an important message (subtly hinted at and revealed in the background). It’s like the music that makes the theater come alive. You’re there for the characters, but the music touches your soul.




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Thank you for visiting Writing Tips.

M. J. 

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