After eagerly anticipating Karen Ann Hopkin's debut novel for some time, I read it literally in one sitting, curled up on the couch. Temptation is one of those books that, even a few days later, I'm still puzzling over it, thinking back on it, and wondering where I stand. What I really loved a great deal about this book is that it made me THINK, and it did make me feel, but not as deeply as I expected, and I didn't fall in love with it or the characters the way I hoped I would. I can't say I hated it, but I can't say I loved it, either.
Told from dual, first person narratives, Temptation follows Noah and Rose, two teenagers who meet when Rose moves to the sleepy town of Meadow View. I didn't expect the multiple points of view, and although I really did enjoy getting both sides of the story, so to speak, both point of views being in first person didn't work for me. I rather wish one had been in third person to better distinguish the flow and the characters. Both Noah and Rose were fascinating characters in their own right, but they were also both flawed, and I think it's with them that my biggest issue lies with Hopkin's novel of a truly forbidden love.
Noah is Amish, and by all rights, the only way he and Rose can ever be together is if one of them leaves behind the only life they have ever known - and the problem is that neither of them are truly willing to make that commitment. I understood this more on Rose's part - she was more level-headed than Noah, who made some incredibly selfish and stupid choices throughout Temptation. At one point, my mouth literally dropped open at one of his ideas for how he and Rose could be together, and I wanted to reach into the book and shake him. No, Noah - just, NO. He and Rose had so many obstacles in their way, and I felt like instead of approaching them together, they were each fighting the battle in their own way, and ended up fighting each other on a few occasions. I felt like neither of them really GOT the gravity of the situation, and the choices they would be making, yet they were each all too willing to ask the other to make the biggest sacrifice of their young lives. They didn't work together, and I just couldn't wrap my head around them. They got to the sweet, falling-in-love-stage (and in a far too insta-love fashion and time frame for me) then they never progressed past it at all. I really disliked how they both kept trying to change the other or force one another to make poor choices.
I expected that I would love Temptation more than I did, but I found myself really disappointed in the romance. Yes, Noah and Rose were sweet, and yes, in a way, I DO want them to be together. But I never felt like they were really in love. I feel like, unfortunately, Karen Ann Hopkins spent an entire book telling me "these two people love one another SO much that they HAVE to be together," but she never showed me, and never fully sold me on Rose and Noah as a couple. They had amazing chemistry, but they rushed into their relationship SO fast. I feel like this is a story more of a first love - the bittersweet kind that settles into your heart and never fully leaves, but that isn't really meant to last - than of a mature love. In the sequel or sequels, I hope to see a LOT of growth from both Noah and Rose, if I'm going to support them being together.
What I did like about Temptation was the glimpse into Amish life. I used to read a great deal of Beverly Lewis's novels when I was a teenager, and they really helped me through some dark times. I may not understand many of the Amish's customs and ways, but I do admire them for choosing to live such brave, separate lives. It can't be easy growing up like that, omitting to that lifestyle - or maybe it is, like it was mostly for Noah, who didn't really know what he was missing, until Rose.
Something that, surprisingly, was missing for me was a real sense of faith or religion. It surprised me a great deal how little focus religion was in Temptation. And I know, I know, any other time I'd be saying a book was too preachy. But other than a few gatherings with Noah's family or the other community, religion came up a lot less than I expected. I honestly don't think Rose ever even states if she believes or not, and I think it's because I had prepared myself for a lot of religious overtones, that I'm actually sort of let-down that Rose and Noah didn't really talk about their religious beliefs. I feel like that should have been there for a bit more developement.
Overall, Temptation was not a BAD book. But it did have major flaws. It definitely reads, and I hate to say this, like a first book that could have used a good deal more polishing and thought put into it. Noah and Rose WILL tug at your heart-strings, but I went back and forth on them so many times that even in the end, I wasn't sure how I felt about them. To me, they are NOT a healthy couple, but like I said, hopefully with the sequel, Karen Ann Hopkins will give us more time to learn about them, and to see them grow into a mature couple. I'd like to see that, and further character development when it comes to the various secondary characters, like Rose's father and brothers, and Noah's parents. Give this one a chance though! You might like it more than I did!