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Trials of Faith    by Crystal Ratcliff order for
Trials of Faith
by Crystal Ratcliff
Order:  USA  Can
PublishAmerica, 2002 (2002)
*   Reviewed by Melissa Parcel

College freshman Cassandra Smith's life has changed since she arrived at school. The freedom is seductive and she has been doing many things, of which she's not proud. Drinking, smoking, experimenting with drugs, and partying have become regular activities. She has turned from her religion and ignores every twinge of conviction she feels when she goes home for visits.

Cassandra begins to tire of the party scene. One night she meets an incredible man, Mac Lugot, who has accompanied his brother to the party. Mac is twenty-five and an established accountant. Sparks fly and the two start dating. Mac hires Cassandra to work as a secretarial assistant at his firm. After a few months Mac joins her on a trip home to meet her family, which is where he attends church for the first time. While Cassandra still runs from her beliefs, Mac begins to explore his and becomes a Christian. Eventually Mac lays it on the line with Cassandra. Either she figures out where she stands with God, or they will be unable to get married. Later, when the tables are turned, will Mac step up to the plate?

Trials of Faith takes a moving look at the choices we must all make in our lives. It was interesting for me to read about Cassandra's struggles at college because they mirrored my own in many ways. Readers who have gone through the transformation of working out the faith of their parents and making it their own, will identify with Cassandra. Unfortunately the dialogue in the book is stiff and unrealistic. For instance, I don't know of many college-age couples who call each other 'my darling.' And something about the writing made me feel like an uninvolved observer, rather than actually part of the story. I couldn't make myself care about the characters enough to be concerned whether they were together in the end or not.

That said, Crystal Ratcliff shows promise as a writer. I was interested to see that the next book featuring Cassandra and Mac, Trials of Love, is in the works. Readers who enjoy Christian romance will be pleased with Trials of Faith.

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