Mr. Elliott Finds a Family

 
Faith and Our Father
by Susan Floyd
(Harl. Super #983, $4.50, G) ISBN 0-373-70983-8
****
In Faith and Our Father, Susan Floyd takes a familiar plot - a single father and the woman who rescues him - and proves once again that a talented writer can transform an ordinary story into a moving reading experience.

Faith Weaver shook off the dust of Los Banos, California, when she was eighteen. Eighteen more years have passed, and during that time, she's only been home for brief visits. Now, however, she is between jobs as a nanny, and her sister has invited her back to Los Banos to help plan her parents' fortieth wedding anniversary party. Unfortunately, their anniversary is two-and-a-half months away, and Faith and her sister, Patty, aren't getting along any better than they did eighteen years ago.

Jay Whitfield is Los Banos' Most Eligible Bachelor and Faith's high school sweetheart. What he is not is a candidate for Father of the Year. When Patty asks Faith to deliver a casserole to Jay, Faith walks into a scene of mild chaos. Jay's sons - Andy, ten, and Sam, six - have left evidence of their after-school snacks all over the kitchen. Furthermore, the casserole Faith is delivering includes brussel sprouts, not the #1 ingredient on Sam and Andy's hit parade. They are both holed up in Andy's room, sulking.

By the time Jay has lured the boys out to meet Faith, she has the kitchen straightened up and ready for dinner. When, a few minutes later, Faith leaves Jay and his sons to dine on the objectionable casserole, she and Jay have independently acknowledged that the passage of eighteen years hasn't killed the attraction they once felt.

Both also realize that the person they are now attracted to is not the person they knew in high school. Jay has been married and widowed, has a practice as a CPA, and is a member of city council. His responsibilities keep him on the run 24/7, and his busy schedule will get even more hectic now that tax season is upon him.

Faith, on the other hand, has been a rolling stone. An accredited nanny, she has taken a succession of short-term jobs, lived - when she wasn't working - in rented apartments, and avoided any steady relationships. Nevertheless both Jay and Faith realize, somewhat reluctantly, that Faith is the perfect person to care for Andy and Sam until Jay can hire a permanent replacement.

Although Faith and Jay are attracted to each other, they have valid reasons for approaching a relationship with a good deal of caution. Jay loved his wife dearly and has dealt with her death by not dealing with it. Faith's re-entry into his life stirs up strong feelings of guilt - he feels as though the rekindling of his love for Faith is a betrayal of Becky. Since Becky has only been dead about four years, I found Jay's reactions convincing. Faith's hurdles are more complicated but equally persuasive. She comes from a family that defines the word "dysfunctional."

A strong supporting cast surrounds these two believably conflicted lovers. I was especially struck by Floyd's depiction of Jay's children. Sam and Andy came across as ordinary children - neither precocious nor bratty - who have had a difficult life and are reacting to that circumstance. In my reading, I have found that ordinary children are perhaps the most difficult for an author to portray accurately, and Floyd does a fine job.

I rooted for Faith and Jay to see how well they suited each other, found my eyes filling during some scenes with Andy and Sam, and appreciated Floyd’s depiction of the life of a small-town CPA. Add an easy-to-read writing style to those attributes, and Faith and Our Father sums up to a four-heart read.

--Nancy J. Silberstein


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