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Immerse yourself in a historical romance of life in and around San Francisco from the madness of the 1849 Gold Rush until well after the upheaval of the 1906 earthquake. Existence is harsh in California on the hills and beside the rivers of this land extending from the Pacific Ocean to the Sierra Mountains. Survival is tenuous for children and adults alike. Adults who dominate the landscape are driven by greed. The brawn of men and the allure of women combine with luck and intelligence to bring success for a select few. Children are not welcome. They hinder the progress of the ambitious. Infant mortality is high. Most children expire before age six. Those who endure are not pampered. They are compelled to work long hours to earn their keep.
Undaunted or perhaps spurred by this hardship, an impoverished young girl with astonishing sensual beauty strives for a life of luxury and prominence. Residing and working in her mother's boardinghouse, Faith discerns from childhood that men gravitate toward her with fervid ardor. Although flattered, she is disquieted at times by the intensity of their attention. Insightful and shrewd, Faith over time becomes confident of manipulating men’s urges to her advantage. With opportunities for any poor female limited to nonexistent, she decides her only path to affluence is through marriage to a man of great wealth. Aware that her lack of social polish precludes a relationship with a man of means outside clandestine bedrooms, she determines to overcome this deficit.
In 1874 at age ten, Faith meets a nineteen-year-old beauty of some sophistication. During the week the young woman boards with her husband (who is in his forties), she becomes Faith's mentor. She guides Faith to exploit her feminine wiles to obtain the skills necessary for acceptance in opulent circles. Subsequently, Faith subdues any male who might contribute needed knowledge or abilities. Each is convinced his charm is bewitching her. As Faith showers her passion upon him, he tumbles blissfully into her web, dutifully obeying her slightest whim. In the urgency of his lust, he fails to note her cunning nature. Once his usefulness is extracted, each in turn is ruthlessly cast aside. Desperate attempts of the rejected to regain her perceived adoration are instantly quashed. Anyone who dares divert or block this young lady from her goal quickly discovers that this is not a girl to be trifled with.
Cocksure of herself at age fourteen with the appearance of one much older, Faith sets her sights on a prosperous and savvy forty-niner bachelor four times her age. His lust and her ambition kindle this May-December romance into a conflagration. Her task is to maintain his devotion. Many a young lady has pursued him and failed. He will not be easily brought to the altar. The successes and failures of her endeavors to manage her destiny are spellbinding. As the story unfolds, Faith is sure to gain your respect but probably not your admiration. Some of her methods are shocking. Long after the final page is turned, lasting impressions of Faith's crafty behavior will haunt you.
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