Sunday, August 22, 2010

The Burning Point by Mary Jo Putney ***

This is Putney's debut contemporary, and to me it had the feel of those "best seller" contemporaries in the 80s and 90s, especially the lifestyle of the heroine's family - rich, debutantes, money, power. It appears to have been the first story in a trilogy "circle of friends" which is what the heroine, Kate, and her 4 best friends from school call each other.

The topic that keeps the hero and heroine apart is a fairly serious one that many romance readers found too controversial - spousal abuse. Generally, in romance, the heroine leaves the abuser and finds the hero, who helps her overcome it. In this case, the hero IS the abuser. Patrick Donovan grew up poor and abused, and apparently Putney considers his problem "impulse control" - Kate and Patrick marry young, he becomes obsessed with her, keeps her from her friends and whacks her when she's late or does anything else that upsets him. Especially if he's had a drink.

Kate leaves him but only tells one best friend and her brother why - oh, her brother's gay, and so both she and her brother are disowned at this point. The two of the flee to San Francisco, and her parents "adopt" Patrick, who becomes her father's right hand man/surrogate son. By the way, Patrick also thinks the gay brother is abominable. What a hero (NOT).

OH and the family business is blowing up buildings, something Kate has always wanted to be involved in, but Big Daddy doesn't approve of women in the field.

Ten years pass, and Big Daddy dies in a job-related accident. His will stipulates that Kate and Patrick have to give their relationship another try or neither of them gets the family business.

Aren't you just panting to find a copy? Somehow I fell into the trap of reading someone else's take on it and thinking it might be interesting. I already knew about the spousal abuse angle, and the post I read implied Putney had handled it very well. Maybe in that person's opinion, but not in mine. I think the most unforgivable part was the end where Kate decides SHE has the same kind of violent lack of impulse control in her that Patrick had in him just because she - twice - defended herself by hurting the attacker. Somehow that came across as her justification for forgiving Patrick.

So, we have a divorced couple getting back together, a dead father manipulating from beyond the grave, the gay brother, the Circle of Friends, and the family lawyer who was originally engaged to Mother but Mother broke it off when she met Manipulative Man. Lawyer went on to marry and love someone else who is now gone, so they are the perfect couple for our secondary romance.

Was that enough for a story? No, because there's also a possible bad guy messing with the family business.

I didn't hate it, but I didn't love it, so I gave it 3 stars.

No comments: