Where's Your Book Today?

That's what people always say to me at work, if I don't have a book or my PDA or my eBookwise Reader with me at lunch. I love to read and I guess it's obvious. So many books, so little time...and so much dust in my apartment.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

"Full Circle" by Paula Detmer Riggs

I don't remember what made me buy this book recently. Someone recommended it strongly and I found it used on Amazon.com.

The heroine, Jillian, is the mayor of a small California town and is the mother of a 14-year-old boy. She'd met the boy's father, Trevor Markus, when she was a nurse at an evac hospital for soldiers wounded during the Vietnam War (this book was published in 1989). He left her standing at the altar, never knowing that he was going to be a father.

Unknowingly (and this pushes the boundaries of belief), Jillian has been working with Trevor's company to bring a teenage drug rehab center into her town. The day the center opens, she learns that it belongs to the man who abandoned her ... and he learns he has a son.

This isn't just another category "secret baby" book. For one thing, it was published in September, 1989. We were still watching "Dallas," "Dynasty" had only recently gone off the air, and "LA Law" was still going strong. We were still in our conspicuous consumption mode, and the driven corporate male was supreme . I have some favorite authors who wrote then...Linda Howard, Sandra Brown, Jayne Ann Krentz...and the men were "alpha" males (although back then the romance buzz-words were "arrogant" or "primitive" or "commanding," rather than today's overused "dominant") who took what they wanted. The women gave token resistance, but quickly melted in his passionate embrace. She said "no, no, no" but he made her say "yes" and she loved it. Okay, I think you get the point.

I had to keep reminding myself when this was written, because otherwise, I'd have wanted to draw-and-quarter the hero. He left her humiliated and pregnant 15 years ago, and yet he's bewildered and angry that she can't just "get passed it and let it go." Eek. But when I reminded myself that many of the romances written back then had similarly arrogant (and clueless) heroes, I was able to get passed it.

This book also has a lot of exposition - the author just about beats you do death with the whole loved-her-and-left-her thing - both with flashbacks and pages of angsty introspective from the heroine. I had to force myself to get through the first few chapters, because I remembered the recommendation being so strong.

But once the book started into the action, this was not your every-day romance novel. You've got the whole Vietnam War veteran thing going. Then there's the struggle the hero goes through because he knows he hurt Jillian deeply. And of course you've got the fact that these two just have to look at each other and all the passion flares back to life. But the book also delves into the issue of drug addiction and prejudice against those who struggle with it. While I could see the big crisis moment coming a mile away, it wasn't handled lightly or given a quick, unrealistically perky hopeful ending.

In the end, I did enjoy the book and even had to look at a few of my own prejudices about drug addiction, having had brothers who struggled with it as teenagers and still have issues with as adults. I gave it a 4 out of 5 on my very subjective scale, after allowing for the fact it was published 17 years ago.

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