TBR Day. Dearly Beloved / Mary Jo Putney. 1990
This month's theme is Classic Romance. I really don't have anything left in my TBR pile that meets that definition. Since Mary Jo Putney has written at least one romance that I do consider classic (Shattered Rainbows, how I love you), I picked up this one, which is one of her earlier books.
Gentle reader, I could not read this book. I didn't throw it against the wall. I threw it away.
The book opens when a semi-drunk Gervase, having made a tryst with a serving girl at the inn where he's staying, stumbles upstairs, goes to the wrong room and proceeds to rape 15-yo Diana. Despite the fact that she's screaming her head off, he assumes it's the serving girl just playing games. Her screams bring her father who then forces the two of them to marry. When Gervase sobers up, he refuses to consider that he might have gone to the wrong room. He believes he was entrapped. So he writes a letter to his lawyer instructing him to pay Diana an annual allowance under the condition that he never see her again.
That's the first chapter. I decided to skip a few hundred pages and see if I could find any reason to keep reading. Stuff had happened. Diana was left pregnant. She makes a life for herself and her son. Then she must decide her life is boring, so she hies off to London so she can become a high-priced courtesan where -- ta-da! -- she runs into Gervase. She can't tell him who she is or she'll lose her annuity. But, hey, she'll become the mistress of the man who raped, impregnated, and abandoned her.
I skipped a bunch more pages. There's spy stuff and a villain and a cute kid. And love, I guess. They love each other, but can't be honest with each other. OK.
Oh look! The truth comes out! Gervase has been betrayed by her deception! She's evil, she must leave! Opps the villain tries to kill Diana. Gervase to the rescue. Love, love, HEA. No. Just no.
Warning! Major spoiler ahead:
See, one thing I did see as I skimmed the end was that as a young boy, Gervase had been raped by his own mother. He grows up traumatized and feeling self-hatred. Now, I have no intention of belittling what happened to Gervase. But how are we to believe that Gervase's behavior is acceptable while Diana's is not? In the few passages I read, I saw nothing in Gervase that made the way he treated Diana both in the beginning, and especially later when she finally tells him who she is, that made Gervase hero material.
Maybe, just maybe if I'd read the whole book I'd think differently. But I couldn't bring myself to do it. Not when I have so many other choices of reading material.