Danielle Steel, Author Delacorte Press $26.95 (336p) ISBN 978-0-385-31687-3
Marital abuse in its most insidious form is the focus of Steel's (The House on Hope Street, etc.) dependable page-turner, her 50th novel. To the outside world, Washington, D.C., television coanchor Maddy Hunter appears to have an enviable life. Married to her boss, former football star-cum-media mogul Jack Hunter, she's got brains, beauty, a prestigious job, a glamorous marriage and all the trappings of success. Yet Maddy--whose current husband saved her from a physically abusive former spouse--is trapped in another relationship that's as devastating and destructive as her first. Jack doesn't hit Maddy, but he subjects her to mind games, put-downs and constant undermining; it's obvious psychological abuse to observers, though not to Maddy. Using Maddy's participation in a commission on violence against women chaired by the nation's First Lady, Steel explicates the various forms of spousal abuse, and although the text occasionally gets preachy, the desperate plight of women who remain in destructive situations is clearly delineated. Meanwhile, Maddy warily builds a friendship with Bill Alexander, a fellow committee member and former ambassador to Colombia whose wife was killed by kidnappers. Maddy's experience interacting with women like herself and the appearance of a daughter she gave up for adoption as an unwed teenager (and whom Jack forbids her to see) both have an impact. Still, it takes a life-threatening event to convince her finally to change her life and accept the gift of a good man's love. Steel has her formula down pat, and she executes her story with her usual smooth pacing. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 10/30/2000
Release date: 10/01/2000
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