Thursday, October 30, 2014

Palm Beach

By Pat Booth

Reviewing this story is like repeating gossip. It is too unsatisfying to leave the juicy bits out. So be forewarned, I will be including spoilers!
Lisa Starr was born on the wrong side of town. She was born where the servants of the right side live. Her mother was a maid and her "father" was a carnival worker. I use quotes because there is some doubt as to who Lisa father really was, the carny or Sen. Stansfield, whose house the mother cleaned.
So although Lisa's beginnings were humble, she was no ordinary girl. Blessed with extreme good lucks and a strong work ethic, she raised herself up from tragedy and loss, to running her own gym, catering to the high class, wealthy ladies of the right side of town: Palm Beach. And that was her entree to the place she wanted to be, to the people she wanted to associate with. Her mother had raised her on dreams of Palm Beach and Lisa's ambition was to be part of that high society.
Lisa became friends with one of the chief lights of Palm Beach society, Jo-Anne Duke. Jo-Anne had achieved her place in that society by marrying one of the wealthiest bachelors in the area. What her husband didn't know about his wife, or rather, found out too late, is that Jo-Anne, before her days as a model, was a prostitute. And also a lesbian. And that is what brought her to Lisa's gym, lust for Lisa's body. Jo-Anne introduced Lisa to her circle and that is how Lisa met Bobby Stansfield, son of Sen. Stansfield and (possibly) Lisa's half-brother. Lisa and Bobby were immediately attracted to each other and fell very much in love.
When Jo-Anne's husband tried to force her to divorce him, she killed him.  With the inconvenient husband out of the way, Jo-Anne sets her sights on Bobby. In order to break up Bobby and Lisa, she lies and tells Bobby Lisa is a lesbian. She also informs him that Lisa's mother used to work for Bobby's parents as a maid. Well, Bobby, who is a US Senator like his dad was, has ambitions of gaining the White House and everything Jo-Anne says resonates deeply with him, and he dumps Lisa, even though she is pregnant with his child, and ends up marrying the evil Jo-Anne.
But Lisa now has connections and a marriage is arranged with a wealthy and horny old man, Vernon Blass. Lisa's baby will be acknowledged as Vernon's and Vernon will make Lisa his sole heir. But on the wedding night, Lisa finds out Vernon wants her to join him in a threesome with a teenage whore and Lisa immediately leaves him and moves to Europe. She also leaves her baby with him since she feels no motherly love for the infant son of the man who dumped her so unkindly. She has decided she is going to learn the publishing business so when Vernon dies she will be ready to take over his specialty publishing house, which is exactly what happens. Only she makes the business successful and becomes a powerhouse in the industry.
Meanwhile, her son is growing up. Scotty is a confused and unhappy young man who can't grasp what he did to earn his mother's indifference. One day, he discovers the enmity Lisa has for the evil Jo-Anne. Desperate to please his mother and win her love, he hatches a plan. He will seduce the evil Jo-Anne and her innocent and lovely young daughter, Christie. Then he will expose his affair with Jo-Anne to poor Christie and ruin both their lives at once, which he proceeds to do. What he doesn't know, in the process of seducing Christie, is that she is his half-sister. The two kids find that out afterward. Christie forgives Scotty for his cruelty and then Scotty tells her what he has found out about his mother and grandmother and that he is a Stansfield not a Blass. Amazingly, Christie is not at all fazed by the fact that she had sex with her brother, explaining to him, "I don't even regret it. I remember it, and it was the best moment of my life so far. I loved making love to you because I loved you, Scott. And I still love you now."
Meanwhile, Jo-Anne is giving into her lesbian yearnings and picked up a young black prostitute but runs afoul of the prostitute's pimp and is murdered, thus clearing the way for Lisa and Bobby to reconcile and marry. And it is never revealed if  Bobby and Lisa are actually half-siblings. The end.

I enjoyed this story despite its rather contrived plot. It's like reading a soap opera, silly and unlikely but still entertaining. It does have several rather graphic sex scenes, if you like that sort of thing. I don't, I generally skip over those parts.
Of course, nowadays, the question of paternity is easily solved through a DNA test but that wasn't widely used or accepted at the time this novel was written in the early 1980s.
According to an article I read,,,20092352,00.html this book is based on some real life persons. I recommend reading the article if you are curious about its author and the novel's background.
Interestingly, the author made a prediction about politics that turned out to be true. Bobby's mother is advising her son about politics, saying, " I think you should stick with the zealots, Bobby. They may sound a bit fanatical today, but the way things are going, yesterday's conservatives seem like closet socialists now."  The author was spot on about that.

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