As stated above, for $700 you can, and should, get two guns. For your carry gun, a smallish revolver in 38 Special or .357 mag (you can shoot 38 Spls in a 357 mag but not the other way) would be a good choice as would a semi-auto in 9mm. Both rounds are plenty for personal protection and are quite inexpensive compared to other cartridges. For revolver brands I would stick with S&W, Ruger, and Colt (these last would have to be used). I prefer the medium sized, 6 shot guns with 4" barrel as they are pretty forgiving to the beginner but can be a bit big for some to carry. The snub nose revolvers are smaller but are more difficult to use well. For the 9mm I would go with S&W, Glock, Beretta, SIG, Ruger, Browning, Springfield, or any of the other bigger names. These can be found in the $450 range (or much less for the Ruger) especially if used.
The other gun I would suggest would be a .22 LR rimfire. These are fun guns and one can buy a brick of 500 rounds for slightly more than the price of 50 9mm/38 Spl. This is very conducive to learning to shoot well as one can shoot alot for little cash. Inexpensive, decent quality revolvers are tough to find in this cartridge but one can find them if they look. In the semi-auto things are much easier. Ruger, Browning, S&W, and others make very good quality handguns in the $250 range. theya re quite dependable and are very accurate. One can also get .22 LR conversions for many of the larger handguns like the 1911, Beretta, and other brands. These have the advantage of being able to practice with the same gun you will possibly be carrying and can be found for not much more than a .22 handgun.
I wouldn't get one of the big guns yet, they are much more in the cost and recoil department than you need, especially when trying to learn proper technique. The same goes for the super small guns and I would almost count the small snubnose revolvers in this catagory. The light weight and small size of these guns make it much more difficult for a beginner to learn with as improper technique is magnified. The real big and real small guns are not the best for beginners as good technique is critical for the best use with them. In any case, some instruction from a good instructor or coach will go much further in developing skill than the same amount of money going into ammo and range fees.