With many books, despite having reservations about wholeheartedly recommending them, I can at least point out an audience that might find some aspect of the book enjoyable. For example, the marriage of convenience plot is a favorite of mine, and I can usually enjoy a less than stellar book with this storyline. Despite that, Satin Sheets has no redeeming factors and there is nothing in it that would inspire me to recommend it to anyone. From the very first page, I could tell it was going to be difficult to get through, and I wasn’t proved wrong.
The story opens at the wedding reception for the hero and heroine. While Brad and Michele don’t know each other well, their rich families convinced them to marry in order to keep the money which derives from the family business within their generation. The marriage of convenience feels out of place in this contemporary story, and the reasons for it don’t seem quite convincing. The two families are related only by business, so it’s unclear how Brad and Michele’s marriage is crucial to the future of the company. The business is solvent, and Michele has no interest in it herself, so I found it quite confusing as to why neither of them was able to stand up to their families.
Michele owns a growing interior design business. Her family is highly disapproving of a woman working for herself, and don’t understand why she can’t be satisfied being a wife and mother like her mother and Brad’s. Brad, on the other hand, is very dedicated to the family business, which seems to be advertising, and has to make numerous trips out of town. Luckily, Brad has his skanky secretary/ex-girlfriend Ruby to accompany him. Unfortunately, he is oblivious to Ruby’s unprofessional behavior, such as when she neglects to give him an emergency message from Michele, or when she tells Michele at their wedding that she and Brad are still involved. Ruby is the main cause of conflict between Brad and Michele, preventing them from acknowledging their feelings for each other.
An absurd secondary plot involves the maid’s illegitimate baby with a rich acquaintance of Brad and Michele’s, a man whose parents won’t allow their son to marry so far beneath him. Attempted blackmail and kidnapping ensue, and the situation is resolved so awkwardly it’s obvious the whole thing was created only to add bulk to the story.
The general descriptions of the characters and their lives are vague and shadowy. The location is unclear; the story seems to be set in some generic wealthy area of the U.S. but I find it difficult to get into a story if I can’t get a more detailed sense of the location, surroundings, climate, and lifestyle.
The only aspect of the book I enjoyed was finishing it. The dialogue was stilted and unnatural, and the phrasing awkward. Italicized phrases are meant to represent the characters’ thoughts, but they are inconsistent, repetitive, and unrealistic. The author tells more than she shows, and uses metaphors where actual description would be better. For example, “Brad’s hand on her back about drove her up a wall” doesn’t convey the extent of Michele’s attraction to him, and a casual reader might instead believe Brad’s action annoyed rather than aroused Michele.
I didn’t quite believe in their attraction anyway. I’m not sure how they manage to even fall in love, what with their inability to communicate with each other, and with Brad being away more than he is home. Even when they are together, they mostly talk about the décor of their house. Most of the time Michele doesn’t know where Brad is, and when they do have plans, he invariably breaks them to go away on business. He was even absent during a major crisis at the end of the book, but quickly forgiven. I never saw any reason for Michele to trust him or believe that he will suddenly be an attentive, loving husband. And, although they sleep together occasionally, the author seems uncomfortable writing intimate scenes which usually go like this: Brad touches Michele. Michele feels electrical sparks. Brad and Michele wake up together the next morning (yawn).
Had I not been antagonized by the protagonists right from the start, I might not have disliked the book quite as much. But by the second page, when Michele and Brad were both wallowing in self-pity and resentment, I knew that I wouldn’t even trade the book in to my local used book store because I would feel guilty inflicting it on a potential reader.