To put things simply: if you think ‘outrageous’ is a synonym for ‘ridiculous’, you probably won’t enjoy this book. I found it pretty charming, in spite of some occasional plot flaws and some extremely immature behavior from our heroines. It’s a little hammy and sit-commy, too, but some folks will find that appealing. I appreciated the characters and the sweetness of the romance, and allowed myself to get swept up in the fairytale.
Cadence – Cade – Elgin is the only person at her flashy grandma’s funeral not wearing gold lamé. That’s a big hint as to how outrageous Satisfaction Guaranteed is going to get, as we quickly learn – from one of the funeral’s speakers – that Cade’s Aunt Ruth named her clitoris “Belinda” and, just as soon as the funeral concludes, she’s offered a pot brownie by one of her aunt’s friends.
Deeply mourning her aunt, Cade is shocked to learn that she’s inherited half of Satisfaction Guaranteed – Ruth’s sex toy shop, which is also deeply in debt to its suppliers. Cade has a life and job at her parents’ gallery in New York and she is planning on getting back to them posthaste; somewhat introverted and used to keeping her emotions under wraps, the vibrant community of Portland isn’t for her.
Down on her luck Selena Mathis owns the other half of the shop, together with half of Ruth’s cabin, and a stake in her house. Selena has been living on Ruth’s property in her in-law apartment and has been co-managing Satisfaction Guaranteed, so Ruth’s death is a huge blow to her. She took care of Ruth during her long illness, and Ruth considered her something of a granddaughter by the time she died. Some years earlier, Selena was involved in an emotionally abusive and coercive affair with her bisexual (and married) art professor Alex, an unhealthy relationship she keeps falling back into. In the wake of Ruth’s death, Alex promptly leaves her husband – something she’s been promising to do for years – and wants to start up with Selena again, but her particular brand of emotional manipulation isn’t something Selena needs in her life, so when Alex calls her, she blurts out that she’s dating Cade, even though she definitely is not. Though Selena is powerfully attracted to Cade from the second she sees her at Ruth’s funeral, they are most assuredly not dating.
Thrown together by the terms of Ruth’s will, which forces Cade to live in the house in order to keep it, the two women are just what Ruth obviously decided were just the thing to save her failing business –and they both have a simmering attraction to one another. But will love, lust and money collide?
Satisfaction Guaranteed is trope-heavy and sometimes a tad clichéd, but if you’re in the mood for its brand of good-natured goofiness, it might be just what you need.
Selena can come off as a bit… intense, in the way only a woman who sniffs the clothing of a woman she’s attracted to before they kiss can be. She brands herself a “fuck up” due to her failure as an artist, and needs grounding. Ruth has provided part of that but Cade provides the rest. In turn, naturally, Selena teaches Cade how to live a freer, more fulfilling life and how to wear colors. You know the tale – it’s the one about the stuffed shirt and the flirty free spirit. The book deals well with Selena’s desire to make use of her artistic talents, how Alex’s abuse has undermined her confidence in them, and how her relationship with Cade helps that part of her bloom.
Cade – struggling with issues connected to her flighty parents, whom she thinks only appreciate her for what she does for their business – has never really had an orgasm and considers herself practically virgin even though she’s had (unsatisfying) sex. Her issue is that she is putting far too much pressure on herself to have an orgasm, and when Selena releases her from that worry – bingo! Part of me wished that she’d been able to figure that out on her own, but I did like the messy, yet joyful result of Cade and Selena’s sexual sojourn together. Their romance is sweet, and flows well.
I definitely enjoyed Becket, Selena’s supportive best friend and later, Cade’s confidant, and I liked that Selena got the courage to finally break away from Alex on her own. The characters definitely develop, one just has to endure a bit of out-there behavior to get it.
Overall, Satisfaction Guaranteed will delight anyone who likes mixing humor with feelings and art with sex swings – but don’t mind a little goofiness thrown in.
Buy it at: Amazon or your local independent retailer
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Lisa Fernandes is a writer, reviewer and recapper who lives somewhere on the East Coast. Formerly employed by Firefox.org and Next Projection, she also currently contributes to Women Write About Comics. Read her blog at http://thatbouviergirl.blogspot.com/, follow her on Twitter at http://twitter.com/thatbouviergirl or contribute to her Patreon at https://www.patreon.com/MissyvsEvilDead or her Ko-Fi at ko-fi.com/missmelbouvier