I have enjoyed several of Lucy Monroe’s books and Satisfaction Guaranteed proves to me that she is a very dependable author. I can count on her for a good story with interesting characters, which is my criterion for an “auto-buy.” The only flaw here is that the book is plot-lite, but Ethan and Beth are so interesting and likable that I didn’t mind the rather sketchy plot.
Beth Whitney works as an administrative assistant at The Goddard Project, a top secret government agency working through the State Department. Beth’s dad heads the agency and plans to get Beth’s future settled, without Beth suspecting his hand in her love life.
Beth is horrified when Ethan Crane, her secret crush, walks into her office with a newly hired agent for Beth to assign office space. The new hire is Alan Hyatt, a former FBI agent who, because of a case, literally left Beth standing at the altar. Beth can’t believe her father would hire Alan, but she is happy to discover that she has no feelings for Alan any more, even if Alan would like to rekindle old flames. Ethan notices the byplay between Beth and Alan and his jealousy finally propels him into letting Beth know he is interested in her.
To complicate matters, Beth’s father sends Beth and Ethan to infiltrate the home of a shadowy figure who is selling weapons, secrets, and drugs to the highest bidder. Beth never wanted to be an agent and only reluctantly agrees to the job because the future of the country is at stake. Arthur Prescott is an evil man with strange sex preferences who does not care what damage his actions may have on his own country. Ethan has tried to take him down for some time and is reluctant to send Beth alone into Arthur’s mansion. But Beth becomes Arthur’s assistant quite easily while Ethan poses as her over-protective lover – which becomes a fact as well as a useful plot point. Ethan finds himself having “forever” thoughts about Beth, which alternately makes him press forward with their very hot relationship…and then abruptly pull back.
Beth for her part suffered from having an agent/absentee father as a child and wants no part of dating or marrying an agent. Being left at the altar because of a case only solidified her attitude towards agents. Unfortunately, Beth also had a highly political mother who was also not an involved parent. Beth wants to marry a nice man, have two kids, and a house with a white picket fence. Her parents do not understand her in any way and she often feels like a changeling who doesn’t fit or belong anywhere.
I really cared about Ethan and Beth. Beth is vulnerable and yet tough enough to enter into a relationship with her fantasy man, Ethan. Her memories of having an absentee father rang completely true and it was easy to understand her trepidation about getting involved with Ethan. They also have hot and very creative sex; I especially loved their initial encounter where Ethan agreed to live out one of Beth’s fantasies – the pages of my book nearly caught fire during this love play.
Ethan is a more recognizable character for romance readers. He is typical of the genre’s take on secret agents; but he is also so likable and tender with Beth that he rose above the average “secret agent man.”
The problem with the book is its limited plot. Most of the book is a love story turned sex romp. It is only in the last third of the book that the plot picks up – and then it is wrapped up 1-2-3. But, since I was so involved with Ethan and Beth I was not too bothered by their love story not being too cluttered with plot points.
The Goddard Project series is definitely one that I will follow, especially since Alan Hyatt (the guy who left Beth at the altar) is the hero of the next book. It will be fun to see if he can behave better with his next lady love. But until then, Satisfaction Guaranteed certainly lived up to its name.