Dear Ms. Teglia:
Thank you for sharing with me your latest book, Satisfaction Guaranteed. I really liked Wild Wild West which was an anthology collection of three women who experience great sex and find love along the way. Satisfaction Guaranteed is modeled after the first book and contains three semi interconnected stories about women taking action to realize their fantasies and I believed that I would enjoy it just as much as Wild Wild West. Alas, for all the reasons itemized below and some I couldn’t really articulate, SG did not work for me.
The premise of SG is centered around The Capture Agency, a dating service that matched women who wanted to be with captured. The first story was Hard Match and featured Rachel who wanted someone to take charge in the bedroom. Her big fantasy? Handcuffs and whipped cream. I think that was a bit emblematic for my problem with the whole book. It all seemed trite and maybe even a bit too cute. It was bondage lite (hence the handcuffs and whipped cream) and the d/s allusions seemed more like a game than a lifestyle choice. Even the dialogue was weak at times:
"But I have just gotten off as thoroughly as you. Maybe more," she mused. "I came twice."
"I came twice as hard."
The second story, The Perfect Stranger, was more interesting with sexually adventurous Sabrina Daniels signing up with the Capture Agency. Sabrina has decided that her last lover was more boring than socks and enlists the help of the Agency in enlivening her sex, err, dating life by arranging to be a pirate’s captive for a day. (As an aside, I wonder about the legality of an agency like this and whether it isn’t just a Emperor’s Club VIP, only for women and at a much lower cost because women realize that they don’t need to pay $5500 to get sex, even from a pirate).
Kane, Sabrina’s bought for pirate, is actually researching “passion” for his books because apparently his agent says its missing. So Kane signs on with the Captive Agency for “[t]he solution he needed and the experience he craved.” (I presume that Kane, a man, paid more than Sabrina did for the service but it isn’t explicitly stated which proves that two heads are not better than one).
Kane and Sabrina engage in pirate hanky panky until Sabrina finds out she is some research project (which ultimately means that she should have gotten paid for her participation instead of being charged for it). Fireworks occur. Reunions are had and we move on to the last story.
Ex Marks the Spot is the story about the ex that got away. Emma Michaels is the uptight office manager where Rachel and Sabrina worked. I immediately thought of Angela Martin from Dunder Mifflin in this role but figured that she and Dwight probably have sex in ways so perverse that they can’t be written on paper. Back to the novella, Emma has moved out of her home when she finds out her husband is having an affair. She and Gage were high school sweethearts and it used to be that one button undone on her shirt used to drive him crazy. Overtime, though, Gage’s attention to his business grew so obsessive that Emma was neglected. Finding out that he was cheating on her was the last straw.
She decides to go to the Capture Agency and rediscover her sexual self. Gage overhears this and is determined that no one will be spiriting away his wife, but himself. Most of the story is told in a manner that leaves it to the reader to decide when Emma discovers it is Gage who is her captor. I figured she knew pretty early on but there are no overt cues. I think it was clever to right it that way so that the reader could insert her own interpretation at the point where it was most emotionally satisfying.
Because of the brevity of the stories, there is little character development. And thinking back, I can’t recall that there was much in Wild Wild West but for some reason, it bothered me here. Jayne mentioned in her review of Between the Sheets that as a 10 year romance reader, the book didn’t work for her because it was so common. To a great extent, that is the problem that I had in this book. While I enjoy the writing style and the good natured sexual encounters, the individual novellas lacked a significant emotional pull for me. There simply wasn’t enough substance to hold my attention above and beyond the sex. It was just sex and even though the sex was well written, I needed something beyond the handcuffs and whip cream. It was like Wild Wild West 2.0 only, like most sequels, it just wasn’t as good as the original. C