REVIEW: The Satin Sash by Red Garnier
Dear Ms. Garnier:
This is another book I don’t think I would have picked up on my own because author’s name made me think of the hair color. Huzzah for review copies.
Antonia “Toni” Kearney and Grey Richards have been a couple for about two years. Grey had solicited Toni’s services as a logo designer but upon meeting fell into instant lust. Their affair turned into a relationship and Grey has managed to infiltrate every corner of Toni’s life, living in her small apartment, making sure her car gets fixed, paying her rent, eating regular dinners at her parents house, and having regular and passionate sex as often as possible. Except Grey has never told her that he loves her. He’s not proposed to her and Toni maintains a faÃ§ade of not wanting to get married. It’s a dated institution anyway.
Toni loves Grey but one day Grey’s business partner comes to town. Heath Solis is a loner. Some call him Grey’s attack dog. Together they make a formidable land development team. Heath’s only relationship has only ever been with Grey. He holds himself aloof, his bedroom a revolving door, because for all of his life the only constant has been Grey. Heath would never do anything to hurt Grey except Grey has Toni.
When Heath first started hearing Grey talk about Toni, he paid no attention. Grey was as inconstant as Heath, only engaging in a more serial monogamy. As time progressed and Toni remained, Heath began to pay attention and at first he was happy for Grey and then he began to be jealous of Grey’s Toni. He began to fantasize about having a Toni for himself.
When Heath comes to Chicago, he discovers that Toni is attracted to him and he tells Grey, in the opening scene of the book, “Your woman wants me.” Grey and Heath shared women in their very wild teens and Heath suggests that perhaps Grey will share Toni.
At first, Grey is torn apart by jealousy over Toni’s desire for Heath and Heath’s desire for Toni. Toni puts on a brave face initially and admits that she reacted to Heath but that it’s nothing. It will go away. Grey, however, decides that he will give Toni the threesome that she wants for one weekend in Cabo.
This is a very sexy, hot book. The sex scenes are graphic and messy and very evocative. They are some of the most erotic I’ve read in a long time. After I had finished reading the book, I felt conflicted. Part of the story was quite emotional but there were holes in the characterizations that bothered me.
First is Toni. Toni was a fairly bland character. There were certain features that I liked about her such as her willingness to admit her attraction for another man, her very real insecurity about her relationship with Grey, and her longing for an unconventional relationship. But the point was made time and again by both Grey and Heath that Toni was not particularly gorgeous or leggy; not Grey’s usual type. Toni seemed deliberately styled as an “every woman”. She’s completely nonthreatening.
Next is Grey. Grey is the most arresting character of the story. He is given the greatest emotional range. I think that I was supposed to believe that he and Heath had a latent attraction toward each other. There is a point late in the book where Toni accuses Grey of trying to make Toni love Heath like Grey loves Heath. The problem with this is we were never shown that by Grey or Heath at any point in the story. We readers had to take Toni’s word for it, but she was an unreliable narrator at this point. We know that Toni wants both Grey and Heath so her accusations that this was the fault of Grey don’t have any justification other than her wanting it to be true. Yet Grey remains the focal point of this story. The man always in control and so when he breaks down, totally taken under by his love for Toni and his seeming inability to be with her, it is heartrending.
Heath Solis. I had quite a few problems with Heath. Heath is a womanizer. At one point, we are told that Heath had 27 women since…he either first learned of Toni or first started longing for Toni or since he met Toni. It wasn’t clear. Grey asks Heath if he was tested recently, but frankly that simply wasn’t enough. Heath clearly had no problem seeking out prostitutes and I had a hard time buying into the concept that he was totally clean. Further, it seemed like the idea of Toni was what Heath was in love with. The idea of Toni being a placemarker for belonging.
And for the first time in his memory, he wanted to weep in joy. He had never felt so connected, so free. Through his rioting mind, amid the hunger and longing spreading like a firestorm through him he held on to one thought alone: I’m home.
Unacknowledged was that Grey’s devotion to Toni meant Heath was left out. This seemed to be obvious but it was never addressed. Instead the entire focus was on Heath not wanting to hurt Grey by taking Toni away.
I did love the little details that fleshed out the intimacy of the characters or made a larger point about the narrative. When Heath went to check out a property on which Grey wanted to build a hotel, Heath noted that the land was already taken. The best things were taken, according to Heath, but he and Grey would capture it if they wanted it enough.
Other details showed Grey taking care of Toni, checking on her tires, making her drive his Porsche. He loved to buy things for her and Toni loved to be pampered. Toni interrupting his days of business for a little hooky. Her being so lively when his whole life had been so rigid. They had an endearing habit of calling each other Sir Richards and Ms. Kearney.
I loved the emotional drama around the threesome, but for the story to fully work as it was set up, I needed to see Grey need Heath and Toni. As it was, it seemed that the story was more about Grey fulfilling Toni’s needs and wants. In the end, Grey’s sole focus was on breaking the rules for her, not just for himself. I think the idea was that he could be more than his father, not by being in a threesome, but by living life on his terms, regardless of the judgments of others. Unfortunately I just wasn’t shown this emotional struggle.
Still, I really liked this story despite its serious flaws. It’s hard to find a really good erotic romance these days and this one tried hard to sell us on the emotional component of the menage as well as the physical one. I waiver between a C+ and B- on this one.
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