Oh. My. God, this book. How much do I love Satisfaction Guaranteed?! I was hooked right from the first few pages, where stiff, serious Cade sits out-of-place and uncomfortable at her free-spirited aunt’s funeral, and her aunt’s friend Selena opens her eulogy by talking about the deceased’s clit. Then I got to know Cade and Selena, and the more I read of them, the more I loved them, and longed for them to achieve their happily-ever-after. Satisfaction Guaranteed is one of the best books I’ve read this year, and I absolutely, very highly, recommend reading it for yourself.
This book works on so many levels. Many opposites attract romances feature fun bickering and sexy personality clashes; the set-up of this novel shows from the get-go how much Cade and Selena’s relative strengths complement each other and combine them into a formidable team. Cade’s Aunt Ruth leaves her home and sex toy shop to both women. The shop is unfortunately very much in the red, and Cade and Selena have only a month to turn a profit before the properties need to be sold to pay off the debts. Cade has the financial literacy and business acumen; Selena has the product expertise and passion for the shop. Their differences causes them to butt heads early when Cade decides to streamline their inventory, and Selena argues that her decision lacks long-term vision, but even that argument shows how important both women’s perspectives are to making this business work.
A major theme in this novel is the importance of consent, and I absolutely love how Stetz-Waters shows how absolutely romantic and sexy this concept is. For example, Cade is insecure about her perceived lack of sexual prowess — she’s never had an orgasm, and her last sexual partner kicked her out because she sucked, and not in a good way. I’ve read many romance novels, where one character admits they’ve never had an orgasm, and the other promises they can give them one right then and there. I’ve never really thought too hard about that trope, until this book. When Cade admits she’s never had an orgasm, Selena simply says “You don’t have to,” and continues to pleasure her. I swear, that’s about the sexiest, most heartwarming moment I’ve read in a while, and seriously: more of this in novels, please!
I also love how consent is shown outside the bedroom. Selena is a super talented artist, but a traumatic relationship has made her give up her art. Cade, who runs her family’s art gallery, recognizes Selena’s talent at once, and can’t understand why she’d give it up. But there’s a moment where Cade basically says Selena doesn’t have to explain if she doesn’t want to, and it’s totally her choice whether or not she returns to painting. Throughout the novel, we see Cade engage in a friendly rivalry with a co-worker to find the next artist superstar, and Cade knows how valuable Selena’s paintings can be. But she never once pressures Selena to return to painting if she doesn’t want to. And again, I’ve often read romance novels where one of the main characters does push the other to use their talent, and I’ve always read that as simply a way for them to show their support. But Cade’s support for Selena’s decision to stop painting is so much sweeter, and makes Selena’s character arc in the latter half of the novel so much more powerful.
My absolute favourite scene involves Selena giving Cade a ride on her motorcycle. Cade’s never ridden a motorcycle before, and at first, she’s afraid Selena would zip around at top speed. Again, this is a trope I’ve read before, where the more cautious main character doesn’t realize how much they enjoy a wild activity until they try it. And again, Stetz-Waters turns this trope on its head, and makes the motorcycle ride sexy and sweet precisely because Selena takes it slow the whole time. She takes the time to teach Cade some non-verbal signals to ask her to slow down or stop, depending on Cade’s comfort level. Then she starts at a putter, and throughout the ride, continues to check in on Cade’s comfort, using hand signals to ask if the speed is okay, or if Cade wants her to speed up or slow down. It’s just an absolutely beautiful, heartwarming scene, and the moment when I went from liking them to all-out being in love with them. Selena and Cade are both wonderful people in their own right, and this scene beautifully encapsulates how together, they’re downright magical.
Do yourself a favour, and read this. The book has a good ending that, yes, made me all kilig to the bones, but I admit feeling a bit sad when the book ended. I want to read more of Cade and Selena, and I’m very much looking forward to checking out the author’s backlist!
Thank you to Forever for an e-galley in exchange for an honest review.