Satisfaction Guaranteed is an opposites-attract contemporary WLW romance between a free-spirited artist/sex toy salesperson and a buttoned-up accountant/gallery manager. When Cade Elgin's aunt passes away and leaves her half of her sex toy store and house, Cade plans to sell it and move on with her life. But there are two major problems. First, there's the fact that the house has two mortgages and the shop is in so much debt that the "inheritance" is really just a few hundred thousand dollars of negative money. Second, there's Selena. Selena is a non-practicing painter who has been renting from Cade's late aunt and also working in the shop. She's the other inheritor and she really doesn't want to sell. Cade being a numbers person wants to just clean her hands of the whole mess, but Selena talks her into giving it one big try.
The shop is in Portland and Cade's family's gallery is in NYC, so after they get over their initial disagreements and decide to make a go of it, the conflict hinges on two things:
1) Selena and Cade both think the other person couldn't possibly want someone so different
2) long-distance sucks
Selena was in a relationship with her emotionally abusive former professor and dropped out of school and stopped painting because of it. The professor is present in the book in a few ways and it's Not Fun. Cade has been told by several past partners that she's terrible in bed. This is one of those "I've never had an orgasm until you" books and while that's not a trope I enjoy, I did appreciate that if the author was going to go there, she handled it okay. (I just have a really hard time believing that someone who has "free-love" parents and runs a whole business doesn't think to read a book about vibrator use. (At one point she just shoves a toy into her body with no lube or warmup and the pain is described on page. Did not want.) And if she's that smart and determined to make it happen, I'd assume it to be a physical or mental block that isn't overcome simply by someone helping you masturbate. Anyway, it was handled better than in the vast number of "magic penis" books.
Selena is bi and on a sex-break because she was sort of hiding from love by just having casual sex and... relatable. It didn't feel to me like the "bisexual people are slutty cheaters" stereotype, just an unhealthy (for her) rut she wanted to not be in. This worked for their relationship because Cade is so scared of sex that she's almost confused/worried to find herself the pursuer.
There's a lot talk about anatomy: vulvas, vaginas, clitorises (clitori?). There are mentions of trans folks in the book, but it's very much a "love your vulva" vibe and I assume AFAB folks with dysphoria won't enjoy this book. As a cis woman I appreciated the consistent use of correct words. (You don't wax your vagina, FFS.) Selena holds a Paint Your Vulva evening at the shop and the name she has given to her vulva is mentioned many times. It's vulva-riffic.
The romance felt truly romantic. The relationship barriers felt natural and I appreciated that both women were real characters with histories and family stuff of their own. They don't exist only in the context of this one relationship. It's also a relationship I believe has what it takes to make it long term. Sometimes I get to the end of an opposites-attract romance and think that the couple will hate each other after the infatuation stage wears off, but I trust that when Selena starts getting paint on the doorknob, Cade will roll her eyes and get out the 409.
Audio Notes: Lori Prince, who apparently narrates every WLW book on this planet, does her usual slow and steady thing here. I listen to too much lesfic because it doesn't matter how fresh or funny a book is, I'm convinced it's Jae's Paper Love when her voice is coming through my headphones. Lori Prince's narration is good, this is a Suzanne Problem.
In all, I recommend Satisfaction Guaranteed. It's fun and sexy and not gimmicky as it so easily could have been with the sex toy shop premise.
Content Warnings/Notes: death of a relative (cancer, not on page), emotionally abusive ex, past unpleasant sex, probably other things but it's been a month since I read the book and I didn't take notes
I received a copy of this ebook for review but listened to it on audio from my library. I also bought a paper copy. All the formats!