Satisfaction by Sarah Mayberry

SatisfactionWhy I read it:  I was provided with a review copy by the author.

What it’s about: (from Goodreads)  Maggie Hendricks loves her life. She’s got a great job, amazing friends. Everything is perfect – except for one smallish problem. Maggie can’t quite get there, sexually speaking. It’s just never happened for her. And while she tells herself she’s fine with that, she can’t help feeling as though she’s missing out.

When her friend shares the intimate details of an encounter with an extremely talented lover, Maggie makes a desperate pact with herself. She will seduce this man – or allow him to seduce her – and if he can’t get her there…well, then she’ll hand herself over to medical science. A simple enough plan. What could possible go wrong?

Within minutes of meeting Rafel Oliveira, Maggie knows the answer to that one: plenty. But Rafel turns out to be far more than simply talented in the bedroom. As he takes her on a journey toward the ultimate pleasure, Maggie finds herself craving a lot more than his beautiful body. The question is, is Rafel’s heart available for the taking?

What worked for me (and what didn’t):  I liked this book very much. I’m going to have some criticisms (of course) but I want to say first up that I really enjoyed the book and would definitely recommend it to anyone who likes a spicy contemporary that is all about the relationship (no suspense, not secondary relationships; just the couple, getting together).

I liked Maggie very much – she’s strong, independent and clever.  She runs a successful small business and she loves books (what’s not to like?).  She had a believable reason for being anorgasmic (at least, to me) but her back story wasn’t played for sympathy votes. When she makes a plan to get herself an orgasm, she ovary’s-up and sets out to get it.  One of her good friends, Cleo, had a sexy encounter with a “Brazilian hottie” named Eduardo at Brothers Ink. So Maggie quietly makes herself an appointment to get her some of that.

She couldn’t believe that she hadn’t thought of any of this before now. It was one thing to be preoccupied, but this was bordering on willful stupidity—especially when she took Cleo’s track record with men into account. Barring one rather dishy specimen, Maggie had never so much as glanced with envy at any of Cleo’s boyfriends. In fact, she and Cleo usually had diametrically opposed taste in men. For example, Cleo thought Ashton Kutcher was hot, whereas Maggie wanted to give him a good shave and send him to work for the UN Commission on the Status of Women for a couple of years.

Rafel is all the good things in a hero.  A sexy, smart, successful, gorgeous, attentive, funny, caring, thoughtful – and did I mention hot? – sex-God.  I admit to some discomfort over his objectification, particularly in the first portion of the story and I wondered whether his Brazilian heritage was a little fetishised.  I can’t really answer my own question though because I don’t know enough about it.  Perhaps that means it might for some readers? Maybe it means that it skirted the right side of the line?  Alternatively I have no clue what I’m talking about. Any of these options are at least equally possible.

The book felt to me very much like a book of two distinct halves.  The first is erotic romance – Maggie has a problem and she goes to Rafel to fix it.  The problem is worked out through sex and so is their relationship.  However, once the Big O occurs, the story changes to a more straight-up contemporary where sex is the icing but not the cake.  The conflict in the second half is about Rafel’s ex, Lena.  I felt Lena was a bit more than the “evil ex” (I still hated her of course – I am nothing if not loyal) and I thought Ms. Mayberry subverted some of the usual evil-ex tropes while at the same time, coming perilously close to being stereotypical. I won’t say more except to say that after I finished reading I reflected on how cleverly my emotions had been manipulated (I mean that as a sincere compliment) and how close I came to yelling at my reader, only for the story to be rehabilitated again and again.

As much as I felt that the distinct different between the tone of the first half compared to the second half of Satisfaction was a bit of a barrier to me, just to show how contrary I am, I’m also going to say that it kind of had to be because once Maggie had come, that story had been told.   It really had to go somewhere else to have any legs.

Before Maggie meets Rafel, she’s never had an orgasm. Ever. Not even a solo one. It takes a (very) little while, but Rafel helps her to get there.  I liked that part of the story but afterwards, she gets there Every. Single. Time.  I would have liked a celebration of sex which can portray that it can be enjoyable and fun without an orgasm being necessary every time.  That the intimacy of sex can be its own reward. Rafel was trying to “teach” Maggie this but after she got across the line the first time, my sense of that for them both was gone.  Sure they enjoyed the journey but they were just coming all over the place.  I wondered (I have no idea) if someone who had been anorgasmic might not be able to get there all the time or whether it is like a switch that, once is set to “on”, everything is fine forevermore.  If I were to put money on it, I would bet on the former. But I’m not a really a gambler.

And, can I just say that the whole “I’m clean, let’s ditch the condom” thing during sex is not my favourite. It doesn’t seem fit with how smart Maggie and Rafel were the rest of the time.

The other thing which bothered me a little was that it wasn’t enough that Rafel was gorgeous and all the wonderful things personality-wise as well as having an interesting, arty profession as a tattoo artist.  No, he was also a property developer.  It felt like overkill.  Maybe it was the Mayberry version of the sexy billionaire (Rafel is wealthy but he’s not that wealthy) or trying to tap into that trope which is so popular now but it felt incongruous.

All that said, there was a lot to like. Most of it was in the banter and snappy dialogue between Rafel and Maggie.  I went a bit highlighter nuts and I even tweeted some of my favourite lines.  I enjoyed the humour and the chemistry of the characters.  This is what makes all the difference to me.  It’s why I can note all those things above and still say – I really liked it and I recommend it.

The sex was hot and, while there was no mango sex, it felt inventive and even fairly spontaneous – which is something considering they were quite deliberate about their “goal”.

“Right now, I want to fuck you hard, but I also want to make it last so long that you can barely breathe, till you beg me to make you come. I want to ruin you, Maggie, then I want to put you back together and do it all over again.”

Oh my. Let’s all just take a minute.

Ahem. Moving on.

I liked that for all his wonderful-ness, Rafel wasn’t actually perfect.  He had reasonable doubts about dipping his toes into relationship waters and he needed a bit of time to come to grips with what he wanted, what he was prepared to risk to get it.  And there was one part around the halfway mark where I felt he was a bit of a dick.  His sex-God powers diminished a little for me there – even though they worked just fine for Maggie. It might seem strange that this sentence is in the “plus” part of the review. But I liked that Rafel wasn’t perfect, that he could do things I didn’t like and I could still like him and be happy for him and Maggie to get their HEA.  These things helped make him seem more like a real person and not a tall tanned sex toy (which, let’s face it, was Maggie’s initial “use” for him).

I also liked Eduardo and Blue and I’m hoping that they get their own story.  I am a sucker for a friends-to-lovers book. I enjoyed Eduardo’s relationship with Rafel and how they looked alike but were very different people.  They always had each other’s back but like good brothers do, they tell the other when one is being a dick and they tease each other in better times.

“Seriously, man. You’re practically skipping. Have a little dignity.”

What else? This is Sarah Mayberry’s second self-published offering.  The quality was excellent, the formatting good, as was the copy editing. This is exactly the kind of technical quality which I want to see in self published books.  Sarah Mayberry, Courtney Milan, Kit Rocha – they’re all examples of self-publishing done well IMO.

Did anybody else notice that the cover model even has all the right tattoos? Well done Photoshop artist and cover designer!

Grade: B/B+



4 comments on “Satisfaction by Sarah Mayberry

  1. Marg

    No mango sex or equivalent but still a very fun read!

  2. Kaetrin

    @Marg: I guess not everyone is into fruit sex! LOL

  3. Marg

    @Kaetrin: Why ever not?

  4. Kaetrin

    @Marg: Dunno. Yeast infections maybe??

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