Satin And Steele
by Fayrene Preston, contemporary (1993, 1982 reissue)
Bantam, $4.50, ISBN 0-553-56457-9


Remember the days when heroines don't have to be a stupid ditz just to marry a millionaire, and that millionaire heroes just don't appear in screwball comedies, but also in "serious" contemporary stories? Satin And Steele is one such "serious" story, as serious as one can be when confronted with some really hilarious attempts by the author to show how her characters are much better than us mere mortals.

Skye Anderson is our heroine. She has loved before, only to lose her husband and the baby she was carrying in an accident. But no fear, taken in by a wealthy millionaire as his personal assistant, she is given a free house with super duper furniture, a free luxury car, and - what's that you ask? No, that millionaire is old, so he's not the hero. He's just being a kind Daddy figure to Skye. Hey, I don't mean Sugar Daddy/Pimp Daddy/Puff Daddy/whatever by the way. Oh, and Skye is beautiful, so beautiful that tired, grumpy men smile and forget their blues when they take a look at her radiant beauty.

Our hero is Steele, James Steele. He's 38, a millionaire who has carved his own business empire - no, not empire, more like his own business milky way - after retiring from professional football. Apparently this guy breaks every football record in every game he plays since high school, and in such a short time after he retires from pro football, he amasses so much money too! Wow. And guess what, while he may be a public figure, nobody seems to recognize him at all. Wow!

Skye doesn't recognize him when she catches him staring at her, struck by her beauty, at an airport. She is busy facilitating a corporate takeover by Steele on her platonic benefactor/boss' company. When Boss retires, she will go with him. For what purpose? I don't know. I guess the old man needs someone to read him bedtime stories? Anyway, her plan is derailed when she meets Steele and realizes that he's, well, Steele. They court. She demurs - oh, shy-shy, shy-shy - and he imposes, they date, they sit in beautiful luxury cars and eat in places most of us will never get admitted to in our lifetime. They talk about how Skye doesn't want this love thing, how Steele wants Skye, they talk about their own perfect lives, and they go about dating in the most atmospheric - and expensive - restaurants and theatres.

For 210 pages, Satin And Steele feels like an eternity to finish, not because it's so darned good, but because, well, nothing much happens. Talk. Date. Talk. Sex. Date. Talk. Talk. Date. Sex. All perfect, of course. Perfect beautiful Steele and Skye can't have it any other way. Perfect lives, perfect bank accounts, perfect looks, and perfect kids, no doubt. I hate them. I want to be just like them.

SAS is not a bad read, in a Lifestyles Of The Rich And Famous sort of way. It keeps me reading because there's so much nice music, nice cars, nice restaurants, and perfect sex and perfect beauty that... so many things to gape at. It's not at all real, not even real as in maybe-in-another-galaxy way, but it makes a pretty nice story to pass the afternoon reading.

Rating: 70


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