Thursday, November 16, 2017

Throwback Review: Pink Satin

Ready for another walk down romancelandia lane? Jen's got another Throwback Review for a category title from the 80s. This was the first romance she ever read -- talk about a *serious* throwback!

Note: this review might be triggering to some as Jen discusses sexual harassment as it occurs in the book compared to what's going on lately in the media, including pulling quotes from various articles about it all.

I totally understand if you need to skip this review because of that. It's okay! 😃

Pink Satin by Jeanne Grant
Publisher: Jove Pubns; First Edition edition (October 1, 1985)
Genre: Contemporary Romance / Category Romance

With the figure of a sex symbol and a career as a lingerie executive, Greer Lothrop is used to attracting more than her fair share of male attention. After years of unwanted stares, she is far more comfortable playing mother hen than femme fatale.

She's shocked when there's nothing motherly about the feelings her new neighbor, engineer Ryan McCullough, arouses in her. She's never been attracted to a man of such raw sexuality before. What is it about Ryan that has her confiding in him—and falling into his arms—within hours of meeting?

It's clear Ryan isn't interested in Greer for her chicken soup. He's not falling for her girl-next-door routine either, no matter how hard she tries to deny their chemistry. He knows there's a passionate woman behind the facade—and he knows just how to awaken her...

Where to Buy*:
Amazon [used print copies]
More Info:

This one has been republished by Carina Press, back in 2011, under another name by the author.

Jen's Review:

I bought Pink Satin by Jeanne Grant, a 1985 romance from the now defunct Second Chance at Love line, and was all prepared to giggle my way through what I was sure would be another problematic 80s romance. But, this book actually holds up in a lot of super uncomfortable ways. Hint: the motherfucking patriarchy.

Pink Satin WAS THE FIRST ROMANCE I EVER READ. It was in that famous brown paper bag of remaindered books from my Grandma’s basement.  “Remaindered” books are ones that aren’t sold in the store, so their covers are removed and the books are supposed to be destroyed. So until Pink Satin arrived in the mail, I’d never seen the COVER of this book. I wish I knew who gave her those books, because she was not a reader. Pretty sure the only one who read those books was me. If only I could go back in time and figure out why I read this book first---did it just happen to be on top? Or did I think the description sounded interesting? And, if the cover was there, would I have noticed that that the cover model was clearly the same dude on the cover of Forever? I joked on Twitter that this model was like a proto-Fabio.

Let’s get down to business. Greer Lothrop is a psychologist who works at a lingerie company. She’s responsible for the advertising side of the business, but also for managing the internal conflicts between people in her office. The story opens with her eating a Lean Cuisine and freaking out about her nightly phone call from a stalker. Romancelandia, explain my brain to me: why did I vividly remember the Lean Cuisine, but completely forget the entire stalker plot? Either way, for months a man has been making nuisance calls to Greer. In the past, she tried to make light of it, but the caller is still at it, even though she’s changed and unlisted her number. Wanting to get away from that phone, she flees out to the stairwell, where she meets her new neighbor, engineer Ryan McCullough.

I want to give credit where credit is due. The fact that Ryan McCullough was the first hero I read is probably what kept me reading the genre. He is a genuinely good guy, and although there are a few paternalistic moments as he tries to help Greer, he respects her independence and cannot believe that no one has helped her find this stalker. Even better, he is interested in Greer as a person, and not just because of her perfect body. Ryan listens to her talk about her job, asks about her past, and wants to know about her family and friends. Not once does he think she owes him her body just because he’s interested in it. When they have sex for the first time, she psyches herself out and doesn’t enjoy it. Ryan doesn’t pressure her or act like a jerk about it, he just wants her to feel good about herself and how they are together. It’s completely empowering and such a breath of fresh air after the other 3 romances I read from the mid-80s.

Greer has been blessed with a kick-ass figure, but a lifetime of men making passes at her developed coping strategies that keep her physically safe but emotionally stunted. And the sexual harassment she describes made me angry. Basically, every guy at her office hit on her---sometimes just pick-up lines, but sometimes with actual physical overtures. There is this one part, early in the book, where she describes each of her co-workers and how they hit on her, and what she did to diffuse it---mostly by mothering them and bringing them food.

The last man in her office that still gives her trouble is Ray. They clash after a tense meeting, and Greer tells herself to keep calm, she hides her anxiety, ignores him until he goes away, and then thinks

She didn’t know why she let him do it. There was a psychological label for men who didn’t feel sexually secure about themselves unless they were aggressive with the female of the species. Whatever the term was it was her own problem that she let him continue to bother her.

I was furious when I read that! Why is it her fault? Why is it Greer’s job to placate all these predatory men, making herself less attractive, less desirable, less of a woman...just so they’ll leave her alone?

I’m sure you’ve figured it out already, Ray is the caller/stalker. Near the end of the book, they are at a convention together. And the thing is, although I wanted so badly to judge the 80s and Greer’s willingness to take the blame for being harassed... I couldn’t. After all, I’d just read Ronan Farrow’s articles about Harvey Weinstein. For the rest of this entry, I’m going to intercut scenes from this 32 year old category romance with quotes from Ronan Farrow’s New Yorker articles. I think it speaks for itself.

Pink Satin: Ray suggests they work over dinner, “Seems foolish for each of us to order room service separately, doesn’t it? Your room or mine?” 

The New Yorker (ex 1): At the time, Argento was twenty-one and...said that, in 1997, one of Weinstein’s producers invited her to what she understood to be a the Hôtel du Cap-Eden-Roc....Argento felt professionally obliged to attend. When the producer led her upstairs that evening, she said, there was no party, only a hotel room, empty but for Weinstein: “I’m, like, ‘Where is the fucking party?’” She recalled the producer telling her, “Oh, we got here too early,” before he left her alone with Weinstein.

Pink Satin: Greer starts to feel nervous. She tells Ray she is going to call it a night. “Greer gave a small laugh and heard the sound of her own nervousness. Silly, silly, silly, but she glanced at the door. And silently, like a cat, Ray moved from his position against the wall to a spot between Greer and the only exit.”

The New Yorker (ex 2): Sciorra remembered Weinstein employing the same tactics as he cornered her, backing her into her bedroom. “Come here, come on, cut it out, what are you doing, come here,” she remembered him saying. She tried to be assertive. “This is not happening,” she told him. “You’ve got to go. You have to leave. Get out of my apartment.”

Pink Satin: “She was having a nightmare. That was all. It had been a thoroughly exhausting day. Perhaps she had finished dinner and Ray had left and she’d fallen asleep and suddenly she was dreaming. Because she was suddenly afraid of the man standing in front of her to the depths of her bones.”

The New Yorker (ex 3): At one dinner, in New York, Sciorra recalled, “Harvey was there, and I got up to leave. And Harvey said, ‘Oh, I'll drop you off.’ Harvey had dropped me off before, so I didn’t really expect anything out of the ordinary—I expected just to be dropped off.” In the car, Weinstein said goodbye to Sciorra, and she went upstairs to her apartment. She was alone and getting ready for bed a few minutes later when she heard a knock on the door. “It wasn’t that late,” she said. “Like, it wasn’t the middle of the night, so I opened the door a crack to see who it was. And he pushed the door open.” She paused to collect herself. Weinstein, she continued, “walked in like it was his apartment, like he owned the place, and started unbuttoning his shirt. So it was very clear where he thought this was going to go.”

Pink Satin: Ray moves in on her. He says, “Tell me what you’re afraid of. I can make it go away, Greer. In fact, I’m the only man who can make it go away. All you have to do is ask me.”

The New Yorker (ex 4): “In the meeting, Evans recalled, “he immediately was simultaneously flattering me and demeaning me and making me feel bad about myself.” Weinstein told her that she’d “be great in ‘Project Runway’...but only if she lost weight. He also told her about two scripts, a horror movie and a teen love story, and said one of his associates would discuss them with her.”

Pink Satin: Greer tries to fend him off, saying, “Look! I’m in love with someone else.”

The New Yorker (ex 5): Mira Sorvino “scrambled for ways to ward him off, telling him that it was against her religion to date married men.”

Pink Satin: It doesn’t matter. Ray holds her, presses against her, forces kisses on her: “His arms tightened around her like cold bars. A rush of impressions exploded in her head. His hand on her breast, his black eyes with a devil’s light, the terrible silence of the room, their isolation, rage, fear, vulnerability...He kept talking...the only thing she was terrified of was him.”

The New Yorker (ex 6): In part, Argento said, the initial assault made her feel overpowered each time she encountered Weinstein, even years later. “Just his body, his presence, his face, bring me back to the little girl that I was when I was twenty-one,” she told me. “When I see him, it makes me feel little and stupid and weak.”

Pink Satin: Greer tries to get to the door, but Ray prevents her from leaving. “There was a sick scream in the back of her throat, trying to get out, but she remained silent. How could she scream? This couldn’t be happening to her. It really couldn’t. Maybe if she’d invited it...but she knew she hadn’t invited it. She knew she’d in no way encouraged Ray. As an adolescent, she’d blamed herself for inviting the gropes and grabs that had scared her witless, believing she must have unconsciously asked for trouble. Then during her entire adult life, she’d protected herself by denying every damn sexual feeling---and she hadn’t invited Ray.” 

The New Yorker (ex 7): In the weeks and months that followed the alleged attack, Sciorra didn’t tell anyone about it. “Like most of these women, I was so ashamed of what happened,” she said. “And I fought. I fought. But still I was like, Why did I open that door? Who opens the door at that time of night? I was definitely embarrassed by it. I felt disgusting. I felt like I had fucked up.” She grew depressed and lost weight. Her father, unaware of the attack but concerned for her well-being, urged her to seek help, and she did see a therapist, but, she said, “I don’t even think I told the therapist. It’s pathetic.”

Pink Satin: Luckily, Greer is able to successfully fight him off on her own. Shortly afterwards, Ryan arrives, having figured out that Ray was the stalker. They have their happily ever after. Greer’s boss and the police believe her and encourage her to press charges. How terrible it was for me to realize that the idealized, unlikely outcome for a sexually harassed woman was this one, from a book published 30 years ago: her boss and her lover believe her, help her, and protect her.

New Yorker (ex 8): Compare that to now, as when Daryl Hannah explains why she didn’t share her story earlier,  “And it didn’t matter...I think that it doesn’t matter if you’re a well-known actress, it doesn’t matter if you’re twenty or if you’re forty, it doesn’t matter if you report or if you don’t, because we are not believed. We are more than not believed—we are berated and criticized and blamed.”

You can read this book if you want to. It’s a Kindle book, with the same title but the author’s name is updated to Jennifer Greene. She continued publishing books with Harlequin up until a few years ago. Reading this made me so fucking sad: that women still are caught in the trap of being at the mercy of men, and not being able to protect ourselves, and not believed when we tell the truth. I never expected a throwback review to bring upon a level of existential despair. But what else can I do, when it feels like we’re not just stuck, but actively being forced backwards?


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Jen bought this book.

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Thanks for the review, Jen! Though really, this is so much more than a review. Damn.

Have you read Jeanne Grant/Jennifer Greene?

Do you recall YOUR first romance novel?


Until Next Time,

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