Sexual Healing

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

Lydia Beaucoup has no man in her life. That’s fine with her, except for the lack of sex. Acey Allen’s man, Matthew, avoids lovemaking since his bypass surgery; he pushes Acey away while obsessing about his upcoming speech for the National Bar Association. Realizing their problems are shared by many other women, the two friends glimpse opportunity. Where a need exists, there’s money to be made. Thus A Sister’s Spa is born.

What follows is a wild ride for the two entrepreneurs. Business start-ups seldom go smoothly, but added to the usual headaches are problems unique to this one’s mission. How, for example, does one convince staid loan officers of the project’s potential when you dare not reveal its main attraction? How can you assess men’s sexual abilities and attitudes in an interview? Hilarious situations arise as Lydia and Acey negotiate their way through myths and dilemmas of sexuality.

The business is a success. Lots of women, it turns out, are willing to pay for good but uncommitted sex. But trouble looms in the persons of Barbaralee, a sleazy gossip columnist, and the Reverend T. Terry Tiger, who is flagging a fading career by leading a back-to-morality movement. The showdown sorts everything—and everybody—out, with a few unexpected twists.

Most readers will like Acey and Lydia despite their unorthodox calling as brothel owners. The secondary characters who complicate their lives come across more as caricatures than as real people, but one can’t help guessing which famous people they parody. Altogether, Sexual Healing is a fun book with some sharp digs at common assumptions about sex and race.