The crew from Sexual Healing (2005) is back, and this time they’re opening a sex spa for women off the coast of Martha’s Vineyard.
After winning a $3 million lawsuit against her former Wall Street employers, plus-sized spitfire LaShaWanda P. Marshall opts to use her well-earned lucre to give back to the community by launching an East Coast spinoff of A Sister’s Spa. Wanda is CFO of America’s first and only brothel for women in Reno, Nev., and her first hurdle is convincing partners Lydia and Acey that a new branch will fly. The location is key. Reasoning that women of the black elite who summer in Martha’s Vineyard would pay handsomely for the discreet services offered by their team of studs, handpicked by human-resources director Odell, Wanda proposes they set up shop on a luxury yacht three miles from the coast of Massachusetts. (This gets around the whole prostitution-is-illegal-in-most-states thing.) In preparation for the Floating Spa’s Memorial Day opening, Lydia and Wanda head east to train new talent and build clientele. That leaves Odell and the comparatively prim Acey alone in Nevada to sort out their feelings for each other. The new spa is an instant hit, thanks in part to Lydia’s high-society godmother Ma Nicola, who has deep roots in the Martha’s Vineyard community, and to its star employee Jamal, an enterprising young immigrant from Mombasa dubbed “Afrodonis” by Lydia. But there is always someone who wants to spoil the party, and in this case the killjoys include a mobster who wants a piece of the action and a shifty young white sex worker named Tollhouse. Also threatening everyone’s good time is the conservative president, whose “No Child, No Behind” policy, aimed at eliminating nonprocreational sex, is sure to put a damper on both business and pleasure.
With its sex-positive message and unapologetic emphasis on female enjoyment, Nelson’s latest makes for a zingy beach read, even if the political satire is a bit tone deaf.