He sat down on a chair and pulled her across his lap face down. His hand rose and fell with an even rhythm. At first there was pain, then she felt a warmth spreading through her buttocks into her loins. Her cries began to turn to a soft moan.
This dramatic little scene between father and step-daughter occurs early on in Goodbye, Janette. Published in 1981 it got a deserved spanking by critics but still managed to sell well. I ripped through it in one weekend and, while I can't say I didn't like it, I can tell you that if you're going to read only one Harold Robbins novel, this one isn't it.
The action mainly occurs in Paris and is drenched in Eurotrash bad behavior and overflowing with characters with deep pockets and shallow brains. Janette is the daughter of Tanya, a survivor of WW II prison camps. Tanya is brought to Paris by a kindly German officer named Wolfgang, who is jettisoned from the novel rather quickly. In his place is the cad Maurice, who marries Tanya as a business arrangement of sorts. Right off the bat we can see that Maurice is a dick. And so can Tanya. But then she gets a glimpse his certain special (humongous) endowment and goes weak in the knees in expectations. Maurice, in addition to being a cad, is also bi-sexual. And he gets off on sadomasochism.
In addition to having Tanya to get freaky with, Maurice also has Tanya's daughter, Janette, to molest. It's not really clear who Janette's father is, or I missed that part in the beginning of the novel. Anyway, Janette grows up into a sullen teen who shares a twisted relationship with Maurice that eventually results in her becoming a sex slave to him and his transvestite boyfriend, Jerry.
He smiled, "Remember, Janette, without pain there is no pleasure." He put his hands under her buttocks and raised her toward him.
Janette grows into a beautiful woman, and something of a ruthless headcase, thanks to her messed up childhood. Tanya leaves the novel in a failed attempt at killing Maurice. But before she departs, she gives Janette a younger sister, Lauren. Lauren is saved from the sexual abuse by Maurice by getting to live in America with Johan, Wolfgang's old business partner. Janette, meanwhile takes over control of various business interests involving cosmetics and fashion.
There is a lot of financial skulduggery and kinky sex talk that move the novel along, but none of it particularly interesting. Okay, maybe there are a few lines I might try out the next time I'm at a swingers party, but other than that, not much worth noting. Janette isn't a compelling enough character to make you really care what happens to her. Instead one reads the book mostly to see if Robbins is going to throw more crazy sex stuff into the game like he did in the first sections of the novel. Lauren returns to Paris to visit her big sister Janette, and gets involved with a creepy English fop in a doomed relationship. She also wows the fashion world, but decides that she's not interested in making tons of money like Janette. Instead she'd rather get high on the various recipes of weed her California boyfriend perfects.
All in all, it's rich people living life without consequence, looking for their next high, their next screw or their next conquest. And in the end, it's Harold Robbins looking for his next buck. That said, I did very much enjoy Joe Kenney's take on this novel at his terrific blog, which you can also check out here.