The Arrangement by Robyn Harding
Published by Gallery/Scout Press on July 30, 2019
Genre: Mystery, Thriller
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Natalie, a young art student in New York City, is struggling to pay her bills when a friend makes a suggestion: Why not go online and find a sugar daddy—a wealthy, older man who will pay her for dates, and even give her a monthly allowance? Lots of girls do it, Nat learns. All that’s required is to look pretty and hang on his every word. Sexual favours are optional.
Though more than thirty years her senior, Gabe, a handsome corporate finance attorney, seems like the perfect candidate, and within a month, they are madly in love. At least, Nat is…Gabe already has a family, whom he has no intention of leaving.
So when he abruptly ends things, Nat can’t let go. She begins drinking heavily and stalking him: watching him at work, spying on his wife, even befriending his daughter, who is not much younger than she is. But Gabe’s not about to let his sugar baby destroy his perfect life. What was supposed to be a mutually beneficial arrangement devolves into a nightmare of deception, obsession, and, when a body is found near Gabe’s posh Upper East Side apartment, murder.
Pretty Woman meets Fatal Attraction in The Arrangement by Robyn Harding, a suspenseful read that had me pondering my own values and wondering what I’d do in a similar situation.
Natalie is an art student in New York whose roommates are on the verge of kicking her out. She owes them for rent and utilities, and they’re fed up with her messy, mooching ways. One more strike and she’ll be homeless.
Nat is estranged from her dad and doesn’t have the best relationship with her mom, who’s moved on with replacement family 2.0. So Nat doesn’t have a support system she can turn to if her roomies kick her out.
When Nat’s classmate reveals that she’s a sugar baby and suggests that Nat sign up, Nat’s reluctant. She doesn’t want to be a sex worker, but apparently sex is optional for sugar babies. After some internal debate, Nat decides to go on a few dates to make a little bit of money, then quit.
When Nat meets Gabe—a powerful attorney older than her father—she’s swept up by the comfort only money can provide. Gone are her worries about becoming homeless. Beyond this, though, she’s soon swept up by Gabe himself.
Nat and Gabe run hot and heavy, but it can’t possibly last. When Gabe breaks off the arrangement, Nat takes it to fatal attraction level and by the end, someone will be dead.
What a fascinating read! The author spoke with real sugar babies while researching the book, so there’s a level of authenticity that comes through for sure. It’s easy to judge Nat and Gabe’s relationship for what it is, but who wouldn’t want to make some easy cash for a simple dinner date? I mean…! (Don’t @ me.) I also can’t resist a story with a twist and this one has a doozy.
I’ve only read one other book by Harding (The Party), which didn’t work as well for me, but she really knocks it out of the park with The Arrangement, a twisted domestic thriller. Highly recommended.
Rating: 5 stars