Publish Date: July 30, 2019
“Welcome to the sugar bowl.” — The Arrangement
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 favors 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. 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.
I was fascinated to read about the hidden world of older, rich, powerful men and the beautiful younger women that date them. These girls are not hookers, people! They are classier than that. There’s a BIG difference!
I learned about sugar daddies, sugar babies, and descriptions like Splenda daddy, salt daddy, and DDLG. WOW! Robyn Harding did extensive research into writing this book, and it’s impressive.
Nat is a starving art student that is barely making ends meet in NYC. She is desperate, vulnerable, and naïve. Gabe is a narcissist, a sociopath, a serial cheater, and makes his own rules. Together they are vile, disgusting, and the perfect combination of messed up.
Nat is a relatable and semi-likeable character. She is also a very unreliable narrator because she is a borderline alcoholic with blackout episodes. Her memory is foggy, and she wakes up many mornings full of regret. I was cheering for her to overcome her challenges and get her sh%& together.
My favorite quotes:
“There was something so crack den about a bare mattress.”
“Are you an escort?” “No, I’m a sugar baby, it’s different.”
“Like with any online dating, you have to be careful. There are salty daddies out there. There are creeps and weirdos. But it could be the answer to all your problems.”
“It was surreal and fucked-up and amazing, all at the same time.”
“A lawyer would advise Nat to shut up. She knew this from all the Shonda Rhimes shows she’d watched with her mother. “
The sugar daddy – sugar baby relationship is ALL KINDS OF WRONG… and I couldn’t stop reading. I devoured this book in 2 nights. The writing is captivating and engaging. Robyn Harding does an excellent job of creating characters that mesmerize readers. I couldn’t put this book down until I fished it.
It’s no surprise that someone dies in this book, but we don’t know who-when-how-why almost until the end. The plot focuses mostly on character development rather than a murder, and I really like the approach.
This book is about desperation, money, survival, betrayal, stalking, lies, and revenge. It’s laced with sarcastic humor and it’s a fast-paced read that I quickly binged. The ending is very good. It wrapped up everything in a pretty, neat bow and left me satisfied. This is Robyn Harding’s best work yet.
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Note: I received an advance copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley exchange for an honest review.