Publish Date: June 23, 2020
“How had one night of fun and debauchery upended our lives?” – The Swap
Low Morrison is not your average teen. You could blame her hippie parents or her looming height or her dreary, isolated hometown on an island in the Pacific Northwest. But whatever the reason, Low just doesn’t fit in—and neither does Freya, an ethereal beauty and once-famous social media influencer who now owns the local pottery studio.
After signing up for a class, Low quickly falls under Freya’s spell. And Freya, buoyed by Low’s adoration, is compelled to share her darkest secrets and deepest desires. Finally, both feel a sense of belonging…that is, until Jamie walks through the studio door. Desperate for a baby, she and her husband have moved to the island hoping that the healthy environment will result in a pregnancy. Freya and Jamie become fast friends, as do their husbands, leaving Low alone once again.
Then one night, after a boozy dinner party, Freya suggests swapping partners. It should have been a harmless fling between consenting adults, one night of debauchery that they would put behind them, but instead, it upends their lives. And provides Low the perfect opportunity to unleash her growing resentment.
Robyn Harding loves to write twisty, dark, domestic suspense stories about taboo subjects. The themes highlight her character’s forbidden indulgences, and makes you feel slightly naughty for reading about them. Her previous book, The Arrangement, centers around hot young women (sugar babies) who date older rich men (sugar daddies). This book, The Swap, is about spouse-swapping, and the devastation that it causes is as awful and squirm-inducing as you’d expect it to be.
The story rotates between the perspectives of many characters who live on an island in the Pacific Northwest: Low, a 17 year old from a large, hippie poly-amorous family; Freya, a beautiful, magnetic, manipulative, sociopathic bitch who is married to Max, a hunky former pro-hockey player; and Jamie and Brian, new residents of the area and the latest BFFs of Freya and Max. The multiple perspectives bring depth to each character and allow us to see the story through their lens.
All of the characters are unlikeable and I despised all of them, but the story is un-put-downable… which is why it’s a fantastic book. All of them made very bad decisions and there were so many times that I thought, “No! You DIDN’T JUST DO THAT.” or “Why do you let her treat you like that!?”
The most vile character of them all is Freya, who manipulates everyone as a pawn in the game that’s in her head. We’ve all had a friend like Freya. She’s that toxic friend who needs you when it’s convenient for her, then dumps you like a hot potato as soon as she’s done needing you. She uses everyone in her life to her advantage. She is superficial, selfish, conceited, and exerts devious influence especially for her own advantage.
My favorite quotes:
“Monogamy is completely unrealistic for some people. I should know. I’m married to a professional athlete who’s hot as fuck.”
“The people on this island get that. Everybody cheats. At least they’re open about it.”
“Anger is just misplaced fear.”
“What would you know about reality? You hide out in your free-love hippie universe and pretend that there’s no such thing as social media, or celebrity. But it exists, Mom. And it matters. You’d get it if you weren’t so… irrelevant.”
“She lives in a sex cult.”
This book is about sociopaths, narcissists, betrayal, grief, toxic friendships, motherhood, voyeurism, obsession, stalking, polyamory, self-esteem, loneliness, and marriage. It’s twisty, unpredictable, and the ending caught me by surprise. This is my favorite of Robyn Harding’s books so far, and one of the best domestic suspense stories that I’ve read in a while. I highly recommend it.
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Note: I received an advance copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley exchange for an honest review.