I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.The Arrangement by Robyn Harding
Published by Scout Press on July 30, 2019
Genres: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
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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.
Natalie Murphy, an art student in New York City, is a small hometown girl with big dreams. Only, living in New York City is way harder than she ever thought it would be. Between paying bills, rent and other necessities Natalie is barely keeping her head above water. When a friend suggests she goes online and find a sugar daddy, someone who can make life a little easier in exchange for companionship, Natalie hesitates but finally agrees. In walks Gabe, an experienced older sugar daddy. In his 50’s, Gabe seems to have it all. He is a ruthless corporate lawyer who gets what he wants and he wants Natalie to be his exclusive sugar baby. But, when feelings get in the way their relationship turns toxic. When someone winds up dead, Natalie has a new fight on her hands. Will Natalie ever be able to get her life back?
Wow! Where do I even begin? Well, first let me say I did not like either Natalie or Gabe. Natalie is very needy and gullible, but she is sympathetic whereas Gabe is just a complete narcissistic jerk! What makes Natalie sympathetic is her back story. Abandoned by her father at the age of ten, Natalie never really feels like she belongs especially once her mother remarries and has two more “perfect” children. Natalie feels like an outsider to her family. Getting away from her hometown afforded Natalie the ability to finally be herself and out on her own even though she is still young at twenty-one years old. Natalie is also relatable because of her struggles especially financially which I am sure many of us can relate to. Gabe, right from the start, is a successful and wealthy lawyer who has the world right at his fingertips. He is not easily likable and as a matter of fact, he really doesn’t have any redeeming qualities I can even list. But, he sure does make for some good storytelling!
Right from the first chapter we learn someone is dead, but who is it is the big question? The deeper you go into reading this story you come to realize that there may be multiple suspects along with some red herrings thrown in the way to keep you guessing up until the very end with the final reveal which was quite a shocker!
I can see all of the research the author, Robyn Harding, has done when it comes to sugar daddy/sugar baby relationships especially when it comes to the lingo as well as terms that are even used today like “woke.” I really did have a laugh at “splenda daddy” though. I do admit when I was a college student, I don’t think sugar daddy/sugar baby relationships were so highly recognised as they are today. This is going back 20 years ago *cough.* I may not agree with this sort of relationship, but if its not hurting anyone, and you are above the age of consent, I think its a personal decision to go into this line of sex work. You have to do what you have to do, I guess.
I really enjoyed this story and found it to be pretty fast paced with a level of crazy I have not seen since the days of the movie Fatal Attraction. All we needed is a boiling bunny and you could have just stuck a fork in me! I couldn’t help but notice the irony of Natalie, with a crazy ex-boyfriend, when she turns out to be the same type of crazy and stalkerish. Natalie’s spiraling really took center stage when the lines between what is real and what is not were blurred, I do have one little negative thing to say and this is just something personal for me, perhaps because I am in my 40’s. There is a huge emphasis on Gabe being older, or having sex with someone older and wrinkly or any other term you want to insert meaning “old.” This was just hit on so many times throughout the story that I started to roll my eyes. But, I had to try to get out of my own mind and think more like a 21 year old when it came to “dating” an older man.
If you are “ahem” older like me and remember the good ole days (heh!) of Fatal Attraction, then you will definitely love The Arrangement. I highly recommend!