The Arrangement by Robyn Harding


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The Arrangement by Robyn Harding

Published by Simon & Schuster Australia

Published on the 23rd of August 2019

344 Pages

Thriller/Drama/Romance

Purchase from Amazon AUAmazon US/ Fishpond AU/ Booktopia/ Book Depository/ Dymocks/ QBD
My rating: ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

I received a copy of this book from Simon & Schuster Australia in exchange for an honest review.

Natalia is an art student living in New York, she always wanted to get out of the small town she grew up in and make it big in the big city. Only, she’s finding that paying her own way is harder than she anticipated. She’s struggling to make her rent and bills and her two judgemental, snippy room mates have given her two strikes, a third and she’s out. She thinks that she’ll have no choice but to move back to Blaine, when she finds out that a friend from uni is a sugar baby. Her apartment is paid for, as is her designers clothes, original art pieces and her bills. At first Nat feels repulsed at the though of being a pseudo prostitute, however, as her room mates threaten eviction and she loses her job, she decides to jump into the sugar bowl and make enough to get her back on her feet, then she’s out. However, when she meets Gabe, a handsome, wealthy, and charming sugar daddy, she soon ends up breaking her own rules and that of the sugar bowl, she gets feelings and falls hard, assuming that it is the same for Gabe, who has a wife and daughter that he has no plans on leaving. When things turn South and Gabe decides to end the arrangement that he has with Nat, Nat refuses to hear the truth. She turns into a psychotic, unhinged stalker, and when a body is found near Gabe’s Upper East Side apartment, things go from bad, to worse. A story of secrets, lies, deception and obsession, The Arrangement is one that you will struggle to put down.

I was initially intrigued by this book as it offers a look into the life of a sugar baby/sugar daddy relationship. This still held true as I read through, however, I became completely glued to the page as things started to take a turn for the psycho.

At first I liked Natalie, she was just trying to pave her way and make something of herself, hoping that getting a first class art education in the Big Apple would catapult her children’s book illustrator career, but things just kept going wrong for her. From her snippy judgemental and bitchy room mates who always looked down their noses at her, to the guy from work who seemed nice, until she told him she wasn’t interested, then he turned into a complete dick. Yeah okay, Nat probably didn’t let him down in the nicest way possible, but from what I understood, she’d been pretty up front about her feelings from the word go. So when her friend Ava discloses that she’s a sugar baby, Nat was initially disgusted, which I guess a lot of people would have that first reaction, I thought it was a bit shallow myself. I’ve known people in the ‘Sex Trade’, and it doesn’t make them bad or dirty people, they’re literally just people trying to pay their way and get ahead. So my feelings for Nat dropped a bit during this discussion.

When she decided to give it a go (which of course it’s insinuated from the synopsis that she would), I was happy that she’d worked through some of her disgust about it. I was hoping that it would make her grow as a person, and I guess in a way, it did, but she grew into this monstrous beast of a person that made me question whether I was reading the same character’s narrative. She becomes absolutely unhinged and terrifying, and it honestly made me hate her character. The way she acted was absolutely appalling and it turned into a horrific train wreck that I just could not put down. Gabe was also a piece of a work. First up, you think how nice and charming and down-to-earth he is, and then BAM! Total dick.

The story was fast paced and definitely held my interest. The story was well thought out and executed and the last quarter was written beautifully! I literally could not put it down after the body was found. I needed to know what happened. And though I’d partially worked part of it out to a point, I still didn’t get what had happened until the end, and it left me going “Oh, wow.” That’s a kind of book I like to read, one that grabs you in it’s clutches and keeps pulling shiny things out of it’s bag.

I loved the characters of Olag (I think that was the driver’s name), Celeste (Gabe’s wife) and his daughter Violet. Celeste was such a surprising character, she seemed so doormattish at first, but the more we see her, the more we realise that she is a forced to be reckoned with. And the inclusion of Violet in Nat’s story was just delightedly fucked up, I actually think it would make a pretty good movie or TV series if I’m honest.

I’d put this one down as a thriller/drama/romance it definitely holds pieces of each of these genres. It’s hard for me to categorise it actually, but that’s what I’m going to go with.

All in all, this was an enthralling book, and I found it even better because in the author’s note at the back, she explains that she actually went onto a real sugar bowl website and spoke to some of the girls on their about this life that they live, so there’s the authenticity to it which is always fantastic.

Thank you Simon & Schuster Australia!!

View all my reviews

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