REVIEW: The Arrangement
I picked this book up because I’ve seen it in my grocery store a few times, and I’ve also heard a few people online talk about reading it but I couldn’t remember what their thoughts were! So I decided to use my Scribd subscription to listen to the audiobook.
by Robyn Harding
Release date: July 30th 2019
Genre: Thriller, Mystery, Adult
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.
There are a few trigger warnings that come with this book, specifically rape, self harm, murder, and emotional manipulation/abuse so please keep that in mind when deciding whether or not to read this book.
This book was okay, but it wasn’t the best thriller I’ve ever read. In fact, I didn’t find it thrilling or mysterious at all because I saw the ending coming a mile away. The very first chapter of this book is Natalie telling her estranged father that she is being accused of murder and asks for his help, then we go back in time to see what brings her to that point.
Natalie herself is very unlikable from the very beginning – she’s very hypocritical and judgmental towards her friends and roommates, but when they judge her she acts all high and mighty. I never understood her motives or why she started acting the way she did, especially when compared to her past. [SPOILER] She is afraid of an ex-boyfriend who was very stalker-ish, but then she acts in the exact same way without thinking that it’s weird or crazy.
Natalie is also given advice by her friend who has more experience with being a sugar baby, and Natalie seems to take it all in….and then promptly throws it all out the window and does whatever the hell she wants to do. Her character was incredibly inconsistent both in her emotions and her beliefs when it comes to what she’s doing. Oh, and she throws aside the idea of getting a loan and instead decides to become a sugar baby, which she thinks is disgusting but is apparently better than debt.
The relationships were underdeveloped, and the relationship with Natalie and Gabe moved so quickly that without any additional context was just….unbelievable. I realize that he was paying her for her time, but they freaking told each other they loved one another and it was what, maybe 3 or 4 weeks into them seeing each other infrequently for paid dates? There also wasn’t really any chemistry between the two, and we know from Gabe’s POV that he’s actively lying to her. Also, one of the tips that Natalie’s friend gave her was to do her research on her sugar daddy to verify them. I’m sure if she had done a google search she could’ve found out he was MARRIED.
I also didn’t like that the storyline about the ex-boyfriend went absolutely NOWHERE. I don’t even know why that was included because it certainly wasn’t a red herring because it was very weak. There were also other loose ends that just kind of disappeared, like her sugar baby friend who left, art school, Miguel, etc. I don’t need EVERY loose end to be tied up, but we got absolutely nothing about what happened with all of this after what happened.
I never felt that the stakes were high, or that there was some greater mystery to be solved, it was all very straightforward and very predictable which for a thriller is NOT a good thing, at least for me.
From here on I’ll be talking about the ending of the book, so if you don’t want to be spoiled stop now!
The ending was surprisingly boring for a book shelved as thriller/mystery. When I got to the whodunit, all I could think of was “yep, saw that one coming”. As it turns out, Gabe’s daughter Violet is the one who killed him and her mother covered for her while also framing Natalie for it. Except, I didn’t buy it that Violet would snap and murder her father all over a girl that she had just met – whether she thought she liked her or not.
Sadly, this comes down to the fact that the characters weren’t developed enough, there were too many loose ends, weak plot twists, and low stakes. This book was just really not for me.