BOOK CLUB: The Arrangement

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By Robyn Harding
ISBN: 978 1 760850463
Publisher: Simon and Schuster (2019)

“The Arrangement” is both a thriller and a character study, and is compelling on both levels. Once you start reading, there’s every chance you won’t stop until you’ve reached the end.

Natalie is an art student in New York, and like many students, she’s struggling to pay her bills. A fellow student who is doing very well financially makes a suggestion: find a sugar daddy to pay her bills. Her friend assures her that all they’re paying for is her company – she doesn’t have to sleep with anyone. Just look pretty and be entertaining for dinner or drinks.

It sounds like prostitution to Nat, and she’s not sure. But a financial crisis propels her “into the sugar bowl”. And at once, she meets Gabe. He’s more handsome and charming than she’d expected, and before long she’s madly in love with him. She keeps accepting his cash gifts, of course. But she’s not a whore if they’re in love, is she?

There is one tiny problem. Gabe is married and has no plans to leave his family. He’s told Natalie he’s divorced. Natalie’s dreams of a future together are built on very shaky ground, and when Gabe ends the business arrangement without warning, she loses it. She’s drinking too much, stalking Gabe and his family, and making threats.

And then someone dies.

Harding makes it easy to understand how Natalie slips into being a sugar baby despite her initial doubts, and even easier to understand how Natalie loses sight of the fact it’s purely business. It’s completely credible, and even as Natalie falls apart, most readers will be strongly on her side. Her behaviour isn’t okay, but it’s not hard to see where it’s coming from.

Although it’s Natalie’s psyche that Harding is most interested in, other characters are also believable. In particular, we see a lot of Gabe, and most women will recognise him too. Entitled and vain, Gabe thinks the rules are different for him. But we see his charm too; it’s easy to see how Natalie falls for him, even as we wrinkle our noses in disgust.

The plotting is excellent – a slow, but inevitable slide from a character drama to a thriller. Some readers will pick elements of the denouement, but it’s unlikely you’ll anticipate them all. Harding makes this as credible and interesting as the earlier examination of Natalie’s slide from student to sugar baby to drunken loon.

I really enjoyed this novel: it’s perceptive and engrossing and makes Natalie’s situation surprisingly relatable. On top of that, the thriller elements are both tense and believable. This novel will appeal to people who are looking for a novel which offers depth of character, and a thriller element that doesn’t dominate the story.

10 of our Beauty and Lace Club members are reading The Arrangement by Robyn Harding. You can see their feedback in the comments section below, and we invite you to contribute to the discussion.

10 thoughts on “BOOK CLUB: The Arrangement

  1. Thanks to Beauty and Lace and Simon & Schuster I was lucky enough to be chosen to review “The Arrangement” by Robyn Harding. I was excited to read this after having read Robyn Harding’s previous books “The Party” and “Her Pretty Face”. It did not disappoint.

    Nat is a art student from a small town who has moved to the big bright lights of New York City to study at art school and make a life for herself, but just like most students she is struggling to pay the bills, school fees, rent and general day to day living. That’s until she meet Ava.

    Ava, a fellow student and friend, got Nat into the thought of becoming a sugar baby. At first Nat didn’t think she could do such a thing but the money was too good and then she tried it and met Gabe.

    Gabe was a wealthy, handsome and charming lawyer who took Nat by storm and she eventually falls hard for Gabe. Gabe is a married man who has no intention of leaving his wife and only child, and Nat is not his first sugar baby.

    Things get hot and heavy before they start to go downhill and Gabe no longer needs Nat as his sugar baby. Nat turns to alcohol and stalking and making serious threats.

    Then someone gets killed.

    It is certainly a page turn book and I read it over two days. It kept me guessing the entire way through. It is easy to read and follow. I highly recommend reading it.

  2. The Arrangement by Robyn Harding – Thanks to Beauty and Lace Book Club
    Nat is a struggling Art School student trying to make a life for herself in New York.
    After growing up feeling unwanted – her Dad walked out when she was 10 and her Mum remarried and had two “perfect” children, then ending a relationship with an obsessive and possibly dangerous boyfriend – Nat felt the need to move away from the small town of Blaine and to follow her dreams in New York.
    But life in the big city is very expensive and when a friend offers her a way to make a lot of money fast Nat is tempting to give it a go. Wealthy older Men willing to pay for her dates, an allowance, gifts and all she is to do is look good and have fun.
    Could it really be that simple?
    When Nat meets Gabe she quickly falls in love and believes he loves her too but when she finds out he is still married and with no plans of leaving his wife things start to turn ugly.
    The story moves fast and keeps you interested all the way through. Thank you to Simon and Schuster for the opportunity to read and review this book.

  3. Thank you so much Beauty & Lace for the opportunity to review Author Robyn Harding’s “The Arrangement”.

    This is definitely a tale of obsession, lust and deceit! A little bit Fatal Attraction come Pretty Woman about it.

    I found it so fascinating delving into the world of Sugar Daddy and Sugar Baby and even learnt terms used by the Sugar bowl world such as ‘Splenda’ and ‘Salty’. It’s a world which has come to light in more recent times, but ine that is still very much shrouded in taboo and mystery.

    The Arrangement follows the small town character Natalie, a struggling and naive Arts student in New York and her foray into the world of Sugar Babies and her ‘arrangement’/involvement with her rich, sociopathic Sugar Daddy Gabe. Author Robyn Harding doesn’t hold back with conveying their deep character flaws, which at times leaves you feeling both sad and repulsed at both characters.
    I did like the short chapters, it kept you reading along and although it’s not so much a thriller perse, it certainly had sinister and thought provoking moments throughout.

    I thoroughly enjoyed this book, it was unique and page turning.

    Thanks again Beauty & Lace and Simon & Schuster Australia.

  4. Wow, What a great read!

    From page one I was immediately pulled into the story. I found it such a easy book to read but also really, really enjoyable! I devoured it within two days.

    Exploring the thin line between love and obsession, I found it fast paced and fun. It wasnt exactly what I personally would call a nail biting thriller but it had enough twists and turns to have you hooked and wanting more.

    It wasnt the first of Robyn’s books I have read and certainly wont be the last! Do yourself a favour and add this to your TBR pile!

    Thanks Beauty and Lace and Simon and Schuster for the opportunity to read and review this fantastic book!

  5. I’ve been keen to read Robyn Harding for a while and my first experience did not disappoint.

    The Arrangement was one of those books that I wished I had infinite time and no need to sleep so I could keep on reading. I found it un-put-downable. Despite never having even heard of the Sugar Bowl, and sugar babies – I could see how easily just a couple of decisions could take you on a path like Nat.

    I found the characters relatable, and while in situations I have never personally been, I found it totally believable. I can remember being a poor university student and I can remember wondering how I would afford rent let alone food. Where I got lucky, as opposed to Nat was that I had parents I could call – but what would I have done if I didn’t? Wouldn’t a world where someone would take me out and treat me like a queen be all the more appealing?

    The story didn’t drag, it all happened so quickly, and I found myself along for the ride from the first page. While I got the feeling Nat didn’t know what she was getting herself into, it was like watching a disaster unfold – you didn’t know what would happen next but you couldn’t look away. I just thank my lucky stars I could read it, be fascinated by it, be intrigued by it – but I didn’t have to be in it!

    Thanks again to Beauty and Lace and Simon and Schuster for the opportunity to review The Arrangement by Robyn Harding.

  6. Thank you to Beauty and lace and Simon & Schuster for the opportunity to read ‘The arrangement’ by Robyn Harding.

    I have read other Robyn Harding books and so I was looking forward to reading this one too.

    This story is a well-paced book that is full of love, obsession and twists that kept me quickly turning pages to see what would happen next.

    This story is unique and even though I cannot relate to the choices the main character Natalie makes the story is believable and I felt sad for her heartbreaking character.

  7. I can not praise Robyn Harding enough! Again, another page turner where I’m left feeling like I’ve been through an emotional tornado. I was on the edge of my seat and I’m certain my heart rate increased as the main character Nat went through this emotional hell. Nat is such a young vulnerable soul, a uni student trying to find her way in life and making mistakes along the way. Nat finds herself in a situation where she can get ahead in life and quickly the story spirals out of control, this is where my emotional tornado begins! I wish I’d had the time to just sit and read in one hit but agh life! I couldn’t wait for lunch breaks and tram rides so I could devour this book.
    I’m looking forward to Robyn’s next book!!! Thank you so much Beauty & Lace, Robyn Harding and Simon & Schuster for this review. Easily 5/5 stars from me.

  8. I Loved loved this book! totally up my reading lane! had never heard of Robyn before but now a big fan of her books and writing style.

    Loved the essence of the main character and they storyline grabbed me in straight away i could not put it down. Story flowed well quickly and was very intriguing.

    Ending was superb! .

  9. Having read a number of Robyn Harding’s previous books, I was so excited to read ‘The Arrangement’ but worried my expectations may have been a tad too high. Thankfully, the book didn’t disappoint – I was glued to it, and am now recommending it to everyone to read! The book had a bit of everything – romance, sex, rich characters, and suspense.

  10. Had never heard of Robyn before but will definitely keep my eyes peeled for her next edition! Loved this book and highly recommend it

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