Author: Nicolette Hugo
The Arrangement is the debut of author Nicolette Hugo published in late August by Momentum Moonlight. I am not usually a big reader of erotica, though I have been reading it for review. Genre wise I knew what I was getting myself into from the outset, it is clearly stated in the about the author blurb and the disclaimer that this is BDSM yet it was still not quite what I expected.
I find that in general ebooks are much shorter than print books, they are not quite novellas but the page count doesn’t quite reach that of print books. Mind you, this is only my opinion and I have no facts to back it up so please don’t quote me. The reason I mention it is that the lower word count means that the scope for back story and scene setting is also restricted.
We open with our leads at a table talking over a contract, the scene skips briefly back to the day they met and then returns to the leads and the contract. We have a couple of pages of them discussing the contract which forms the basis of their agreement. A sexual agreement which lays down all of the terms and conditions of their six month sexual liaison. A period in which they will explore BDSM with her in a submissive role.
Chapter one skips to five months later, detailing only the last month of the agreement when they are living together. Vincent Mason is our hunky hero with political aspirations, and a part time firefighter. Our heroine is the straight laced lawyer Nell Harper, she has her whole life planned out and is always in complete control.
The Arrangement is scorching hot, it explores the BDSM lifestyle and there is plenty of kink. The sex is never vanilla and some of the scenes were quite confronting.
Hugo explores not just the BDSM lifestyle but the personalities and the characters involved in this story. The secondary characters were a little two dimensional and the back stories of the leads were a little sketchy. I think that’s partly because there isn’t the scope for minute exploration into everyone within this word count but I think it is also because the story is focusing on who they are and how they evolve within this story and their back stories aren’t as important in that respect.
Vincent is an aspiring politician, he likes power and so he makes the perfect Dom. He likes to exert his power, he likes obedience but never at the expense of his sub. Obedience and trust are interwoven for him. To have complete obedience you have to have complete trust that he is never going to risk your safety.
Nell is controlled, she has always had her destiny mapped out and likes to be in complete control of it. The world that Vincent has opened up to her sees her having to make the choice to relinquish control, to put complete trust in someone else.
I found the plotline to be quite predictable, maybe that’s the romantic in me finding it too difficult to believe that you can embark on a six month sexual arrangement and not have emotions get involved. The conflict was one that could have been easily remedied with communication but I can see how it wasn’t within the bounds of the agreement.
The character exploration was something I really enjoyed. Nell learning to let go of her need for control. The depth of emotion hidden behind Vincent’s seemingly impenetrable exterior. There was also a very interesting conversation between Nell and a photographer who we will get to know more intimately in Hugo’s next book.
Hugo states that this is purely fictional and doesn’t advocate any particular way to live in the BDSM lifestyle, this is just the way she chose to write her characters. She also states this is not intended to be an introduction to the lifestyle so if it does speak to you then there are ways to find out ore without just jumping into it at home, which could be dangerous.
The Arrangement is most definitely not going to be for everyone. It is hardcore, it is explicit and the heat is scorching so if you like your literary sex to be understated and vanilla then I would suggest you don’t pick this one up. I am open minded and got more involved in the power and control going on around the sex rather than the actual pleasure and the pain. An interesting read that is not for the faint hearted.
The Arrangement is book #43 for the Australian Women Writer’s Challenge 2015.
The Arrangement is available through Momentum Moonlight from August 27th.