Published July 30, 2019 by Gallery/Scout Press
About the Book:
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.
4 – 4.5 Stars!!
LOVED this juicy thriller!! I’m very intrigued by the “Sugar” lifestyle so I was drawn in by this story from the very beginning. Natalie has just told her father that she killed someone. We will not know who the victim is until later in the book. The phone call is a very difficult one, as Nat has been estranged from her father for many years.
Nat had been a struggling New York City art student, overworked but barely making ends meet and constantly arguing with her roommates. She is desperate for a solution but loves the city and does not want to leave school.
Nat’s friend Ava lives in a beautiful apartment, always had money for luxuries like coffee and wears lovely clothes. Ava clues her in: she has sugar daddies, men who pay her for companionship and even a relationship. At first Nat is absolutely horrified but Ava helps her navigate this brand new world of sugar relationships.
“She made it sound so mature, so reciprocal, almost liberating. Ava and her suitors were up front with their needs, their wants, their parameters. It sounded positively evolved.”
Ava explains that the sex is completely optional and only if the feelings are mutual. Ava seems so financially secure that Nat is ready to jump in. After positing her profile online, Nat receives many messages. Some of the men are positively repulsive, but one man stands out: Gabe Turnmill.
Gabe is handsome, brilliant, cultured and older than her father. Nat immediately feels safe with Gabe and soon becomes absolutely entranced by the wealthy older man. The theater, opera, fine restaurants…Nat loves her new lifestyle and begins to fall for Gabe.
“As clichéd as it sounded, she had never felt this way. Not even in the early days with Cole. Not with Miguel. Those boys couldn’t make her feel secure, cherished, adored. That took a man. But this was not a storybook romance; she knew that. It was a financial arrangement between two consenting adults who had laid out the parameters of their relationship up front. “
Gabe, too, begins to develop feelings for Nat that he knows he shouldn’t have. He loves her honesty and fresh-faced beauty and the way she looks up to him. But could he divorce his wife and leave his family behind for her? Their chemistry was honest and well-written and I could feel them both falling in love with each other!
“No strings. No commitment, obligation, or drama. And above all, no emotional attachment. This was about enjoying their time together, as limited as it may be, with no thought for the future. Because there wouldn’t be one. Her brain knew it, but her heart begged to differ.”
The story begins to get very complicated as Gabe becomes afraid that someone will find out about his “arrangement”. The plot takes a VERY dark turn. Reading Gabe’s perspective added to the depth of this book and I loved the tension and twists in this story. Would Gabe really leave his family for Natalie? Would Nat be able to sustain her lifestyle without Gabe’s financial assistance?
“He felt a surge of anger, fear, and lust. Natalie’s eyes met his, reflecting his ambiguity. I hate you. I want you. I’m going to ruin you.”
It is clear that the author really did her research on this lifestyle and I was even educated on the terminology! While some of the plot was a little far-fetched, overall I loved this intriguing domestic thriller and felt very connected to the characters. I could not put it down! Sex, envy, obsession, love and suspense, this wicked, fast-paced thriller has it all.
“Sometimes, we do things we don’t feel good about to survive. It doesn’t mean you’re a bad person.”
(ARC was provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.)