I received an ARC from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review!
CW: sex work, stalking, self-harm, alcohol abuse, and cheating
Ever since I read Her Pretty Face last year, I knew that this was an author to look out for. She completely captivated me with her story. And, honestly, this one was no different!
Natalie, or Nat, is a young woman at a NYC art school. She waits tables and lives in a flat with two other people who don’t like her very much. Of course, she also once had a stalker who still worries her. She can barely afford her share of the rent. After meeting a fellow student who, somehow, has money, she learns about being a sugar baby. Time in exchange for money. A lot of money, at that. And, Nat decides to dip into that sugar bowl.
Gabe is a high powered attorney. He’s (unhappily) married and has a kid he doesn’t understand. The marriage he’s in has turned into one of companionship, lacking the passion it once had. This isn’t his first time having a sugar baby. But, he chooses Natalie.
I know I’ve said it before on here, but I have a huge interest in sex work. Not like that. I mean, I find the work absolutely fascinating. What drives people to do it. The work behind the scenes. I’ve always found it absolutely fascinating. For a long time, I had a personal Twitter. I’ve deactivated it now, but I used to follow camgirls to see if I could catch that glimpse. I used to follow sex workers on Tumblr before the changes happened to the website to kind of keep up on what was going on.
And, I love that this book came from that place of interest. In her author’s note, she says that she was interested and actually talked to sugar babies to find out why they chose that profession. I love that! I love that she actually went into the community to research! I think, for me, that’s why it felt so realistic. The story showed the good and the bad. The nice holidays, the jewelry, the housing. And the creepy men who go there because they can scare and hurt a woman. I could go on my whole diatribe against the criminalization of sex work for people who genuinely want to work there, but I won’t get on that soapbox.
Still, I didn’t like some of the tropes presented in this.
Sex and sex work shaming did play a role in this. I know that it’s a huge reality for sex workers, but I would have liked to not see every single non-sex worker character shitting on Natalie for her financial choice.
It also goes with the whole unstable sex worker line. Natalie is very unstable, I won’t lie there. She goes into being a sugar baby (which is, in a way, sex work) not realizing and accepting that’s what it was. She doesn’t seem to understand that being a sugar baby isn’t like being a girlfriend. It’s a job, one you have to work at. It’s not real. It’s a fantasy. She also has PTSD from her stalker.
Still, I didn’t like that it showed bad endings for both of the sex worker characters in this. I feel like balancing it out with something more positive would have been better for me. But, that’s me.
I still loved this book. It was a page turner and I thoroughly enjoyed it. It’s one that I’ll want to own once it’s out and I was thrilled by it! The book felt so authentic and I loved the twists and turns it took, along with the characters revealing themselves who they really were. I couldn’t believe the ending and it was just so good!
Another fantastic book from Harding!
Have you read this?
Is it on your TBR?