REVIEW: Nicolette Hugo’s ‘The Arrangement’
Nell Harper’s got her life all figured out:
Build a successful law career, find Mr. Right, then have 2.3 kids and a white picket fence. Everything is going to plan until a handsome stranger stops her from stepping in front of a speeding car.
Vincent Mason, rising politician, not only rescues Nell from death but from her safe but predictable life as he introduces her to the darker pleasures of domination and submission. What starts as a six month arrangement of sexual liberation turns into a deeper emotional exploration and Nell soon finds herself letting go of preconceived ideas of love and lust.
But can Nell trust Vincent enough to truly surrender herself?
And can she trust herself enough to listen to what her heart truly wants?
What AusRom Today thought:
The Arrangement features a relationship built on dominance and submission, some reasonably intense sex scenes, and the obvious power exchange that you’d expect in a D/s relationship. Now, before you roll your eyes or scroll past to the next novel, understand that this is not your average BDSM novel. BDSM erotica and erotic romance has copped an undue amount of flack over the past few years and whilst there is a lot of mediocre BDSM writings out there, Nicolette Hugo’s writing is quite the opposite.
Most importantly, the heroine, Nell, is no shrinking virginal violet. Quite the opposite, Nell is a well established woman in and of her own right. She is goal-oriented, astute, and aware of herself, her wants and her needs.
The hero, Vincent is not a power-hungry control freak. Phew, what a relief huh? Quite the opposite actually. Vincent is a man who though demanding and intense in their sexual relationship is at heart compassionate and caring.
Another key consideration, and something that Hugo delivers well and without reservation is the topic of consent. Consent is mutual and expressly communicated to the reader. At no point do we feel that Nell is being pushed around or entering into situations blindly. Even in situations whereby Nell is uncertain, we see her being respectfully and genuinely guided by Vincent.
Hugo’s writing stands out from the crowd because she offers a strong storyline, strong characters, and an insider’s view of the complexities of BDSM relationships. Yes, it’s a BDSM relationship. Yes, these relationships are complex and difficult to navigate. But tell me what relationship isn’t… What good BDSM writing does, and Hugo offers good BDSM writing, is show that for all intents and purposes, they’re perfectly normal people engaging in a perfectly normal, albeit perhaps non-mainstream, sexual lifestyle and that is what romance, and importantly the romance genre, is all about.
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