Review: Rules of Arrangement by Maren MacKenzie
Blackmail can be ugly and this story shows how terrible it can get. Adelaide Wright is estranged from her older sister and brother. More her sister due to a tiff regarding financial matters. The premise of this story sounded interesting and perhaps quite erotic. I found this less erotic and more heartbreaking. I am moved to tears by what Adelaide suffers through. New-to-me author Ms. MacKenzie pulls me into the dirty world of selling body and mind to survive.
The first 25% of the book, I'm infuriated and want to slap every single person hurting Adelaide. I am not sure I am going to be able to finish this book because I am so incensed. Yes, yes, I know Adelaide is breaking laws and going against her own morals. However, she isn't killing anyone or intentionally hurting anyone. She is doing the best she can to pay for her bills and make it through college. One could argue that college is a big waste of money. This is more than just receiving a college education. It is about what Adelaide needs to feel ... whole. Her entire life was turned upside down by one careless act. Instead of staying together as a family, she loses them due to ideological differences. There is so much to unpack here and this isn't a therapy session so I will withhold my comments.
Adelaide's relationships seem to be mostly toxic. The way Declan uses her is not sexy at all. When Adelaide follows through under duress, she finds Jack to be not as expected. Declan's beef with Jack is suspicious and as Adelaide gets to know him more, facts do not add up. Jack isn't a wholesome guy either. As more information unfolds, I'm not sure I like Jack that much. I do like him better than Declan and Adelaide's family. The way Adelaide's world spins out of control is alarming and I feel for her. Seeing from her perspective makes my heart hurt for her. She is so young and so are her siblings. I am not saying Adelaide is in the right for everything, but she is not wrong. Her sister isn't right either but she isn't wrong in some ways.
Jack and Adelaide's interactions are complicated. Sometimes he is a complete jerk. Other times he is empathetic. Basically, I find this entire cast of characters to be immature. Or I guess, quite a bit like most of the "adults" I see in real life. How depressing. Still, there are great moments between Jack and Adelaide. Their sexual chemistry is strong and hot. Their sexual escapades are tame for a jaded hedonist like me.
From beginning to end, I am invested in this book as my emotions are pulled in different directions. I feel for Adelaide and the ending is explosive. I loved it. This erotic romance is recommended to readers who like angst and colouring outside the lines.
*provided by NetGalley