Review: Sweeten the Deal by Katie Shepard

The tables are turned as a younger woman is sugar mama to a struggling artist...

Loved the idea! It has to be funny, right? Yes!

In Sweeten the Deal, Caroline unexpectedly inherits $2 million and sees her chance to escape her controlling Texas family and go to business school in Boston. She’s the most sheltered 22-year-old imaginable, having been home-schooled, lived at home during college, and spent 100% of her time doing schoolwork or playing tennis. She’s ready for an actual life, but realizes she has zero clue how to live it.

Adrian is a talented but clueless and impractical artist. After he dumps his cheating fiancée, he realizes he has no money, no house, and that all his paintings are under contract with his ex’s gallery. He needs rent money fast and something that pays better than barista. So his roommate signs him up for an escort service where women pay for someone on their arms for galas and more.

And so it begins. Caroline desperately needs life experience and social skills; Adrian needs money. From the start, he’s uncomfortable with being paid for just hanging out with a beautiful younger woman. She approaches things more logically—it’s a transaction and they’re both getting what they want. Neither expected feelings to get in the way.

I was so up and down with Sweeten the Deal. The premise was a fun twist on the sugar daddy/paid date theme, and the characters were quirky and interesting, though each was really too dumb to be realistic.

First, Caroline is smart enough to get into business school, get away from her family, and find a sugar mama website, but can’t Google what a cocktail dress is? Yes, part of the premise is her naivete, but this is going too far.

Second, Adrian has been a professional artist for ten years and doesn’t think to have a website, social media presence, or even do just a little tracking of his finances? Yes, he’s an artist and formerly depended on his ex to handle those things, but he doesn’t seem to have even the most basic business sense or drive to find one.

The chemistry is there, though Caroline’s social issues often get in the way. Still, I loved them together and as they start opening up and growing closer, the relationship gets more real. The tension brought on by the escort app and money feels real too—as Adrian is falling for Caroline, he feels slimier and slimier about accepting her money, whereas her very logical mind doesn’t see it that way.

Overall, Sweeten the Deal is a really fun book, interesting characters, and something different. For more reviews, please check out our Reviews page. 

Rating: 4
Steam: Low
Themes and Tropes: Opposites Attract, Sugar Daddy/Mama/Baby, Escort, Age Gap
Pair With: Artsy wines such as Artiste Winery or William Chris Vineyards’ Artist Blend.