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The Arrangement Mass Market Paperback – May 1, 2007

3.6 out of 5 stars 15 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

New York, Six Months Later

Alison Fairmont Villard opened her eyes reluctantly. She was in her own bedroom, but the first moments of consciousness still brought bewilderment. Andrew had insisted she recuperate at his home on Oyster Bay in Long Island, but it wasn't being on the east coast that confused her. Each day since the accident had started with a realization that felt almost physical, as if she had to grasp her mind and wrench it to this new time and place, to a world she actually knew very little about. And yet more about than she wanted to.

Her amnesia wasn't as total as the doctors had thought. She remembered nothing about being battered against the reefs and nearly drowning, nothing about the plunge into the raging ocean, but she could remember just enough of what had happened before that to be terrified by it.

Those flashes of memory acted like a spotlight that could blind you to everything except its beam. What she recalled now were the harrowing moments. Everything else was hidden in the surrounding ring of darkness.

Maybe it was the pills. She took them to sleep and to keep the dreams at bay. Whether night or day, when she swallowed a tiny blue pill, she was transported to a cool, safe place, a shaded tropical lagoon, her mind free of clutter and turmoil. She slept in innocence, like Eve before the apple.

Her fingers clasped the small battered loop of copper attached to her charm bracelet. It was an ugly stepsister compared to the other delicate gold charms, but she was relieved to find it still there. She'd reached for it so often it had become a reflex. An embarrassing tic. But the brush with death had made her superstitious, and the old copper penny ring had literally saved her life when it snagged on a piece of driftwood. Its protective powers had been tested.

She rolled to her side and sat up, not bothering to cover her nakedness. There was no one to see her, anyway. She and Andrew didn't share this beautiful suite where she slept her life away, and as far as she knew they never had. Before the "accident," which was how they now referred to it, they'd lived in his Manhattan apartment. Here, in his much larger estate on Oyster Bay, their rooms were in different wings. Different rooms. Different lives.

She had almost no interaction with her husband these days, except occasionally to discuss a social or business event that he wanted her to attend with him, and there had been very few of those. In the first weeks after the accident, he'd spent hours with her, filling in the blanks of her life with him, as well as her life before him. He'd shared as much as he knew of her past, but it was what he'd told her about their relationship that made her realize they'd been on the brink of a divorce before the accident—and Andrew didn't seem to have any desire to reconcile now.

He didn't even seem to like her, which made her feel strangely empty and resentful, even though she wasn't entirely sure how she'd felt about him before. He'd refused to go into the intimate details of their relationship, which had left her both curious and suspicious, but mostly, lost. How was she supposed to pick up pieces she didn't have?

They were together now only because of the agreement they'd made—and that was strictly business. Once she'd recovered enough to lead her own life, such as it was, he'd left her to it. That was how he wanted it. What she wanted didn't seem to enter into anything, though to be fair, he had asked her about that once.

What do you want to do with your second chance? Her answer had surprised him. She told him she didn't remember asking for one.

She rose and stretched, using her arms and feeling the ripple come from the base of her spine. Her listlessness was replaced by a vague sense of guilt as she considered the state of her bedroom and what she could see of her sitting room through the connecting arch. Clothing had been dropped here and there; books and magazines lay about.

Had she always been this sloppy? Maybe she was rebelling against his need for order and organization. He'd called home once when he was away on a trip, and had her search for some papers in his study, which was next to his bedroom. She'd been amazed at the precision of his life.

She didn't feel precise. She felt messy. "What you are is a zombie," she murmured, startled at the husky tone of her own voice. Part of that was from the surgery and the rest was the way she'd always sounded, apparently. "Do something," she said. "Anything other than sleep."

She started for the bathroom, thinking she might shower and dress, perhaps go to the kitchen and find something to eat. It was late morning, and she probably should have been hungry, but she rarely had much of an appetite, especially for the organic food that Andrew preferred.

He had someone come in twice a week to clean and do the grocery shopping, but other than that they had no staff. He'd let everyone go shortly after he brought her home from the hospital. He'd had concerns about prying eyes and the tabloid press, but they would have been interested in her only because of him.

He'd made a name for himself in the music business, not just for the high-profile events he organized, but for the talent he'd discovered. And it didn't hurt that he was the personification of tall, dark and dashing. Years ago he'd been engaged to one of his own finds, a pop princess named Regine, when she'd drowned, apparently rather mysteriously, in their swimming pool.

Another accident. The women in Andrew's life were prone to them.

The media had tagged it the Villard Curse, but Andrew wouldn't discuss it, except for a few paltry details that Alison could have read in a newspaper. His mother had been a rising star with the New York Opera when she'd suffered a freak accident during a rehearsal. She and Andrew, who was a teenager at the time, had been living with her mentor, the opera's artistic director, and Andrew had stayed on with the director after she died, rather than disrupt Andrew's schooling. His parents had divorced when he was a baby, and his mother had desperately wanted him to have culture in his life. No one had objected, least of all Andrew's father, who'd moved to the wilds of Wyoming and had a family of his own.

When Alison had pressed for details about Regine, Andrew had startled her by lashing out. Apparently the loss was still too painful, but it had been five years. He'd told her not to ask about Regine again, but he'd alluded to a love triangle, of which she, Alison, had been one of the points. Alison had no recollection of that at all. It was her mother, Julia, who'd come between her relationship with Andrew when Alison was eighteen. As far as Alison knew, Andrew's association with Regine had been strictly business up to that point, although it did turn romantic after Alison and Andrew parted. Things quickly became serious between he and Regine, but she was dead before they could marry.

A year after that Andrew had secretly married Alison!and now this.

Her spine rippled again, a shiver this time. She lived with a vague sense of dread that never left her, except when she forced it away. Were there men who found it easier to dispose of women than to leave them? They would have to be patholotical in the extreme, and she didn't want to think about her husband in that way. She was still rattled and disoriented. Right now there was nothing to anchor her, no touchstones, but that would change.

The large sage-green-and-white bathroom soothed her as she stepped barefoot onto its cool limestone tile. The mostly glass-and-steel house had several levels, domed skylights and was built on low, rolling sand dunes. It was one of the few modern structures in Oyster Bay Cove, and Andrew had kept the decor inside as light and natural as the shores and the sea outside.

As she entered the shower stall, the charm bracelet jingled on her wrist. She never removed it these days, even to bathe. Doing so made her feel too vulnerable. A chunk of her life was gone and the details of her past were confused and fuzzy, but she had a sense of herself as an adventurous person before the accident. Some might even say reckless. Now she was in constant search of ways to protect herself. She kept a marble paperweight on the nightstand next to her bed and a kitchen carving knife in the nightstand drawer, just in case.

She turned one of the knobs on a sleek stainless steel panel, and warm water began to mist from above. Possibly her favorite part of the bathroom was the rain forest showerhead. Standing under it, she really did feel as if she'd been caught in a tropical cloudburst.

When she came out of the shower moments later, wrapped in a bath sheet, she sensed that something was different. But as she walked through the room, still dripping, she didn't notice anything out of place.

As she entered the sitting room, she saw that an envelope and a handwritten note had been left on her writing desk. The embossed envelope was made of pale blue linen as soft and slippery as silk. It was addressed to her, but it had been opened and the contents read. She knew because of the note from Andrew lying next to the envelope. He'd written just two sentences and signed his name with the usual slashing capital A.

Alison, there's no way out this time. We have to go. Andrew.

Alison pulled the matching blue stationery from the envelope and read the entire page in one gulp, as if it were a single sentence. Nerves, she thought. The kind that made you eat too fast and caused the food to ball up in your stomach.

My darling daughter,

Your silence is breaking my heart. You will be twenty-eight soon, and though no invitation is needed because this is and always will be your home, I'm extending one so that you can understand how desperate I am to see you again.

Please come to Sea Clouds and celebrate the occasion of your birthday with your brother and me. Of course, Andrew is invited, too.

I l...

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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Mira; English Language edition (May 1, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0778324265
  • ISBN-13: 978-0778324263
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 1.2 x 6.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,675,078 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Mass Market Paperback
I have to respectfully disagree with Tracey on this one. I've read just about every Suzanne Forster novel, and I think this is one of her best efforts. When people suggest that The Arrangement is Hitchcockian in nature, they are not kidding.

Over the years I have watched Forster evolve from series romance to romantic suspense to her current book, The Arrangement, and while there is a lovely dark and steamy romance in this current novel, where she really shines is in the way she has woven such an intricate web of mystery, suspicion and jeopardy for the characters, including emotional jeopardy.

The Arrangement is the sort of novel that pulls you in on page one and wraps its incredible atmosphere around you until it has completely pulled you into the story. Just when you feel you have it all worked out, it delivers a solid and believable twist that leaves you breathless. One of the plot reversals was nothing less than mind blowing, and that's not overstating it.

I will not go into the details of the story because that might spoil it but I can say that the ending of this novel had one of the best surprises I've read in a long time, and every little twist and turn was tied up in a way that made absolute sense.

For what it's worth, I thought that her novel The Lonely Girls Club was going to be Suzanne's best suspense novel for a long time to come, but I was wrong about that. For me, The Arrangement was nothing less than smack-down brilliant. I highly recommend it.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
The Arrangement creates a heart chilling tale of suspense by adding echoes of some of the best suspense classics into a new context that will delight readers. The plot, characterization and detours are subtly prepared but this book is so much more than a well-written book!

Andrew Villard's wife had disappeared at sea three days ago when he spots something shiny while searching for her. He pulls a near lifeless body out of the ocean. Realizing that the shiny bracelet on her wrist belongs to his wife Alison Fairmont Villard, he saves her life and hires the best plastic surgeons to reconstruct her reef-battered face from photographs. Alison wakes up in the hospital with a case of amnesia. She does not recognize her face nor the man who calls himself her husband. Circumstances force her to trust him and accept the scandalous arrangement he offers --- even though her intuition balks at the idea. She has her own secrets to hide. When an FBI agent Tony Bogart appears, he is determined to prove Andrew's guilt in Alison's accident. With Tony's personal vendetta as motivation, no hidden evidence is safe. Can the arrangement protect her or has she created an even more deadly threat by accepting it?

Foster's portrayal of a severely dysfunctional families is heart-chilling. Every character, whether primary or secondary, has a role to play in a carefully prepared and unfolding nexus of suspense. Beyond the literary and stylistic perfection of this novel, The Arrangement strikes the heart of suspense fans with familiar echoes in a new chord. Take my favorite two Alfred Hitchcock movies, my favorite Daphne DuMaurier novel and add just a tiny twist of my favorite Nathaniel Hawthorne short story...
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Book #18 Read in 2014
The Arrangement by Suzanne Forster

This book reminded me of the book Gone Girl....I didn't really like any of the characters or find anything redeeming about them...but I had to finish the book to see what happened to them. In The Arrangement, Allison was swept overboard and her husband, Andrew, is blamed. She is then found...or was she? It turns out that Andrew replaced his wife with Marnie, a deformed local girl who was also thought to be dead. He wants to use her to flush out Allison's true killer so that he can be freed from suspicion. A long line of suspects exist, including Allison's dysfunctional mother Julia and her mentally ill brother.

This book has good twists and turns in it. As I said above, none of these characters are truly innocent and some are not even decent people. That being said, readers will want to see what happens to them, if they get their just desserts and how this book will end.

[...]
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
After falling off her husband's yacht six months ago, Alison Fairmont Villard is lucky to be alive. Her face was repaired to fix the damage caused by the battering of the rocks. Her husband does not touch her, after surgery they had made a deal ¾Andrew would let her recover and she would share the details of that night with him. Every night she has nightmares. Every day she wakes up and wonders whom she truly is, and whom can she trust. The partial amnesia clouds matters even further.

Andrew Villard has a shadowy past. For six months he has watched the woman who he calls wife. They have an agreement that they have both stood by. Now complications have arisen due to Alison's mother summoning them to return to the scene of the accident

Both hope to find answers to their own questions. They each have demons they need to take care of. Andrew makes an offer that Alison has no choice but to accept. But can they find the answers to their own questions or will it tear things apart even further. Who can they trust? Neither can escape the consequences of their decisions.

The Arrangement is one of those books that captivates you from the moment you start reading. It keeps the tension at a heightened level that kept me turning the pages to find the answers to the questions raised in my mind at the beginning. It is incredibly engrossing; the intrigue with a dash of romance is the perfect continuous mix to make the reader glad they are reading The Arrangement. This is a book that I highly recommend.

Barb
Reviewed for Joyfully Reviewed
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