In the vein of Luster and Queenie, an unflinching portrayal of high-paid sex work in the age of the internet-an intoxicating, bold debut from a dazzling new voice.

An ABA Indie Next Pick for Jan 2024!

Sugar, Baby follows Agnes, a mixed-race 21-year-old whose life seems to be heading nowhere. Still living at home, she works as a cleaner and spends all her money in clubs on the weekends searching for distractions from her mundane life. That is until she meets Emily, daughter of one of her cleaning clients, who lives in London and works as a model . . . and a sugar baby, dating rich older men for money.

Emily’s life is the escape Agnes has been longing for-extravagant tasting menus, champagne on tap, glamorous hotels with unlimited room service, designer gifts from dates who call her beautiful. But this new lifestyle is the last straw for her religious mother Constance.

Kicked out of her family home, Agnes moves in with Emily and the other sugar babies in their fancy London flat and is drawn deeper and deeper into their world. But these women come from money: they possess a safety net Agnes does not. And as she is thrown from one precarious relationship to the next-a married man who wants to show off the glamourous, exotic girl on his arm; a Russian billionaire’s wife who makes Agnes central to a sex party in Miami-she finds herself searching for fulfillment just as desperately as she was before.

A compelling journey of self-discovery that offers sharp commentary on race, beauty, and class, Sugar, Baby is an electric, original, spellbinding novel that will keep readers turning the pages until the very end.

Don't just take our word for it...

“This is a propulsive read that tackles myriad attitudes toward sex work, from condemnation to celebration, through a distinctly feminist lens. Accompanying the partying with perceptive social commentary, Saintclare refuses to romanticize the gritty details of sugaring-inviting the reader into a whirlwind of champagne, sex, and money that is at times claustrophobic, scary, and toxic. Saintclare modernizes outdated sex-work narratives, honouring the bonds formed between women instead.”
– Kirkus Reviews

“Celine Saintclare’s captivating debut, Sugar, Baby, is, on its surface, about the limitless power of beauty, but underneath that narrative lurks a second, darker one, in which Saintclare shows us in heartbreaking details that there are indeed limits to what power can buy. Sugar, Baby is an elegantly crafted bait-and-switch, where the story about the ease and glamour of sex work cracks open to reveal a deeper and more delicious secret: that the true sweetness of life lies not in the comfort of being kept, but in the autonomy we are able to maintain for ourselves. And the beauty of that kind of living-hand-made and hard-won-is priceless.”
– Destiny O. Birdsong, author of Nobody’s Magic

“Saintclare’s writing sizzles-she has a knack for the sensual, making even the mundane feel like a revelation. I was absolutely sucked into Agnes’ world, she took me by the hand and didn’t let me go until the final pages, wondering what becomes of all the characters we come to know and love.”
– Tembe Denton-Hurst, author of Homebodies

Taste the very first page

Chapter One: Emotional Damage

It’s May, baking hot, lounge around with a freezer Calypso in front of a whirring fan kind of weather, and I have three spacious floors to mop, approximately forty-eight cabinets to dust and a drain to unblock. Outside, Emily is lying topless on the grass like she’s in a sun lotion ad. It is a private garden, I’ll give her that—nothing but green and yellow fields out the back, a host of conifers lined up at the top of the opposite hill—but it feels like a lot for pre-noon on a Wednesday.

Just thinking of being outside without a top on makes me damp, and not in the good way. I feel a bead of sweat prickle at the skin between my shoulder blades, then run down the middle of my spine before it’s absorbed by my knicker elastic. The sun is already pressing in at the windows and this house has a lot of them—by the afternoon it’s going to be stifling, my regulation candy pink overalls soaked through.

In the kitchen, I fill up a plastic mop-bucket with detergent and warm water, hear one of the other cleaners getting the vacuum going in the living room. I can’t see Emily from the kitchen windows, just the corner of the orange-and-white striped beach towel she’s lying on. But I’ve seen her face before in a portrait blown up to A1 size, hanging in a silver frame in the hallway, a close-up of her feline green eyes, full lips, blonde…