Author: Mary Balogh
Genre: Historical Romance
My Copy: ARC via LibraryThing’s Early Reviewers Program
Add to: Goodreads
Synopsis: Desperate to escape his mother’s matchmaking, Vincent Hunt, Viscount Darleigh, flees to a remote country village. But even there, another marital trap is sprung. So when Miss Sophia Fry’s intervention on his behalf finds her unceremoniously booted from her guardian’s home, Vincent is compelled to act. He may have been blinded in battle, but he can see a solution to both their problems: marriage.
At first, quiet, unassuming Sophia rejects Vincent’s proposal. But when such a gloriously handsome man persuades her that he needs a wife of his own choosing as much as she needs protection from destitution, she agrees. Her alternative is too dreadful to contemplate. But how can an all-consuming fire burn from such a cold arrangement? As friendship and camaraderie lead to sweet seduction and erotic pleasure, dare they believe a bargain born of desperation might lead them both to a love destined to be?
Mary Balogh’s The Arrangement is the second book in The Survivors’ Club series. It picks up a few weeks shortly after The Proposal ended and if you haven’t read the first in the series, The Proposal, it’s not necessary to do so in order to enjoy The Arrangement.
It’s not easy writing a beta hero and even more so one that has a disability. Vincent Hunt, Viscount Darleigh, comes home blind after his first battle. His mother and sisters take turns taking care of him when all he wants is to be free. When his mother invites a friend and her daughter for a visit, Vincent doesn’t mind at first until he hears the daughter utter the words that have him fleeing, “I wouldn’t mind.” He doesn’t want a woman who doesn’t mind being with a blind man, but rather a woman who loves him for himself. He runs to his childhood home and there hopes to stay out of sight, but his plan goes astray when a village gossip notices his coach. There he is welcomed by old friends and soon finds himself in marriage trap and it’s Sophia Fry who comes to his rescue. Unfortunately for Sophia she’s kicked out of her aunt’s house and finds herself in dire straits. When Vincent hears of the incident he comes to her rescue, but she refuses his proposal on the grounds that she doesn’t want to be perceived as trapping him. He continues to press his suit and they both agree on a marriage of convenience. As they begin to know each other and form a friendship, they both realize they are falling in love. Will they admit their true feelings before it’s too late?
Ah, I love marriage of convenience stories because there they are filled with hope and most importantly friendship. I loved Vincent and Sophia because they are both deeply scarred and each think of themselves as unworthy of love. Vincent blames himself for his blindness, which I won’t go into detail because I don’t want to spoil it, but it’s an accident anyone in the midst of battle could easily make. Sophia has self esteem issues from an incident involving a youthful crush and what this crush said to her. Together, Vincent and Sophia flourish and grow.
This is just a sweet romance with two unlikely people falling in love. There are no outside forces trying to separate them or a love triangle coming between them, but rather two people who develop a friendship. Sophia does have some obstacles to overcome. Vincent’s friends, those from the Survivors’ Club including Vincent’s valet, all look upon Sophia with suspicion. Sophia defends the marriage by informing everyone that she refused his suit more than once and she’s the one who needed saving not Vincent. Vincent, on the other hand, takes his role as her rescuer in stride and he’s willing to defend his lady no matter what. In his eyes, Sophia comes first and she’s important before anyone else.
I laughed and cried at the same time! Balogh has a history of writing beautiful stories with characters with disabilities and The Arrangement is in no exception. She could easily take the clichéd route and given Vincent his eyesight (maybe in a future book it might still happen), but here she introduces Vincent who comes to grips with being blind and makes peace. He suffers panic attacks on occasion, but he’s open to ideas and Sophia doesn’t coddle him. Together they make a worthy couple because they are willing to put the past aside and move forward. I just adored this book and the relationship between these two! There were many times I had tears streaming down my face because of an incident and then laughing because of their banter together.
If you’re a fan of historical romance or are looking for a sweet romance, I highly recommend Mary Balogh’s The Arrangement. I already have a few characters I’d like to see together in a future book and hopefully Balogh follows through.