Friday, July 10, 2015

REVIEW: "The Arrangement" by Mary Balogh

The Arrangement (The Survivors' Club #2)
The Arrangement by Mary Balogh
(Survivors' Club #2)

For Ages 18+ (Language, Sensuality)
Historical Romance -- Regency England

Dell -- Published on August 27, 2013
Mass Market Paperback, 366 pages
Read in June 2015
Received through Paperback Swap

Rating: 4 Stars

Marriage of Convenience, Returning Soldier, Blind Hero

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?

"When it became clear to Vincent Hunt, Viscount Darleigh, that if he stayed at home for the remainder of the spring he would without any doubt at all be betrothed, even married, before summer had properly settled in, he fled."

The Arrangement is a sweet and subtle romance that shows why Mary Balogh is so beloved in the historical romance community.  It is the second book in her latest series, the Survivors' Club, which focuses on a group of men (and one woman) who spent time recovering from the Napoleonic Wars at the home of a duke.  While this book could be read as a stand-alone, I think it helps to read in order so that one can fully appreciate the community the Survivors created.

This book features the youngest of them, Vincent, who was blinded in a freak accident in his first battle.  He has had quite a few years to adjust to his new life and is determined to be as independent as possible.  Unfortunately, for him, he is smothered by his well-intentioned mother and equally protective sisters so much that he runs away to the small village that he was born in.  While there he faces a string of ladies who want to gain wealth and a title and is saved on one occasion by Sophia Fry.  After she is unceremoniously thrown out of her house, Vincent realizes that marriage to Sophia would help solve both of their dilemmas.

Vincent is just an adorable hero.  He is young for a historical romance hero (only 24), but his war experiences have helped him mature quickly.  While I rolled my eyes at the fact that he wouldn't stand up to his family over their machinations, I understood his desire to not hurt their feelings.  His desire for independence is admirable and I also liked that he learned to accept his own limitations.  Vincent was just so nice to Sophia and most of the other characters that I had to fall for him.

I found Sophia to be a real surprise.  She started off the book as a mousy character who was pretty much invisible in her horrible relatives's house.  But, Sophia is actually hiding quite a sense of humor and a major loyal streak.  Her confidence has been damaged by her self-absorbed family and a mysterious event in her past.  I just wanted to give her a hug at the beginning though she does a wonderful job asserting herself once she gets out from under their thumb.

I do love a marriage of convenience story and The Arrangement is a particularly good one.  Vincent and Sophia first meet at a country assembly and it is obvious that they get along though marriage was far from both of their minds at the time.  Once the plan is set, they travel off to London to have the wedding and that is where the story really picks up.  Their interactions are pretty drama free, but still intriguing as they learn how to work together.  I also adored the fact that they needed each other to work through their various issues.

While in London, Sophia and Vincent meet up with other members from the Survivors' Club and Balogh continues to develop their friendship without sacrificing the love story.  I especially enjoyed getting to see Hugo and Gwen from The Proposal again.  I am looking forward to learning more about these characters and their very special relationship in future books in the series.

The Arrangement is a great example of Mary Balogh's style.  It is quiet, but emotional and emphasizes a variety of character relationships.  She also knows exactly how to steam up a story without explicit details.  If you haven't tried any books in her extensive backlist, I highly recommend you give her a try with the Survivors' Club being a good place to start.

"Living in a house with a large library,” she said, “is a little like living in heaven."

1. The Proposal
1.5. The Suitor
2. The Arrangement
3. The Escape
4. Only Enchanting
5. Only a Promise
6. Only a Kiss (Coming 2015)
7. Only Beloved (Coming 2016)

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  1. ooh my this sounds simply wonderful. And I adore it when either the hero or the heroine suffer from blindness, some of my favorite romances ever written involve that trope so I just grab for it. I have a couple books I own that are in this series, but I have read any of them yet, I kinda want to read it in order if I can. Hopefully I will get to the first book this month if possible, but boy you have tempted me to start with this one.

    1. I think you would really enjoy these! If you can read them in order, I recommend that. Balogh does a great job building a community with the Survivors and little things are revealed in each book.

  2. Oh my gosh, I want to read this so badly. This sooo looks like my kind of story. I've never read Mary Balogh, before. I know, and I call myself a love of historical romance! I know you said it's best to read these in order, but I might just jump in with this one.

    Thanks for the review!

  3. I loved this book! The characters, the romance, just everything! Excellent review.

    1. It just made me so happy! Balogh knows how to bring out the feels!


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