Review of The Arrangement by Mary Balogh
- Title: The Arrangement
- Author: Mary Balogh
- Book 2 of the Survivors’ Club Series
- Published: August 27, 2013
- Published by: The Random House Publishing Group
- Pages: 379
- ASIN: B00985DYEC
About The Author: Mary Balogh began her writing career in 1983 and published her first book, The Mask Deception in 1985. She has written over 60 novels and 30 novellas. Most of her work is historical romance and it is set in the Regency or Georgian Era in England. She has written single books and enjoys a large following with her series books. Her most recent series are widely acclaimed as some of her best work: Huxtable Family Quintet, Simply Quartet and Bedwyn Saga (Slightly Series). The Arrangement, book 2 is part of a new series called Survivors’ Club Septet. She is a former teacher having grown up in Wales, but presently lives in Canada.
About The Story: Vincent Hunt, a war veteran, was permanently blinded in battle at seventeen. He became Viscount Darleigh two years later. Vincent was a very good-natured individual and most of the time he could keep buried the anguish he felt from losing his sight and the panic attacks. Yet, he was tired of being coddled by all his family. They had moved in with him after he received the title, making sure he had everything. But he felt stifled and yearned for the old times. Only his friend Martin, former batman and present valet seemed to understand what frustration haunted him.
His mother’s recently inclination was to provide him a wife. Being blind was a damned nuisance. He couldn’t even escape into the country, to feel free, to have his freedom back. When he was cornered into joining his mother’s house party especially done for his benefit AND the proposed young lady, wife-to-be was invited, it became too much. He did what any young man would do. He fled the scene in the middle of the night with his valet. He would not get married and if he did, he would choose his own wife. Besides, he could learn to take care of himself, if only they’d let him. But by fleeing the frying pan, had he jumped into the fire?
Sophia Fry lived with her aunt and uncle as well as her cousin, very nearly her age. She had lost her parents and was obliged to live with family as a poor relative. Her aunt, her father’s sister, hardly acknowledged her – and certainly never by name, only giving orders. If she had a name, it was Mouse. She was more a servant rather than relation. Her clothes were her cousin’s cast downs.
Her cousin Henrietta Marsh, a rather haughty person, had completed her third season in London and was unable to snag a titled gentleman. So when Viscount Darleigh came to Covington House, one of his estates in her village, she and her parents connived to ensnare him. So easy to ensnare a blind man. But they hadn’t taken into account quiet, retiring, plain-faced Sophia. Sophia followed her cousin and Viscount into the garden outside the ballroom. She knew what her cousin was up to, so joined the couple throttling Henrietta’s plans. But by doing so she had saved the Viscount from certain marriage. Her aunt and uncle outraged with her mettling, threw her out of the only home she had known for years – with only enough money for a coach ticket to London.
The viscount heard of this and felt responsible for Sophia’s disaster, the outcome of saving him. And he was intrigued by her voice, so soft and warm when he had heard it in the garden. He found her at the church where she had stayed the night. What could he do for her? He must save her; after all, she had saved him. Impulsively, he proposed marriage. It obviously was the only solution. Would she accept? And if she did, what then? How had he gotten himself out of two disastrous marriages just to find himself getting into another?
These two characters were both very likeable. There was much sweetness on both their parts. They had made an arrangement to their marriage; to live together for one year and then each would be free to pursue their personal dreams. Sophia wanted to live alone in a small cottage in the country, no husband, no children. His was a dream to be on his own, to manage his own life and be independent, to be able to run his own estates, to send his mother and sisters back to their own homes and to feel finally grown up.
Sophia loved this kind husband, she wanted to provide all his dreams for him and she set out to try. Soon the Viscount could not conceive that he would lose Sophia after a year. The Viscount set out to make her love him. Would they both win?
Review: Mary Balogh has scored again. Her novels are full and rich with description of both character and scene. This romance is very sweet and poignant. The plot, easily followed, was complex enough to be entertaining throughout. You’ll meet the men of the Survivors’ Club and begin to appreciate the bond and support they give each other. If you like happy ever after stories, don’t miss this one from Mary Balogh.