Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Mary Balogh - The Arrangement

Blinded by a cannon blast on the Napoleonic battlefields, Vincent Hunt, Lord Darleigh, needs to escape the well-meaning meddling - and matchmaking - of his family. But anonymity proves impossible, and soon another marital trap is sprung. Luckily, he is saved by a stranger with a captivating voice... And when Miss Sophia Fry's intervention on his behalf finds her unceremoniously booted from her guardian's home, Vincent can see a solution to both their problems: marriage.
At first, quiet, unassuming Sophia rejects Vincent's proposal, fearing her attraction to this handsome yet heartbreakingly vulnerable man. But when he convinces her that he needs a wife of his own choosing as much as she needs protection from destitution, she agrees. Could an arrangement born of desperation lead them both to a love destined to be?

Comment: This is the second installment in the Survivor's Club series by author Mary Balogh. As usual, her writing is quite appealing to me and I'll certainly finish the series.

In this second story we have the tale of the youngest member of the Survivor's Club, a group of six men and one woman who survived the Napoleon war and befriended one another and stayed at the house of one of their members in England to recuperate.
Vincent's scars aren't visible because he suffered the impact of a blast which made him blind and that means his mother and sisters hoover and want to do things for him, thinking he must be very fragile. However, Vincent is perfectly able to think for himself and that s why he runs from a house party where a specific young woman is put on his path to marriage.
What Vincent decides to do is to travel to the house of his childhood before he got his title but everyone there now looks up to him, including the family who has snubbed him but now sees him as a good candidate to their daughter, no matter what. Thankfully, quiet poor relation Sophia sees their ruse and avoids it, and she is expelled for it. Vincent decides to propose an arrangement to suit them both but will they be able to follow it?

This was, again, a sweet story by the author and I liked everything about it except, perhaps, the slight acceptance both have of what their married life has to be like.
Personally, I'd have preferred them to not so easily accept their lot, for their romance to be a little more passionate or filled with tension because even though I recognize this as the author's style, it still makes me wrinkle my nose. In some novels the couples play too many games before they marry or get together and in others they are too vanilla in their behavior. Perhaps this is what makes me think the author is a more formal, conventional one while still keeping things romantic but it's something I keep noticing.

On the other hand, many of her scenes excel in the romance department... towards the end of this book it becomes very obvious the main couple is in love and the main reason why their admittance of that is delayed becomes a little too silly; they talk and I can't imagine why they wouldn't feel confident in each other by that point to not discuss their marriage but well, a minor detail (to me) that didn't make the book bad.

I think the best part of the novel is how the main characters improve, how they become better people because they married someone with a personality that suits them but also because we see, though interactions with other characters, how they turn out to be better people by being supported by the other. I saw scenes where the author convinced me they were better together than if not and although the reason why they marry can be seen as a little unlikely, this is a romance and I was just glad they were able to become a team, defending each other and doing things together too.

One thing some readers don't appreciate fully in this author's novels is how the heroines seem a little like martyrs in their actions. Personally, I like this because I think I might act a little like them were those things happening to me. Not everyone feels that confident to act on one's feelings or thoughts. Therefore, I liked how gradual Sophie's improvement was and how her voice got to be heard as time went by. I don't think she was portrayed as such a delicate or silly person, for me she worked out rather well (despite a few little things here and there).

All things considered, this was not the perfect story but it was engaging for me, I liked the main couple, I liked how their family and friends proved to be good enough counterparts and I'm not eager to read another character's story but I just saw he's not next. 
Let's see if the one who is provides a romantic story too.
Grade: 8/10

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