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The Survivors' Club #2

The Arrangement

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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?

366 pages, Mass Market Paperback

First published February 17, 2013

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About the author

Mary Balogh

216 books5,722 followers
Mary Jenkins was born in 1944 in Swansea, Wales, UK. After graduating from university, moved to Saskatchewan, Canada, to teach high school English, on a two-year teaching contract in 1967. She married her Canadian husband, Robert Balogh, and had three children, Jacqueline, Christopher and Sian. When she's not writing, she enjoys reading, music and knitting. She also enjoys watching tennis and curling.

Mary Balogh started writing in the evenings as a hobby. Her first book, a Regency love story, was published in 1985 as A Masked Deception under her married name. In 1988, she retired from teaching after 20 years to pursue her dream to write full-time. She has written more than seventy novels and almost thirty novellas since then, including the New York Times bestselling 'Slightly' sextet and 'Simply' quartet. She has won numerous awards, including Bestselling Historical of the Year from the Borders Group, and her novel Simply Magic was a finalist in the Quill Awards. She has won seven Waldenbooks Awards and two B. Dalton Awards for her bestselling novels, as well as a Romantic Times Lifetime Achievement Award.

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5 stars
3,278 (28%)
4 stars
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3 stars
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153 (1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,334 reviews
July 18, 2018
4.5 Blind Beauty Stars

Some Spoilers

I have to be honest I was a little worried when I started this book. After reading The Proposal (book 1) and finding it lacking, I had prepared myself for a long winded, boring read when I picked up this book. I am so glad I gave Mary Balogh another chance. I loved The Arrangement. This book was so sweet. Vincent Hunt was everything I love in a hero. Vincent was sweet, protective, loyal, smart, charming, understanding, honorable, and totally sexy. Being blind was so hard on Vincent, but he dealt with it with dignity. I love how sweet and supportive he was with Sophia. There was this one part were Sophia's step cousin who had called her ugly among other things when she was 15 years old comes to visit. Vincent knowing how badly that had hurt her boxes with her step cousin to defend her honor. I have to tell you I straight up melted! OMG it was so sweet.

Sophia was also amazing. When the book started she was a little mouse of a woman that everyone treated badly, but she grew so much. I love how she came out of her shell and bloomed under Vincent's love. She was also a rock for Vincent. She helped him gain independents and found ways for him to safely do the things he loved and couldn't do after becoming blind. Sophia and Vincent together were so cute. They helped to encourage one another, respected one another, and had a ton of passion. I loved them as a couple. Even though I loved this book it was still a little wordy which I have a feeling is just Mary Balogh's writing style. That being said the start of this book was a bit slow. Other than that I have no complaints this book was a sweet, easy, low angst read that had my heart melting.
Profile Image for Kristina .
731 reviews303 followers
September 11, 2023
Still a five star. 🤩

A Cinderella story with two very sweet and loveable young mains. Vincent is 23, blinded in battle, trying to find his new normal and Sophie is 20 and living as a neglected poor relation, treated like a servant and mostly ignored. This starts as a rescue/marriage of convenience and they both help and save each other. This is a shorter Balogh and very sweet and heartwarming. Lots of villains you can hate and no third act conflict, they have insecurities but just talk about them..weird 🤣.

Those who haven’t experienced a Balogh before should try out this series. Her prose is slightly lyrical and she does a bit of moralizing but it’s very toned down here. She’s the queen of the wounded hero and loves to write about human struggles. Prepare for the feels. Can be read as a stand alone, no problem.
Profile Image for Kathleen.
1,336 reviews29 followers
January 30, 2023
3.75 stars. I am drawn to blind heroes. Also to blind heroines, as in The Parfit Knight, Dearest Rogue, and Surrender to the Earl. My fascination with blindness began in childhood, when we studied the life of Helen Keller.

I love to root for the underdog, especially a gallant character who beats the odds — any kind of impairment — as does malformed Miles in the space opera The Warrior's Apprentice, and ungifted Tavi in the fantastical Furies of Calderon.

But let's talk blind heroes. We have many historical romances depicting a hero with *partial sight* -- men who lost one eye to war. Only consider Reforming Lord Ragsdale or Texas Destiny. In one of her ealier books, Balogh herself portrayed a partially blind hero in Simply Love. Amanda Quick's hero wears an eyepatch in Deception, like the pirate he is. But all these heroes CAN see, somewhat.

In contrast, very few romances portray a hero gone completely blind. The war heroes in Miss Ware's Refusal and Yours Until Dawn are fully blind, if memory serves -- but they have reason to hope for eventual recovery, as with the latter.

Permanent total blindness is rare in Romancelandia. Even my beloved Mr. Rochester (Jane Eyre) began to see a glimmer of light at the end. The same is true for the spy in One Unashamed Night. They will always be blind but can see a nimbus of light. (In Impossible Things the heroine is blind, but not really, given her paranormal insight.)

Not so in this book, The Arrangement. Vincent Hunt is utterly blind, with no hope for light. The only son of a schoolmaster and as mischevious a golden prankster as ever charmed the village of Barton Coombs, Vincent lost his sight to a canon blast six years ago -- I guess somewhere around 1810. His world is without light or color. He lives in complete darkness. He even lost his hearing for a while. Soon after, he inherits a title and fortune, becoming a viscount, Lord Darleigh. Now, at age 24, the well-meaning women in his life are smothering him with kindness and robbing him of dignity, equating loss of sight with loss of mind. He sees his last hope for personal autonomy as a fading dream.

Mary Balogh portrays a beta hero in Vincent, and the perfect partner in his tiny little fairy, Sophie. "The wife he chose for himself" who helps him regain independence.

For his part, Vincent helps Sophia regain her self-esteem, for cruel relatives have nearly broken her spirit. It was good to see Sophie come into her own, as well as Vincent. A satisfying story.

Great secondary characters, especially Martin, Vincent's valet-batman-friend. It was good to see so much of the Survivors Club, too.

Quibbles: The marriage arrangement terms almost annoyed me, seeming to create contrived tension. I wanted that agreement to go away.

The bedtime scenes weren't so hot. Frankly, I'd just as soon Balogh stopped trying to write explicit sex and just let it fade to black after a little foreplay.

Also, why does Balogh think any relatives are better than no relatives? I certainly don't, and I did NOT want the Marches to come calling on Sophie after she became the rich Viscountess Darleigh. Sophia was treated shamefully by her relations. They called her "The Mouse" -- and until meeting Vincent, she had not heard her true name spoken in five years. They dressed her in rags a servant wouldn't wear. Even worse, they...(spoiler). Let them rot.

Her other uncle was *maybe* okay, but he never came to personally check on Sophia's welfare. I could maybe forgive him, for he did send his stepson Sebastian, not knowing Sebastian lacked empathy.

I am glad I read The Arrangement . Heartwarming. Occasionally profound. Fairly engrossing. I'd go as high as 4 solid stars. Much better than Miss Ware's Refusal, which features an unlikeable blind hero.

Contents Rated Adult: This book contains a few fairly explicit sex scenes, minimal swearing, no bloody violence, no big suspense, and I noticed no typos.

Ps. I found several lists of romances with blind heroes. Also see comments for more titles.
And from Listmania at Amazon, a whole slew of contemporary and historical heroes, blind: http://www.amazon.com/blind-romantic-...

In contemporary romance, an ice-cold famous painter who is blind finally learns to believe in love in The Melting Heart. Also, I enjoyed how love came to the partially blind hero in the contemporary medical romance Cassandra by Chance.
Profile Image for Merry is Cruising-will return soon.
636 reviews83 followers
March 8, 2023
Vincent is blinded in the war and is unsure of his path in life. He is 23 and is being lovingly suffocated by his family. He meets Sophia who is a poor relation that is not being treated well. Out of duty he proposes, and the story moves to a charming tale of two isolated people who complement one another and grow to love each other.
Profile Image for Jacob Proffitt.
2,997 reviews1,636 followers
September 16, 2015
Wow. I'm seeing a lot of tepid reviews for this book and I wonder if I stepped into a parallel universe or something. I guess bear that in mind if you're reading this review—my response seems to be an outlier and I'm at a loss to explain why that might be.

Because this book gave me all the feels! It's interesting to me because both Vincent and Sophia have kind of the same problem to start; they've allowed themselves to be passively swept up in life's events and feel the need to assert themselves. What's interesting is that they come at the problem from two different starting points. Vincent is being smothered by solicitous, loving family and is being rolled along because of his handicap. Sophia, on the other hand, is neglected and unloved by her family and being rolled along because nobody really cares about her wants or wishes. It's interesting to see that the fundamental problem for both is the same even as the expression or circumstances make them so very different.

Better, though, was seeing how they worked to shore each other up. Vincent finding encouragement in Sophia's creativity and unwavering support. Sophia finding encouragement in simply being cared for and her wishes mattering. Both fighting the urge to drop back into unhelpful patterns and both fighting to grow into the responsibilities they want to shoulder. I found this dynamic riveting.

I can see that it's a quiet and mostly domestic story and that may explain why others might not connect to it as much as I did. Personally, I loved seeing them work out their domestic circumstances. The character arc for both MCs is best displayed in ordinary surroundings as that's where life is truly lived. What I mean is that it's easy to become assertive when big things are happening. Thwarting crime, solving mysteries, righting wrongs are all things that even timid people will feel compelled to exert themselves over. It's much harder to take the day-to-day details of running a household in hand and give it your best efforts and attention in the face of obstacles that give you the perfect excuse to let it be someone else's worry. The very reason I could believe their growth to be real and life-changing is that Balogh pulled me into those changes where choices have the biggest impact—in the everyday circumstances where they matter most.

So I liked the character arc and the setting was perfect for letting me join the main characters in their change and watching them grow together was sheer delight. They were kind, loving, caring people with a lot to give their neighbors and families and seeing them grow into their responsibilities and relationship pinned me to the book and didn't let me let it go.

As with the first book, Balogh bends the period rather lavishly and even has her characters inventing systems with details a good century in advance of actual developments. So again, era purists are going to have a tough time. Also as with the first book, I find myself giving her a pass because she stays internally consistent and she uses the opportunity to explore interesting character dynamics. In this one, my favorite moments were Sophia learning and then teaching forgiveness and kindness without being weak or giving bad behavior a pass.

But what pushed this from the four stars it had been throughout was the ending. The love and relief between Vince and Sophie was just so perfectly foregrounded that actual tears flowed. Yeah, that's no big feat with me, but I was touched. Deeply.

A note about Steamy: This was the middle of my steam tolerance. And this was another area where Balogh went for the ordinary over the larger-than-life that drew me in completely. There are three explicit sex scenes, though the first two are kind of mashed together. And they're pretty lengthy, too. But they were also one of the best depictions of, uh, inexperienced sex and were shown in a way that highlighted the relationship and character growth in the story. Very unusual and highly appreciated.
Profile Image for Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽.
1,880 reviews22.8k followers
January 23, 2020
Bumping from 3.5 stars to 4 stars on reread. This is a good, thoughtfully written Regency romance that doesn't gloss over a lot of the relationship issues in the ways that too many other romances do. (For example, their sexual relationship is more realistically written than the norm. It hurts Sophia at first, though she's still into it, and it takes them a while to really figure it out.)

This Regency romance is distinguished by the fact that the hero is blind. He's handsome, kind-hearted ... and permanently blind, due to a wartime accident. But that doesn't stop everyone in his life from trying to get him married off (he's got the viscount title and all to pass on, so he needs an heir. Or so the thinking goes, or went). Anyway, when a scheming girl in Sophia's village tries to trap Vincent Hunt into marriage by maneuvering him into a situation where they can claim he compromised the girl, the girl's cousin Sophia finds out about it and ruins the girl's (and her parents') plan.

Everyone (except Vincent) is angry at Sophia, a mousy little orphan who's been treated like the lowest servant by her relatives, and she's kicked out of the house. Luckily Vincent finds out about it and offers her that old Regency stand-by: a marriage of convenience. Sophia - not having any real alternatives and PLUS! he's so good-looking - agrees.

And so it goes. It's nice to see Vincent helping Sophia come out of her shell, and standing up for her against various bullies. And also nice to see Sophia finding ways to help Vincent as well. Also, I'm bumping this at least half a star because, even though it's entered into as a marriage of convenience, I actually found that incredibly refreshing and practical-minded.

If you're into the historical romances and love marriage-of-convenience tales, this is a decent one with very sympathetic main characters.

Content note: as typical for Balogh, there are a couple of explicit sex scenes, post-marriage.
Profile Image for Vintage.
2,449 reviews481 followers
January 10, 2020
Yep. My third Re-read. Or wait, I guess that is my second Re-read as there is just the Read initially then ....

Anyhoo, still charming, still well written. Wonderful MOC romance where two likable and not boring characters fall in love. Bumping to 4 stars.

Making a liar out of me regarding a recent post, but what we have here is a slow-burn, sweet romance by two very nice, but interesting characters. Mary Balogh can be hit or miss ranging from realistic to uncomfortable, but her Survivor's Club from beginning to end is a real hit.

Unlike a lot of Regency era authors, she doesn't throw out cute tricks, but simply writes a well developed story. In this case, the blind Vincent, youngest and favorite of the Survivor's Club, offers a MOC to the "Mouse" heroine in gratitude. She was kicked out of her Aunt's house when she foiled their attempt to maneuver Vincent into marriage to the vapid and mean daughter of the house. The story is their romance as well as how they deal with Vincent's blindness in a society not set up to handle any handicap issues. Humor and a great set-down to the stupid OW and her obsequious parents is a fun bonus.

The Survivor's Club series is fun to read as each Survivor has their own past and personality, and their support of each other is refreshing to read in a genre where too many characters are out to sabotage each other. In this case, nice is not the same as boring.

I hate the cover as Vincent is much too nice too look so smoulderingly smarmy.
Profile Image for Alba Turunen.
678 reviews209 followers
December 16, 2021
4'5 Estrellitas. ¡Qué libro más bonito! Me ha tenido con los ojos haciendo chiribitas durante toda su lectura. El primer libro de éste Club de los Supervivientes no fue de lo mejorcito de Balogh, pero leyendo éste tipo de historias sé que estoy entre los mejores de su repertorio.

"The Arrangement" o "El Arreglo", es una novela que bien pensada carece de conflicto interno, o éste es totalmente imperceptible. Es un libro tierno y bonito, precioso, que te mantiene en vilo capítulo a capítulo simplemente con el amor que desbordan sus protagonistas principales.

¿De qué va éste libro? Si hemos leído "The Proposal" y "The Suitor", el primer libro y el relato corto de la serie, en ellos conocimos al particular grupo que conforman el Club de los Supervivientes, seis hombres y una mujer, que llenos de cicatrices físicas y psíquicas consiguieron sobrevivir a las guerras napoleónicas, gracias a la ayuda del duque de Stanbroke.

En éste segundo libro, el protagonista es el más joven de todos ellos, Vincent Hunt, el vizconde Darleigh. Vincent fue un muchacho alegre y activo, criado en el campo y alejado de la nobleza. Ante la falta de oportunidades se alistó en el ejército y fue herido de gravedad en su primera batalla dejándole ciego con sólo diecisiete años. Poco después, a la muerte de su tío y primo, heredó el vizcondado.

Ahora y pese a su ceguera, Vincent sigue siendo un muchacho fuerte y alegre, guapo como un ángel y encantador con todo el mundo. Sólo hay una cosa que le saca de quicio, y es la intromisión de las damas de su familia en su vida. Vincent tiene tres hermanas mayores casadas, y una madre y una abuela cuyos únicos propósitos son verle casado y asentado. Pero Vincent sólo tiene veintitrés años y no está preparado para ello, así que cuando su madre le presenta a una posible candidata (que es el argumento del relato corto), a Vincent sólo se le ocurre una cosa: huír.

Y Vincent llega al pueblo de su infancia que lo vio crecer, y allí conoce a la protagonista, Sophia Fry.

Sophia Fry es una dama de nacimiento, pero ha tenido auténticas faltas de cariño y educación. Su padre era el hijo menor de un barón, era un hombre manipulador y pendenciero, al cual abandonó su mujer, para finalmente morir él mismo durante un duelo. De modo que con quince años, Sophia pasó a depender de sus tías, quienes no se ocuparon en absoluto de ella. Ahora vive en Barton Combs con sus tíos y su prima. Pero su vida es tan insignificante como si fuese un mueble. Sí, le dan techo y comida, pero sus tareas son las de una sirvienta y sus vestidos los andrajos amorfos que le da su prima.

Sophia siempre ha creído que era fea y por eso mismo no era digna del amor de nadie, ni de su familia ni mucho menos para un hombre. Cuando Vincent Hunt llega al pueblo, sus encantos no son indiferentes para ninguna dama de la localidad, y se va a celebrar una fiesta en su honor. Por casualidad, Sophia oye una conversación entre sus tíos, donde su prima intentará mediante artimañas casarse con él. Ésta actitud indiga a Sophia, y no está contenta con que intenten engañar a un pobre ciego. Así que Sophia se pondrá entre medias y salvará a Vincent, condenándose así misma.

Y es por esto por lo que Vincent le estará tan agradecido, que le propondrá un arreglo; casarse con ella, así habrá un motivo para que las mujeres de su familia lo dejen en paz, y le dará a Sophia la paz y estabilidad que se merece.

A partir de ahí no puedo contar mucho más, pero es un libro lleno de amor y sentimientos. La historia de Vincent y Sophia es preciosa. Auque Vincent sea ciego, no le impide ver la belleza de la criatura con la que se ha desposado, y así mismo, Sophia descubrirá un amor profundo para el que nunca estuvo preparada.

Si tuviera que definir con una palabra éste libro y a sus protagonistas, diría simplemente que es AMOR, un amor verdadero y desinteresado que nos mostrará las mejores actitudes del ser humano sin la necesidad de que sean perfectos ni guapos o feos.

Seas o no fan de los libros de Mary Balogh, lo recomiendo sin duda. Es precioso de principio a fin, y si me ha recordado a algunos de sus libros diría que a "Simplemente enamorados" o "Simplemente perfecto". Y aclaro que si no le doy las 5 estrellas completas es porque la señora Balogh siempre es muy permisiva con los malos, y me ha faltado un epílogo. Ahora, a por el libro del desaparecido Ben.
Profile Image for  ~Preeti~.
735 reviews
August 12, 2021
'The Arrangement'  has some of the best elements that I love about Mary Balogh's books. A very well-crafted, rational beta hero, a lovely heroine. A marriage of convenience which has friends to lover element and witty narration.

Does a title make all the difference??? 
The answer is Yes…
Our hero, Vincent Hunt, got injured and lost his eyesight in the Peninsula War at the age of 18. His childhood was humble but after the sudden death of his relatives, he acquired the title of Viscount. And, suddenly at the age of 23, he is encircled by parents of young lady's who want to marry him only for his money and title.
To save himself from this upcoming marriage he runs to his childhood country house. But just like Pride and Prejudice, every young lady's parents want their girl to marry him because of his title and 20,000 yearly income. So, they organize dances and play dress up for a blind man and then articulate who is getting married to the Viscount.😂😂
Following an incident where Sophie(h) tried to save Vincent, from the attempted marriage with her cousin. This incident made Sophie deserted and Vincent offered marriage to save her but Sophie declined. But, in the end, Vincent convinced her to marry him. After this, a friendship is developed between them before the marriage so yeah, it is a stranger to friends to lovers romance too.

Vincent Hunt is blind and suffers from panic attacks. But he is funny and takes his disability as another part of himself. He has a big loving family. They want to make life easy for him but Vincent feels restricted. He wants more freedom to make his own decisions.
Whereas Sophie's parents had a scandalous past and after their death, she is living with her relatives and is either ignored or called 'mouse' by them. She has very low self-esteem but she likes to take her enjoyment from drawing, satirical caricatures, and in dry humor.

Mary Balogh writes some of the best marriages of convenience stories I have ever read. They are never about insta -attraction or sex. Here, both  Sophie and Vincent have a dream of becoming independent. But, Vincent can't do it because of his blindness and Sophie because she is a poor female. Even before their marriage they became friends, they wrote stories together and tried to learn new skills like swimming, riding etc. 
I love how Sophie describes the surroundings so that Vincent could imagine everything even if he can't see. And, Vincent tries everything possible to boost Sophie's self-esteem.
Plus, It's so rare in romance novels to show that your partner is not everything, you need friends and other hobbies to feel better about yourself. 

I feel disappointed in myself that I have not read much of Mary Balogh in the past may be due to a lack of smut in her books.🤭🤭 But, recently I have realized we don't read Mary Balogh for smut but for remarkable characters, witty narration, and relationship development.
Profile Image for Ingie.
1,357 reviews168 followers
July 18, 2016
"Review" written July 18, 2016

3.7 Stars - Simply perfect lazy summer-days HR listening

The Arrangement is in all ways delicate touching and beautifully told, but perhaps not the most fast paced or exciting historical by Mary Balogh. Either way very flattering and romantic about a "mouse" (aka wallflower), Miss Sophia Fry and a blind gorgeous young sweet noble man, Vincent Hunt, Viscount Darleigh.

My third in a pleasant HR series with quite unique (a bit damaged) main characters. I like them all. — It will be more about the members in The Survivors' Club.
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“It is hard, is it not,” he said, “to have one’s life develop quite differently from what one expected and to feel not fully in command of it?”

I listened to the audiobook, 11:16 hrs fabulous (simply fantastic to be honest) narrated by the always great Ms. Rosalyn Landor.

Maybe it will be a more proper review to come later. — ...Now on my way to the airport and leaving the sun and beautiful Cyprus.


I LIKE - even when just tender neat
Profile Image for Anna.
256 reviews14 followers
September 9, 2013
(Review originally posted on LibraryThing for the Early Reviewers program. Link here: http://www.librarything.com/work/1267...)

I try to be thorough when I write reviews, so I started with the first book in the series, "The Proposal." Honestly, without exaggeration, I could not care less whether the couple in that book ever worked things out. I had zero interest in the heroine, the hero didn't do it for me, and frankly, the writing wasn't fantastic. Under ordinary circumstances, I probably wouldn't have chosen to move on to Book 2, "The Arrangement." Why, when the first book was so.... bleck?

I'm glad I did, though. While it isn't my favorite book, (not even my favorite by Mary Balogh), it wasn't nearly as bad as the first. For a start, I actually finished this one. I liked the characters much better. I wasn't madly in love with Sophia (a.k.a. Sophie) or Vincent but I wanted good things for them. The writing was tighter as well.

That said, there were a few things I did not enjoy. The heroine recovers from an entire lifetime's worth of traumatic and neglectful upbringing in the space of a few months. A makeover, a bit of sex, and suddenly she's mentally and emotionally capable of assuming the role of Viscountess Darleigh. Huh. She went from being anonymous in a small town to Mistress of a large manor house. She should bottle that self esteem juice, because she'd make a mint.

Another gripe? The sex. Now, I'm not especially fond of highly graphic scenes. I like some detail, but I don't need to hear about everything and I don't need salty talk. (What can I say? I like a nice florid metaphor.) The scenes in this book were bland. Bland, and so vaguely written that the first time I read it, I wasn't at all certain whether our dear heroine had actually climaxed. Now, reason dictates that in a fantasy-genre like romance, she HAS to climax or else this problem has to be rectified later, but it's never really mentioned again. I just assume that once they found their groove, she got what she needed. I would have liked a little more specificity.

The plot didn't seem to have a strong central thrust. (Perhaps the wrong choice of words after the sex quibbling?) Once they wed, all their problems were relatively small and very easily resolved. No lingering doubts of her being a gold-digger. She reunites with the family she wants to reunite with and she shows up the family she wants to thumb her nose at. The slight (and I mean very slight) misunderstanding between Sophie and Vincent is resolved in a straightforward conversation. And the guy that once broke teenaged Sophia's heart? Vincent punches him in the nose after tricking him into fisticuffs in the dark.

And that's it. As a result, the book seems to lack any real climax or conclusion. They just go about their business. It's like running to the corner store and picking up milk, bread, and a happily ever after. No big deal.

It's not a bad book. It's certainly better than the one preceding it and while I won't go out of my way to read the next one, I wouldn't object either. One of the other reviewers called this book "gentle." I cannot think of a better way to describe it. It IS gentle. There is no raging drama. No outrageous angst. No hot or kinky sex. It's just two people falling in love and I can get behind that. It's the kind of romance novel I could hand my grandmother without blushing.
Profile Image for Luana ☆.
541 reviews94 followers
February 18, 2022
This book was sweet, cute with a rather tepid relationship. I mean, it's been a long time since I read about a sweet hero that is simply that, sweet. You would think that reading a story about a blind man you would be sorry for him or see a lot of trouble but it was rather the heroine where all the problems were laid. I liked the story enough.

It's just that the relationship, the romantic side of it was very tepid and passionless. The love scenes were very meh and ikd, mechanical and selfish on the hero's part. Even he said he was not the best at that, so...

It was a good book but nothing wow.
Profile Image for Judithrosebooks .
491 reviews1,519 followers
February 23, 2022
Al principio me costó entrar en la historia pero poco a poco fue gustándome más. Me ha encantado la forma de ser de los personajes, ambos son diferentes a lo que solemos encontrar en este tipo de novelas.

Ella es una muchacha que más bien parece un muchacho y él es un vizconde que perdió la vista en la guerra. Ambos llegarán a un acuerdo matrimonial que les favorecerá a ambos.

Todo sucede muy rápido, pero tengo que confesar que me ha gustado, tiene un final precioso. También hace una reflexión sobre cómo nos ven los demás y cómo puede llegar a afectar a nuestro amor propio.
Profile Image for Jan.
893 reviews175 followers
October 25, 2020
I liked but didn't love this book. The hero Vincent, who was blinded at war, was drawn realistically, from the anxiety and panic attacks he occasionally suffered, to his frustration and impatience with his family who tried to do everything for him and never stopped hovering and fussing.

The heroine, Sophia, had been treated very badly by some of her selfish relatives and just by unlucky life circumstances in general. Somehow she retained some pride and self-esteem, however.

Two damaged people who came together through chance, and decided to marry to support each other. Gradually they both grew stronger as individuals, and of course they fell in love too.

The trope and the plot were fine, and you could respect both characters. I think the problems with the book boiled down to: 1) not enough chemistry (for me) between the leads and 2) it was a pretty slow-moving story. Sadly, I just started to lose interest after a while. It was by no means a terrible book, just not one of Ms Balogh's best. I still want to try the others in the series, though.
Profile Image for Kiki.
1,217 reviews515 followers
August 18, 2017
3.5 Stars, rounded down, because I had personal issues.
Now first thing first, this book is a slow burn.
It's not one of a bodice ripping regency passion.
There is ZERO angst!
No separation!
No misunderstanding par se, and NO OM/OW drama.
This is how to make an arranged marriage turn into an everlasting love. I think I would want a partnership like this if I ever get married. So I am not blaming people who are calling this vanilla and bland. because it is VERY vanilla, and depends on what you call bland, hero isn't your alpha asshole, hero ISN'T an asshole, he's caring, and charming and he's caring and charming to EVERYONE and wants his marriage to work.
There is NO punishing kisses or forced seduction, or dark and brooding alpha because he's blind.
Now why is this a 3 instead of 4 or 5 star?
1. Hero wasn't a virgin. I like my historical heroes to be virgin. Not only this guy was a non-manwhore, he was terribly inexperienced. He didn't know how to control himself so he would make it pleasurable for heroine. Don't get me wrong. This wonderful man called Vincent LOVES HIS Sophie and learns what to do and makes it very pleasurable for her, but he HAS to learn, so what was the point of making him a non-virgin? I really don't like this double-standard.
2. Because this was an arrangement, and Sophia and Vincent, but mostly Sophia wanted freedom, they agreed they'd separate at a later point of time. So the question of lover and mistress arose. I found that distasteful. Sophia could strongly say that she'd honour her vows, while Vincent suggesting he'd honour his vows, still thinks that he might have to take a mistress. That was dishonesty, even if it's a thought. And even if he hated himself for thinking about it. Trust me, I don't even for a minute believe that even if Sophia DID leave him, he'd take up a mistress. He may harass Sophia from time to time for sex and revisit her, but he is such an honourable guy, and he is not just in love with her, but loves Sophia so much, he would never seek physical release with someone else. But that thought left a bad taste in my mouth as well.
But the good stuff:
- The hero, oh the hero. He didn't really have to marry Sophia, but he did it anyway. And even before falling in love he was SO faithful to her, he threatened his valet not to utter a single disrespectful word regarding her, or her looks, EVEN IF they were true!
- He was also a very strong character. He was blind, yes, but he didn't let that ruin his life, and her NEVER settled for second best. He refused to marry a woman who'd MANAGE to live with him for the sake of it. He went and found the woman who'd live with him happily and as a partner. Sophia had NOTHING, yet, she married him because she wanted to, not because she HAD to.
- His respect for her from the moment of betrothal was amazing. He took it upon himself to serve comeuppance to her relatives who through her out. It was not big, but he hit them where it hurt. The insult was spot on.
- His fight with the supposed OM for destroying Sophia's livelihood, was amazing, though I'm not sure how realistic that was! (on this point, GOD! that guy was a bastard! the way he kept saying "BUT she IS ugly, if only you COULD see her" i wish i could knock him out instead!!!!!!!)
- I loved Sophia as well. She had nowhere to go if she lost her husband, yet instead of making him dependent on her, she made it her life's mission to make him self-sufficient. And I think that way they became most dependable on each other. And that's where the love was so believable.
- She hasn't pitied him for a single moment, and she saved him even before she loved him, because that was the kind of person she is. She knew, he didn't deserve the dishonour the OW was about to bring upon him and saved him knowing what was at stake, and without knowing hero would be there to save her.
- This was true partnership, and it was truly beautiful, I loved when the hero refused to let it go when Sophia was excusing the OM's behavior. He was very stern about it, the OM was his age, HE wouldn't do such a cruel thing to a 15 year old and there is no excuse, and knowing Sophia actually loved the OM at no point of time did he lash out on her. He understood the whole thing. There was no slutshaming, no jealousy, may be he was a little hurt? I mean who wants to hear their spouse loved someone else, but his hurt was replaced by the anger on behalf of his Sophie so quickly, it was amazing!
What I loved most about this whole book was that both MCs seem to see beyond the scars and the handicaps of life. Vincent didn't let his blindness or his panic attack let life or love stop itself, he embraced it fully.
Now, would I read the rest of the series? I am contemplating, because it appears to me that it follows some sort of similar writing pattern/formula. However, it seems ALL the Survivors are at least one thing, they are handicapped, but they are not going to let that stop their lives and they're not going to settle for second best!
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Pepa.
949 reviews240 followers
April 1, 2022
Reseña completa: https://masromance.blogspot.com/2022/...

Una historia dulce. Pausada, con unos protagonistas que son un encanto. Ambos con ciertas inseguridades y, gracias al apoyo del otro, superaran, al menos en algo, sus pequeños problemas
Es una historia que disfrutas mientras la lees. Bien escrita y mejor ambientada. Mary Balogh tiene une estilo elegante y cuidado con el que vas pasado las hojas sin darte cuenta.
Quizás le ha faltado algún conflicto. En el fondo, es un romance que fluye, poco a poco, y la novela está totalmente centrada en la pareja, más en la superación que la condición de Vincent.
Es una novela de personajes, evolución e interacciones entre ambos.
Una historia muy bonita y tierna
Profile Image for Books&Friends.
58 reviews
September 1, 2013
Learn from Mary Balogh, the Master
** Just a little "snarkiness" moment first** this could also be called my Enough rant.
Some authors haven't met an adjective or adverb they didn't like and they want to cover their pages with them. I guess they think you can't have romance without purple prose. Seriously you can. just read a Mary Balogh story.
So throbbing members, unbridled lust might do on occasion - hey who doesn't like a bit of that - but it does get repetitive and even boring .Personally I like love with a side order of sex. Balogh makes Missionary hot. After reading literally thousands of books with sexual gymnastics over and over again I tend to flip through the sex marathons. it's just become filler.I say let's get to the story, enough already. Janet Evanovich once said she stopped writing romance because she ran out of positions. She writes great stories. Enough said.

Aahh Mary Balogh!
Sigh..such clean crisp writing with warmth, sublimely understated prose.
Mary Balogh can write a story and her characters... just amazing. None are from central casting. When you read her stories you learn, it's a master class in character development. The character arc, what can I say?! There's no over the top plotted angst, incredulous behavior here. It's just flows all naturally, true to type, it makes sense, it's real.
Vincent was damaged by war but is not a damaged person. Kind, charming and good describes Vincent's nature. Surrounded by the love of family and friends he's smothered and struggles against the limits of blindness, dreaming of fuller life. He's a counterpoint to Sophia, who has not known love, even self-esteem. She can only dream of love and a tight loving family. As the "mouse", her one outlet is to craft caricatures of those who have withheld their love or kindness. She lives on sufferance and sees no future, no love, only make believe.
Circumstances bring these two together, and an invisible connection forms and binds them. In turn this prompts them to see possibilities and hope. Through and in each other, they find their greatest wish. Isn't that the basis of love? Trusting the other to provide a safe haven to love and grow into your true self, to reach what makes you whole - happy.
As I have said before, enough said.

This is a romance, this is a love story.

Profile Image for Stacey.
1,446 reviews1,154 followers
November 16, 2017
A sweet love story.

I'm getting a lot of use with my new Romance Package on Audible. Books that I had always planned to read but never got around to are where I'm getting the best use. The variety is good and if they keep up with this level of quality, I will definitely keep using it.

The Arrangement was a sweet love story about two people looking at creating a new path in their life. Our heroine has always been the little mouse sitting in the corner unnoticed. She has been neglected by her loved ones and carries the burden of her father's sins. Sophia is a good girl and deserves a lot better than what she gets. Luckily, there's someone very special who notices her. He may not see her but he knows she's there.

Vincent Hunt is escaping his life. He knows that his family want the best for him but unfortunately, their idea of the best for him does not agree with his. Drastic action must be taken. In the dead of night, he will escape his over-protective family and hopefully find a new path where being blind isn't the end of the world.

The Arrangement is very sweet. The angst levels are mild, the characters are genuinely nice and the baddies are just mean instead of evil. I enjoyed it for what it was and accepted that it wasn't going to be a heart-pumping, action-packed adventure.

Of course, the narration was AMAZING!! Seriously, Rosalyn Landor is fantastic and I can't recommend her high enough, especially when it comes to historical romance.

I will definitely be looking for more Mary Balogh stories in my future.
Profile Image for Aly is so frigging bored.
1,632 reviews273 followers
August 30, 2013
This book, like the 1st in the series, was like a breath of fresh air. I was in no mood for drama or stupid decisions and this book delivered perfectly: it is a story of 2 damaged people who heal each other and make their relationship happy, and most importantly, work when almost everyone was skeptical.

The heroine, Sophia, was orphaned at 15 when her rake of a father dies in a duel. She's shuffled 1st to a self absorbed aunt, who dies after 3 years, and then to the family of another aunt. They manage to destroy the little self esteem she still had, belittle her and, when she's lucky, they ignore her. When I read about how crappy they were with her I wanted to go into the book and hand their ass*s to them. Amazingly she still held on to her humor and principles.

The hero, Vincent Hunt, Viscount Darleigh, was blinded in the war and his family[mother, grandmother and sisters] keep treating him like he didn't only lose his sight but also his brains in the war. He tries to keep them happy but in the end runs from his own home[literally] when they try to make him marry. He's beautiful, intelligent, charming and has a great sens of humor, but feels smothered by his family.

After some weeks away from home, Vincent decides to go to the village where he was born into and spent his childhood in. While there, Sophia saves him from her aunt and cousin who tried to trick him into marriage and is thrown out from home. Naturally, he feels responsible so he proposes to her a marriage of convenience: she isn't destitute and left all alone in the world and he will regain his independence from his female relatives with her help.

After they are married they support each other: he helps her rebuild her confidence and self esteem and she aids him to become more independent with her great ideas(training a dog to use as his eyes, building railings in the park of his estate so he doesn't need to be attended by others while he walks, etc). I loved watching them become self-reliant, but, at the same time, so in love with each other.

I haven't read a novel from Ms. Balogh in some time but she still writes magnificently. I savored this book from start to finish and in my review I didn't even manage to cover all the lovely points of the characters' relationship with each other or their friends and acquiescences. I can't wait to read more novels with Vincent's friends from their self-appointed Survivors Club and I recommend this book with all my heart to anyone who wants a surprising and wonderful read for the afternoon.

Me while reading and after finishing the book
Profile Image for Lover of Romance.
2,985 reviews868 followers
January 5, 2019
This review was originally posted on Addicted To Romance

This is the second book in the fun Survivors’ club, and I just love seeing friendships in romance both men and female friendships are so fascanating and endearing to witness. Mary Balogh is an author is so rich in her historical detail and I feel like everytime I read her, I feel like I have jumped right back in time and is one of the best to read for regency romance. And as a plus for this book, the audio format is narrated by Rosalyn Landor and I love listening to her with historical romance especially if its featured among the countries in the UK.

In this book we have a story where we get to one of my favorites of the Survivors’ Club. Viscount Rayleigh, is one of the survivor’s of the war who suffered a physical blow more than the others. He ended up losing his sight and has had to learn to live his life without his sight. He has his personal valet, who is a great friend to him that is his partner in crime of sorts. But he needs his freedom and space from the women in his family who are suffocating him with their protectiveness and determination to get him married. After meeting the woman they want for him, he packs his bags and runs away from the women in his family and to find some peace and quiet in his father’s home where he grew up, out in the country where he can find some solitude. But what he doesn’t plan on is being surrounded by the towns people or being manipulated by a certain family who are determined to have him marry their daughter even if that means tricking him into being the responsible man. But then he meets a young woman who he talks with and he is intrigued. But when she saves him from disaster with the machinations of her family, he offers her marriage when she is thrown out of home because of her protecting him. But he knows he needs to marry, and that they have become friends of sort and he has high hopes for a practical arrangement. But he doesn’t plan on falling in love with his bride and not wanting their practical arrangement to end.

The Arrangement is such a well written and richly detailed historical romance that I quickly became entrenched in. Now I was really excited for the hero of the story. We saw him in book one and I admired him SO much. He hasn’t let his blindness get him down at all. I love how positive he is about life, he has a confidence that is sexy and I admired his strength in facing his future in the manner that he does. He is probably one of the most upbeat and happier of the Surivors Club and I was endeared with his attitiude towards life. The heroine, Sophia, is one I really loved seeing come out of her shell. Now she hasn’t been treated right by hardly any member of her family. And her current situation is pretty horrible. She is referred to as the “mouse” and treated more like a servant than as a part of the family. Her parents are dead and has had to rely on her extended family for support. But she wants more out of her life than the drudgery she has come into. At first she doesn’t want to accept the arrangement with Vincent, she fears taking advantage of his kindness but she also could have her dreams if she marries him and not having to worry about being on the street. As they build on their friendship, and learn the value of their marriage, they also start to feel more than just friendship and sex, there is an emotional intimacy that develops that is consumming and one that neither of them want to give up on.

I adored seeing these two making a go of this marriage that at first is all about practicality, but they have a great fondness for each other. I adore marriages of convenience, and Mary Balogh always does them so very well. In this book we see how wonderful these two get along, and how wonderful they are for each other. Both of them are there for each other in such a beautiful way, and really builds on the romance. The dynamics of their relationship kept me totally into this story and I loved every moment of it. Sophia is always working on ways to make Vincent’s life easier and so that he can experience things in life that he misses out on from being blind. And Vincent is working on helping Sophia build back her self confidence and her talents for her artwork and writing children stories.

Overall I found the Arrangement, to be a wonderful romance that won my heart and took my breath away with his vitality, vibrancy and authenticity of the historical setting….a true gem!!  

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Profile Image for Ilze.
760 reviews56 followers
August 28, 2013
Mary Balogh's latest series is about a group that call themselves the Survivors' Club, since they have all survived a severe physical or emotional trauma that happened because of the Peninsular War with Napoleon's forces. This story is about Vincent, Viscount Darleigh, whose retinas were burned in an explosion. Vincent is by nature adventurous and sociable, although he has lived as a recluse with his family for several years. Before that he lived for a time with George, the Duke of Stanbrook, the founder of the Survivors' Club, who helped him deal with the emotional problems resulting from his blindness and temporary deafness. Finally Vincent cannot endure his family's well-intentioned smothering any longer and escapes with his valet to the Lake District for a few weeks, then returns to the home where he grew up, thinking to have a few weeks there of peace and quiet before returning to his family. Unfortunately, there is no peace and quiet at his old home - the neighbours learn about his presence almost immediately and start organizing social events for him. At one of these events, a local landowner's daughter, who is interested in him strictly for his wealth and status, attempts to compromise him into marriage with her, but is prevented from doing this by her cousin, who lives with her family as an unwanted dependent, lower in status than most of the servants in the house. The cousin, Sophia Fry, is thrown out of the house with nothing but stagecoach fare to London that very same night.

When Vincent learns what happened to Sophia the next day, he is horrified that he had allowed himself to be taken advantage of and that Sophia has to suffer for rescuing him, and so decides that he owes Sophia some sort of recompense. The solution that comes to his mind is marriage - she would otherwise be destitute and alone, and his family has been pressuring him to get married (one of the reasons for his absconding from them). After some discussion and disagreement, Sophia eventually agrees, and they travel to London together to get married as quickly as possible. The rest of the book describes how they get to know and love each other, and how their difficulties (his almost total dependence on others, her complete lack of self-esteem) are overcome with some imagination, a good deal of humor, and a lot of hard work.

The best scene in the book is the boxing match between Vincent and Sophia's cousin Sebastian. The fight takes place in darkness, and is slightly reminiscent of the fight scene in Lord Carew's Bride, one of my favourite books by Mary Balogh, but it has its own unique character and pacing. This scene, and Vincent and Sophia's waltz near the end of the book, took this book from 4 stars to a 5-star rating.
Profile Image for Petra.
292 reviews24 followers
March 11, 2020
2.5 stars - pretty much middle of the road. Not much romance in it - I mean there is a love story but very bland one.
Profile Image for Carol Cork *Young at Heart Oldie*.
425 reviews207 followers
January 13, 2017
I loved this sweet, poignant, character-driven, marriage-of-convenience story which is written with warmth, depth and emotion.

This is the second book in the series about a group of survivors of the Napoleonic Wars, all left scarred (emotionally, physically or both) by their experiences, who form a close bond while convalescing. The Arrangement is Vincent Hunt, Viscount Darleigh’s story.

At 23, Vincent is the youngest member of the Survivors’ Club and, as a result of an act of recklessness, he lost his sight in battle six years earlier. After returning home, he unexpectedly inherits the viscountcy, following the death of both his uncle and his uncle’s son. Being the only male member of his family, he is constantly protected and cosseted and worried over and planned for by all his well-meaning female relatives, but Vincent longs to live a more independent life. When the aforementioned females decide to select a bride for him – one who professes not to mind marrying a blind man but obviously does – it’s one step too far for Vincent and he flees with his valet and friend, Martin Frisk. After three weeks in the Lake District, he decides to go home to the more modest Covington House in Barton Combes where he grew up.

Orphaned Sophia Fry lives under sufferance with her aunt and uncle in Barton Coombes. Treated as little more than a servant, she has learnt that it is better to blend into the background rather than draw attention to herself…to become the mouse in the corner.

She was known by her relatives, when she was known as anything at all, and perhaps by their servants too, as the mouse.

However, she is not prepared to watch her scheming cousin trap Vincent into marriage, but her intervention results in Sophia being turned out of her uncle’s house. Feeling responsible for Sophia’s predicament, Vincent proposes a marriage of convenience with an arrangement that will suit them both.

“You could eventually have your cottage in the country,” he said, “with your flowers and your chickens and cats. I could eventually prove to myself that I can be master of Middlebury and of my life alone. We could have a marriage now, when we both need it, and freedom and independence and a dream come true in the future.

Having to live with his blindness and suffering from panic attacks, Vincent could so easily have been your typical tortured hero. Instead, he never wallows in self-pity, determined to live his life to the full and I love that he is kind, caring and sensitive to others’ feelings. Sophia has led a lonely life and a brief, soul-shattering romance destroyed her self-esteem but, like Vincent, she does not indulge in self-pity and secretly finds an outlet in drawing satirical caricatures of her relatives and those around them.

I love how the story focuses on the growing relationship between Vincent and Sophia. There is no great drama or big misunderstanding (a small hiccup maybe), just two people getting to know and like each other and falling in love. From their very first meeting, when Sophia saves Vincent from her cousin’s scheming, Ms. Balogh creates a real sense of rapport between them.

“…you are trapped in a life not entirely to your liking by the fact of your parents’ death, just as I am trapped in a life that is not always entirely to my liking by the fact that I lost my sight six years ago.”

I love how they help and support each other as shown in Vincent’s determination to restore Sophia’s self-esteem and Sophia’s practical efforts to help Vincent achieve the independence he seeks. I enjoyed seeing Sophia having the confidence to assert herself to win over Vincent’s family and Vincent taking an active role in running his estate and making an effort to meet his neighbours.

There are so many lovely moments in this book, but the one that really tugged at my heartstrings is the scene where Sophia and Vincent waltz together.

Candlelight was wheeling overhead. Colored gowns were a kaleidoscope of pastels about the perimeter of the ballroom. Mirrors multiplied the candlelight and the twinkling of jewels to infinity.
“Such sounds and smells,” he said. “I will never forget this moment. Sophie. I am actually waltzing.”

I enjoyed seeing the other members of the Survivors’ Club and their interactions with Vincent clearly reveal the close bond that exists between the group.

MY VERDICT: A gentle, heart-warming and beautifully written romance. Highly recommended.

The Survivors’ Club series (click on the book covers for more details):

The Proposal (The Survivors' Club #1) by Mary Balogh The Arrangement (The Survivors' Club #2) by Mary Balogh The Escape (The Survivors' Club #3) by Mary Balogh Only Enchanting (The Survivors' Club, #4) by Mary Balogh Only a Promise (The Survivors' Club, #5) by Mary Balogh Only a Kiss (The Survivors' Club, #6) by Mary Balogh Only Beloved (The Survivors' Club, #7) by Mary Balogh

This review is also posted on my Rakes and Rascals Blog:


Profile Image for Drache.... (Angelika) .
957 reviews26 followers
July 26, 2023
reread 07/2023
I enjoy rereading this series so much! My brain cells seem to be needed exclusively for work these days (it's exhausting) so I keep myself balanced with these sweet romance-rereads 😂.
4,5 stars.
What a wonderful way to spend my time, losing myself in yet another sweet and charming book from Mary Balogh. I loved Sophie and Vincent, their tenderness and strenght, their journey to happiness.
Profile Image for Dagmara Pageturner .
232 reviews34 followers
June 12, 2022
Kept me hooked. On a Balogh binge and this series does not disappoint. Moving, heartwarming, sexy, triumphant, charming. Blind Hero Vincent and wallflower Sophie Fry are brilliant together.
Profile Image for Caz.
2,759 reviews1,034 followers
February 7, 2015
The performance, by Rosalyn Landor, is terrific, so gets an A, but the story isn't the strongest; B-.

For some reason, I have managed to read and/or listen to books three and four in this series, The Escape and Only Enchanting before listening to this, which is book two.

Vincent Hunt, Viscount Darleigh is just twenty-three and has been blind for the past six years, the result of a battlefield injury which also left him unable to hear. Returned to England both blind and deaf, he was terrified, enraged and prone to panic attacks. He believes he would have gone mad in those darkest days, had it not been for the constant care of George, Duke of Stanbrook, and the friendship of his fellow “survivors”, a group of seven friends who all sustained injuries in battle and who all spent time recovering and convalescing at Penderris, Stanbrook’s Cornwall Estate. Vincent’s hearing gradually returned, but not his sight, and he has learned, over the years, to cope extremely well and to be as self-sufficient as possible.

Although not in direct line for his title, Vincent inherited following the deaths of his uncle and cousin, and now resides at Middlebury Park in Gloucestershire. At the beginning of the story, however, he’s fled his home because he feels suffocated by the solicitousness of his mother and sisters. They mean well, of course, but their overprotectiveness and insistence on doing things for him he’s more than capable of doing for himself, together with his mother’s determination to get him married to a young woman who “doesn’t mind” (his blindness) as soon as possible is too much for him to bear. With the help of his former batman-turned-valet, Vincent takes himself to the peace and quiet of the Lake District for a few weeks, before heading to his former home, a small Somerset village by the name of Barton Coombs.

But even out of the way country villages have their share of marriage-minded mamas, and the wife of the local squire immediately determines to secure the wealthy young viscount for her daughter. Not above using underhand methods to trap him into marriage, the lady’s plans are thwarted by the intervention of her niece, Miss Sophia Fry. Sophia is very much a poor relation, and lives with her uncle and aunt where she’s treated little better than a servant.

When Vincent learns that Sophia’s actions on his behalf have caused her to be thrown out of her home, he does the only thing he can think of to help her – he proposes marriage. Sophia is astonished and refuses, assuring him that there is no need for such a drastic step. But he won’t take no for an answer, and eventually persuades her that she will be conferring as great a favour upon him by agreeing to his proposal as the other way around. He tells her of his mother’s determination to marry him off and of his own insistence that his wife be a woman he has chosen for himself – and how she will be able to help him to become more independent of his family. Still amazed that such a gorgeous man should want to marry her, Sophia nonetheless accepts his proposal. They discuss the things they each want from life; Vincent dreams of an independent life, and Sophie dreams of living in a cottage of her own, doing as she pleases – and come to a mutually agreeable arrangement. They will live together for one year and after that, Vincent will provide Sophie with her cottage and she will be free to leave. The only proviso is that at some point, she must give him an heir, assuming that she does not conceive during their first year together.

The Arrangement is a gently-moving and charming story of two seemingly unlikely people coming together and falling in love. Vincent and Sophia form a strong friendship as they discover numerous shared interests, and Sophia finds ways to change Vincent’s life for the better and to further his quest for greater independence. I’m not sure how realistic it is for her to have suggested that a dog could help him to get around on his own more as I know that the “guide dog” that we know today didn’t really come into existence until around the time of the First World War, but I suppose it’s not inconceivable that a dog could have been suitably trained in individual cases before then.
The romance is sweet and tender, and the characterisation of both leads is well-done. Vincent isn’t your usual historical hero – not only is he blind, he’s younger than most, and while he has some sexual experience, he’s not a seasoned rake or expert lover. Sophia is also young (only twenty) and grew up with a father who was a bit of a jack-the-lad, and whose recklessness eventually led to his being killed in a duel. A part of her believes he didn’t love her enough, or he wouldn’t have taken part in such a foolish endeavour, and added to that, at the age of fifteen, she developed a huge crush on young man who, in an attempt to cure her case of puppy love, completed the destruction of her self-esteem when he told her she wasn’t pretty enough or womanly enough to interest him.

While I’m often drawn towards books which are all about the love story – no spies, no mysteries, no evil relatives or secret babies – there nonetheless needs to be some sort of conflict in a romance so that the characters can be seen to have worked to get their happy ending. And that’s the big problem with this particular story – the conflict is provided by the nature of the arrangement to which the principals agree, and as such, it’s overly contrived. There are times throughout the story when Vincent admits what a stupid idea it was, because he realises he’s falling for his wife and doesn’t want to let her go; and while Sophie is falling just as hard, her insecurities cause her to believe she’s not a fit wife for such a handsome gentleman, and she is adamant that doesn’t want to suffocate him as the other women in his life have done. She is grimly determined to give him the independence he said he wanted.

But the depth of feeling between the couple is so strong that there’s never any doubt about the outcome. Of course, it’s always obvious who is going to end up with whom in practically every romantic novel ever written, and the reader knows that no matter what crap the characters have to go through, there will be a happy ending . But this was one of those times when the path to true love ran very smooth indeed, which ended up making the whole feel a little flat. That said, I suppose it’s no small tribute to Ms Balogh’s writing that strength of the bond between her two protagonists is so immediately apparent and so palpable that it was inconceivable that the pair wouldn’t find a way to dispense with their stupid arrangement!

I listened to the audiobook version of this, narrated by the incomparable Rosalyn Landor, who has now narrated the next two books in the series, and will, I hope, continue with it. Her affinity with the material is practically unparalleled and her gorgeous, velvety-smooth voice is just as suited to rendering youthful heroines as it is gnarly old dowagers and unpleasant social-climbing aunts. All the bit players – servants, villagers and the local gentry – are expertly differentiated, and she gives Vincent an attractive lightness of tone which points at once to his youth. The various members of the Survivor’s Club are easily identifiable and distinguishable from each other, and the narrative is as beautifully performed and well-paced as I’ve come to expect.

I can’t fault Ms Landor’s performance in any way, and I suspect it contributed much to my overall enjoyment of the story. The writing is very accomplished of course, although I did notice that the author lapses into long passages of introspection in the middle of the action at various points, which I did find somewhat jarring.

But overall, this is an enjoyable audiobook, if not an outstandingly good one. It’s worth listening to for Rosalyn Landor’s superb performance, although I don’t think it’s an especially strong entry in this series in terms of the storyline.

Profile Image for Mou.
547 reviews120 followers
July 31, 2020
I started the first book then somehow the blind viscount caught my interest and I suddenly find myself reading "The Arrangement". And I loved the book. Mary Balogh is amazing.

The book has all the elements I liked and cherished. I loved the hero and the heroine is what he needed a strong, kind-hearted partner.
Profile Image for Geo Marcovici.
1,285 reviews299 followers
September 29, 2019
O fugă din fața unei posibile căsătorii aranjate de familia lui reușește să dea peste cap viața lui Vincent. Astfel, ajunge să o cunoască pe Sophie datorită unor circumstanțe neobișnuite. Și mai neobișnuit este faptul că se căsătoresc la o săptămână după ce s-au cunoscut.
O carte frumoasă, plină de răsturnări de situație, ușor amuzantă și dulce. O poveste despre dragostea care se insinuează în suflet treptat, până când reușește să răzbată la suprafață.
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