Some arrangements lead to love

The Arrangement - Mary Balogh

I like this book, #2 in the Survivors' Club series, much less than The Proposal (#1). Like everything written by Ms. Balogh, this novel is a gentle historical romance. After being wounded in the war, the hero Vincent is blind, although he is a rich, titled gentleman and he has a loving, extended family. The heroine Sophia is an impoverished girl with no place of her own, no family, and no money.

Vincent wants to live a life as normal as possible for a blind guy. To start with, he wants to select his own bride instead of accepting his mother’s matchmaking. Sophia wants – well, a place to belong and a way to survive her poverty. She also likes Vincent too much for her own good. They seem created for each other, so they make an arrangement.

I like both protagonists. They are alive. Both are charming and smart but they have insecurities and problems. Both are working on overcoming them. Placed in the first part of the 19th century in England, their story develops along the familiar lines of a historical romance.

Sadly, the book is uneven. The first half takes place in a short period of time – about a week – and the action moves swiftly. The descriptions are vivid. The plotline unfolds like a movie, one entertaining scene after another, with humor and tragedy blending together into an absorbing tale. Several possible complications shimmer on the horizon, threatening the characters, who fully engage the reader’s attention.

Then the second part arrives, about 70% into the book, and the action stops. Almost everything after that is a summary, stretched over months. The scenes are short and rare, and most interactions of the heroes with other characters are described rather than shown. There are still dialogs but they are swallowed by pages and pages of digest-like narrative.

The writing is good though, as professional as I’ve come to expect from this writer, so the story reads well to the end.

Overall – a nice addition to this romantic series but nothing special.