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Product Description

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

A mesmerizing story of passionate awakening and redemption, Mary Balogh’s new novel unites a war hero consigned to darkness with a remarkable woman who finds her own salvation by showing him the light of love.
 

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 sensual pleasure, dare they believe a bargain born of desperation might lead them both to a love destined to be?

Praise for The Arrangement
 
“Balogh understands not only the era, with all its nuances, but [also] knows her characters so thoroughly that readers are swept into her stories. There’s a natural reserve—a calmness and quiet in her prose—that allows the tenderness of the romance to tug at the reader’s heart. This is a beautifully rendered marriage-of-convenience love story that will win a place on keeper shelves.” RT Book Reviews (4-1/2 stars)
 
“This sexy, touching book revisits the marriage-of-convenience plot, joining two heroic, conflicted characters who are navigating their own versions of darkness and delivering them to the redemptive power of love. Regency best-seller Balogh once again takes a standard romance trope and imbues it with heart, emotional intelligence and flawless authenticity.” Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
 
“This touching, totally enthralling story overflows with subtle humor, brilliant dialog, breathtaking sensuality, and supporting characters you want to know better.” Library Journal (starred review)
 
“Balogh can always be depended on to deliver a beautifully written Regency romance with appealing, unusual characters, and the second in her new Survivors’ Club series (after The Proposal) is no exception. . . . Future series installments promise more compellingly tormented heroes.” Publishers Weekly
 
“[A] poignant and thoughtful romance.” Booklist
 
“A compassionate love story with a unique hero and heroine . . . The dialogue is snappy, and the climax . . . is exciting and helps bring about the blissful ending. . . . The Arrangement [is] a must read.” Fresh Fiction

From Publishers Weekly

Balogh can always be depended on to deliver a beautifully written Regency romance with appealing, unusual characters, and the second in her new Survivors'' Club series (after The Proposal) is no exception. Young Vincent Hunt returned from fighting Napoleon in time to inherit a title, Viscount Darleigh. Blind from war wounds, he has not enjoyed his new prosperity. His female relatives badger him to wed, but he is determined to avoid young women who pity his disability. Enter a perceptive orphan, Sophia Fry, who rescues Darleigh when her cousin tries to trap him into marriage. When her aunt and uncle retaliate by kicking her out, it is Darleigh''s turn to protect her by offering a marriage of convenience. There is immediate and convincing chemistry between these two lonely souls, and well-drawn supporting characters round out the story. Future series installments promise more compellingly tormented heroes. Agent: Maria Carvainis, Maria Carvainis Agency. (Sept.)

From Booklist

The second in Balogh’s Survivors series (begun by The Proposal, 2012) brings together Vincent Hunt, Lord Darleigh, who was blinded in battle, and Sophia Fry, born into the gentry but living as a poor relative with her aunt’s stingy family. Vincent, gorgeous and rich, never expected to inherit a title and now must secure a wife and sire an heir. Unfortunately, his loving, all-female family is clueless and tries to marry him off to a young woman who is willing to take pity on him and marry him even though he is disabled. Vincent does not want pity. So, with his valet, he secretly takes up residence in his modest old home in Somerset, but news travels like lightning and soon he is inundated with visitors and invitations. Vincent becomes intrigued by Sophia, who is called Mouse because she is quiet and virtually invisible. He doesn’t know that her clothes are drab and threadbare. He is simply enchanted by the way she treats him like a man, not an invalid. An unusually poignant and thoughtful romance. --Diana Tixier Herald

Review

“Balogh understands not only the era, with all its nuances, but [also] knows her characters so thoroughly that readers are swept into her stories. There’s a natural reserve—a calmness and quiet in her prose—that allows the tenderness of the romance to tug at the reader’s heart. This is a beautifully rendered marriage-of-convenience love story that will win a place on keeper shelves.” RT Book Reviews (4-1/2 stars)
 
“This sexy, touching book revisits the marriage-of-convenience plot, joining two heroic, conflicted characters who are navigating their own versions of darkness and delivering them to the redemptive power of love. Regency best-seller Balogh once again takes a standard romance trope and imbues it with heart, emotional intelligence and flawless authenticity.” Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
 
“This touching, totally enthralling story overflows with subtle humor, brilliant dialog, breathtaking sensuality, and supporting characters you want to know better.” Library Journal (starred review)
 
“Balogh can always be depended on to deliver a beautifully written Regency romance with appealing, unusual characters, and the second in her new Survivors’ Club series (after The Proposal) is no exception. . . . Future series installments promise more compellingly tormented heroes.” Publishers Weekly
 
“[A] poignant and thoughtful romance.” Booklist
 
“A compassionate love story with a unique hero and heroine . . . The dialogue is snappy, and the climax . . . is exciting and helps bring about the blissful ending. . . . The Arrangement [is] a must read.” Fresh Fiction

About the Author

Mary Balogh is the New York Times bestselling author of numerous books, including the acclaimed Slightly and Simply novels, the Mistress trilogy, and the five titles in her Huxtable series: First Comes Marriage, Then Comes Seduction, At Last Comes Love, Seducing an Angel, and A Secret Affair. A former teacher, she grew up in Wales and now lives in Canada.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

1

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. He ran away from home, which was a ridiculous, somewhat lowering way of putting it when he owned the house and was almost twenty-four years old. But the simple fact was that he bolted.

He took with him his valet, Martin Fisk; his traveling carriage and horses; and enough clothes and other necessary belongings to last him a month or two—or six. He really did not know how long he would stay away. He took his violin too after a moment’s hesitation. His friends liked to tease him about it and affect horror every time he tucked it beneath his chin, but he thought he played it tolerably well. More important, he liked playing it. It soothed his soul, though he never confided that thought to his friends. Flavian would no doubt make a comment along the lines of its scratching the boot soles of everyone else who happened to be within earshot.

The main trouble with home was that he was afflicted with too many female relatives and not enough male ones—and no assertive males. His grandmother and his mother lived with him, and his three sisters, though married with homes and families of their own, came to stay all too frequently, and often for lengthy spells. Hardly a month went by without at least one of them being in residence for a few days or a week or more. His brothers-in-law, when they came with their wives—which was not every time—tactfully held themselves aloof from Vincent’s affairs and allowed their womenfolk to rule his life, even though it was worthy of note that none of them allowed their wives to rule theirs.

It all would have been understandable, even under ordinary circumstances, Vincent supposed grudgingly. He was, after all, everyone’s only grandson or only son or only brother—and younger brother at that—and as such was fair game to be protected and cosseted and worried over and planned for. He had inherited his title and fortune just four years ago, at the age of nineteen, from an uncle who had been robust and only forty-six years old when he died and who had had a son as sturdy and fit as he. They had both died violently. Life was a fragile business and so was the inheritance, Vincent’s female relatives were fond of observing. It behooved him, therefore, to fill his nursery with an heir and a number of spares as soon as was humanly possible. It was irrelevant that he was still very young and would not even have begun to think of matrimony yet, left to himself. His family knew all they cared to know about living in genteel poverty.

His were not ordinary circumstances, however, and as a result, his relatives clucked about him like a flock of mother hens all intent upon nurturing the same frail chick while somehow avoiding smothering it. His mother had moved to Middlebury Park in Gloucestershire even before he did. She had got it ready for him. His maternal grandmother had let the lease expire on her house in Bath and joined his mother there. And after he moved in, three years ago, his sisters began to find Middlebury the most fascinating place on earth to be. And Vincent need not worry about their husbands feeling neglected, they had collectively assured him. Their husbands understood. The word was always spoken with something like hushed reverence.

In fact, most of what they all said to him was spoken in much the same manner, as though he were some sort of precious but mentally deficient child.

This year they had begun to talk pointedly about marriage. His marriage, that was. Even apart from the succession issue, marriage would bring him comfort and companionship, they had decided, and all kinds of other assorted benefits. Marriage would enable them to relax and worry less about him. It would enable his grandmother to return to Bath, which she was missing. And it would not be at all difficult to find a lady willing and even eager to marry him. He must not imagine it would be. He was titled and wealthy, after all. And he had youth and looks and charm. There were hordes of ladies out there who would understand and actually be quite happy to marry him. They would quickly learn to love him for himself. At least, one would, the one he would choose. And they, his female relatives, would help him make that choice, of course. That went without saying, though they said it anyway.

The campaign had started over Easter, when the whole family was at Middlebury, his sisters’ husbands and their children included. Vincent himself had just returned from Penderris Hall in Cornwall, country seat of the Duke of Stanbrook, where he spent a few weeks of each year with his fellow members of the self-styled Survivors’ Club, a group of survivors of the Napoleonic Wars, and he had been feeling a little bereft, as he always did for a while after parting from those dearest friends in the world. He had let the women talk without paying a great deal of attention or even thinking of perhaps putting his foot down.

It had proved to be a mistake.

Only a month after Easter his sisters and brothers-in-law and nieces and nephews had returned en masse, to be followed a day or so later by houseguests. It was still only spring and an odd time of year for a house party, when the social Season in London would be just getting into full swing. But this was not really a party, Vincent had soon discovered, for the only guests who were not also family were Mr. Geoffrey Dean, son of Grand­mama’s dearest friend in Bath, his wife, and their three daughters. Their two sons were away at school. Two of the daughters were still in the schoolroom—their governess had been brought with them. But the eldest, Miss Philippa Dean, was almost nineteen and had made her curtsy to the queen just a couple of weeks before and secured partners for every set at her come-out ball. She had made a very satisfactory debut indeed into polite society.

But, Mrs. Dean was hasty to add while describing her daughter’s triumph over tea soon after their arrival at Middlebury Park, how could they possibly have resisted the prospect of spending a quiet couple of weeks in the country with old friends?

Old friends?

The situation had soon become painfully clear to Vincent, though no one bothered to explain. Miss Phi­lippa Dean was on the marriage mart to the highest bidder. She had younger sisters growing up behind her and two brothers at school who might conceivably wish to continue their studies at university. It seemed unlikely that the Deans were vastly wealthy. They had come, then, on the clear understanding that there was a husband to be had for the girl at Middlebury and that she would return to London with all the distinction of being betrothed within a month of her come-out. It would be a singular triumph, especially as she would be securing a husband who was both wealthy and titled.

And who also happened to be blind.

Miss Dean was exquisitely lovely, his mother reported, with blond hair and green eyes and a trim figure. Not that her looks mattered to him. She sounded like a sweet and amiable girl.

She also sounded quite sensible when in conversation with everyone except Vincent himself. She often was in conversation with him during the following few days, however. Every other female in the house, with the possible exception of Vincent’s three young nieces, did everything in her power to throw the two of them together and to leave them together. Even a blind man could see that.

She conversed with him upon trivialities in a gentle, somewhat breathless voice, as though she were in a sickroom and the patient hung precariously between death and life. Whenever Vincent tried to steer the conversation to some meaningful topic in order to discover something of her interests and opinions and the quality of her mind, she invariably agreed wholeheartedly with everything he said, even to the point of absurdity.

“I am firmly of the opinion,” he said to her one afternoon when they were sitting together in the formal parterre gardens before the house despite a rather strong breeze, “that the scientific world has been in a wicked conspiracy against the masses for the past number of centuries, Miss Dean, in order to convince us that the earth is round. It is, of course, quite undeniably flat. Even a fool could see that. If one were to walk to the edge of it, one would fall off and never be heard of again. What is your opinion?”

It was unkind. It was a bit mean.

She was silent for several moments, while he willed her to contradict him. Or laugh at him. Or call him an idiot. Her voice was gentler than ever when she spoke.

“I am quite sure you have the right of it, my lord,” she said.

He almost said “Balderdash!” but did not. He would not add cruelty to unkindness. He merely smiled and felt ashamed of himself and talked about the blustery wind.

And then he felt the fingers of one of her hands on his sleeve, and he could smell her light floral perfume more clearly, an indication that she had leaned closer, and she spoke again—in a sweet, hurried, breathless voice.

“I did not at all mind coming here, you know, Lord Darleigh,” she said, “even though I have been looking forward forever to my first Season in London and do not remember ever being happier than I was on the night of my come-out ball. But I know enough about life to understand that I was taken there not just for enjoyment. Mama and Papa have explained what a wonderful opportunity this invitation is for me, as well as for my sisters and brothers. I did not mind coming, truly. Indeed, I came willingly. I understand, you see, and I will not mind one little bit.”

Her fingers squeezed his arm before letting it go.

“You will think I am forward,” she added, “though I am not usually so outspoken. I just thought you needed to know that I do not mind. For perhaps you fear I do.”

It was one of the most excruciatingly embarrassing moments of Vincent’s life, as well as being almost insufferably infuriating. Not that she infuriated him, poor girl. But her parents did, and his mother and grandmother and sisters did. It was quite obvious to him that Miss Dean had been brought here not just as an eligible young lady whom he might get to know with the possibility on both their parts of deepening their acquaintance in the future if they liked each other. No, she had been brought here fully expecting that he would make her an offer before she left. Pressure would have been brought to bear by her parents, but she was a dutiful daughter, it seemed, and accepted her responsibility as the eldest. She would marry him even though he was blind.

She very obviously did mind.

He was angry with his mother and sisters for assuming that mental deficiency was one effect of blindness. He had known they wished him to marry soon. He had known that they would proceed to matchmake for him. What he had not known was that they would choose his bride without a word to him and then practically force him into accepting their choice—and in his own home, moreover.

His house, in fact, was not his own home—that realization came like an epiphany. It never had been. Whose fault that was must be examined at some future date. It was tempting to blame his relatives, but . . . Well, he would have to think the whole matter over.

He had a niggling suspicion, though, that if he was not master here, the fault lay with him.

But for now he was in an impossible situation. He felt no spark of attraction toward Miss Dean, even though he believed he would very probably like her under different circumstances. It was clear she felt nothing for him but the obligation to marry him. He could not, though, allow both of them to be coerced into doing what neither of them wanted to do.

As soon as they had returned indoors—Miss Dean took his offered arm and then proceeded to steer him along with gentle but firm intent even though he had his cane with him and knew the way perfectly well without any assistance at all—Vincent went to his private sitting room—the only place in the house where he could be assured of being alone and of being himself—and summoned Martin Fisk.

“We are going,” he said abruptly when his valet arrived.

“Are we, sir?” Martin asked cheerfully. “And what clothes will you be needing for the occasion?”

“I will need everything that will fit into the trunk I always take to Penderris,” Vincent said. “You will doubtless decide for yourself what you need.”

A low grunt was followed by silence.

“I am feeling especially stupid today,” Martin said. “You had better explain.”

“We are going,” Vincent said. “Leaving. Putting as much distance between us and Middlebury as we possibly can in order to evade pursuit. Slinking off. Running away. Taking the coward’s way out.”

“The lady does not suit, does she?” Martin asked.

Ha! Even Martin knew why the girl had been brought here.

“Not as a wife,” Vincent told him. “Not as my wife, anyway. Good Lord, Martin, I do not even want to marry. Not yet. And if and when I do want it, I shall choose the lady myself. Very carefully. And I shall make sure that if she says yes, it is not simply because she understands and will not mind.”

“Hmm,” Martin said. “That is what this one said, is it?”

“With the softest, gentlest sweetness,” Vincent said. “She is sweet and gentle, actually. She is prepared to make a martyr of herself for the sake of her family.”

“And we are running away where?” Martin asked.

“Anywhere on earth but here,” Vincent said. “Can we leave tonight? Without anyone’s knowing?”

“I grew up at a smithy,” Martin reminded him. “I think I could manage to attach the horses to the carriage without getting the lines hopelessly tangled up. But presumably I won’t have to risk it. I suppose you will want Handry to drive us? I’ll have a word with him. He knows how to keep his lips sealed. Two o’clock in the morning, shall we say? I’ll come and carry your trunk out and then come back to dress you. We should be well on our way by three.”

“Perfect,” Vincent said.

They were about one mile on their way when Martin, occupying the seat opposite Vincent’s in the carriage, his back to the horses, reported that it was three o’clock.

Vincent refused to feel guilty—and of course was consumed by nothing but guilt. And by the conviction that he was the world’s worst cad and coward, not to mention worst son and brother and grandson. And gentleman. But really, what else could he have done, short of marrying Miss Philippa Dean or publicly humiliating her?

But would she not be equally humiliated to learn that he had fled?

Arrghh!

He chose to believe that behind any momentary humiliation she might feel would be an enormous relief. He was sure she would be relieved, poor girl.

They went to the Lake District and spent three blissful weeks there. It was reputed to be one of the loveliest parts of England, though much of its beauty was lost on a blind man, of course. Not all of it, however. There were country lanes to stroll along, many of them parallel to the banks of Lake Windermere or some other, lesser lakes. There were hills to climb, some of them requiring strenuous effort—and stronger winds and more rarefied air as a reward when they climbed high. There was rain and sunshine and chill and warmth, all the wonderful variety of English weather and countryside. There was a boat ride, on which he could pull the oars himself, and horse rides—with Martin at his side but never touching him. There was even one glorious gallop across flat land, which, in Martin’s careful estimation, did not hide any unexpected dips or potholes. There was birdsong and insect croaks and the bleating of sheep and the lowing of cattle to listen to. There were all the myriad smells of the countryside, most notably heather, to many of which he had been oblivious in the days when he could see. There was sitting to meditate or merely to stretch the four senses that remained to him. There were his usual strengthening, body-building exercises to be performed daily, many of them outdoors.

There was peace.

And ultimately there was restlessness.

He had written two letters home—or, rather, Martin had done it for him—the first two days after he left, to explain that he needed some time alone and that he was perfectly safe in his valet’s capable hands. He had not explained either where he was at the time or where he was going. He advised his mother not to expect him home for a month or so. He confirmed everything in the second letter and assured her that he was safe and happy and in good health.

Miss Dean and her mama and papa and sisters would presumably have returned to London in time to secure her some other eligible husband before the Season was out. Vincent hoped she would find someone to fulfill the dual demands of duty and personal inclination. He sincerely hoped so, both for her sake and for the sake of his conscience.

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4.4 out of 54.4 out of 5
872 global ratings

Top reviews from the United States

Kathryn @theBookDate
4.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Loving this series
Reviewed in the United States on May 22, 2015
The Arrangement is #2 in the Survivors'' Club series by Mary Balogh. I have now enjoyed the first two books in this series and it will certainly be a series that I read through all of the books. Sophia has had a rather unfortunate life up until the time she meets... See more
The Arrangement is #2 in the Survivors'' Club series by Mary Balogh. I have now enjoyed the first two books in this series and it will certainly be a series that I read through all of the books.

Sophia has had a rather unfortunate life up until the time she meets up with Vincent. Her parents are dead and she has endured some tough treatment at the hands of relations who have treated her worse than a servant. Eventually when she comes to the rescue of Vincent as her cousin is trying to compromise him, she is turned out at midnight by said relations.

Once Vincent proposes to her and the marriage is set, all that follows is a story of Sophia coming into her own person. She proves herself to be loveable, thoughtful and considerate. While she and Vincent have an arrangement that at the end of a year they can perhaps go their separate ways, and Sophia can have the little cottage she always dreamed of, it is obvious it''s never going to happen.

Vincent, blinded in battle, finds himself dependent on his mother and sisters and he dislikes it very much. With marriage to Sophia he sees the promise of his becoming independent from them all. In general he manages blindness very well, especially with the help of his friend from childhood - Martin''s help. However at times he finds himself overcome with panic. He appreciates Sophia in a way she has never experienced before, and is very angry with how she has been treated by her relatives.

I loved this gentle story, and the experience of seeing the differing points of view of both the main characters. I loved how they supported each other, and were open and honest in their communication. The book needed no crisis where both characters were pushed apart, rather it was a rising culmination to two people finding happiness in themselves and with each other.
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Hist Rom Lover
4.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
very sweet love story
Reviewed in the United States on November 7, 2013
mary balogh is one of the most loved historical romance authors, and with good reason. she always manages to make her characters come alive, whether they be callous rakes or sweet innocents. this book is no exception, the love story is very romantic and the characters very... See more
mary balogh is one of the most loved historical romance authors, and with good reason. she always manages to make her characters come alive, whether they be callous rakes or sweet innocents. this book is no exception, the love story is very romantic and the characters very entertaining. the only reason i gave it a 4 and not a 5 is that there are large chunks of the book when the hero and heroine are not actually together, and i found these a bit slow.

vincent, the hero of this book, had a happy childhood, joined the army aged 17, and was injured and blinded during his first battle due to his own stupidity. he has spent the next 6 years learning to cope with his blindness and the unexpectedly inherited viscountcy. when we meet him, he is still very young (only 23), unsure of himself and smothered by his loving family, and is struggling to find a way to take charge of his life once more.

sophia, the heroine, had un unhappy childhood with a gambling father. left orphan, she has been for years shunted from one unfeeling relative to the other. when we meet her, she is is shy, poor, unattractive and insecure. however, she has a spark inside her that no misfortune has managed to dim.

fate throws them together when sophia saves vincent from her matrimonially scheming cousin, which unfortunately results in her being thrown in the street by her aunt. vincent feels he should make reparations, and so they are wed.

from here the true story starts unfolding, as the two of them grow up, become stronger (and wittier) and eventually fall in love.

this is a very romantic, slow love story, with no misunderstandings and testosterone driven males. definitely worth reading

(as an aside there is a cameo appearance by lily, from one night for love, one of my all time favourite heroines)
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Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Blind review
Reviewed in the United States on February 28, 2018
This is my absolute favorite in the Survivor Series. Vincent, blinded in action recovers with the help of his fellow survivors and returns home, a new Viscount and is smothered by the attention of his loving mother and sisters. When they try to arrange a marriage for him... See more
This is my absolute favorite in the Survivor Series. Vincent, blinded in action recovers with the help of his fellow survivors and returns home, a new Viscount and is smothered by the attention of his loving mother and sisters. When they try to arrange a marriage for him he runs away from home and eventually finds and married Sophia. It is the ultimate love story, do take the time to read it and all about the lived and loves of the rest of the Suvivors....There are seven of them. The stories are all well written with well developed characters, filled with action these stories keep your attention. Mary Balogh is a master for these types of books!
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chb book addict
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Overcoming a challenge
Reviewed in the United States on September 2, 2013
I strongly suggest that you read The Suitor by Mary Balogh before you read this book. It will fill in the back story so that you can understand Vincent Darleigh and why he ran away from home. Vincent Hunt is a member of the Survivor''s Club men and one lady who... See more
I strongly suggest that you read The Suitor by Mary Balogh before you read this book. It will fill in the back story so that you can understand Vincent Darleigh and why he ran away from home.

Vincent Hunt is a member of the Survivor''s Club men and one lady who were all involved in the Napoleonic war and were all injured in some way and came home to live at Penderris Hall home of the Duke of Stanbrook while they recovered. Vincent was blind and deaf but fortunately recovered his hearing after awhile. He also became the Earl of Darleigh an unexpected event when relatives who he had no expectations from were killed.

His family has helped him in every way, in fact they have smothered him and have not allowed him to become his own man. Finally, they decided that he should marry and picked the woman they thought would be perfect for him. After meeting the young lady, Vincent realizes that she is not for him and abruptly leaves his home. After travelling for a few weeks he decides to return to his original home, Covington House, where he was raised. Vincent intended to arrive and remain in the house without anyone knowing he was there but he forgot about his mother''s and sister''s habit of letter writing and keeping their old friends in Barton Coombs, Somerset informed about their life, and letting them know that Vincent might be headed their way. Once he was spotted by a villager word spread and visitors started coming in droves.

Sophia Fry was an orphan who was given a home by her Aunt Martha because no one else would take her. Called "the mouse" by the family she received the cast-off clothes of her cousin and wasn''t recognized as a family member by her Aunt and Uncle or their servants. When the Earl of Darleigh arrives in Barton Coombs, the Marches, Sir Clarence and Aunt Martha decide that they will trap him into marriage with their daughter, Henrietta. Never mind that they never liked the Hunts and Vincent played many pranks on them because of their top lofty ways. When Sophia hears their plan, she determines to stop them. As a result of her efforts, the Marches put her out with only enough money to pay her way to London. When Vincent hears what has happened he rescues Sophia and offers marriage for a year.

This was a gentle story with two people who had lives that they did not suit them but they felt could not be changed. With a lot of determination and help both of them were able to turn their lives around and make them into something they were proud of. Vincent became more authoritative and Sophia gained self-esteem and helped Vincent create a life that did not have limits because of his blindness.

Mary Balogh is a long time favorite, she rarely gets it wrong and this series is just wonderful. Another winner!
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Sarah L. Gruwell
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
worthy addition to the Survivor''s Club series
Reviewed in the United States on August 10, 2015
My second book in the series to read, it’s also the second book of the Survivor’s Club series overall. It’s got a bit of a different tone than book three that I enjoyed, and the characters stood out in a different light. I liked that this book had a gentler feel... See more
My second book in the series to read, it’s also the second book of the Survivor’s Club series overall. It’s got a bit of a different tone than book three that I enjoyed, and the characters stood out in a different light.

I liked that this book had a gentler feel to it than the previous volume I read. Not to say that the fact of Vincent’s blindness and Sophie’s dire financial straits aren’t heavy and presented with the requisite seriousness and drama. Yet, I think that there’s a lighter, gentler romantic air to this one. That was a nice change of pace.

I think a lot of that lighter feel can be chalked up to the characters themselves. Vincent has an attitude that I could only dream of having in a similar situation. He takes his blindness in stride and gets on with his life with a minimum of fuss or drama. There are occasional moments where panic attacks occur, but he meets the challenge in his life with strength of will I can only admire.

Sophie also shined. Life throws a hell of a curve ball her way; if not for Vincent, she would have been in a very drastic situation. Past emotional trauma also makes for a damaged soul. Yet, her heart is big enough to take in Vincent with all his problems as well as her own. I liked that she didn’t dwell on her hardship-filled life; she got past it quick and looked at the positive that occurred when fate wove her life’s path with Vincent’s.

There were occasional forays into eye-rolling clichés. The whole showdown in the dark thing, I felt, was really unnecessary. Yet, unlike book 3, I didn’t feel that they weighed down this book. The sweet, sweet romance and the characterizations for our leads more than make up for any clichés that might have occurred.

I adored this installment for the Survivor’s Club. The romance was tender, and our lead characters strong despite the trauma. Even the odd cliché didn’t detract from my enjoyment; I still was enthralled by this tender romance. Highly recommended for lovers of this genre.
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Avid reader
3.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Mixed feelings
Reviewed in the United States on September 15, 2013
In general, I enjoy Mary Balogh''s books, but this one wasn''t her best. I did like the hero, and the heroine, too, for that matter, but the plot seemed a little lacking and the writing could have been better in places. The hero, Vincent, was a gentleman through... See more
In general, I enjoy Mary Balogh''s books, but this one wasn''t her best. I did like the hero, and the heroine, too, for that matter, but the plot seemed a little lacking and the writing could have been better in places.

The hero, Vincent, was a gentleman through and through, and he easily won me over. The conversation on his and Sophie''s wedding night was a little too formal and polite, but I got over it.

Two main things bothered me. One was that Balogh would sometimes spoil an upcoming event by telling us outright instead of letting the scene unfold and letting us experience it as it happened. I didn''t mind the ''telling'' in the first chapter, because I wanted to know why Vincent left, and Balogh tossed enough humor in that she had me hooked and smiling. When it came to the next chapter, though, when Sophia spies Vincent, I would have liked to experience that in real time and not have it spoiled for me in the very first sentence.

The second thing that I found strange (*mild spoiler alert*): I kept waiting for the unflattering caricature of Vincent that Sophia drew to surface and cause problems between them. It would have been the perfect thing for Henrietta to use for revenge, but it never showed back up. I literally was on the edge of my seat by the end, waiting for the picture to make an appearance, but all my angst was for nothing.

That said, I did enjoy this book. The romance was sweet and believable, and the main characters were good, kind people. It was very satisfying to watch their practical arrangement turn into true love by the end. 3 1/2 stars.
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Diane K. Peterson
4.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Sweet and lovely
Reviewed in the United States on January 24, 2014
What a sweet, lovely book! I freely admit that I am a sucker for stories with a blind hero so I was probably going to like this one no matter what. But when you put the blind hero into the writing hands of Mary Balogh the result is a heartwarming story of characters... See more
What a sweet, lovely book! I freely admit that I am a sucker for stories with a blind hero so I was probably going to like this one no matter what. But when you put the blind hero into the writing hands of Mary Balogh the result is a heartwarming story of characters discovering their inner strength together. If you like adventure, intrigue or danger this is not the book for you. If, however, you love sympathetic characters and you appreciate slow, steady character development you will enjoy The Arrangement (Survivor’s Club #2).

The story opens as Vincent Hunt, who has recently and unexpectedly become Viscount Darleigh, runs away from home and his family’s attempt to find him a bride. His mother, grandmother and sisters tend to overwhelm him since he is the youngest and he is blind due to a war injury. Vincent knows that he has to grow up and become his own man, but he wants to do it on his own terms. His wandering eventually leads him to his childhood home where he is welcomed back into the community. It is there that he meets Sophie Fry, “the Mouse,” a poor relation living with a prominent area family. Vincent’s friendship with Sophie causes her to be cast out with nowhere to go. They decide to marry even though they are both less than enthusiastic about the idea. They make an agreement (the arrangement) that they will each live independently after a year. The rest of the book takes us through their wedding and months of adjustment on their way to their Happily Ever After.

Romance writers today are taught that the essence of story lies in conflict. Sometimes it seems like the message is “the more conflict, the better.” As a result it is not unusual to find books with what I call “contrived conflict’ – it feels like the author tried too hard to include lots of conflict, even when it did not fit naturally into the story. Interestingly, The Arrangement had almost no serious conflict. There was no villain, no evil plot, and no insurmountable issues. The story moved forward at an even pace and the characters dealt with each issue as they encountered it. There was never any doubt, of course, that Vincent and Sophie would work things out, but there weren’t even any real bumps in the road. Each of them helped the other to find their confidence and to build their life together.

I loved reading The Arrangement. It was a heartwarming journey of self-discovery for two characters with difficult challenges. In spite of his blindness, Vincent was not an angsty, tortured hero. He was just a young man trying to take charge of his life. Vincent was a genuine beta hero, loving and considerate. Sophie was a little bit of a tragic heroine, but she possessed a courageous spirit. She just needed the opportunity to blossom into a strong woman. Both of them were living marginal lives, but struggled to be whole people. The book was a little unusual in that Vincent and Sophie were younger than in a lot of Regency romances; he was only twenty-three. We were privy to their sexual lives, but it was pretty bland, not particularly steamy. One thing I especially enjoyed was getting reacquainted with most of the other members of the Survivor’s Club. It is a great series and I can’t wait for the next one.
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Marcy L. Thompson
4.0 out of 5 starsVine Customer Review of Free Product
I surprised myself by how much I liked this
Reviewed in the United States on January 2, 2014
I generally like Mary Balogh''s novels quite a lot. However, pretty early on in this one, I found myself getting a little bored and a little annoyed. For that boredom and annoyance, I have dinged the book one star. The thing that surprised me is that while I was bored and... See more
I generally like Mary Balogh''s novels quite a lot. However, pretty early on in this one, I found myself getting a little bored and a little annoyed. For that boredom and annoyance, I have dinged the book one star. The thing that surprised me is that while I was bored and annoyed, I was thinking this was a 2- or 3-star book. I should have trusted this author to make everything all right in the end.

First, let me say that this is in many ways a typical Mary Balogh book: well-written, interesting plot, and both a hero and a heroine who seem like real people (not just romance novel cliches). The pacing is a little odd (see: bored and annoyed), but the story is interesting in the end.

The hero of this novel is blind as the result of a war injury. In part, this book is about how he and his family come to understand him as a competent human being who does not need to be treated with kid gloves, and about how the heroine is instrumental in helping this transformation to occur.

The heroine of this novel is a penniless orphan who is being treated badly by the wealthy relatives with whom she lives. In part, this book is about how she comes to terms with the fact that the family which should have been taking care of her, failed her. As she gains confidence in herself, partly through her successful attempts to help the hero be more independent, she learns to accept that even people we love have faults, and that doesn''t necessarily make them monsters so much as it just makes them human.

I found that the early part of the book moved slowly, and wasn''t very interesting, from a plot point of view. The "arrangement" referred to by the title seemed silly to me at the time it was made, and it also struck me as an obvious plot device. As soon as the couple became engaged and left for London, the book''s pace picked up. And once they were married and back at home, the story unfolded in a believable way. In the end, while it certainly was a plot device, the "arrangement" made more sense to me: in order to dismantle it and create their HEA, the characters had to figure out why they''d entered into it in the first place. As they worked through it, it also became clear to me why they had done it, and so seemed a lot less arbitrary and silly.

In sum, it''s a good book, although not one my favorites by this author.
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Carol Cork
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
A gentle, heart-warming and beautifully written romance
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on November 16, 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...See more
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.
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East End Lady
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
An engaging and satisfying read
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on September 1, 2013
This book is very much better than the previous one in this series; the hero and heroine are full of energy and very likeable. The hero is blind, and is initially overwhelmed by his apparent helplessness, and no longer able to engage with life .He encounters Mary , a...See more
This book is very much better than the previous one in this series; the hero and heroine are full of energy and very likeable. The hero is blind, and is initially overwhelmed by his apparent helplessness, and no longer able to engage with life .He encounters Mary , a classic put-upon poor relation, and feels obliged to marry her. Because she has always been small and because of her poverty, self -effacing, she is surprised to find that because he treats her with loving kindness she can both become the mistress of a great country estate and restore her husband''s self-esteem and devise ways for him to cope with his disabilities. By the end of the book they are both flourishing.
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BR41
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
A Mary Balogh treat
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on September 6, 2013
Mary Balogh writes with elegant simplicity, and her believable fairy tales - by which I mean you can count on HEA - are based in character, people modifying their behaviour, difficult circumstances redeemed by character and behaviour, and anything by her is a treat. The new...See more
Mary Balogh writes with elegant simplicity, and her believable fairy tales - by which I mean you can count on HEA - are based in character, people modifying their behaviour, difficult circumstances redeemed by character and behaviour, and anything by her is a treat. The new series which I assume will be 7 in all is based on a fine premise, aristocratic military men back in England after the Napoleonic wars, and scarred in one way or another - psychologically, physically - coping with their own feelings of inability to cope, however privileged their circumstances, in an uncaring world, and forming their own Survivors Club. A real pleasure too in a Balogh series is meeting the characters in different circumstances in different novels. She is a mistress of her craft, and I look forward to guaranteed escapism.
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Jennifer Doyle
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
... author for me to read but find that I enjoy her books immensely
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on November 3, 2016
A different author for me to read but find that I enjoy her books immensely. Shall continue to buy from this author. I have made a note of all the series and shall gradually wade through them. When I have read all those I shall buy other books by her.
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Jay
4.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Sophie and Vincent''s story
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on January 22, 2017
I loved that both the characters were flawed and that both needed someone or something to change in their lives to make them whole. A delightful and moving tale of two survivors
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