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Tina's Reading Books

Genre fiction lover:  Romance, Sci Fi, Fantasy, Mystery, Urban Fantasy

The Arrangement - Mary Balogh This was a nice book. It wasn't flashy or angsty or super emotional. It did not feature a raving beauty of a heroine or a super alpha of a hero. In fact, Sophia starts out as a pretty invisible character for the most part. She (and others) refer to her as 'The Mouse'. She is a poor relation who lives an almost Cinderella like existence with her aunt, uncle and selfish beautiful cousin.

And then there is Vincent. The hero. He is a decidedly beta hero who is suffocated by his mother and sisters who worry about him because he is blind. He leaves home in what he candidly admits is 'running away' because the concern of his relatives stifle him.

Sophia and Vincent cross paths when Sophia's relatives conspire to trap the rich, handsome, titled Vincent into marriage with the selfish cousin. Heinously they attempt to use his blindness as a way to spring the trap. But Sophia interferes and suffers the wrath of her thwarted relatives.

Vincent does the honorable thing and proposes marriage to Sophia because he feels that her dire situation is his fault.

The title refers to the fact that two approach their marriage pragmatically for what it is -- an arrangement to get them both out of a predicament. It was a fine set up and execution of a story that felt very, very familiar. Truthfully I didn't find myself overly invested in either Sophia or Vincent. Although Sophia does blossom during the course of the story, she was a little too much of a mouse for my personal taste. And while Vincent finally took control of his life and became quietly authoritative, he was still too much of a beta hero for my personal taste.

The biggest pluses for me in the story are for Ms. Balogh's writing (always excellent) and the way Vincent's blindness was portrayed. Outside of a few panic attacks that would creep up on him unexpectedly, for the most part Vincent was accepting of his disability. He did not let it hobble him and continued, with the help of his valet/batman, to live a normal and active life. His biggest dissatisfaction was with how others treated his blindness. People either pitied him, were overly protective of him or simply did not know how to act around him. I thought Ms. Balogh's writing is regard his disability was strong and nuanced. She managed to tease out a lot of different aspects of how Vincent had to live with his disability without overtly blaring a spotlight on it and making it 'An Issue.' For instance I thought it was interesting how often people unconsciously used the words "look" or "see" when speaking to him. I think he author's use of these words casually dropped in everyday speaking language was deliberate and worked beautifully as an illustrative example of how small things are just as significant sometimes as big ones.

I think Balogh fans will like this book and some familiar faces from previous series make cameo appearances.

Review based on an ARC received via the Amazon Vine program