Monday, September 16, 2013

ARC Review: The Arrangement

The Arrangement
Mary Balogh
Historical Romance
The Survivors' Club/Book 2
Dell/August 27, 2013

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?

Mary Balogh is one of my favorite historical romance authors.  She always brings something a little different, a little out of the ordinary.  Which is why I appreciate Ms. Balogh's writing so very much.

With the second book in the survivor's Club series, Balogh lets us into the life of Vincent Hunt.  He is young, at twenty-three years of age, and has already had a life changing event.  Vincent is blind and has been blind for six years.  He left for war when he was seventeen and was injured, blinded in his first battle.  I loved Vincent's determination and his patience with his helpful but overbearing female relations.  He knows they mean well but he doesn't want to be treated like an invalid.  He's become quit capable in dealing with his blindness.  Balogh could have made Vincent a drunken, depressed loner who hates the world.  Instead she made him a man who will not let his handicap define him but rather chooses to overcome it.

Sophia Fry finds herself lost in a world she has very little experience with.  When she has nowhere to go Vincent gives her a place and a purpose.  It's not pure altruism on his part, he wants something in return.  It's a lovely blend of give and take with neither Sophia or Vincent knowing where it will lead.  Their romance is sweet but sometimes it felt lacking in conflict.  They are both so very nice which shouldn't be a bad thing and it isn't but it can also be a bit dull.

While the romance came off as being a little too tepid, Vincent's character was a enjoyable change from the dark, brooding rakes we find so often populating historical romances.  I'm not sure what is next for the Survivors' Club but I'm curious to see how they all find their happily ever afters.

Rating:  B

The Survivors' Club

The Proposal
The Arrangement

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

ARC Review: The Hero

The Hero
Robyn Carr
Contemporary Romance
Thunder Point/Book 3
Harlequin/ August 27, 2013

In a moment of desperation, Devon McAllister takes her daughter and flees a place where they should have been safe and secure. She has no idea what is around the next bend, but she is pretty certain it can't be worse than what they've left behind. Her plan is to escape to somewhere she can be invisible. Instead, an unexpected offer of assistance leads her to Thunder Point, a tiny Oregon town with a willingness to help someone in need. 

As the widowed father of a vulnerable young boy, Spencer Lawson knows something about needing friendship. But he's not looking for anything else. Instead, he's thrown his energy into his new role as Thunder Point's high school football coach. Tough and demanding to his team, off the field he's gentle and kind...just the kind of man who could heal Devon's wounded heart.

Devon thought she wanted to hide from the world. But in Thunder Point, you find bravery where you least expect it...and sometimes, you find a hero.

In the third book of the series, we see how Spencer Lawson is settling into Thunder Point.  He's worked things out with his son's biological father, Hank Cooper, and both Spencer and his son are thriving in their new home.  Spencer is still grieving for his deceased wife but because of her prolonged illness, you could say he started his grieving before her death.

When Devon McAllister shows up in Thunder Point, she is in a desperate situation.  She lucks out when she meets Rawley, a scruffy old guy with a heart of gold.  Rawley is proof that there are good people out there who simply want to help - no strings attached.  One of my favorite parts of the book was seeing the relationships develop between Devon, Rawley and Devon's daughter.

The romance between Spencer and Devon start out as a hesitant friendship, with Devon not wanting anything looking like romance.  But Spencer is persistent and the friendship moves along into romance territory.  While I liked both Devon and Spencer, I had a hard time picturing them together.  Whether it was the age difference or the life experience difference, I'm not sure.  There was just something missing.

The Thunder Point series isn't what I would call a typical romance where the majority of the focus would be on the hero and heroine but is rather a collective romance, spreading the focus on a few different couples.  This sometimes works but in the case of The Hero, it hurt the development of the romance between Spencer and Devon.

The overall series is solid with Carr's writing bringing forth that sense of family and community she's known for.  There are some wonderful scenes in The Hero, but the romance felt weak.

Rating:  C+

Thunder Point Series ~

The Wanderer
The Newcomer
The Hero
The Chance (February 25, 2014)