This is the second book in a series of historical romance about survivors of the Napoleonic Wars, The Survivors Club. This time we have our youngest member, Vincent, who unlike Hugo in The Proposal has a more noticeable issue from the wars: he’s blind. While on the run and hiding from his overbearing relatives Vincent is saved from a marriage trap by Sophia. Because of this rescue from her icky cousin she is thrown out from her aunt’s house, and in steps Vincent with an offer of marriage to rescue Sophia from being destitute.
What I liked with this one was that unlike other romances in the past with blind men (*cough Romancing the Duke *Cough) love did not cure him. There are no cures or magic fix-alls in this series for our heroes/heroine’s problems, which I really appreciate. Love doesn’t magically fix everything, and I enjoy Ms. Balogh’s honesty on this front. Also, it’s a marriage of convenience plot, and that’s a personal favorite of mine of romantic tropes. It forces the characters very close, very quickly and (especially in historicals where divorce isn’t really considered) it makes them have to work together. I also really enjoyed watching Vincent and Sophia grow as characters. There was very much a complete arch and evolution for each character, it’s delightful.
That being said, I did have some issues with this one. First of all was man were these two young. I know, especially for historical romance, that’s quite realistic (they’re 23 and 20), but after reading The Proposal with my 30-somethings it just wasn’t the same. It was almost like a New Adult, and they really left me feeling my age (which isn’t old in the least, but these two were like fawns). Another issue was also Ms. Balogh, even with a lot of realism, still took this one a little too twee for me. The characters, a day after meeting, sit in the carriage making up children’s stories together? Yeah, it’s definitely not my cup of tea. Nor, as well, their whole side arrangement that they can separate if they so choose after a year. It never really came to anything, and put what felt like unnecessary tension on their relationship that I didn’t really need.
Overall it was an okay entry. The Proposal was definitely a high 3 star romance novel and this one is a low 3 star, but I’m still looking forward to the ones further along in the series. In particular because everyone is older. Ms. Balogh appears to write great adult romances.