A waif of a girl who is ignored and neglected and a young man blinded during battle, but longing for independence from his coddling family who push him toward a marriage he doesn’t want come to an understanding through an arrangement that will benefit them both or does it?
I have enjoyed this author’s writing for years and was eager to try this new series about seven people who endured hardships during the war with Napoleon and came back as survivors to form a strong friendship with others who would understand. Each book in the series tells the story of each member of the club. I didn’t get a chance to read the first one or the novella yet, but it was no trouble jumping in with Vincent Hunt’s book.
Vincent Hunt, once the schoolmaster’s son from a small village, is now Viscount Darleigh. His blindness would normally be a handicap toward being considered an eligible bachelor. Now that he inherited his uncle’s title and fortune, he becomes not just eligible, but a prize. When the females in his family start making plans and pushing girls at him, he runs. His escape eventually takes him into the grasping hands of another plotting family, but a quiet little young woman helps him escape from that coil only to lose her home in the process.
Sophia Fry is the Mouse, the invisible person, the poor relation that has been tossed about amongst her family since her father died. Nobody wants her and barely tolerates her. She knows that there will be trouble if she helps Lord Darleigh escape Henrietta’s clutches, but she can’t just stand there and watch him be entrapped by her cousin. Sure enough, her rescue costs her and she’s left destitute and homeless. Then the miracle happens. Lord Darleigh offers for her- short, ugly Mouse. It’s not to be a love match, but one of convenience for both of them. He offers her an arrangement. She doesn’t want to take it because she feels he’s getting nothing out of it, but she desperately accepts.
The rest of the story follows what happens with these two unlikely people find friendship and make a home together giving and getting so much more than they could have ever imagined. The arrangement grows distasteful as they both secretly yearn for more.
This story was very enjoyable for me because I was in the right frame of mind to appreciate it. It is a historical romance, but it is the old-style almost fairy tale quality type where unlikely events and people come together to form a sweet story. This one has a Cinderella feel though at times the hero and heroine take turns being Cinderella. But I don’t want to do the story a disservice because while it has an unlikely quality; it also offers up reality too in the form of these survivors who all served England in the wars and came back damaged.
The pace is gentle and even has to go back over the same ground sometimes because the growth and development in the characters is the two steps forward one step back type stuff. The reader has to be patient as Sophie and Vince make their way and find what they need.
That brings me to the characters themselves. Vincent is blind, but he also has panic attacks. He feels emasculated because he can’t do for himself and he longs to get all that back. He doesn’t just suddenly adjust to being blind. It has been six years and he has to work hard. Sophia didn’t go through war, but her issues were more personal. Her situation is the result of years of neglect, emotional abuse and never really having people she could count on. As a result of all this, neither of these characters are alpha types. They are both the less popular, but still interesting beta hero and heroine. Their strengths are less obvious and take longer to shine forth.
I loved them together. They tend to let others push them around as individuals, but together they are stronger and stand up for each other. Sophie steps out of her shell so Vince doesn’t have to be ashamed of his bride before his friends and family and Vince steps up and defends her when others see her as someone taking advantage of a blind man. Their physical relationship rivals more aggressive lovers in that they are not afraid to come together and please each other and themselves. I just couldn’t stop smiling when Sophie showed Vince that the Mouse was really a Lioness in the bedroom. And Vince was always convinced that Sophie was beautiful both outside and in no matter what other people told him. It didn’t matter to him how they came together as husband and wife; he was loyal to Sophie and was proud of her just as she was with him.
So in the end, this is yet another book by this author that I found abso-fab and look forward to going back and getting the other installments in the series and forging ahead with Ben’s story when it comes out.
Those who enjoy softer historical romances that can still offer up a bit of spice should give this book a try.
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