Friday, April 24, 2009

Book Review: Before The Season Ends

Burkard, Linore Rose. 2008. Before The Season Ends. Harvest House. 338 pages.

Something would have to be done about Ariana.

Meet our heroine, Miss Ariana Forsythe, a young woman--the second daughter of the family, by the way, who loves God with all her heart and soul. She's looking for a godly man to marry. That is her only qualification. He must love God. He must know God, not just know about him. Her parents are preparing to send her away to London to visit her aunt, Mrs. Agatha Bentley, for the season. (For those not in the know, 'the season' is the social season in London where the fashionable and oh-so-wealthy elite did everything to make much of themselves. In other words: one big season of parties and dances and trips to the theatre and the like. This meant that mothers tried to match make for their daughters (and sons). Young women would naturally try to find husbands.)

Ariana doesn't think she's going to London to catch a husband on the marriage mart. But her aunt has different plans. (She thinks she is going to see the sights, not to be seen by all the eligible young men.) Like most Regency romances, the plot revolves around a bachelor who is resolved to remain a bachelor. A stubborn, often-aloof (hard-to-get-to-know), ever-handsome bachelor. Our hero is Mr. Phillip Mornay. He is the paragon of society. He's known for being a bit grumpy (anti-social) and a lot fashionable. (It doesn't hurt that he's very wealthy and associates with only the best people. He's also got a bit of bite to him, known for his banter.)

Ariana bumps into Mr. Mornay--quite by accident and very literally--at a party (a picnic I believe) and his first reaction is a bit anti-social. She knows she didn't make a very good first impression. Later on (that same day I believe) he rescues her from a very embarrassing situation. While out on a walk, Ariana gets inspired to climb a tree. While most of the party searchs for her, she's hiding in the tree hoping to avoid public humiliation. Mornay does spot her, but does not put her to shame. After directing people away from her hideaway, he helps her down from the tree and sees her safely to the house. Lecturing all the way of course.

And that might have been the end of things. If. If only Ariana hadn't made an enemy. Lady Covington has decided to spread false rumors about Ariana and Mr. Mornay. Rumors that while untrue could ruin not only her season, but potentially her chances for marriage as well. Mr. Mornay though he would never in a million years do this for another young woman has decided to court Ariana quite publicly to prove that Lady Covington is crazy. (You see, he has a rep for brushing aside young women who throw themselves at him. If a woman acts all swoon-y (think of the three swooning ladies in Beauty and the Beast who follow Gaston around), he doesn't hesitate from rejecting and humiliating them. He will have nothing to do with silly (mindless) young women who want to manipulate him into saying 'I do.')

Will this show-of-a-courtship prove to be the real deal? Does Ariana want it to become real? Can she catch the uncatchable bachelor? Can she capture his heart? There's no denying he's easy on the eyes. And Ariana does begin to find him charming. But there's something standing in her way. She believes that he doesn't believe. That is she believes he's a "Christian" in name only. He doesn't have personal, saving faith in her opinion. He doesn't know the price Christ paid for him. As long as it's all a game, a show, then it's a non-issue, though she prays for him often, but what if it becomes real? Could she really and truly marry a man--even if she does love him heart and soul--if he doesn't share her faith?

If you love Regency Romance, but like it on the smutty side, then you'll probably find this lacking. But if you love Regency Romance and you love clean romance novels, then I think you'll find Before The Season Ends to be giddy-making. For example, if you love Georgette Heyer and Jane Austen, then you'll probably find it to your liking. It is much more accessible than Heyer and Austen. (There is even a glossary in the back of the book to bring you up to speed on Regency England.) I will say this, I found almost all of it to be giddy-making for me. I was in heaven reading this book. Thought it practically perfect in every way. Loved the hero. Loved the romance. Loved the writing. Thought the dialogue worked well. But. Close to the end, it becomes very heavy in the preaching and sermons. A little too heavy in my opinion. (To each their own I know). So, do I still love it? Yes. Even though I didn't *love, love, love* the direction it took towards the end...I'll still be recommending this one.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

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