Our heroine, Ariana, is convinced that God is calling her to marry a preacher. And the only preacher near her home is sixty five years old. Naturally, this somewhat concerns her parents, so they send her off to visit her wealthy aunt in London. There, she mixes with high society and crosses wits several times with the handsome though taciturn nobleman Philip Mornay. (What’s that? A Regency hero who is handsome but somewhat of a jerk? Nah, that doesn’t sound familiar.) As she navigates the shark infested waters of society she must also work to stay grounded in her faith.
Now, this succeeds very well on one level and fails very epically on another. In its success, it is exactly what one expects from this type of book. Beautiful, spunky heroine meets handsome, brooding hero. Romance Ensues, with some Regency Costume Porn thrown in. However, where it fails is that you get Surprise Come To Jesus Moments that feel less like a natural part of the setting and more like the author has just manifested into the story to hit you over the head with the heaviest Bible she could find.
Not to mention every single devout Anglican talks and sounds exactly like a Southern Baptist, as though people who do not talk or sound like that cannot be truly saved! (Note to self: Find out if any earthquakes occurred in England around the time this book was published. Sure sign of poor Jane spinning in her grave.)
Overall, the book was entertaining, and I would give it, oh, a 2.5 or 3 out of 5. The author could use work on two points. First, and more minor, is the Costume Porn. We all expect Costume Porn to be a part of just about any chick lit book. But the author takes whole paragraphs to describe an outfit, and at one point does it while we’re all in a tizzy over the hero’s dark secrets. It was…sort of a moment killer. The other is that Burkard apparently decided to use the book as a missionary text as well, and that simply doesn’t fit in with the rest of the story. It’s one thing to have Christianity be a normal part of the characters’ lives, it’s another to have the author-as-heroine anviliciously knocking both the other characters and the reader on the head about being saved and “the sinner’s prayer”. And, yes, she doesn't use the sort of prayer of that century. She uses the version one hears in Evangelical churches. It's a truly bizarre piece of anachronism in what is supposed to be a historically accurate novel.
For a chick lit author who is better at weaving Christianity into a love story, see Debra White Smith (though she commits some writing sins of her own, but I’ll talk about that in a later blog).
As I said, the book was decent, but I don’t like reading a book only to suddenly find myself in an Evangelical revival meeting.
"I love you Darcy!" "I love you Elizabeth!"
"Praise Jesus! Mr. Darcy has converted!"