Thursday, February 2, 2012

Review: Before The Season Ends by Linore Rose Burkard

First off, let me say I went into the book with the expectation of it being fluff. And on that head, the book succeeded very well. Regency romances are supposed to be fluff, inspirational or not. And this was quite fluffy indeed.

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!"


  1. Fitzwilliam Darcy swallowed hard. He felt a quavering in his stomach. His throat beneath his exquisite cravat was dry. His palms were sweaty as his hands trembled. Perhaps that open air evangelist was right. He had spent his life caring for widows and orphans in distress. He was faithful in his parish and received the sacrament daily. But after all, that was just religion. And what he needed was a relationship. Why, even his baptism was forced upon him as an infant by his parents, well before he could make a credible profession of faith. Darcy had lived his life full of pride and prejudice. He had never personally invited Jesus into his heart…

    1. Have you read this? It sounds...terrifyingly like the conversion scene in the book.

  2. I haven't read this particular book, but this post made me laugh because I've read books very much like it, and you described them perfectly. And the pictures at the end were also very fitting. And amusing. And all that good stuff. In short, thanks. This was fun. :D

    1. Thank you! I think now I'm prepared I might read the rest in this series, because they do sound interesting, and I won't be surprised by the "sudden conversion" scenes. :-D