Story Title: Before the Season Ends and The House in Grosvenor Square (Regency Inspirational Romance series)
Author Name: Linore Rose Burkard
Story Url: Author’s Amazon Page
Status: 3 completed novels
Story Length: 325 pages and 320 pages
Summary of Book 1: Travel back in time to the fashionable Mayfair district of London—and lose yourself in a Jane Austen-style romance! When trouble at home sends Miss Ariana Forsythe packing, she finds herself neck-deep in high society . . . and scandal. With her Christian principles at stake, will Ariana stand firm, even if it costs her everything? 325 pages, softcover from Harvest.
This series stands in stark contrast to my previous review! I’m going to cut to the chase by saying that I really enjoyed the first book and definitely recommend it, but I hated the second book so much that I’m not even attempting to read the third.
I was excited to learn about the existence of this series. I love Jane Austen’s novels, and I had long thought that it would be interesting to see how a devout Christian would survive in the Regency era’s ton, at a time when England’s society was as immensely depraved as it was immensely obsessed with appearances and scandals. (Thus my love for the Pride & Prejudice fanfic “Given Good Principles.”) A significant amount of the innumerable Christian romance novels I’ve read have been trite, preachy, and featured 2-dimensional characters and predictable plotlines. However, I had strong hopes that an author who was inspired by Jane Austen would be capable of far better novels than I normally found at my local Christian bookstore.
The first book was good, and I wasn’t even that upset when a family member muddied my library copy, forcing me to buy the book. It seemed like one I would want to read again in the future, as the Christian perspective on the Regency era was just as interesting as I had hoped. The plot was intriguing enough, and the protagonist didn’t feel like an Elizabeth Bennet rip-off, as I had feared. The setting was well-researched and the characters were dynamic enough that I was never sure what to expect of them. I’ll admit that the protagonist’s dithering handling of the “unequally yoked” dilemma struck me as rather sloppy on the character’s part, but her ultimate solution to that problem was perfect and the resolution worked quite nicely. I’ve already passed this book on to family members who, I am sure, will share my enjoyment of the story.
The second book just made me mad. The protagonist now struck me as a complete dingbat. She had all the worst traits of Marianne Dashwood and it did seem as if the author was unintentionally trying to fashion her after Elizabeth Bennet in this sequel. Instead, we ended up with a character with absolutely no backbone, no wisdom, and no common sense, who didn’t inspire any confidence whatsoever, and certainly no respect. A significant portion of the problems she faced in this book were the result of either her or her aunt’s air-headed behavior.
In addition, the application of her principles came across as more a caricature of Christianity than the faith-driven, wise use of godly instruction which the author intended to exemplify. For example, blithely allowing criminal behavior to go unpunished, sometimes without a word of rebuke, was just stupid, particularly when the offending individuals had unfettered access to the protagonists and the ability to repeat the bad behavior in the future. To use an extreme comparison, it was as if Mr. Darcy had just forgiven Mrs. Younge and kept her on as Georgiana’s companion; or as if Elizabeth had tried to maintain a close friendship with Mr. Whickam after learning his true character, allowing herself to be alone with him frequently!
Ultimately, my biggest complaint about the second story, aside from multiple unresolved plot threads and the protagonist’s ditzy behavior, was that it was just one huge angst fest without the kind of victorious triumph and comeuppance that would be necessary to satisfactorily settle my nerves, if not the story’s plot.
In defense of the The House in Grosvenor Square and its author: One of the reasons I have never liked the show Seinfeld in spite of the brilliant writing and acting is that I can’t like or respect any of the characters. I found them all to be self-centered and petty without any real generosity or kindness within them. So, if any story, be it a movie, book or tv show, contains characters which I can’t like, then no matter how good the writing, there’s no winning me over. Since I really didn’t like either the protagonist or her wanna-be-love (though I mostly liked the fiancé) in the second book, there was little hope for the plot to win me over.