There are some novels I have enjoyed reading almost entirely too much. Before the Season Ends, Linore Rose Burkard’s first Regency Inspirational Romance was one such title. Captivatingly addictive, true to period language and form, the story of beautiful, young outspoken Ariana Forsythe and the wealthy, stand-offish Phillip Mornay quickly became a fast favourite, and prompted an all-night reading spree. When the sequel The House in Grosvenor Square arrived I was almost afraid to open it for fear that it wouldn’t live up to the first book.
As the book opens we find Ariana Forsythe amidst the plans for her wedding to Phillip Mornay. Deeply in love and delighted by her betrothed’s blossoming newfound faith all should be pure bliss. However, trouble stirs – her beloved is distant, his servants are plotting against her, and there are dastardly knaves plotting her abduction for unknown reasons.
Ariana and Phillip’s relationship matures as it goes through trials and temptations. Reading of their deepening attachment and affection for one provided both a warm glow of love throughout the tale, and periods of angst during miscommunications and conflict.
Where Before the Season Ends was spot-on Regency with a distinctive Christian influence, The House in Grosvenor Square strays towards an amalgam of historical romantic suspense. While still set in the Regency period and bearing all of the earmarks of the fashion, slang, and social mores, the novel jauntily heads down a much more modern path of plot development than the ancestors of the genre ever took.
By including multiple kidnappings and one mysterious development after another, Burkard draws her young couple out of the insular dance of courtship, card parties, and gossip and into the realm of mild-mannered adventure. The continued emphasis on propriety, appearances, and purity still provide a small dose of the typical Regency escapism though not as much as the first novel contained. Oddly, the suspense-based plot also resulted in slower pacing than the romantic tension found in the original.
I have just recently noticed a developing trend in Christian publisher Harvest House’s inspirational regencies. Both Linore Burkard’s and Kaye Dascus’ Ransome Trilogy series approach the genre with fairly traditional opening novels before diving into plots that are quite adventurous by Regency standards in the subsequent volumes. I’m afraid that I can’t say I’m thrilled by the change in emphasis in these modern examples.
I’m not about to give up on the new approach however. Perhaps I’ll develop as much of a taste for derring-do in jolly England as I do for stories of adventurous speculative fiction. To be fair, Burkard still includes plenty of loyal butlers, wardrobe changes, and blundering suitors to take us away to another time. Let’s wait and see what she brings us next, shall we?