Thursday, February 2, 2012

Before the Scarlet Dawn by Rita Gerlach

4 out of 5 stars


In 1775, Hayward Morgan, a young gentleman destined to inherit his father’s estate in Derbyshire, England, captures the heart of the local vicar’s daughter, Eliza Bloome. Her dark beauty and spirited ways are not enough to win him, due to her station in life.   

Circumstances throw Eliza in Hayward’s path, and they flee to America to escape the family conflicts. But as war looms, it's a temporary reprieve. Hayward joins the revolutionary forces and what follows is a struggle for survival, a test of faith, and the quest to find lasting love in an unforgiving wilderness.

My Review 

Warning: This review may contain some spoilers. 

Before the Scarlet Dawn is a compelling story that is sure to strike a chord with anyone who reads it. 

To be honest, I have a "love-hate" feeling for this novel. First off, I have to say that these characters were real. As a result, I want to believe that some of their choices were drastically unbelievable. Yet the unbelievability is the very thing that makes these characters real.  

While I struggled to accept the heat-of-the-moment choice that led to the main character's heartache by the end of the story as anything remotely believable, I can truly say that this story paints human nature in a very realistic sense. Again, it's that very essence that makes these characters real. 

I hated the ending. I absolutely hated it! It left me heartbroken and angry. After cooling off for a day, I had to go back and re-read the last portion of the novel again. This time, I could accept the ending. It was truly perfect. It showed redemption and mercy from God.

My initial impression of this novel was that it should only receive three stars. Aside from the fact that I found major choices unbelievable, I didn't like how the main character didn't put up much of an initial fight for what she wanted. Her actions seemed almost too hopeful, and wishful, and way too trusting in God. She was even too compliant for my taste. While these are great qualities in a real-life person, they aren't ones I want at the outset of a character I'm reading about.

After several days, however, this story, these characters, and the feelings I experienced at the end of my first read, all continued to resonate. Without realizing it, this story had taken up residence in my heart. 

This story will make one feel. Much like Liz Curtis Higgs' Lowlands of Scotland series, you are going to feel emotions that you don't like. But, you will feel, and you will feel intensely. For that very reason, this book gets four stars in my eyes. It accomplishes what a book is supposed to do--move the reader. And move me it did.

I do recommend Before the Scarlet Dawn. Just make sure you keep a box of tissues nearby. You'll sure need them. I'm eagerly awaiting the next story in this series. 

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Abingdon Press, via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review. 

View the Trailer 
The Scarlet Dawn

Official Book launch page for the Daughters of the Potomac series. 

About the Author 

Rita Gerlach has published three historical novels plus articles in Writers Gazette, Write to Inspire, Will Write 4 Food, and The Christian Communicator. She also is the editor ofStepping Stones Magazine, an online website focused on writing, marketing, and promotion for writers. She is a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) and The Western Maryland Writers Guild. She currently lives in Frederick, Maryland. 



Available from Abingdon Press in eBook and print formats

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