Amazon.com: Customer Reviews: Before the Scarlet Dawn: Daughters of the Potomac - Book 1
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on April 27, 2015
Eliza, a rare beauty, and her maid, Fiona, face living on the streets when her father, a Vicar, dies. Still, Eliza refuses the offer of marriage from the local nobleman whom she doesn’t love but throws herself at Hayward, her childhood crush. Hayward is home from the colonies to wed a proper British bride. He has offered for a young lady of his station who refuses to move to the colonies. Eliza assures Hayward that she will follow him anywhere and that she is young, strong and brave enough to face the new world. Hayward, struck by her beauty and determination, reluctantly agrees that they will wed with the understanding that he will never offer her love.

Hayward, raised with the prejudices of the British aristocracy, was taught that giving your heart to a woman would weaken a man. He had some misgivings about taking a mere Vicar’s daughter as wife, but he figured her beauty would make up for her lack of social standing. Hayward appreciates Eliza's strength and willingness to stand by him when he leaves to fight for the Patriots, but he is not going to give her his heart.

Hayward is away for almost five years without even sending a letter home. Halston, a neighbor who is enamored of Eliza, comes to the aid of her household, even saving her life from extreme danger. When Eliza receives a message that Hayward has died on a horrible prison ship she runs, blind with grief, into the arms of Halston. The consequences are disastrous.

News comes that Hayward is alive and he comes home to his wife and daughter. He also finds another young woman and a two year old child, living and helping on the farm. Hayward has been hardened by war and is even haughtier about class levels than he was before he left. He treats everyone rather harshly and when he discovers Eliza’s secrets he is unwilling to forgive.

He sends Eliza to his mother in England, but Eliza arrives to discover she is abandoned. She despairs, fearing she will never see her daughter again. She nearly freezes in a field but is rescued by a kind man who takes her in.

This book started out well and I was interested to read details of the colonies, the hardships of wilderness living and even the horrors of the revolutionary war. The dynamics between Eliza and Hayward allowed for tension and growth in the relationship. Unfortunately in the second half of the book Eliza acts contrary to her values and new characters pop up that didn’t fit the earlier facts. I was disturbed by her "clinging" to Hayward but more disturbed when her actions go far afield especially considering her faith in God. Finally she seems to lose her backbone altogether. Even accepting that she is "only human", this was just too much of a character slide. I initially had some sympathy for Hayward’s misguided rearing but that sympathy quickly died in light of his cruel pride.

The ending chapters bring some relief to Eliza’s circumstances, but it is not a happy ending and is clearly unfinished with events to follow in the second book. Rating this is a bit difficult as I wanted to like it and started out enjoying the writing style and plot premise. It is just too bad that it went astray (no pun intended). The book club ladies who read this with me agreed that we want inspiration - not depression - when we finish a book.
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on August 2, 2012
Before I begin this review I must tell you I became involved in this epic story. I've read many fiction books, but it is rare for me to become entangled in one. I began reading this book on Tuesday afternoon, 336 pages later I finished at two o'clock in the afternoon on Wednesday. I could not put this book down until I'd read the last sentence. Of course now I have to wait until October to find out how my beloved characters will proceed in their tale.

Eliza Bloome age twenty-one is the daughter of Vicar Matthias Bloome. They live in Darbyshire, England. The time period is 1775. Matthias is ill and expected to not live long. Eliza's only sibling Stephen is far-away at Fort Erie, New York. Their mother died when Eliza was young. A Mr. Langbourne wishes to marry Eliza, promising her wealth and a lifestyle of ease. Eliza considers this proposal because she wonders what will become of her after her father's death. Hayward Morgan is a handsome and proud man. He is independent, stoic, and demands respect. He has bought property and a home in an American Colony. While he is back in England he and Eliza become reacquainted. Eliza makes a bold decision. A decision she bases on faith. A decision that will have long-term consequences.

Eliza is a person that stands firm in decisions she feels strongly about. She wants to marry for love. Yet, she is young and inexperienced, and at a moment in her life when she is left reeling from grief, she chooses what appears to be best. I believe when we are young we make more decisions based on our emotion, and less on our what our mind tells us. I know I've been guilty of this.
She is both lovely on the exterior and lovely in her inner person. Although not all people (men) are interested in her inner person. She is unprepared for the magnetic appeal she has on some people.
She laughs off what other's say of her, yet deep down she is hurt and troubled.
Eliza is hard-working, intelligent, loving, kind, respectful.
As bold as she is at times in speaking her mind, she respects maybe to a point of allowing inappropriate behavior.
She is a heroine in that when life's piercing arrows dart at her, she clings to the One that is her Creator and Savior.

Hayward Morgan is a proud man. He is defiant in his pride. He is stoic. He is reserved and is intolerant.
I had a difficult time with his character throughout all of the story. I just don't like him. Yet, I care about what happens to him. It is marvelous when an author can create an unlikable character and yet the reader cares what happens to him!

Characters are probably the most important aspect for me in a good story. Yes, the theme and setting is important, but the characters are the icing on the cake.

I loved the history of the Revolutionary War in America. I loved the author presenting the feelings of the families of those that were in the war.

Often I was moved by the mood of the story, and by the use of words that stirred my heart.

I loved the symbolism used in this story.
For example:
"Besides, I want to feel the grass beneath my feet...our grass. It is how it should be...at least for today. Say you understand." page 92
Eliza was feeling in the green grass a newness, a beginning, a growth in this new life. We are shown through this image her hopes and dreams. We see a freshness of youth and of possibilities.

Yes, I loved loved loved this book!
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on August 22, 2012
The year is 1775. There's this pretty girl, see, the daughter of a vicar in England, Eliza Bloome. Respectable, but not exactly an heiress. Then there's this guy she's had a thing for since childhood--Hayward Morgan. Son of landed gentry. They've got a lady picked out for him, Lilith Marsden.

Well, Hayward is all in favor of Lilith. But he's also in favor of living in America. He has a piece of land and a home there. And Lilith? Well, frankly, she'd love to marry him. IF he'd stay in England on his father's property. She has no interest in the colonies. She refuses to marry him and go so far away.

Eliza accidentally hears the conversation between the two and Lilith's refusal to go with Hayward. When Hayward discovers Eliza sitting in the darkness in the same hallway, she tells him Lilith is not worthy of him. That if Lilith loved him she would go anywhere with him.

Boldly, Eliza tells him she loves him and he should marry her, that she would go with him anywhere.

And thus begins her journey to Virginia. She's plunged into colonial life at the beginning of the Revolution with a man who doesn't love her, among colonial women who disdain her, and in the midst of wild Indians and wilder weather. And a neighbor who admires her too much.

How will she overcome? There are some obstacles almost insurmountable.
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on March 13, 2012
For once I have read a book that I could not predict how it would end. Usually once a story presents itself you can kinda of figure out the logistics of how it will end but not in Before The Scarlet Dawn by Rita Gerlach.

In this wonderful historical novel set in the 1775 first in Derbyshire, England we find our main character Eliza Bloome who is caring for her ailing father, the vicar of the church there. While he lays dying he receives a letter from a man named Mr. Langbourne, who wishes to marry Eliza so that she will not fall into poverty once he passes away. However Eliza wishes to marry for love only not for financial security. So when he father passes away, she is given one week to vacate the church property and find other living arrangements.

While riding through the country side one day, she happens upon a childhood friend, Hayward Morgan, the son of a wealthy family and wonders if perhaps he is interested in marriage. When he tells her he is not but that she might find work among his family's household in Havendale, she decides to try to find work there otherwise she will be homeless.

Upon arriving in Havendale, she overhears Hayward proposes to a well-to-do lady named Lilith Marsden who has her eyes set on Hayward's future inheritance, but when she learns that the marriage will involve leaving England and heading for property he has acquired in Maryland, she refuses. Now Eliza offers Hayward one more opportunity to propose marriage and move with him to Maryland to which he accepts, under the condition that Eliza understands, he does not love her.

Moving to River Run in the Maryland, Eliza and her maid, Fiona will have to endure the life of learning to live in frontier, but as long as Eliza has Hayward, she is convinced God will show Hayward's heart that love is possible. Only now that the Revolutionary War draws near, Hayward's only desire is to fight against the British even if it means leaving his wife to fend for herself. Will Eliza ever truly find love or will God have a different answer in mind for her prayers?

I received Before The Scarlet Dawn compliments of Christian Fiction Blog Alliance for my honest review and LOVED it. I couldn't put it down til I knew how it would end and I believe, I have to wait for the next book. I was not disappointed that Eliza's conflict was not resolved and for once applaud the author who takes a great storyline, and carefully takes the reader by the hand and walks through it with them, not rushing to come to a hasty conclusion. This is the reason why I love this book. It's completely unpredictable at some points and that kept me entertained and engaged. I'm not sure I could deal with all life handed Eliza in this story and she has more strength that I could ever imagine. I rate this one a 5 out of 5 stars and anxiously wait her sequel to this story. This is the first book in the Daughters of the Potomac Series!
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on April 2, 2012
I bought this book,not because I wanted it, but because I had a 30% off coupon and had already pre-ordered all the books by my favorite authors. However, th is book took me by surprise. It was very sound, well written and not just a bit of fluffy Christian romance. The historical detail is good, the characters are very well fleshed out and it is a great book.

Eliza Broome is the vicar's daughter and when he dies, she is given 2 weeks to vacate the vicarage. She has no prospects other than the rich landowner's heir who only wants her for her, shall we say, womanly attributes? She doesn't care for him but knows her life with him will be a life of ease and wealth.
She decides to go after the cousin of this man, Hayward Morgan, who is about to go to the colonies to live. She tells him she loves him but he decides to marry her based on her flesh (not my words). She continues to love him even though he never once mentions love to her. The revolution happens and Hayward goes off to fight with the American patriots. Eliza's life changes dramatically after this. I won't spoil the book for those who haven't read it, but this book is very deep and thought provoking. I was actually upset at times with the author for the things she allowed to happen, but realized that this is the stuff of which great books are made.

I am eagerly awaiting the next book in the series because I HAVE to find out what happens. I hear it's due in Auguts so I'll not have long to wait.
I've just put Rita Gerlach on my list of authors to always buy their books.
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on November 12, 2012
This was my 3rd book to be read in less than two weeks by this extrememely talented author. I was drawn in immediately. There was action, adventure, tragedy, emotional rollercoaster ride as well. The author wrote a riveting story that grabs you by the heart and puts you in the story line with the main characters

When the story line seem to change into a road one does not expect...I kept thinking it will be okay....But at the end, there was no Sigh with Ahhh as one closed the last page. I couldn't fathom why the author had left so many questions unanswered, so many loose strings, and a let down. Quite Frustrating and let down.

It wasn't until today, when I picked up Book 2 in the Potomac Series, that I realized, that Book One was just the beginning. Book 2 is a sequel, and should answer my questions and tie up loose strings. I will start reading it today.

If you wish to purchase Bk One, I suggest you buy Bk Two at the same time.....

So I wait with baited breath as to what is to unfold.
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on August 7, 2012
Rita Gerlach is fast approaching to be my favorite author! I first read Surrender the Wind, which blew me away...pun intended. Then I read, The Rebels Pledge, which was my favorite, so I hesitated on reading Before the Scarlet Dawn, afraid it couldn't quite match up...but it did! As a lover of classic literature, I'm hooked on Rita Gerlach. Modern literature, especially romance, can be so gagging and predictable. Boy meets girl on page one, and you know somehow they'll wed and live happily ever after. They're both perfect people who just need to find each other....sigh....
I compare Before the Scarlet Dawn to Middlemarch, because Eliza reminds me of Dorothea, an idealistic woman, hoping to change the world, thinking she can. As both stories unfold, the heroines falter, and though we're disappointed in them, we care enough about them to read on. We cheer them on, hoping they'll see their blind spots.
Before the Scarlet Dawn also reminds me of Jane Eyre. When Eliza is alone on the moors, you wonder what will become of her, much like Jane. With rich imagery, we're taken to the moors and see there is someone there to show us redemption.
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on February 3, 2012
This novel is a subgenre buster if ever I saw one. Overall Rita's new release is a historical. However, it could also be described as women's fiction, literary, and colonial as well as European setting, and American Revolution. So perhaps it is a literary colonial women's fiction with romantic elements. But historical romance readers should be advised this is not a historical romance. Lots of very classic elements in the storytelling as well.
I read this as a PDF file Advance Reader copy that I sent to my Kindle. I was not required to give a positive review.
Rita's descriptions bring the reader into the story as though they are there with the characters. She does not disappoint in this book, as well, in capturing the feel of countryside England and of colonial Maryland.
Those who enjoy a literary story will find this current book the most so of all of Rita's stories.
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on September 1, 2013
A well-told tale of English immigrants to a wild and woolly land. A story of a man too insecure to allow himself to love, the hardships of war and separation, and the temptations they beget. Ultimately a tale of unforgiveness and wrath leading to eventual, albeit unexpected, acceptance -- warts and all. The Grace of God cannot be thwarted, despite men doing their worst.
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on March 16, 2012
This was in interesting book. Eliza is a strong girl who knows her mind and wants to marry for love. Hayward is interesting hes had a rough upbringing which explains some of his thinking but at times he annoyed me. Its interesting how sometimes if a person just stepped back and looked at a situation as if it was someone else they would accept it but for themselves they just cant seem to think rationally. This seems to happen with Hayward at times. Eliza and Heyward leave for America around the time the Revolutionary War is about to start and they must decide who to support. I found the story interesting and kept me interested to the end. I have to say there were many surprises in the book that I hadn't expected. An interesting read.
Thanks to Netgalley for my review copy.
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