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Before the Scarlet Dawn: Daughters of the Potomac - Book 1 Paperback – February 1, 2012
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Rita Gerlach has created an achingly vivid frame on which to stretch the canvas of her new series. Tracing the painful path a life takes when innocence and love are taken for granted, Before the Scarlet Dawn is an artfully hewn tale of romance tempered by fear -- and the hope of love, devastated by war.
Serena Chase ~ USA Today
Eliza captivates readers with her hardships and struggles. Her unpredictable circumstances make for a character with a relatable and heart-wrenching journey. Gerlach's writing and characters are addicting. She writes with a convicting and convincing nature.
Christian Books Preview
This novel set after the American Revolution has something for everyone: romance, mystery, comedy and intrigue. The descriptions of the estate, church grounds and characters, especially Seth and Juleah, help bring this novel to life. The writing is so vivid you'll hear the horses' hoofs and people's voices.
Romantic Times Book Review
"Ms. Gerlach's unique literary prose has once again captured my heart with a stirring tale of love and loss, desperation and hope during one of the most uncertain times in American History--the Revolutionary War. I cannot wait for the next book in the series!" - MaryLu Tyndall, author of Surrender the Dawn
"Filled with true-to-life characters whose struggles will linger with readers long after the last page is turned, Before the Scarlet Dawn is a memorable story of Revolutionary War-era England and America." - Amanda Cabot, author of Summer of Promise
"A stirring story of love and its consequences, Before the Scarlet Dawn will draw you in from the start and not let you go again." - Roseanna M. White, author of Love Finds You in Annapolis, Maryland and Jewel of Persia
"This is a big, beautiful, well-told story of love, faith, and the struggles of war that changed lives...and hearts. I can't wait to read the next book in this series!" Loree Lough, best-selling author of more than 80 award-winning books, including reader favorite From Ashes to Honor
From the Back Cover
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.
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The love and passion she has for Hayward only to have it squashed. Hayward is a controlling man that was taught by a tyrant of a father. I know the depth of Eliza's pain when her daughter is ripped away from her. All that Eliza has to go through shows she has determination and grit.
This story has a lot of climaxes, a lot of emotions piled into it. This story is very powerful and moving!
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.
I loved Before the Scarlet Dawn up until I got about halfway - that is when the story started going downhill for me. It was just too sad.
Aside from the sadness, I did really enjoy the story and found the characters to be great (although I wish something had happened differently).
Forgiveness and mercy play a big part in Before the Scarlet Dawn - and I loved that! It was very well written and that is probably another reason I found this book to be so moving.
In some ways, Before the Scarlet Dawn reminded my of Heiress by Susan May Warren - because that book was also a novel with many highs and lows.
This is only book one in Rita Gerlach's Daughters of the Potomac series and I have high hopes that happiness will be found in book two for certain characters.
A great novel that I recommend as long as you don't mind some sadness.
*I received a complimentary copy of this book for my review. I was not required to give a positive review, only my honest opinion - which I've done. All thoughts and opinions expressed are my own.*