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Before the Scarlet Dawn: Daughters of the Potomac - Book 1 Paperback – February 1, 2012
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This month's Book With Buzz: "The Silent Corner" by Dean Koontz
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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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Top Customer Reviews
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.*
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.
"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!