Rating: 4 Stars
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Synopsis from Abingdon Press: 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.
Review: After reading Rita Gerlach's first novel, Surrender the Wind, I was excited to discover her newest book Before the Scarlet Dawn, which will be released in February 2012. This was one of the rare times that I did not read the synopsis before reading the novel, so I did not know what to expect of the plot. However, even for those readers who do read the publisher's summary, they will not be prepared for the unexpected turn of events as the story weaves its course through the pages.
Gerlach's characters are realistically flawed and make both good and bad decisions. Particular characters frustrated me and maddened me with their reactions. There were moments that made me want to jump into the novel and ask "Can't you see the error of your ways?" Such moments added depth to the novel that I appreciated. There were other times that I felt significant events were skimmed over or characters' reactions were presented in a more factual rather than an emotional manner. Likewise, some dialogue seemed a bit formal and stilted. Overall the novel flowed at a steady pace and kept me turning the pages and wondering what would happen next. I truly had no idea how the novel would conclude.
Bittersweet best describes the mood of Before the Scarlet Dawn; it left me with the hope of a happy conclusion but with the sadness of broken dreams and shattered relationships. The last half of the novel really gripped me, and the last page left me wanting more pages to answer my lingering questions. Fortunately, Gerlach is working on Books 2 and 3 of the Daughters of the Potomac series.I received a complimentary e-copy of this book from NetGalley, courtesy of Abingdon Press. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions expressed above are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”