Rita Gerlach’s Before the Scarlet Dawn starts with two characters seemingly similar to Jane Austen’s romantic characters, but it soon becomes clear that the story revolves around one woman’s search for love after marriage. At the start, Eliza thinks she has found that love with Hayward, who marries her despite his family’s objections. The two both possess strong wills and somewhat secret admiration for each other. The readers hope along with Eliza that Hayward will fall deeply in love with the heroine, but as Eliza’s story develops and changes, it focuses more on sin, loss, and redemption and less on romance.
After moving to America with her new husband, Eliza faces a constant test of faith. Her husband leaves to fight in the Revolutionary War, and her strong and helpful neighbor attempts to seduce her. Eliza never loses sight of God and His role in events, but often loses sight of herself. As the psalmist writes, “Look upon mine affliction and my pain; and forgive all my sins” (Psalm 25:18).
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.
Before Scarlet Dawn leaves readers wanting more. Gerlach closes her story with Eliza’s redemption, but there are other characters to wonder about, including the two characters that Gerlach will feature in her two sequels in the Daughters of the Potomac trilogy. The sequels will tie up loose ends surrounding a certain characters that Eliza and readers are forced to leave in God’s hands at the end of Before the Scarlet Dawn. Eliza’s faith ultimately leads her true redemption and love. Although moral convictions will temporarily keep her from what many would define as a happy ending, she puts her trust in God’s providence, inspiring readers to understand the meaning of Christ’s forgiveness and to follow Him through every storm, for He will “never leave you, nor forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5). – Harmony Wheeler, www.ChristianBookPreviews.com
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.