Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Before the Scarlet Dawn by Rita Gerlach

Today, CFBA introduces Before the Scarlet Dawn by Rita Gerlach.

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.

In the very first chapter, a man who wants to marry our main character tells her that she’d be a spinster if not for her body (in much crasser terms). Not only was love and lust thoroughly confused right from the start, but the writing was awkward and the characters shallow.

I tried to find some good in the book, despite my irritation with both Eliza and Hayward. Eliza just ‘knows’ she ‘loves’ Hayward (didn’t even know who he was, but he’s got money to rescue her from being a governess or maid elsewhere). Throughout the rest of the book, she was a confusing character. One minute, she’s proud, spirited, and spouting off her political and spiritual opinions, and the next, she’s a meek and submissive wife.

Perhaps someone can have all of these qualities, but they didn’t make sense in Eliza. I couldn’t connect with a seemingly spoiled girl, determined to get her way, who was also the most loving and sweet wife, despite her husband’s lack of true love.

Then there’s Hayward. He sees Eliza as beneath him; yet after he turns down HER bold proposal in disgust, he’s on her doorstep in a week, asking her to run away and be married.

The questionable only gets worse once they arrive in America, with neighbor Halston’s overt flirtation in which infidelity becomes the conclusion.

Honestly, I read farther than I should have, but I couldn’t finish the book. I did flip to the last chapter, and it appears that Eliza, sent back to England in anger and shame, is now going to marry (or just live with?!) the new vicar, even though Hayward and baby Darcy are still in America??! It appears to me that adultery was the favorite theme for this author.

If you’re a regular reader of my book reviews, you’ll know exactly how I felt about this book: Don’t even bother with it.

Thank you to Abingdon Press through CFBA for sending me a review copy.

Also reviewed on Amazon and Christianbook.

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**DISCLOSURE: I was given a free product in exchange for an honest review. Please read my full disclosure policy HERE.**
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