Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Book Review: Before the Scarlet Dawn By Rita Gerlach


Daughters of the Potomac #1

By: Rita Gerlach

Published: February 1, 2012


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.

I purchased this on my Kindle because I have a review coming up for the second in this series and the Type "A" in me felt I needed to read the first book in the series to be able to give it an adequate review.  I am now anxious to read the next one in the series.

I think my favorite genre is historical fiction, but this time period (Revolutionary War) is not one I read often.  After traveling to Philadelphia and seeing Independence Hall you would think I would have been more interested in this time-period, but usually WWI and WWII eras seem to get my attention.  Even though this book didn't go into a lot of detail about the war, there was still a lot of attention given to the setting, the way people related to each other and their fears during this time in our history.  I found the different social classes and their expectations very interesting.  I was also drawn to the servants in the story and how even though they were considered like family, there was a definite difference in their societal level.  

The beginning of this story involved Eliza and her attraction to Hayward.  Hayward and Eliza get married and flee England to move to a home along the Potomac.  Then the story focuses on Eliza.  Hayward goes off to war....for 6 years....with no communication back to his wife....AT ALL!  I had a really hard time grasping this concept.  She was to wait for him and attend to his home, expecting his to return at any moment....for 6 years.  I can tell you, I am not sure I would have survived during this time period or put up with that from my husband.  The author painted a very clear picture of the struggles Eliza went through, both physically and mentally.  I felt her pain, anguish, and frustration throughout the story.  Even though Eliza made some choices that changed her life forever, I'm sure I would have done the same thing in her situation.  

Hayward returns home from war a different man, as many soldiers do.  But, in this story the unthinkable happens and because of the time period and how women were treated, he was able to get away with it.  The shock of his actions and the pain Eliza suffered are what is drawing me to the next in the series, BESIDE TWO RIVERS.  I must know what happens next.

This book is classified as Inspirational Historical Fiction.  In the story, Eliza's father was a vicar (priest) and so her faith is very evident throughout the story.  Scriptures are often referenced and Eliza must rely on her faith in God to get through her struggles.  I saw it as a natural part of the story and not overpowering in any way.  I appreciated that Eliza turned to prayer and Scripture when in doubt of her path in life.

If you are looking to start a new series, I recommend you read this one.  Watch for my review of BESIDE TWO RIVERS, published in September 2012, to be posted by the end of the month.  You won't have to wait long for the third in the series to come out, as BEYOND THE VALLEY will arrive in February 2013.  

photo courtesy of goodreads.com
Rita Gerlach lives with her husband and two sons in a historical town nestled along the Catoctin Mountains, amid Civil War battlefields and Revolutionary War outposts in central Maryland. Check out her blog at http://ritagerlach.blogspot.com/.

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