02 February 2012

Carrie Fancett Pagels Reviews Before the Scarlet Dawn by Rita Gerlach

Reviewed by Carrie Fancett Pagels

This novel is a subgenre buster if ever I saw one.  Overall Rita’s new release is a historical. However, it could also be described as women’s fiction, literary, and colonial as well as European setting, and American Revolution.  So perhaps it is a literary colonial women’s fiction with romantic elements.  But historical romance readers should be advised this is not a historical romance. 

I read this as a PDF file Advance Reader copy that I sent to my Kindle. I was not required to give a positive review

I have read two other books by Rita and have reviewed one here on OTT-WGH previously – Surrender the Dawn.  Rita is a master at scene setting.  Her descriptions bring the reader into the story as though they are there with the characters.  She does not disappoint in this book, as well, in capturing the feel of countryside England and of colonial Maryland.

Those who enjoy a literary story will find this current book the most so of all of Rita’s stories thus far.  I see some similarities between this book and one written by Dina Sleiman in that both are attempting to bust myths about romantic love. So there seems to be this literary agenda there although Rita’s heroine, Eliza, is subjected to so much misery it made it hard for me to continue reading.  This book is tragic on many levels and I normally seek out a feel good kind of story. Having worked as  a psychologist for 25 years I encountered all too many Haywards, the “hero” or perhaps antihero might be appropriate.

This book is part of a series.

Before the Scarlet Dawn is available on Amazon in multiple formats. BtSD also available on Christian Book Distributors.

Bibliotherapy: SPOILER ALERT Caution: Readers who have lost a child may be quite disturbed by this book. For wives in subjection to an unloving husband, this book may give encouragement that they are not alone. The gentleman who ultimately brings healing to Eliza’s life is a representation of Jesus’s unconditional love for us. 

GIVEAWAY:  Leave a comment and your email address for a chance to win one of Rita's books, your choice of format.


  1. Carrie, what a great review! I love what you said about the gentleman who brings healing to Eliza represents Jesus's unconditional love for us. I missed that when I read the book and I'm glad you brought that out---you are so right. Thank you for the wonderful review, Carrie.

  2. Carrie thanks for the review...as I told Diana, I have another one to add to my H-U-G-E TBR stack! :)

  3. Loved reading your review Carrie!

  4. I truly loved this book. Perhaps because it is so different than your standard Historical Romance. Rita deals with some real issues that touch many people's lives.. and her writing is so beautiful. The story really touched me.
    Thanks for the great review, Carrie! And I hope you're feeling better. :-)

  5. Thank you for the review, Carrie. Sounds like a great book :) It's wonderful that some authors are branching out into the love story, rather than just simply a romance. Thank you.

    crazi.swans at gmail dot com

  6. Thanks for the reviews of Rita's books. Would love to win a copy.
    smoore at tcq dot net

  7. Ok. I haven't read any of Rita's books so I am completely oblivious to her writing, other than the two reviews you and Diana have posted. I'm sitting here thinking, Do I really want to read this book? Is it going to make me sad? Is it a cliffhanger or tied up nice and neat in the end?! Somebody tell me :)

  8. thanks for the chance to read this beautiful story ;)

    kmkuka at yahoo dot com

  9. No spoilers, Anne! hehe Tissues needed, though. ;)

  10. Always nice to see you here, Sharon and Karenk! Good luck in the giveaway!

    Faye, you're so right! This is not your typical romance, and it is a very unpredictable story. Just when you think you know what's going to happen...everything changes.

  11. Hi Anne,

    I hope I can answer your questions. There are sad parts in the story, yes, tragic events that challenge Eliza's faith and the strength of her will to go on. However, God sets her on an amazing path toward healing, in an unexpected way. In the end that healing is ministered to her through someone the reader would not expect.

    Eliza is brought to a place of in her life where she finds the acceptance and love she needs. (Sorry if that is a spoiler). However, you will wonder what became of the lives of some of the other characters. Eliza's daughter Darcy for example. Book 2, 'Beside Two Rivers' is her story when she is grown. Eliza and Hayward are in this book. Book 3 is Sarah's story, a servant who appears in book 1.

    Here is a link to the first chapter. I hope you will give the series a try.

    This is an interesting review of book 1. http://hollysrenee.blogspot.com/2012/02/before-scarlet-dawn-by-rita-gerlach.html

    I’ve been asked to categorize my fiction. My books are not formula romances. They are what I like to call Inspirational Historical Dramas. You will find romance, but you will also find stories about relationships between people, stories about forgiveness, redemption, faith, and loyalty. Each character has good points, but they are also flawed human beings that make mistakes and fall hard, and at some point struggle through the adversity, dust themselves off and move on. So the sugary sweet romances they are not.

    Rita Gerlach

  12. MARYLU, Thank you for your kind wishes! Feeling a little better today. Glad you enjoyed the review.

  13. DIANA, TERESA, and MARIAN Thanks! I hope I didn't get into too much trouble with my spoiler alerts. TERESA and MARIAN, the Kindle version is out now, yay!

  14. SHARON & KAREN, We will enter you in the drawing!

  15. FAYE, This is a more literary story that reminds readers of the dramatic classics. So if that is more your "flavor" then you are going to love this book.

  16. Thanks, Rita, for answering ANNE's question and explaining more fully about your writing style for this series.

  17. Dear Carrie,

    Thank you for posting your review of Before the Scarlet Dawn. I truly appreciate it and am honored you would include it on your site. It was very kind of you to write it.

    I wish to thank everyone that has posted a reply to Carrie's review. I am grateful for your support. God bless each and everyone of you!

  18. Rita! Thank you so much for taking the time to answer my questions without spoiling the story :) I most definitely want to read the books! I've enjoyed this week here at OTT and getting to know you better. I know all the readers appreciate the time you set aside to do this.

    And Carrie, thank YOU so much for your hard work and dedication to this ministry!!!

  19. Ok, it says it's not historical, yet it seems that way to me. Either way, I'd love to win your book.

    desertrose5173 at gmail dot com

  20. RITA, you are a doll, and such a gracious lady! ANNE, Rita would never spoil anything unlike myself - Diana told me she always reads the spoiler alerts anyway!!! And I am glad this blog is reaching Christian readers out there.

  21. LINDA, BtSD, IS a historical but not a romance per se. Romantic elements but not a category romance. This book is very literary and Rita is trying to get at some deep truths in the story telling. She is very talented.

  22. LINDA is the WINNER! Just did my count from random.org. CONGRATS!


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