Review & Giveaway: The Scarlet Pen by Jennifer Uhlarik

About the Book

Book:  The Scarlet Pen

Author: Jennifer Uhlarik

Genre: Christian Historical Suspense

Release date: July 2021

Engaged to a Monster

Book 12 in the True Colors series—Fiction Based on Strange-But True History

Enjoy a tale of true but forgotten history of a 19th century serial killer whose silver-tongued ways almost trap a young woman into a nightmarish marriage.

In 1876, Emma Draycott is charmed into a quick engagement with childhood friend Stephen Dee Richards after reconnecting with him at a church event in Mount Pleasant, Ohio. But within the week, Stephen leaves to “make his fame and fortune.” The heartbroken Emma gives him a special pen to write to her, and he does with tales of grand adventures. Secret Service agent Clay Timmons arrives in Mount Pleasant to track purchases made with fake currency. Every trail leads back to Stephen—and therefore, Emma. Can he convince the naive woman she is engaged to a charlatan who is being linked a string of deaths in Nebraska?

Click here to get your copy!

My Review

What a disturbing individual the villain was! The author did a good job of handling a difficult historical set of deaths linked to serial killer Stephen Dee Richards. This historical fiction tale followed the idea of “what if” the villain’s betrothed had no idea that he was a monster of a man, corresponded with him while he traveled across states killing people, and that correspondence was partly how he was able to be tracked. Counterfeit money tracking also played a large part in his discovery.

While there were several disturbing murder descriptions in the novel, I thought that the author did a great job at describing what Richards was doing and thinking as he killed these people, while also attempting to not be too overly descriptive. However, some of the more gruesome murder details might not be for the faint of heart!

I really liked the way that the author showed the confusion that the heroine carried regarding the entire situation. She was rather naive, yet it made perfect sense given the time period and her sheltered upbringing. Also, what woman who believes herself in love would expect that man to turn out to be a serial killer!?

The connection that eventually developed between Clay and Emma was an enjoyable part of the story, as was the strong faith that both of these characters embodied. I also really liked that this book had the perspective of all three of the main characters in the book, including the villain. It made his actions all the more twisted to see how he interpreted and reacted to the world around him.

(4 stars)

I received a complimentary copy of this book. All opinions are my own.

About the Author

Jennifer Uhlarik discovered the western genre as a preteen, when she swiped the only “horse” book she found on her older brother’s bookshelf. A new love was born. Across the next ten years, she devoured Louis L’Amour westerns and fell in love with the genre. In college at the University of Tampa, she began penning her own story of the Old West. Armed with a BA in writing, she has won five writing competitions and was a finalist in two others. In addition to writing, she has held jobs as a private business owner, a schoolteacher, a marketing director, and her favorite—a full-time homemaker. Jennifer is active in American Christian Fiction Writers and is a lifetime member of the Florida Writers Association. She lives near Tampa, Florida, with her husband, teenage son, and four fur children.

More from Jennifer

Hello, Readers! For all who might never have read one of my stories or come across me, it’s great to meet you! I’m a wife, a mom, a (young!) grandma, and an author—among many other things. My author tagline is “Where Grit Meets Grace.” If you’re familiar with my writing at all, you’ll know that most of my stories at least touch on a bit of the difficult side of life. Death, abandonment, war, addiction, or who knows what else you might find. The Scarlet Pen is no different.

Given that this novel is the final installment in Barbour’s True Colors series, the story revolves around a true crime from history—in this case, the murders of serial killer Stephen Dee Richards—AKA the Nebraska Fiend. Anytime you’re dealing with someone so depraved as he, you’ll find plenty of “grit” to write about. But that’s only half of my tagline. Remember, it’s “Where Grit Meets Grace.

While I love a story that delves into difficult topics and, in some cases, pushes the characters right to the edge of what they can handle, I also love a truly redemptive story. When I was asked to write for this series, the ideas that drew me the most were the ones that had something redeeming in the actual history. There were plenty of interesting historical killers I could’ve chosen where I could have manufactured a positive, even happy ending through the fictional characters in the book. In the case of Stephen Dee Richards, there was no manufacturing needed. The “grace” part was already written. The end of Stephen’s story is precisely why I chose to write about him. I hope you’ll find it as though-provoking and compelling as I did. Happy reading!

Blog Stops

lakesidelivingsite, July 29

Genesis 5020, July 29

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, July 29

For Him and My Family, July 30

Gina Holder, Author and Blogger, July 30 (Author Interview)

Christian Bookaholic, July 30

Southern Gal Loves to Read, July 31

Inklings and notions, July 31

Britt Reads Fiction, July 31

Remembrancy, August 1

Locks, Hooks and Books, August 1

Betti Mace, August 2

Rebecca Tews, August 2

deb’s Book Review, August 2

Abba’s Prayer Warrior Princess, August 3

Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, August 3

Blogging With Carol , August 3

Older & Smarter?, August 4

Connie’s History Classroom, August 4

The Meanderings of a Bookworm, August 4

Tell Tale Book Reviews, August 5

Bigreadersite, August 5

Godly Book Reviews, August 6

Musings of a Sassy Bookish Mama, August 6

Book Bites, Bee Stings, & Butterfly Kisses, August 6

A Modern Day Fairy Tale, August 7

Back Porch Reads, August 7

Mary Hake, August 7

Through the fire blogs, August 8

sodbuster living, August 8

Connect in Fiction, August 8

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, August 9

Texas Book-aholic, August 9

KarenSueHadley, August 9

Pause for Tales, August 10

For the Love of Literature, August 10

Blossoms and Blessings, August 10

Little Homeschool on the Prairie, August 11

Spoken from the Heart, August 11

Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Jennifer is giving away the grand prize package of a $25 Amazon gift card and a copy of The Scarlet Pen!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.

Enter the giveaway HERE.

About Brittany

As a homeschooling mom and avid reader, I get great joy through reading and reviewing books. I focus my reading and my reviews on Christian fiction, primarily Christian romantic fiction. I also review sweet, clean fiction. I hope you will find my reviews helpful in your decisions on what books to read.
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5 Responses to Review & Giveaway: The Scarlet Pen by Jennifer Uhlarik

  1. Lelia “ Lucy” Reynolds says:

    I look forward to reading this book. I’ve loved this whole series.

  2. Rita Wray says:

    Great review, thank you.

  3. Roxanne C. says:

    This is a very good review, and I look forward to reading about Emma and Clay.

  4. Tarissa says:

    I’m soooo intrigued by the summary. I’ve read about 3 others in the True Colors series. I guess I have some catching up to do!

  5. This doesn’t sound like my kind of book but my daughter would love it!

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