I have really been enjoying these True Color books penned by various authors, but all having one common thread, that they have taken an interesting crime and centered a story around the history.
The Scarlet Pen is about a serial killer, a young woman engaged to the deceptive villain, and our hero who is looking for the person behind the counterfeit money that is circling the town. I really enjoyed how the author used the color scarlet and pen to really tell the story behind this creepy character. Some of the authors make it work, but how this was written, tied it all in really well!
Getting a perspective of Stephen, our serial killer, was interesting but also dark in the sense that you wonder if they even have a soul? a conscience? Its all about them and their gratification.
Author, Jennifer Uhlarik, wrote in the author’s note how she worked with her husband who was a sheriff behind other serial criminals and use that inspiration as well as the book that Stephen wrote. I found that really fascinating and love what she came up with in regards to a plot based on limited information.
The only thing that rubbed me wrong about this book is that we have our main girl, Emma, engaged to the man of her dreams… and yet she is still taking second glances at Clay, the government official that comes on the scene. It always bugs me in books. When he comes into a room, her heart flutters and she is forced to check her feelings. I guess my point is, if it was more of a slow increase in affection that caused her to reflect later on in the book, I don’t know that it would bother me as much. But pretty much since he first steps into the picture. I know we have a short amount of time and need to put as much into the story as we can, but surely it can be written in such a way as to not give the idea that women are fickle?
But, since I shared a negative view, let me also share a positive in this regard! At some point, Emma and Clay are in a different city and she is upset. Clay makes it a point to drop her off at her door but not step a foot inside her room, even when Emma asks, “Shouldn’t a gentleman come to the aid of a lady in her time of need?” And Clay brilliantly responds, “Not in a closed room alone.” I cheered! Hurray! Yes! Well done, Mrs. Uhlarik! Well done!
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?
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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!
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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.