The Scarlet Pen by author Jennifer Uhlarik is Book 12 in Barbour Publishing’s the True Colors Crimes series. Each book in this series is based on an unbelievable true crime.The books are all so different, but every one of them has captured my interest and kept me turning pages to see what would happen next. This one was just as riveting.
This is the story of Stephen Dee Richards and his childhood friend Emma Draycott. After having been apart for a few years they run into each other at church. After a brief period of becoming reacquainted they decide become engaged. Emma has always felt sorry for Stephen and stood up for him, but is that love?
Strange things begin to happen in places where Stephen has visited. Secret Service Agent, Clay Timmons, is called in to investigate. When he meets the Draycott family he is enamored with Emma, but she is engaged to the ever traveling Stephen. This historical account takes place in the 1870’s and spanned about three years. The characters are realistic and relatable.
The author has done an excellent job bringing this story to life. I became invested in it and the characters early in the book. This macabre story was unbelievable at times, but the author lists the facts in her notes. Even though the subject matter is not for the faint of heart, author Uhlarik skillfully and discreetly handled it with her deft pen. I was grateful for the minimum use of details. After the story is an Author’s Notes section, information on the author, and a preview of another of the True Colors Crime books.
There are many timeless life and spiritual lessons incorporated in this novel. Some of the first are about trusting your parents and God, not gossiping or telling someone else’s story, and being honest. There were no discussion questions, but this would make a nice reading group selection. There is so much to discuss! I highly recommend this for older teens or young adults and above because of the subject matter. It gets a 5 out of 5 star rating from me. A copy was received from the publisher, but these are my honest thoughts.
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.