(Historical Fiction - Prequel to Beside Two Rivers. Book 1 in The Daughters of the Potomac Series)
A young woman longs for acceptance and leaves behind all she has in order to follow her heart and the man she loves into the Maryland wilderness.
On a windswept night in April of 1775, Eliza Bloome sat at her father's bedside hoping he would recover. A servant arrived with a message for Reverend Bloome, a proposal of marriage that would set Eliza up for the rest of her life.
When Eliza learns of the proposal, she rejects it. She does not love the man who has offered her a comfortable life, but instead falls in love with Hayward Morgan, the slightly condescending son of a landed gentleman who has recently returned from America. Out on the misty moors of the Hope Valley, Hayward rescues her from the unwelcome advances of a local scamp. And when Eliza learns of his plans to leave England and build a life in the Maryland frontier, she decides to present a proposal of her own.
But before she can make such a bold attempt, Eliza's father dies, and she receives word from Hayward's father that she must vacate the vicarage to make room for a new minister, his wife, and children. Forced to leave the home she grew up in, Eliza grows desperate. She could marry her former suitor, but cannot bear the idea of being bound in a loveless marriage.
Wearing her best gown, she arrives at Havendale, the Morgan ancestral home, to inquire whether Hayward's mother would give her a position. As she waits in the outer hall, she overhears a conversation between Hayward and Lilith Marsden. Hayward proposes, and at first Lilith sounds thrilled, until Hayward unfolds his plan to return with her to America. Affronted, she refuses him, and when he storms off and comes around a corner, he and Eliza meet face-to-face. She's heard everything. Scolded, she stands her ground and offers herself to him. But she is below him. He could never wed a vicar's daughter.
Eliza prepares to leave the vicarage with her servant, and on the last night she hears a carriage and a horse draw near. Hayward has come, and after much thought he decides to take her up on her offer. Once they are married in a small country church, his father finds them and there is a confrontation. Hayward has been disowned. Eliza realizes Hayward will not allow anyone to stand in the way of his dreams, whether they are hurt by his actions or not. She believes she can change him by being an example of compassion and love, and by being a dutiful wife.
They sail for America, travel on horseback toward the frontier, and finally arrive at River Run. Here their married life begins. She bears Hayward a daughter, Darcy, and he leaves to fight in the Revolution, leaving her alone with two servants and an infant.
Before the Scarlet Dawn is an example of how Christian love can being healing to a broken spirit and hope for the future. The parable of the Good Shepherd seeking out one lost sheep in order to save it from the wolves is evident in the story.