Saturday, July 31, 2021

Another Great Story Based on True Historical Crime -- The Scarlet Pen


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 Thoughts

Jennifer Uhlarik penned The Scarlet Pen, the 12th (and last, I understand) installment in the True Colors series, fiction based on true historical crime. This is the first book I have read by this author, and I really enjoyed her work.

As with the other books in this series, most of the characters and many of the events are fictional, but the story is based on the crimes of an actual historical figure. The very well-developed characters bring the story to life and keep the plot moving at an engaging pace. Clay, the former Pony Express rider turned Secret Service agent, is probably my favorite character. He is a man with very hurtful memories to deal with. But with the help of prayer and reliance on God's promises, he pushes through his own difficulties while taking seriously the conflict he faces in his job and in his personal feelings. Many other strong characters each play their own parts in this well-done story.

I highly recommend The Scarlet Pen to fans of great historical, and/or crime stories, carrying a strong element of faith. Thanks to Celebrate Lit for providing a copy of the book. I am happy to share my own thoughts in this review.

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

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


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.

Friday, July 9, 2021

Overcoming Obstacles -- Pockets of Purpose

About the Book

Title:    Pockets of PurposeBook #2 in The Pocket Quilt Series

Author:   Laurie Stroup Smith

Publisher:   Vinspire Publishing

Pub Date:   June 30, 2021

Genre:   Amish

Surgical complications leave an Amish auctioneer searching for his passions and purpose.

Two years after exchanging her first love letters with Gideon Petersheim, Dixie Yoder tucks his notes into her pocket quilt and travels from Pinecraft to Holmes County, hopeful for a future together. Upon her arrival, their relationship blossoms until the auctioneer has surgery to remove a cyst from his vocal cords. Complications from the procedure interfere with his healing, leaving him searching for his passions and purpose. Instead of leaning on Dixie through this tough time, he pushes her away and turns his back on God. Frustrated and heartbroken, she is torn between staying in Ohio with the new friends she has grown to love and packing her bags. Having lost everything, he must fight his way back to her, but his apology is long overdue. Only a grand gesture to show her how much she means to him will cause her to pause and reconsider.

Purchase Link:  Amazon

My Thoughts

Pockets of Purpose is an enjoyable second installment in Laurie Stroup Smith's Pocket Quilt Series.

Gideon and Dixie are interesting characters who carry the main story, with lots of supporting cast in their family and friends. Gideon and Dixie have a special friendship that at first is a long distance one maintained mostly by letters between his Ohio community and her Florida home. When Dixie has the opportunity to visit Ohio, they have the opportunity for that friendship to grow, but health issues, frustrations, fears, and miscommunication provide obstacles in the hopes of their relationship developing further. How to handle those obstacles is the major theme of their story.

As with any good Amish story, the author uses many elements of that lifestyle to make the story come alive. But much of the heart of the story is a reminder of how depending on God and on trusted friends and family can make all the difference in the world for anyone faced with life's difficulties.

I highly recommend Pockets of Purpose to fans of good Amish fiction. There are some appearances of characters from the first book in the series, but this book can be read either as a continuation of that story or as a standalone.

Thanks to the author for providing a copy of this book. I am happy to share my own thoughts in this review.  

About the Author

While writing Amish fiction and contemporary romance, Laurie Stroup Smith strives to inspire readers to serve others. She was named a Finalist in the 2017 ACFW First Impressions Contest and a Semi-Finalist in the 2018 and 2019 ACFW Genesis Contests. She has been interviewed by Loveland Magazine and has been a guest on the Buggy Talk and Fierce Calling podcasts.

Before writing, Laurie earned a bachelor’s degree in both athletic training and exercise science and later obtained her master’s degree in health promotion and education. She now writes full time and lives with her husband and their two daughters in Cincinnati. 

You can connect with Laurie through the following links:

Website   Facebook   Instagram   Pinterest   Goodreads   Twitter


(1) Winner will receive a signed paperback copy of Pockets of Purpose and a felt bird ornament. Click on the link below to enter.

For additional chances to win, please visit each tour stop. The tour schedule and associated links are listed below. Giveaway begins at 12:01am (ET) on July 6, 2021, and concludes at 11:59pm (ET) on July 9, 2021. US mailing addresses only.

Giveaway terms and conditions found here.


July 6

Reviews by Leslie

Laura C. Brandenburg

Read Love

Peaceful Pastime

July 7

Kentucky Book Lover


All the Bookish Adventures

Older & Smarter?

July 8

Musings by Maureen

She Lives to Read

The Avid Reader

July 9

Miss Tina’s Amish Book Reviews

Southern Gal Loves to Read

Vicky Sluiter

Reading is My Superpower