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Step into True Colors — a series of Historical Stories of Romance and True American Crime   Enjoy a tale of true but forgotten history of an 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 Stephen Dee Richardson after meeting him at a church event in Step into True Colors — a series of Historical Stories of Romance and True American Crime   Enjoy a tale of true but forgotten history of an 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 Stephen Dee Richardson after meeting 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 fountain 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 naïve woman she is engaged to a charlatan who is being linked a string of deaths in Nebraska?  


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Step into True Colors — a series of Historical Stories of Romance and True American Crime   Enjoy a tale of true but forgotten history of an 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 Stephen Dee Richardson after meeting him at a church event in Step into True Colors — a series of Historical Stories of Romance and True American Crime   Enjoy a tale of true but forgotten history of an 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 Stephen Dee Richardson after meeting 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 fountain 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 naïve woman she is engaged to a charlatan who is being linked a string of deaths in Nebraska?  

30 review for The Scarlet Pen

  1. 4 out of 5

    Amber Thiessen

    This book is part of the True Colours series based on true crime, yet each story can be read as a stand alone. Emma Draycott is a young woman engaged to her childhood friend, Stephen Richardson. While they've only just reconnected after a month, she is convinced of his love and honesty. He leaves quickly on for a 'business venture,' without telling her where or with whom he is travelling. Clay Timmons, a Secret Service agent, has been investigating counterfeit bills which turn up in Richardson's This book is part of the True Colours series based on true crime, yet each story can be read as a stand alone. Emma Draycott is a young woman engaged to her childhood friend, Stephen Richardson. While they've only just reconnected after a month, she is convinced of his love and honesty. He leaves quickly on for a 'business venture,' without telling her where or with whom he is travelling. Clay Timmons, a Secret Service agent, has been investigating counterfeit bills which turn up in Richardson's wake, but Emma is unwilling to question the evidence put before her. Then, as Clay continues to follow Richardson, bodies begin to turn up, and it's no longer just about the money. Stephen's charming letters seem to convince Emma of his good character, but will she remain naive and become his next victim? Emma's naivety drove my analytical mind bonkers, but this story brings into question how do we learn to trust people, and how do we discern the true character of a person. I enjoyed the story and the series!

  2. 4 out of 5

    Missy

    I have never heard of this serial killer, and I am from Iowa and Nebraska. The story really had me from the beginning until the end. Stephen Dee Richards is not an especially handsome man, but his charisma makes up for it. Emma Draycott is the daughter of a local banker, has stuck up for Steven in the past, but when he comes home from being away for several months, catches Emma's eye and the two are set to be married. But Emma's parents are none to happy about the pending nuptials. Only too soon, I have never heard of this serial killer, and I am from Iowa and Nebraska. The story really had me from the beginning until the end. Stephen Dee Richards is not an especially handsome man, but his charisma makes up for it. Emma Draycott is the daughter of a local banker, has stuck up for Steven in the past, but when he comes home from being away for several months, catches Emma's eye and the two are set to be married. But Emma's parents are none to happy about the pending nuptials. Only too soon, Stephen is off on his next adventure to make a better life for him and Emma. Clay Timmons is a Secret Service agent looking for the persons spending forged bank notes. He comes to Mount Pleasant, Ohio, and Emma Draycott catches his eye. After winning the approval of Emma's family, investigating the bank notes and possible murders and coming up with only one suspect, Emma is dead set on showing everyone Stephen Dee Richards is not the person they are making him out to be. But how does Clay show her who Stephen really is, and how Clay is slowing falling for her. Crossing many states, multiple murders, and being a no good scoundrel, Jennifer Uhlarik takes a really nasty serial killer and turns the story into a readable, suspenseful, and happy ending. I have enjoyed this book and look forward to reading more of Ms. Uhlarik's books. Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for this advanced copy.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Susan Snodgrass

    I love this series so much. I enjoy suspense and true crime stories and each of these is based on true crime. This one was particularly interesting. The books always spur me to research these crimes further. I received a copy of this book from Barbour Publishers via Net Galley. I was not expected to leave a positive review and the opinion here is my own.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Shannon McNear

    A spunky and determined heroine. A rough-edged but honorable lawman. A charming suitor with humble beginnings and big dreams. The three collide in a tangle of faith, hope, and treachery, where even love may lead the heart astray and only the Spirit of God can prevail. Uhlarik’s offering in the True Crimes series is a tense ride!

  5. 5 out of 5

    Cindy Davis- Cindy's Book Corner

    Not only did this book capture my attention from the first scene, but I also disliked Stephen Dee Richardson from that moment on! It made me wonder what Emma saw in him. Emma is sweet, caring, adores her siblings, and seems to be more in love with the idea of being in love, than actually in love with Stephen. She is also headstrong and impulsive, which gets her into trouble. Clay is the true hero of the story. From the moment you meet him, you know he is a great guy. He cares about Emma's sibling Not only did this book capture my attention from the first scene, but I also disliked Stephen Dee Richardson from that moment on! It made me wonder what Emma saw in him. Emma is sweet, caring, adores her siblings, and seems to be more in love with the idea of being in love, than actually in love with Stephen. She is also headstrong and impulsive, which gets her into trouble. Clay is the true hero of the story. From the moment you meet him, you know he is a great guy. He cares about Emma's siblings and takes care of the kittens, even though there was no reason for him to do so. He treats everyone with respect and always tries to do the right thing. He is haunted by his past and it colors his present. This story is gripping and haunting. There is a mystery, intrigue, romance, violent crimes, and a truly demented man. It will captivate you from the first scene and keep your attention to the conclusion. The Scarlet Pen is based on the true crimes of Stephen Dee Richards. It is told from three different points of view. The story has some gruesome parts that might be hard for sensitive people to read, but they are not in-depth or long-winded. Other than that there is nothing to dislike about this story. I would recommend this book to those who love suspense and mystery, but also historical events. Thank you to Barbour Publishing and Net Galley for the opportunity to read this book. I was not required to provide a positive review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Staci

    1876-1878 Ohio, Nebraska and Iowa In this final book of the True Colors Series, readers are taken to the Midwest. Emma Draycott feels she is too old to not be married. It seems this desire for companionship led her to become engaged to childhood friend Stephen Dee Richards after a very brief courting time. Secret Service Agent Clay Timmons arrives in Emma's home town to find a counterfeiter. He's a kind man with a heart for others and the Lord. While Clay can view Stephen objectively, Emma's view 1876-1878 Ohio, Nebraska and Iowa In this final book of the True Colors Series, readers are taken to the Midwest. Emma Draycott feels she is too old to not be married. It seems this desire for companionship led her to become engaged to childhood friend Stephen Dee Richards after a very brief courting time. Secret Service Agent Clay Timmons arrives in Emma's home town to find a counterfeiter. He's a kind man with a heart for others and the Lord. While Clay can view Stephen objectively, Emma's view is clouded by childhood memories, loyalty and love. Stephen's true colors come out as he leaves Emma to "find employment" and secure themselves financially for the future. Lots of action in the pages. My gratitude to Barbour Publishing for a complimentary NetGalley copy of the novel. I was not required to post a review and all opinions expressed are my own.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Marguerite Gray

    I enjoy this series of mystery and true crime, although it is haunting at times. As I read fact-based fiction, I’m amazed at the deviances of the human psyche to commit such crimes. This installment is true to form as heinous, senseless murders pepper the pages. Thankfully, love and mercy are stronger. As the stories of these characters collide, so do the hearts of the good citizens. God allows good to seep into evil situations. Perhaps that is why I enjoy this series, for I see our God of love, I enjoy this series of mystery and true crime, although it is haunting at times. As I read fact-based fiction, I’m amazed at the deviances of the human psyche to commit such crimes. This installment is true to form as heinous, senseless murders pepper the pages. Thankfully, love and mercy are stronger. As the stories of these characters collide, so do the hearts of the good citizens. God allows good to seep into evil situations. Perhaps that is why I enjoy this series, for I see our God of love, power, and promise at work, challenging me to seek the best solutions. Where does He want me to help?

  8. 4 out of 5

    Brittany

    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. 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. I received a complimentary copy of this book. All opinions are my own. You can read this review on my blog: https://brittreadsfiction.wordpress.c...

  9. 4 out of 5

    Loraine

    Emma Draycott has known Stephen Dee Richards since they were kids in school. Now she has developed feelings and wants to get engaged, but her father is hesitant due to gut feelings he has about Stephen. At the same time, Clay Timmons, a secret service agent, is following a trail of counterfeit money that seems to trace to Stephen. This last book of the True Crime series introduces us to a man who seems filled with charisma; but at the same time, he hides a dark side that is truly frightening. Uh Emma Draycott has known Stephen Dee Richards since they were kids in school. Now she has developed feelings and wants to get engaged, but her father is hesitant due to gut feelings he has about Stephen. At the same time, Clay Timmons, a secret service agent, is following a trail of counterfeit money that seems to trace to Stephen. This last book of the True Crime series introduces us to a man who seems filled with charisma; but at the same time, he hides a dark side that is truly frightening. Uhlarik is a new-to-me author, but she brings alive the facts of this true crime case that delves into the mind of someone with a split personality that led secret service agents on a wild goose chase for several years. It wasn't until Clay Timmons focused on the dark side of Stephen instead of following the money trail that he finally was able to apprehend him. Excellent series brought together by many great Christian authors. **I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley. Opinions are mine alone. I was not compensated for this review.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Julia

    The Scarlet Pen by Jennifer Uhlarik is a fascinating historical Christian novel based on real life crimes. It is part of the True Colors series. The action is set in 1876 and follows a rather gruesome killing spree of an actual character who seems to be a real Jekyll and Hyde, turning his personality in an instant. We follow a young lawman with a traumatic past that still haunts his dreams and his life. His mission is to seek out evil and to protect lives. Our God is a faithful God and He can be tr The Scarlet Pen by Jennifer Uhlarik is a fascinating historical Christian novel based on real life crimes. It is part of the True Colors series. The action is set in 1876 and follows a rather gruesome killing spree of an actual character who seems to be a real Jekyll and Hyde, turning his personality in an instant. We follow a young lawman with a traumatic past that still haunts his dreams and his life. His mission is to seek out evil and to protect lives. Our God is a faithful God and He can be trusted. “I know I should trust Your timing, but … I don’t.” Nothing happens that is not within God’s perfect timing. The leading lady is headstrong and brave, often giving little thought to her personal safety as she seeks to reveal the truth. God still speaks through dreams. When He urges us to pray, we must do it. The Scarlet Pen was a gripping read. It was horrifying too with the knowledge that it was based on real life crimes. I have really enjoyed this True Colors series. All the books have been both fascinating and compulsive. I received a free copy of the book from Net Galley. A favourable review was not required. All opinions are my own.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Kailey

    Jennifer Uhlarik did such a great job with this one! I’m sure it’s hard to write a Christian fiction story that has a serial killer in it, but she did a great job with it. Some parts were a little bit dark, but that’s part of the story. I was hooked in this story and couldn’t put it down! I really enjoyed it! I received a complimentary copy from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions expressed are mine alone.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Debby*BabyDee

    The “Scarlet Pen” is book number twelve in this wonderful True Colors series. I have enjoyed totally enjoyed all of the books I’ve read thus far in this series and was thankful to be given the opportunity to read this one by Jennifer Uhlarik, a new author to this reader. The story did not disappoint and the true crime for this book took place in the late 1870’s and went on for approximately three years. Emma, the heroine of the story, is engaged to Stephen Richards who appears on the surface of h The “Scarlet Pen” is book number twelve in this wonderful True Colors series. I have enjoyed totally enjoyed all of the books I’ve read thus far in this series and was thankful to be given the opportunity to read this one by Jennifer Uhlarik, a new author to this reader. The story did not disappoint and the true crime for this book took place in the late 1870’s and went on for approximately three years. Emma, the heroine of the story, is engaged to Stephen Richards who appears on the surface of having a secret past. She loves him and believes in him to the point of defending him when she has underlying doubts about who he says he really is. Unfortunately, when things and unexplained events start to transpire, she starts to question her belief in this man she loves. Stephen, her love interest travels for his business but it is not revealed what that business is. It is not until a Secret Service agent by the name of Clay Timmons shows up in the area. He is tracking counterfeit money that leads him on a path towards Emma and her family. Her family welcomes the Timmons into their home and a friendship begins. As Emma begins to suspect the motives of the agent, she gradually becomes outraged to learn that Timmons is working along with her father to investigate Stephen’s activities…activities that is leaving a trail of murders. Can she see through Stephen’s lies to uncover the truth, and make room for the growing attraction she is having towards the Agent Timmons? This was a well-written story and plot. I was completely drawn into the story and the characters because they felt true to life on the pages. As with the other books read in this series, this one was interesting from beginning and wanting to know the outcome in the end. Totally recommend the reading of this book. Thank you NetGalley and Barbour Publishing for this ARC in exchange for my fair and honest review. All opinions in this review are my own.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Pegg

    This is a true-crime story woven into a historical fiction novel. I'm a fan of author Jennifer Uhlarik, so no surprise that I liked it, but there was a lot to like. The characters were believable and relatable, not perfect. The Christian faith element was strong and prominent throughout the story. The actual history was deftly blended into the fictional characters' lives. The gruesomeness of the crimes was portrayed adequately without being gratuitous or glamorizing the evil. And it was a histor This is a true-crime story woven into a historical fiction novel. I'm a fan of author Jennifer Uhlarik, so no surprise that I liked it, but there was a lot to like. The characters were believable and relatable, not perfect. The Christian faith element was strong and prominent throughout the story. The actual history was deftly blended into the fictional characters' lives. The gruesomeness of the crimes was portrayed adequately without being gratuitous or glamorizing the evil. And it was a historical event I knew nothing about! That's always a nice plus.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Melissa Wardwell

    It is no secret how much I enjoy this series. In a world full of romances, this series gives a little break from it with murder, intrigue, and history. What I love even more is the reader can be fully immersed in the story but due to the lack of gore that secular media would insert, it can be enjoyed. Yes, there were a few books in the series that might have turned our stomachs, but it wasn’t so bad that it gave you nightmares. An avid reader has to appreciate that. With that said, let’s take abo It is no secret how much I enjoy this series. In a world full of romances, this series gives a little break from it with murder, intrigue, and history. What I love even more is the reader can be fully immersed in the story but due to the lack of gore that secular media would insert, it can be enjoyed. Yes, there were a few books in the series that might have turned our stomachs, but it wasn’t so bad that it gave you nightmares. An avid reader has to appreciate that. With that said, let’s take about The Scarlet Pen and its new-to-me-author, Jennifer Uhlrik. I know that Ms. Uhlrik isn’t new to the writing community, but since I have not read the specific genre she writes in, this is my first glimpse into her writing abilities. She weaves a thrilling tale with The Scarlet Pen that only forces me to consider reading one of her other stories (Maybe later on my TBR list). Where more authors will only give our hero and heroin POVs, she has opened a big ol’door into the mind of our antagonist. It only seems to make the story richer and more well-balanced. It isn’t just one side of the story which leads the readers to make their own conclusions. The Scarlet Pen was masterfully written to keep a reader engaged and hooked, even on the villain’s POV. There were times I almost–I repeat, ALMOST–felt sorry for him. He was misunderstood, judged, and treated poorly. That is no excuse for evil behavior though. Emma, that poor girl is just caught in the middle but I found myself wanting to give her a little “wake-up” slap. At the same time, I knew what her intended was doing before she did. I actually saw a lot of myself in her, like making assumptions without pausing to listen. I wish I could give more, but I don’t want to spoil it. Just trust me when I say, go pick. up a copy of this one. It will be worth the read. ***I was given a copy from the publisher through CelebrateLit Publicities. Views expressed are entirely my own and a positive review is not required.

  15. 5 out of 5

    A.M. Heath

    What I Loved: These true crime stories have been fascinating. I admire how each author manages to create a fictional story surrounding a real crime. In this novel, Uhlarik took what she did know about the serial killer, Stephen Dee Richardson and filled in the missing pieces with lovable characters and a likely scenario. Uhlarik offered 3 points of view, one of them being the killer’s so there were some scenes that made me squeamish. I think she handled it as best as she could, it’s just more th What I Loved: These true crime stories have been fascinating. I admire how each author manages to create a fictional story surrounding a real crime. In this novel, Uhlarik took what she did know about the serial killer, Stephen Dee Richardson and filled in the missing pieces with lovable characters and a likely scenario. Uhlarik offered 3 points of view, one of them being the killer’s so there were some scenes that made me squeamish. I think she handled it as best as she could, it’s just more than I’m used to reading personally since I typically don’t read about serial killers. At the end of the book, Uhlarik shares how she wanted to offer a story of hope in the midst of all this darkness, and I think she nailed it. There was a strong Christian theme with strong Christian characters. The heroine is rather naive but I found it to be pretty accurate for someone her age and someone who was dead-set on believing what they wanted. This was my first Uhlarik novel, but it won’t be last. I enjoyed her smooth storytelling style and the way she kept the plot moving at all times. Rating and Recommendations: I’m giving The Scarlet Pen 5 stars. I highly recommend it to those looking for Christian true crime. ~ I received a copy from NetGalley. All thoughts are my own. I was not compensated for this review or required to give a favorable one.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Rebecca

    3.5 stars "I have reason to believe . . . . " With five simple words Emma Draycott's assumptions about her recent betrothment are called into question. How dare this man besmirch the reputation of her intended? Stephen Dee Richards has been a friend of her family for years, and she has just, albeit rather hastily, agreed to become his wife. What does this Secret Service "cowboy" named Clay Timmons know, or think he knows, that she doesn't? Stephen would never deceive her. Tragically, Stephen Richar 3.5 stars "I have reason to believe . . . . " With five simple words Emma Draycott's assumptions about her recent betrothment are called into question. How dare this man besmirch the reputation of her intended? Stephen Dee Richards has been a friend of her family for years, and she has just, albeit rather hastily, agreed to become his wife. What does this Secret Service "cowboy" named Clay Timmons know, or think he knows, that she doesn't? Stephen would never deceive her. Tragically, Stephen Richards has done more than deceive; much, much more. After Emma's father slows down their plans for matrimony, Emma gifts Stephen with a lovely scarlet fountain pen and makes him promise to write her often as he travels for an extended period in order to secure their future. Trouble follows Stephen wherever he goes, and while Clay Timmons determines to apprehend the man that he fears has become unhinged . . . he is also trying to forge a friendship with Emma, the lovely woman who does not deserve a man like Stephen to dominate her future. While it is unconscionable to admit that a Stephen Dee Richards really did exist, the author carefully wove the facts of his life within a readable fictional setting; thankfully, her readers will exit the story focusing on the miracle of redemption. "Precious name, O how sweet! Hope of earth and joy of heaven!"

  17. 4 out of 5

    Lucy

    I couldn’t devour this book as it was a lot to swallow for me. The darkness that can lurk in someone’s heart is astonishing. Ms. Uhlarik did an excellent job of bringing fact to light intertwined flawlessly with fiction to weave a captivating tale of hope and redemption. Bringing light to the darkness was not an easy task but she accomplished that feat and succeeded in bringing me to tears. I especially enjoyed the authors notes at the end and it spurred me to research Richard more. I am sad to I couldn’t devour this book as it was a lot to swallow for me. The darkness that can lurk in someone’s heart is astonishing. Ms. Uhlarik did an excellent job of bringing fact to light intertwined flawlessly with fiction to weave a captivating tale of hope and redemption. Bringing light to the darkness was not an easy task but she accomplished that feat and succeeded in bringing me to tears. I especially enjoyed the authors notes at the end and it spurred me to research Richard more. I am sad to see this True Colors series end as it brings history to light that I had never heard of. The covers are so fitting and draw you in. I highly recommend reading as this one is especially well written. I received a complimentary copy from CelebrateLit. The honest review and opinions are my own and were not required.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Sarita

    Rating 4.5 This final book ended the Tru Colors series with a bang! This serial killer was one of the worst psychopaths I’ve read about - handling his killing as just another normal event in his day. Emma at one hand frustrated me with her naïveté and believe in Stephan while people she trusted told her to be wary, and then also motivated me with her close walk with God and delving in the scriptures. Clay was a hero to remember - a gentleman, compassionate, deep and solid faith and a ‘cowboy’. I re Rating 4.5 This final book ended the Tru Colors series with a bang! This serial killer was one of the worst psychopaths I’ve read about - handling his killing as just another normal event in his day. Emma at one hand frustrated me with her naïveté and believe in Stephan while people she trusted told her to be wary, and then also motivated me with her close walk with God and delving in the scriptures. Clay was a hero to remember - a gentleman, compassionate, deep and solid faith and a ‘cowboy’. I really grew fond of him. This author did a great job of balancing out the killer’s darkness with the innocence of Emma and light from Clay. There was one scene which almost broke Clay which probably the killer’s worst kill. I enjoyed this series and will recommend it to fans of suspense and stories based on true events. *I received a complimentary copy from the publisher via Netgalley. All opinions expressed are my own.*

  19. 5 out of 5

    Kelly Bridgewater

    What a scoundrel!!! In The Scarlet Pen, Jennifer Uhlarik crafted a villain that appears to be suave and handsome, but instead, he has a cold heart with no connections or feelings toward anyone he meets, which is shown over and over again in the plot. I felt so bad for Emma who fell in love with Stephen. This happens to many women today even. Why do women fall in love and stay with men who abuse them? I do not understand it. I know, mostly, because they are looking for validation and the love, bu What a scoundrel!!! In The Scarlet Pen, Jennifer Uhlarik crafted a villain that appears to be suave and handsome, but instead, he has a cold heart with no connections or feelings toward anyone he meets, which is shown over and over again in the plot. I felt so bad for Emma who fell in love with Stephen. This happens to many women today even. Why do women fall in love and stay with men who abuse them? I do not understand it. I know, mostly, because they are looking for validation and the love, but it is harmful to them and God forbid if there is children involved. The plot of The Scarlet Pen was well-crafted and captured my attention the whole time. I enjoyed this story and will recommend it to others. Definitely a story keeper. The romance was okay. It was not my favorite part. I do enjoy the relationship between Clay and Emma. I liked the part where they shared Bible verses to encourage each other. This was a great addition to the True Colors series. I received a complimentary copy of The Scarlet Pen by Jennifer Uhlarik from Barbour Publishing, but the opinions stated are all my own.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Kelly-Ann ~ Sassy Bookish Mama

    This is book twelve from the True Colors series. This is one of those series that definitely does not have to be read in order as they do not relate to each other at all. They are all about true crimes that have happened with a fiction twist. I have read quite a few of them and I have so far enjoyed this collection of stories. I must say this one for me, has been the most disturbing and gruesome. The storyline definitely grabs you from the beginning. You immediately can tell who the culprit is, This is book twelve from the True Colors series. This is one of those series that definitely does not have to be read in order as they do not relate to each other at all. They are all about true crimes that have happened with a fiction twist. I have read quite a few of them and I have so far enjoyed this collection of stories. I must say this one for me, has been the most disturbing and gruesome. The storyline definitely grabs you from the beginning. You immediately can tell who the culprit is, you just don't realize how twisted he truly is until you read the story. The crime is based off the Stephen Dee Richards a Nebraska serial killer in the late 1800's. It was amazing to me how well the author was able to write this story and basically get into the killer's mind and tell us a story through fiction. You can really tell she did a lot of research to accomplish this and it makes for a good story. We do meet fictional characters Emma who happens to be engaged to Stephen despite her father's hesitance towards the situation. She drove me a little batty at times. She definitely was so naive and young. She did grow on me and even her character admits in the story that she had been sheltered and didn't know much about the world. Clay was a great character. He is the Secret Service Agent who brings Stephen down. He has a sad past and that played into the storyline. It was great to see the growth between Clay and Emma but also the growth within themselves. Overall this was a very good story. It keeps you engaged and intrigued to find out what happens. If you enjoy watching shows like Criminal Minds you will definitely like this series and this book especially. I received a copy of this book from the publisher. I was not required to post a positive review. All views expressed are only my honest opinion

  21. 4 out of 5

    Emily Flynn

    Wow, I tell you what, wow. This story did not disappoint. I have not been disappointed in any of these novels based on true crimes. The story of Stephen Dee Richards gave me chills. On the other side of the crime, I love that these are framed in the genre of Christian fiction. It gives the story greater dimension. I loved Emma, she was such a well written character. She was realistic and faithful and didn't change her mind without compelling evidence. She was also stubborn and free spirited whic Wow, I tell you what, wow. This story did not disappoint. I have not been disappointed in any of these novels based on true crimes. The story of Stephen Dee Richards gave me chills. On the other side of the crime, I love that these are framed in the genre of Christian fiction. It gives the story greater dimension. I loved Emma, she was such a well written character. She was realistic and faithful and didn't change her mind without compelling evidence. She was also stubborn and free spirited which added to the drama. Clay was everything a lawman should be and more. His interactions with Emma's family in contrast to Stephen told the tale. The side characters had depth and only added to the story. This was a story that was impossible to put down once engaged in the story. I received an early copy through NetGalley and this is my honest review.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Stacy

    I've read and enjoyed several other novels in the True Colors Series by Barbour. So I was happily looking forward to reading this novel. It did not disappoint. Jennifer Uhlarik has a way of creating tight suspense in her story real-life criminal Stephen Dee Richards is one seriously abhorrent man. There were parts that were very vivid in description, but I was hooked on the story and kept going. Any fans of true crime television and/or reading stories centered on them should get this book. It's r I've read and enjoyed several other novels in the True Colors Series by Barbour. So I was happily looking forward to reading this novel. It did not disappoint. Jennifer Uhlarik has a way of creating tight suspense in her story real-life criminal Stephen Dee Richards is one seriously abhorrent man. There were parts that were very vivid in description, but I was hooked on the story and kept going. Any fans of true crime television and/or reading stories centered on them should get this book. It's riveting!

  23. 4 out of 5

    Sylvia

    An intriguing, sinister read from Jennifer Uhlarik. The Scarlet Pen explores the dark mind and actions of American serial killer Stephen Dee Richards, told from three points of view. Suspense is not my usual genre—I watch a lot of TV series about true crime, but reading about it is a totally different experience in my opinion—and Uhlarik definitely nailed the creepy vibes in this book. For me, it solidified why I don’t read a lot of suspense (hello nightmares!) but I’m still glad I read this sto An intriguing, sinister read from Jennifer Uhlarik. The Scarlet Pen explores the dark mind and actions of American serial killer Stephen Dee Richards, told from three points of view. Suspense is not my usual genre—I watch a lot of TV series about true crime, but reading about it is a totally different experience in my opinion—and Uhlarik definitely nailed the creepy vibes in this book. For me, it solidified why I don’t read a lot of suspense (hello nightmares!) but I’m still glad I read this story. Despite the dark themes, there is a thread of hope woven throughout that keeps the reader grounded. Fans of dark suspense will definitely enjoy this addition to the True Colors series. 3.5/5 stars I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer K

    This suspenseful true crime fiction was hard to put down. The villain’s choices and story was so hard to believe that even his fiancé couldn’t fathom that it was true. Over time, through prayer and Scripture, she sought to determine the truth. I appreciated that Uhlarik included glimpses of character’s relationships with God in practical ways. As the story unfolds, a secret service agent diligently searched out the criminal. However, the case becomes personal leaving a chance for romance, which This suspenseful true crime fiction was hard to put down. The villain’s choices and story was so hard to believe that even his fiancé couldn’t fathom that it was true. Over time, through prayer and Scripture, she sought to determine the truth. I appreciated that Uhlarik included glimpses of character’s relationships with God in practical ways. As the story unfolds, a secret service agent diligently searched out the criminal. However, the case becomes personal leaving a chance for romance, which this author wrote very well. The Scarlet Pen is a story that will keep you engaged until the very end. I was given a copy of his book by the publisher. All opinions are my own.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Maureen Timerman

    This is a fictional story that is based on true crimes, and that is scary. The author did a great job of following the facts to make this story good, and you get more information at the end of this read with the Author's Notes! I enjoyed how this story wove together, not only do we have the bad guy, a really bad guy, but we touch on the Pony Express and because counterfeit money, the Secret Service. The main criminal is beyond evil, and as the story progresses he seems to get worse, having no rega This is a fictional story that is based on true crimes, and that is scary. The author did a great job of following the facts to make this story good, and you get more information at the end of this read with the Author's Notes! I enjoyed how this story wove together, not only do we have the bad guy, a really bad guy, but we touch on the Pony Express and because counterfeit money, the Secret Service. The main criminal is beyond evil, and as the story progresses he seems to get worse, having no regard for human life. We are balanced out with some really good Godly individuals, that are played in both Emma's and Clay's lives, and we hope all we soon care about will be there in the end. Yes, this becomes a page turner of a read, you will need answers! I received this book through Net Galley and the Publisher Barbour, and was not required to give a positive review.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Carolyn Bryant

    As a big fan of Barbour’s fiction-based-on-fact True Colors series, I was looking forward to reading this 12th installment. I was not disappointed! Spanning the years 1876-1878 and set in Ohio and Nebraska, The Scarlet Pen follows the heinous crime spree of real-life criminal Stephen Dee Richards. For Secret Service agent Clay Timmons, what starts out as a search for a counterfeiter turns into a search for a serial killer. For Emma Draycott, what starts out as the possibility of a bright future As a big fan of Barbour’s fiction-based-on-fact True Colors series, I was looking forward to reading this 12th installment. I was not disappointed! Spanning the years 1876-1878 and set in Ohio and Nebraska, The Scarlet Pen follows the heinous crime spree of real-life criminal Stephen Dee Richards. For Secret Service agent Clay Timmons, what starts out as a search for a counterfeiter turns into a search for a serial killer. For Emma Draycott, what starts out as the possibility of a bright future with her betrothed Stephen, turns into a nightmare. Ms. Uhlarik’s excellent storytelling skill and expressive, flowing style make for an exciting yet heartbreaking read. Her descriptions of the crimes are not graphic or gory, but still paint a vivid picture of the depravity involved. The characters are well-developed and believable. I loved Clay, but Emma’s naivety had me yelling at her to open her eyes and see the truth! For me the romance takes a back seat to the true life crime element of the storyline. I especially appreciate the strong faith element that permeates the story and tempers the evil. I enjoyed the author’s notes at the end which give additional details of the historical facts and explain choices she made as she wrote the fictional tale. I highly recommend this book and the series. Each book in the series can be read as a stand-alone. I received a complimentary copy of this book in e-book form from the publisher via NetGalley. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Tammy Brown

    Another page-turner in Barbour's True Colors Crime series! Headstrong but naive Emma Draycott determinedly stands by her fiance, Stephen Dee Richards, despite her parents' misgivings. When Secret Serviceman Clay Timmons arrives in town investigating reports of counterfeiting, evidence of Stephen's possible involvement invites questions about Stephen's character. Emma has long been Stephen's defender. During their childhood, she defended him against schoolyard bullies. Now she defends him against Another page-turner in Barbour's True Colors Crime series! Headstrong but naive Emma Draycott determinedly stands by her fiance, Stephen Dee Richards, despite her parents' misgivings. When Secret Serviceman Clay Timmons arrives in town investigating reports of counterfeiting, evidence of Stephen's possible involvement invites questions about Stephen's character. Emma has long been Stephen's defender. During their childhood, she defended him against schoolyard bullies. Now she defends him against accusations from her family and law enforcement. With or without her parents' blessing, Emma is determined to marry the man who has given her his word. He will pursue a business venture and return for her with financial proof that he can adequately support the daughter of the well-heeled Draycott family. Stephen's letters bolster her faith in him. But then...Well, you will need to read the book to find out what happens next! I have enjoyed all of the books in this series, but I really loved this one! The author deftly weaves in details that show rather than tell, letting the reader get to know each character. What I loved most, however, is the way the author handles the complexity of the characters and the actual criminal case. As in law enforcement, the reader is presented with the facts of the case and with the words and perspective of the accused. They don't always align, but which is reality? Then add a spiritual dimension--did the accused make a decision for Christ? And--if he were truly guilty--should such a one be permitted entrance into heaven? The End Notes add fascinating details about the facts of the actual crime and the thinking behind the author's choices as she fictionalized this story.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Anne Rightler

    The Scarlet Pen, by Jennifer Uhlarik, is part of the True Colors True Crime series, a group of fictional novels based on American crime. Having read most of the books in this series, I looked forward to reading The Scarlet Pen and was not disappointed. I was drawn into the story quickly as in the first few pages Emma and Stephen pledge their love for each other, and the tension of their romance begins. Set in the Midwest during the late 1870s, the book tells the horrifying story of a serial kill The Scarlet Pen, by Jennifer Uhlarik, is part of the True Colors True Crime series, a group of fictional novels based on American crime. Having read most of the books in this series, I looked forward to reading The Scarlet Pen and was not disappointed. I was drawn into the story quickly as in the first few pages Emma and Stephen pledge their love for each other, and the tension of their romance begins. Set in the Midwest during the late 1870s, the book tells the horrifying story of a serial killer. Uhlarik is a wonderful storyteller as her writing is strong and descriptive. She has blended suspense, romance, and faith in the narrative to make a story that keeps the pages turning. Uhlarik created her characters to be believable, relatable, and people that I would like to have known as friends (well, the good guys anyway!) Emma, spunky and loyal. Stephen, a charmer with big dreams. And Clay, an honorable lawman with a haunting past and strong faith in God. As these three interact and sometimes clash, their story pulls on the reader’s emotions, shock, horror, sorrow, hope, and compassion. I enjoyed the book, and I look forward to reading more from this author. I received a complimentary copy of this book from Barbour Publishing. A favorable review was not required, and the opinions are my own. This review is part of a CelebrateLit blog tour.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Annette

    This book is part of the True Colors series which is a really good series too. The story follows Emma and the Secret Service agent Clay, who is looking for her intended- Stephen. Stephen is not who Emma thinks he is. Instead he’s turned into a cold blooded murderer. This book was a bit violent. It keeps you on the edge of your seat! It was a good book Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for the early copy

  30. 5 out of 5

    Laura

    This is the final book in the True Colors Series. These books are fictionalized books that tell the stories of true crimes. They attempt to provide hope in the midst of somewhat dark stories. This particular true crime story centers around a man named Stephen who leaves a wake of loss wherever he goes. The man that is searching for him is Clay and his girlfriend is Emma. I particularly enjoyed the way that Emma's family cares for her and tries to protect her from this man. I also enjoyed Clay and This is the final book in the True Colors Series. These books are fictionalized books that tell the stories of true crimes. They attempt to provide hope in the midst of somewhat dark stories. This particular true crime story centers around a man named Stephen who leaves a wake of loss wherever he goes. The man that is searching for him is Clay and his girlfriend is Emma. I particularly enjoyed the way that Emma's family cares for her and tries to protect her from this man. I also enjoyed Clay and even while searching for Stephen he maintains respect for his person. The author does a good job of not making the story too gruesome and weaves hope throughout. I received a complimentary copy of this book from Barbour Publishing and was under no obligation to post a review

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