About the Book
Book: Undercurrent of Secrets
Author: Rachel Scott McDaniel
Genre: Christian Romance
Release date: September 2021
Two women, a century apart, are bound by a haunting secret aboard a legendary steamboat.
Walk through Doors to the Past via a new series of historical stories of romance and adventure.
As wedding coordinator for the 100-year-old steamboat The Belle of Louisville, Devyn Asbury takes pride in seeing others’ dreams come true, even though her engagement had sunk like a diamond ring to the bottom of the Ohio River. When the Belle becomes a finalist in the Timeless Wedding Venue contest, Devyn endeavors to secure the prestigious title with hopes to reclaim some of her professional dreams. What she hadn’t planned on was Chase Jones showing up with a mysterious photo from the 1920s.
A century earlier, Hattie Louis is as untamable as the rivers that raised her. As the adopted daughter of a steamboat captain, her duties range from the entertainment to cook. When strange incidents occur aboard the boat, Hattie’s determined to discover the truth. Even if that means getting under First Mate Jack Marshall’s handsome skin.
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About the Author
Rachel Scott McDaniel is an award-winning author of historical romance. Winner of the ACFW Genesis Award and the RWA Touched By Love award, Rachel infuses faith and heart into each story. Rachel can be found online at www.RachelScottMcDaniel.com and on all social media platforms. Her work is represented by Julie Gwinn of the Seymour Agency. Rachel resides in Ohio with her husband and two children.
More from Rachel
A Century on the River
In 1914, America hadn’t joined WWI yet. Airplanes, or flying machines as they were called, were still a phenomenon. Radios weren’t a thing. Hawaii and Alaska weren’t part of the United States. The world as a whole looked different than the one we walk today. But one thing remains true as it had 100 years ago—The Belle of Louisville graced the waters. In fact, the century-old steamboat is like a floating time capsule.
First named the Idlewild, this boat was built in Pittsburgh, PA and was launched in October 1914. It began its days as a packet boat, hauling freight and ferrying passengers. During the ‘Roaring 20s’ there wasn’t much documentation for her travels. But it’s believed the Idlewild spent the decade tramping—a steamboat term for going up and down the river, stopping at various towns and taking passengers for excursions. Which worked perfectly for Undercurrent of Secrets.
The boat was then sold to New Orleans where it continued to ferry passengers. In 1931, The Idlewild spent a season in Louisville running trips to Rose Island and Fontaine Ferry amusement parks. It then spent the next several years coursing the waterways from Canada to New Orleans, living upon the Mississippi and Ohio river systems until WWII. The second world war brought a lot of action to the Idlewild which was then outfitted with special equipment to push oil barges along the river. She also served as a floating USO nightclub for troops stationed at military bases along the Mississippi River.
In 1947, she was sold and renamed the Avalon. For the next two decades the legendary lady spent her days along the rivers, hosting excursions, bringing adventure to the hearts of many Americans. But all those years and miles eventually caught up to her and she fell in disrepair. In 1962, she was put up for auction in Cincinnati where she was purchased by Jefferson County Judge Executive Marlow Cook for $34,000. She then received her third name, The Belle of Louisville.
The restoration of the boat was supervised by marine architect Alan L. Bates (later Captain Bates). Capt. Bates’ books, Str. Belle of Louisville, and Moonlight at 8:30, were a huge help to me while researching the history of the boat and the crews who worked on her. The reno crew worked tirelessly rebuilding the Belle and on April 30th, she tested the waters again by racing against the Delta Queen in the first Great Steamboat Race. The Belle has been wharfed in Louisville ever since. This century-old steamboat has stood the test of time, surviving decades, sinkings, storms, weathering all the trials with grit and grace. If you ever find yourself in Louisville, you could book a cruise on the Belle and experience history.
Barbour Publishing’s Doors to the Past series just keeps getting better and better! Each standalone, dual-timeline story is penned by a different author and features a combination of romance, mystery, and faith. Barbour stands out to me for its excellent series these last few years, including but certainly not limited to Brides of the Mayflower and True Colors. Something that I truly appreciate is when I read a book that I otherwise may not have and love it so much that I know it will be one of my favorites for the year. Undercurrent of Secrets fits the bill, and the literary finesse that Rachel Scott McDaniel demonstrated in her debut, Above the Fold, becomes even more prominent in this fourth Doors to the Past book.
As the two storylines in Undercurrent of Secrets emerge, a delightful cast of characters surfaces. In the present, Devyn Asbury serves as wedding coordinator for The Belle of Louisville, trying to blend into the background after a disastrous end to her engagement, while her 1926 counterpart, Hattie Louis, lives an unconventional life on the river as the adopted daughter of an elderly steamboat captain. Both young women find the course of their lives altered by unexpected revelations and unforeseen romance that has enduring reverberations. Mystery creeps into Devyn’s already-full schedule through the appearance of Chase Jones and an enigmatic photograph from a century ago, while new first mate Jack Marshall’s arrival interrupts the steady flow of Hattie’s routine. The turbulence is reflected in Jack’s words, “I’m just wondering if your voice is the sound of an angel guiding me along, or a siren drawing me in to my demise.”
One aspect of split-time fiction that seems to characterize the genre, and one that speaks to me, is the theme of belonging to two different worlds, or feeling caught between two existences. A nostalgic identity crisis, of sorts. Whether this plays out as being drawn to the past in order to resolve something that happened there, or being either ahead of one’s time or old-fashioned, this premise lends itself to the heart of stories such as Undercurrent of Secrets. I love how McDaniel connects her characters, and how the contemporary characters unearth the mystery and intrigue surrounding those of the past, as a puzzle to solve rather than just having the answer handed to them, with faith leading the way. As Devyn proclaims, “Love is bold. It doesn’t cower, but expresses itself. Think of Jesus. What He did on the cross was bold. He gave His life without any guarantee that anyone would love Him back. It was daring and beautiful.” The intersection of the characters’ stories intertwines throughout the narrative, coalescing at the very end in a satisfying conclusion that brings together all of McDaniel’s skillfully dropped hints. Above all else, trusting God to guide us through every high and low, allowing Him to be the captain of our lives, is the most important message. For “God had a way of leading His children. It may not be the course Devyn had imagined, but as long as she stayed in the current of His love, she knew she could rely on Him in both the still and the troubled waters. He was faithful to steer her through it all.”
I received a complimentary copy of this book through Celebrate Lit and was not required to post a favorable review. All opinions are my own.
My rating: 5 stars ♥♥♥♥♥
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She Lives to Read, October 1
Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, October 1
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Bizwings Blog, October 3
Musings of a Sassy Bookish Mama, October 4
For the Love of Literature, October 4
Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, October 5
Through the fire blogs, October 5
Happily Managing a Household of Boys, October 6
Pause for Tales, October 6
Artistic Nobody, October 7 (Guest Review from Donna Cline)
Just Your Average reviews, October 7
Splashes of Joy, October 8
Labor Not in Vain, October 8
To celebrate her tour, Rachel is giving away the grand prize package of a $25 Amazon gift card and a copy of the book!!
Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.