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.
If you are a fan of time slip books, this is a must read. It flows smoothly from the past to the present without missing a beat. The story is very intriguing and there are historical facts scattered throughout the beautiful pages. It moves at a great pace and I wasn’t sure if I wanted to stay in the last or go forward at times. The author is gifted with pulling readers in with characters that jump off the pages and capture the allure of mystery and love.
I liked the setting of a steamboat and how it was the focus of the story between past and present. I would love to go on one and experience the majestic voyage as it takes me across the river. The author describes the steamboat in a way that makes you want to be a passenger and slip back in time. I enjoyed learning how it operates and how popular it was in the 1900s.
There rare four main characters that are relevant to the story. Devyn and Chase are fun to get to know. Poor Devyn has been taken advantage of by someone and finds herself dumped over social media. How awful can that be to be humiliated in front of millions of people? At least she has her wedding coordinator job. I think she shines at the job and you can tell she loves hosting weddings on the boat. Chase comes into her life as a mystery at first but I knew he had a secret. With the snarky remarks back and forth, I wasn’t sure this relationship would amount to anything. Oh but the witty Chase dangles a mystery in front of Devyn that entices her to help him. Thus begins the parallel between these two and our next set of characters.
Hattie is probably my favorite character in the book. She has had an unfortunate childhood when she thinks she has been abandoned. The man who takes her in just happens to be the Captain of Idlewild. I loved the antics Hattie found herself in on the boat and proved to the men she could carry her weight aboard the vessel. Jack appears on the boat but he has a secret as well. Their encounters are not always friendly and Hattie has a hard time trusting Jack.
Now that’s all I’m giving away about the story. I will assure readers that they are in for a treat as the story unfolds. The author delivers a tale of mystery complete with love letters, secret meetings and an ending that made me cry. I have put this book on my top favorite list of books for 2021.
I received a copy of this book from Celebrate Lit. The review is my own opinion.
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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.