My Thoughts -In Spotlight and Shadow Author: Rachel Scott McDaniel
About the Book
Book: In Spotlight and Shadow
Author: Rachel Scott McDaniel
Genre: Christian Fiction / Historical Fiction / Mystery / Romance
Release date: February 1, 2023
A Gem of a Mystery Takes Center Stage
Walk through Doors to the Past via a new series of historical stories of romance and adventure.
Elise Malvern has a habit of letting people down. Her former boyfriend who hoped she’d be his bride. Her grandfather who hoped she’d take over the family’s auction company. But mostly she’s disappointed herself. What’s the point of pursuing her passion as a violinist, if she is too scared to audition for a seat in the Pittsburgh Symphony? Her internship at the elegant Heinz Hall places her in the wings of the stage, but never on it. By accident, she discovers an old stage prop. Her instincts tell her there’s more to the paste necklace than meets the eye. Whether a good idea or not, she accepts help from a childhood friend, who happens to be country music megastar—Peirson Brooks. Peirson and Elise share a history; one she doesn’t care to repeat. The more involved they become in the mystery, the more things get tangled, including her heart.
A century earlier… Sophie Walters longs for center stage, her name on the marquee, and all that jazz, but climbing her way into an acting career is more difficult than she imagined. Having spoiled all her chances in Hollywood, she returns to Pittsburgh, accepting an insignificant role in a popular production. She watches her dreams pass by from behind the curtain at the illustrious Loew’s Penn Theatre. She finally gets the coveted spotlight, but not for her talent. No, her surge to fame is all one terrible mistake. Somehow, she’s suspected to be a notorious jewel thief known around Pittsburgh as The Mirage. The man she pleads for help is none other than the man she jilted at the altar five years before, Sterling Monroe.
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
HISTORY OF THE LOEW’S PENN/HEINZ HALL THEATER
The Loew’s Penn theater in Pittsburgh opened its doors on September 6, 1927. Thousands of Pittsburghians crammed the streets hoping to enter. Those who were fortunate to claim a seat gasped at the grandeur of what that has been billed the ‘Temple of Cinema.’ The new hotspot in the Steel City was regarded as the most magnificent theater between New York and Chicago.
The Loew’s Penn was five stories high and could seat over 3,000 guests. The grand lobby had a 50-foot-high vaulted Venetian ceiling, gilded Corinthian columns, and two spectacular chandeliers. The crystal for the chandeliers was imported from Vienna. From silk drapes to artwork by Renaissance masters to Italian marble staircases the theater seemed more like a museum than a cinema palace. As for the entertainment, the night began with a live stage show followed by a silent film feature.
Attendance averaged around 60,000 theatergoers a week. And with an admission charge of $.50, the theater made around $30,000 a week. Which was a substantial fortune during the 1920s. The theater hosted live stage shows and they also brought in national acts including Paul Whiteman and the Rhtyhm Boys featuring Bing Crosby. Also Buster Keaton and Eddie Cantor graced the stage.
Over the years, the allure of the Loew’s Penn faded, and the theater fell into disrepair, finally shutting its doors in 1968. The Howard Heinz Endowment purchased the building, saving it from demolition. After a 16-month renovation that had cost over $11 million, the doors opened yet again under the new name of Heinz Hall. The plush red carpet is bold and beautiful, but also a subtle nod to … you guessed it … Heinz Ketchup. The grand lobby features the original marble flooring as well as the two 15-foot chandeliers. The main auditorium seats 2,661 guests. Heinz Hall is now the home to the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra it also hosts concerts and Broadway touring companies.
In Spotlight and Shadow is written by Rachel Scott McDaniel. This is part of the Doors to the Past Series. The series is written by multiple authors but they share the split time element in their stories. I have read all the books in the series. They are all phenomenal. In this story we meet Elise (present day) and Sophie (1920's). Both women have some amazing stories to tell and it was fun to read how their lives intersected.
Elise lost her mother while she was a teenager. She was raised by Pap and Grancy, her grandparents. She helps in the family business, an auction house. She has dreams of becoming a second chair violinist like her mother but is always so overcome with stage fright that she has never auditioned. One day, while she is taking pictures and telling the story behind the historic Heinz Hall - a box full of old playbills and a duster coat shows up. There is also a violin ornament that has a message on it it and states its from her father. She has no idea where it came from. Country Music Start and former friend, Pierson Brooks offers to help her sort it out. Together they embark on trying to uncover Elise family history.
Sophie Walters left her fiancé, Sterling at the alter and moved on to become an actress. She has a small part in a play when wealthy patrons jewels start to go missing. The thief is dubbed the Mirage. Sophie is pulled in for questioning, by her former fiancé. Suddenly it appears that someone is trying to frame Sophie. Sterling and Sophie are working together and trying to put the past behind them when things take a shocking turn.
This author has a way of drawing you in within the first few pages. Her research allows her to bring the past to life. I loved learning about Heinz Hall. The author mentions at the end of the book what is true and what is not - and that helped to bring everything full circle. The story is well written. The characters captivating.
Thank you to the author, publisher and Celebrate Lit for allowing me to read a copy of this book - all thoughts are my own