In Spotlight and Shadow by Rachel Scott McDaniel (review)

I just finished my first Rachel Scott McDaniel book and what a fun read it was! In Spotlight and Shadow weaves together two storylines, with Elise Malvern reunited with her childhood friend turned country music star Pierson Brooks as she is about to audition for a Symphony’s violin seat and recipes a mysterious package and actress Sophie Walters being reunited with her former fiance Detective Sterling Monroe in 1920’s Pittsburgh, only to be accused of being a jewel thief.

With parallels and connections between Elise’s contemporary story and Sophie’s historical one, rather than seeming contrived this is a wonderful tale of mysteries, second chance romance, and God’s unfailing love. Rachel Scott McDaniel was on my radar for her previous books, and In Spotlight and Shadow shows that her storytelling lives up to expectations and doesn’t neglect including a dash of humor along with action, dramatic tension, and romance.

While only my second read in the multi-author dual-timeline Doors to the Past series, I have a feeling In Spotlight and Shadow will remain a favorite.

Highly recommended – a book I did not want to put down.

This review refers to a print copy I voluntarily received and read, courtesy of the publisher. A positive review was not required and all opinions expressed are my own.

About the Book

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.

In Spotlight and Shadow by Rachel Scott McDaniel (Doors to the Past) | Barbour, February 2023 | paperback, 256 pages