Wednesday, August 30, 2023

Rachel Scott McDaniel: The Scarlet Spy

By Kelly Bridgewater

About the Book

Book: The Starlet Spy

Authors: Rachel Scott McDaniel

Genre: Historical Christian Fiction

Release Date: August, 2023

Hollywood Star Turns Spy
In 1943, movie producer Henrik Zoltan approaches Amelie Blake under the guise of offering the Hollywood star a leading part in his upcoming film, but he has a more meaningful role in mind. Amelie’s homeland of Sweden declared neutrality in the war, but Stockholm has become the “Casablanca of the North.” When top-secret atomic research goes missing in Sweden, the Allied forces scramble to recover the files before they fall into Nazi hands.

The United States Office of Strategic Services (OSS) needs someone who’s subtle enough to spy on the Swedish elite without triggering suspicion. Who better than the “all beauty, no brains” Scandinavian starlet? Fluent in three languages and possessing a brilliant memory, Amelie loathes being labeled witless but uses the misconception as her disguise. She’s tasked with searching for the crucial files, but Finn Ristaffason keeps getting in her way. Is the charming shipping magnate after the missing research? Or does he have other reasons for showing up at her every turn?

With the Gestapo on her heels, Amelie must rely on her smarts in addition to her acting skills to survive a world of deadly spies and counterspies.


My Thoughts:

The Starlet Spy by Rachel Scott McDaniel views World War II spy operative working in Sweden who happens to be a Hollywood starlet. The story opens with a view of Amelie Blake working on her latest movie. Then readers are taken for a ride as they will view who she actually is and then have her return home to Sweden to try to capture a traitor to the American people. There is plenty of action and hunting for clues throughout the story. Even moments where Amelie has to use her acting skills in order to infiltrate the enemy lines. A nice scene with a pool table. As for the characters, Amelie and Finn, Amelie was definitely more relatable and defined. Readers will empathize with her plight to come up from the ashes to make a name for herself. Whereas, on the other hand, Finn comes from a lot of money, and he does not really change for the better or worse throughout the story. Romance blossoms between the two, but personally, I did not buy it. It seemed to be there as a plot device. Not any swooning or real sparks flying. Overall, The Starlet Spy by Rachel Scott McDaniel promised what would be a glorious novel with a Hollywood Starlet during World War II. It was a nicely handled intriguing novel.

I received a complimentary copy of The Starlet Spy by Rachel Scott McDaniel from Barbour Publishing, but the opinions stated are all my own.

My Rating:  4 out of 5 stars

Purchase The Starlet Spy 

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 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

Setting The Starlet Spy in Sweden

Hej! If you’ve ever been to Ikea, then you know that’s the Swedish greeting for Hello! Prior to writing The Starlet Spy, my knowledge of the Swedish culture was limited. It seemed I wasn’t alone. Early last year, I held a poll on my social media asking if anyone had ever read a book set in Sweden. A sweeping majority said no.

Since all of my previous books are set in the United States, this is my first novel with an international setting. So I immersed myself into research. I read books about the country, watched videos, followed Swedish Instagrammers to learn more about the language. And let me tell you, I totally fell in love with this Scandinavian world. It is now on my bucket list to visit because it’s just that gorgeous. I wrote The Starlet Spy with a romantic adventure vibe. I wanted to take the reader on a tour of this amazing country, from the classically beautiful Stockholm, to the quaint fishermen city of Malmo, to the ancient streets of Sigtuna—one of Sweden’s oldest villages—to the brilliant Northern Lights in the Lapland region.

Not only did I want to paint the scene of these various places, but I also wanted to introduce the Swedish culture. Tucked within the pages of The Starlet Spy, the reader will find traces of Scandinavian folklore and legends, which was super fun to explore. But to be honest, my favorite inclusion of Swedish culture was incorporating a traditional dance—the Hambo! It’s such an interesting and unique dance, and I may have been trying to coax my husband into trying it with me for an Instagram Reel, but so far, no such luck! Though I have no problem getting him to enjoy Fika with me. Fika, my friends, is a coffee break, or simply coffee. Just as the British favor their tea, the Swedes are adamant about their fika. So I can most definitely relate.

If all this intrigues you, I welcome you to read The Starlet Spy. It’s set in 1943, which was a pivotal time for Sweden during World War II. If you’ve read my previous stories, you know how much I love to weave as much true history into the chapters. This book has by far the most!

Blog Stops

Babbling Becky L’s Book Impressions, August 29

Book Reviews From an Avid Reader, August 29

lakesidelivingsite, August 29

Lily’s Book Reviews, August 30

Where Faith and Books Meet, August 30

Melissa’s Bookshelf, August 31

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, August 31

Back Porch Reads, September 1

annette_reads_daily, September 1

Texas Book-aholic, September 2

Cathe Swanson, September 2

Book Looks by Lisa, September 2

Locks, Hooks and Books, September 3

Christina’s Corner, September 3

Connie’s History Classroom, September 4

Kristina Hall, September 4

The Book Club Network, September 5

Pause for Tales, September 5

Happily Managing A Household of Boys, September 5

Cover Lover Book Review, September 6

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, September 6

Gina Holder, Author and Blogger, September 7 (Author Interview)

The Book Nook, September 7

Betti Mace, September 8

Labor Not in Vain, September 8

Just Your Average reviews, September 8

Simple Harvest Reads, September 9 (Guest Review from Mindy Houng)

Becca Hope: Book Obsessed, September 9

A Good Book and Cup of Tea, September 9

Blogging With Carol, September 10

For Him and My Family, September 10

Holly’s Book Corner, September 11

Lights in a Dark World, September 11

Books I’ve Read, September 11


To celebrate her tour, Rachel is giving away the grand prize package of a $25 Amazon eGift card and a print 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.

Monday, August 28, 2023

Mollie Rushmeyer: The Lost Manuscript

By Kelly Bridgewater

In the vein of The Library of Lost and Found by Phaedra Patrick, a priceless manuscript could be one woman’s key to finding her missing grandmother—and to her own second chance.

It’s not just Ellora Lockwood’s home that’s being emptied as she prepares to sell—her heart seems to be empty too. Since the mysterious disappearance of her beloved Grandma June and separating from her husband, Alex, Ellora has felt adrift. Then comes an invitation from Alex to teach history at a summer program at Alnwick Castle in England. He’s even found information about the location of a medieval manuscript that was her grandmother’s obsession before she vanished.

Warily, Ellora accepts Alex’s offer. Surrounded by lush English countryside and captivating history, she pieces together clues about the manuscript’s whereabouts—and uncovers new questions. Could someone have been sabotaging her grandmother’s work? Anonymous threats lead Ellora to suspect she too may be in danger, but as she and Alex work together, she’s finding strength, new purpose and the courage to see this quest through, wherever it may lead…


My Thoughts:

The Lost Manuscript by Mollie Rushmeyer is a contemporary romance lovers dream with a hunt for a hidden manuscript and a lost grandma. From the first chapter, Ellora is hunting for her grandmother, who has been looking for this manuscript her entire life. Right away, readers will be thrown into her world and the struggles that she has had with her soon-to-be ex-husband. As the story progresses, the mystery and the hunt for the manuscript takes center stage and drives the reader on a treasure hunt. However, the left unresolved feelings between Ellora and Alex do come to a head a number of times when they need to work together to solve a clue that grandma left behind. As for the descriptions of the setting, Rushmeyer does a wonderful job at drawing the setting in a way that the readers imagination can take flight and enjoy the passing scenery. The climactic moment near the end of the novel ties up the conflict with grandma and the manuscript. Was it satisfying? Personally, no. Yes, readers will know what happened, but I wanted a little more of a punch to the moment. The creation of Ellora and her pain was woven through the character’s journey. Readers will feel her internal conflict with her marriage and some unresolved issues. However, Alex was not as much as an open book as Ellora. Overall, The Lost Manuscript is a romance with a hunt for a hidden historical item.

I received a complimentary copy of The Lost Manuscript by Mollie Rushmeyer from Love Inspired Trade Publishing, but the opinions stated are all my own.

My Rating:  3.75 out of 5 stars

Purchase The Lost Manuscript

Friday, August 25, 2023

ACFW Conference

By Kelly Bridgewater

ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers) Conference is this week.

It is a blast to go to.

If you read Christian fiction, it is a delight to see all the authors that you enjoy in person.

It is nice to sit at a table and discuss writing with them. It is nice to have them autograph your treasured novels.

Every day, we worship as a unit. It is a nice feeling to see all these Christian writers thanking and praising God for the gift that he gave us to use for his glory.

There is even a prayer chapel around with a number of authors who are more than willing to pray with you.

I enjoy the classes. Learning from authors who have accomplished what I want to accomplish.

Spending time with friends that I only see at this conference.

I have not been since September 2016. Covid has ruined that for 2019 – 2021, so no one went, but it is nice to maybe go again.


How about you? Ever been to a writing conference? What was your favorite part? 

Monday, August 21, 2023

Jennifer L. Wright: The Girl from the Papers

 By Kelly Bridgewater

 Inspired by one of America’s most notorious couples, Bonnie and Clyde, Jennifer L. Wright delivers a riveting tale set during the public enemy era of the Great Depression.

Beatrice Carraway has dreams. Although she’s aged out of the childhood pageant circuit, she’s intent on carrying her talents all the way to the big screen―if only she can escape the poverty of West Dallas first. But as the Great Depression drags the working class further and further under, Beatrice struggles just to keep herself, her mother, and her younger sister afloat. After a string of failed auditions, she feels defeated.

And then in walks Jack Turner. Though Beatrice is determined to pull herself up by her bootstraps, Jack has decided on a different path out of the gutters. It isn’t long before Beatrice is swept into an exciting and glamorous life of crime beside the man she loves. Keeping one step ahead of the law, she sees her dreams of fame come true when her name and picture are plastered in newspapers across the country. Yet as their infamy grows, the distance between them widens. While Jack begins seeking bigger payouts and publicity, Beatrice starts to long for a safe, quiet life and something deeper to fill the emptiness in her soul. But when the danger of Jack’s schemes ratchets up, Beatrice fears her dreams―and her future―will end up going down in a hail of bullets.


My Thoughts:

The Girl from the Papers by Jennifer L. Wright is a Bonnie and Clyde retelling. One of my favorite aspects was the internal dialogue of the main heroine. She wonders if she is ever good enough to be loved. I can completely relate. But through the help of Allie who shows her who God is and how much he loves her just the way that she is, the heroine begins to understand that God will love her no matter what she has done or will do. The plot moves at a fast pace and will hold the imagination of the readers. Wright does a wonderful job at showing why the heroine stayed with Jack even as he kept doing the horrible things that he did. Made it more easy to empathize with her plight. Their romance is more of a need to fill the hole in the heroine's heart. The setting and descriptions were nicely explained and shown to the readers. The synopsis made me want to read the story, but Wright's take at the heart issue really kept me glued to the active storyline. Overall, The Girl from the Papers by Jennifer L. Wright moves the heart, but shows a delightful story while doing it. I recommend this story.

I received a complimentary copy of The Girl from the Papers by Jennifer L. Wright from Tyndale Publishing, but the opinions stated are all my own.

My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Purchase The Girl from the Papers

Friday, August 18, 2023

Most Anticipated Historical Romance for Fall 2023

 By Kelly Bridgewater

Here are my Most Anticipated Historical Romance books that will be released from now until December 31, 2023. (All covers come from Goodreads.)

The Wings of  Poppy Pendelton by Melanie Dobson

The Legacy of Longdale Manor by Carrie Turansky

Against the Wind by Amanda Cabot

Children of the Shadows by Erica Vetsch

The Warsaw Sisters by Amanda Barratt

To Spark a Match by Jen Turano

The Juliet Code by Pepper Basham

A Winter by  the Sea by Julie Klassen

What about you? Any other suggestions of novels that I should read?

Wednesday, August 16, 2023

Melanie Dickerson: Cloak of Scarlet

 By Kelly Bridgewater

 She was an orphan of no importance . . .

Violet Lambton never imagined herself as anything but average. Adopted as a young child, she’s content with her comfortable life in her small medieval town with her faith, her books, and her baking . . . and the vivid red cloak her grandmother gifted her. Her one dream: to find a love that is pure and true. Then, her beloved grandmother is robbed by the villainous Baron Dunham. Outraged, Violet finds herself in the midst of the action and determines to put an end to the evil baron’s mistreatment of the hardworking people.

He was an ordinary knight serving the baron . . .

Sir Merek, a knight in the service of Baron Dunham, has pledged his life to fighting injustice and defending the weak. But when he encounters the spirited and beautiful Violet and discovers the depths of the baron’s treachery, he realizes that serving his employer is not serving the kingdom—and so he sets out on a daring journey to go behind the baron’s back to expose his deceitfulness to the king.

Suddenly the kingdom depends on both of them.

But before Merek and Violet can act to bring the corruption to light, Violet is captured and brought directly to Dunham—where she shockingly discovers a secret that shakes her entire world . . . and the future she dreams of. Thrown together in the baron’s quarters in a race against time to save the lives of their loved ones and themselves, Violet and Merek must learn to trust each other to expose Dunham’s treachery to the king—all while succumbing to their growing feelings for each other. Can the two find their happily ever after against all odds, or will the wolves amongst them drive them apart?

From New York Times bestselling author Melanie Dickerson comes a thrilling retelling of "Little Red Riding Hood," where two hearts must learn to trust themselves and each other in order to save a kingdom.


My Thoughts:

Cloak of Scarlet by Melanie Dickerson captures the world of Little Red Riding Hood and a story of injustice seeking justice. Dickerson, again, crafts delightful characters that see something being wrong and want to make things right, even so far, as to put their own lives at risk. Again readers are returned to Dericott, a familiar setting if readers have read the previous novels in this series. The setting is realistic and hauntingly familiar. Even readers have not been thrown into a dungeon, they have seen enough movies to understand the dirt and shame of having to spend days in this type of setting. As for the plot, it was predictable, but it was still enjoyable to read and lose oneself in for a couple of hours. The romance takes center stage, but of course, this is a young adult novel, so kissing is at far as the novel takes the readers. I enjoy how her novels show young readers that it is okay to fall in love, but covers the bases of the Godly man with the correct virtue and honesty to wait for. Overall, Cloak of Scarlet by Melanie Dickerson will delight readers of any of her works, and I can't wait to add it to my bookshelf.

I received a complimentary copy of Cloak of Scarlet by Melanie Dickerson from Thomas Nelson Publishing, but the opinions stated are all my own.

My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Purchase Cloak of Scarlet

Monday, August 14, 2023

Connilyn Cossette: Voice of the Ancient

 By Kelly Bridgewater

"A stunning coming-of-age tale."--MESU ANDREWS, Christy Award-winning author of Isaiah's Daughter

As the eldest son of a Levite and a Philistine, Avidan is torn between his duty to his family legacy and the desire for something more. After an enemy attack strikes close to home, he takes the opportunity to fight with his cousins for the newly crowned King Saul. But when one of the cousins goes missing during the battle, Avidan refuses to leave him behind.

Keziah is the daughter of one of the most powerful clan chiefs in the territory of Manasseh. On the brink of a forced marriage to a loathsome man decades older than her, she has no choice but to run, hoping to find sanctuary with her mother's family.

United during their journeys and battling to survive the dangers that surround them, Avidan and Keziah make a pact to travel together. As challenges pile up, they must not only rely on each other to stay alive but also learn to trust the true and eternal King of Israel to guide their every step.


My Thoughts:

Voice of the Ancient by Connilyn Cossette features the Biblical world of Saul when he was King. Avidan, the hero, wants to seek and fight his cousin and bring him home. But along the way, he meets a slave boy who he quickly learns is not what he seems. Keziah, the heroine, learns more about God and what he actually means and how to feel loved and cherished at the same time. The characters are dynamic and realistic. One of the thing readers will enjoy about Cossette’s writing is her ability to take a time period that is completely foreign to modern readers and allow the reader to become so engrossed with the action and the drama that they will forget that this story took place long time before smartphones, airplanes, and modern luxuries. The plot feels a little familiar with Keziah’s plight. Most of Cossette’s stories feature heroine’s that are seen and observed as nothing more than a piece of property for the men, which was true and still true in this culture today. Readers will enjoy how she invites the readers into her story and allows them to lose themselves for a while as they read the story. Overall, Voice of the Ancient by Connilyn Cossette was an enjoyable learning experience and story that captured my imagination.

I received a complimentary copy of Voice of the Ancient by Connilyn Cossette from Bethany House Publishing, but the opinions stated are all my own.

My Rating:  4 out of 5 stars

Purchase Voice of the Ancient

Friday, August 11, 2023

Most Anticipated Suspense for Fall 2023

 By Kelly Bridgewater

Here is my three times a year where I show beautiful covers of upcoming release books. 

Here are the Most Anticipated Suspense books. (All covers come from Goodreads.)

Facing the Enemy by DiAnn Mills

26 Below by Kimberley Woodhouse

Into the Fire by Irene Hannon

The Lost Boys of Barlowe Theater by Jaime Jo Wright

Shadows at Dusk by Elizabeth Goddard

Like I always say, we need more books in this genre! 

Monday, August 7, 2023

Lynette Eason: Countdown

 By Kelly Bridgewater

A stalker who wants to finish what he started. A US Marshal who’s vowed to protect his charge. And one woman who is determined to put the past in the past.

Flight paramedic Raina Price has been running so long it's hard to stop. To escape a dangerous stalker, she changed her name and disappeared, building a new life with the help of a friend from her time in juvie. It feels good to put her energies into saving people's lives, but because her stalker was never found, she's never stopped looking over her shoulder. And one can only run so far before the past finally catches up.

US Marshal Vincent Corelli's job is to hunt down fugitives and protect those who are assigned to him. When Raina is almost killed right in front of him, he vows to protect her at all costs--whether it's his job or not. Together they work to solve the mystery of Raina's past. But someone is out to make sure Raina doesn't live long enough to do it.

Countdown is the breathless conclusion to USA Today bestselling author Lynette Eason's thrilling Extreme Measures series.


My Thoughts:

Countdown by Lynette Eason features a past that comes back to haunt the main heroine, Raina. With plenty of twists and turns, Eason throws her readers and characters under the bus by tightening the noose tighter and tighter as the story moves along. There were moments of high energy and downtime to allow the readers to get to know Raina and Vincent. As for an Eason novel, this one was not my favorite. The romance seemed a little unbelievable. They meet, and Raina shares all her past secrets with Vincent. Things she did not even share with the other three girls that she had worked with for a couple of years. I found it weird that Vincent would drop everything in his life to help her solve her past mystery that has come back to haunt her. Overall, Countdown by Lynette Eason was okay at best. I needed more action and believability for the romance.

I received a complimentary copy of Countdown by Lynette Eason from Revell Publishing, but the opinions stated are all my own.

My Rating:  3.5 out of 5 stars

Purchase Countdown

Friday, August 4, 2023

ACFW StoryFest

 By Kelly Bridgewater 

A couple of years ago, I attended a Christian Fiction Readers Retreat in Cincinnati, Ohio.

It was a blast.

I saw Rachel McMillan for the first time. I saw Becky Wade, Susan Anne Mason, and Carrie Turansky. I hung out with Jen Turano, Ronie Kendig, and my friend, Emilie Haney.

The day was filled with books and people who love books, either the writer or the reader.

The plus side was the big bag filled with a number of free books, then all the bookmarks, sticky notes, and the little sweets or even a chapstick (Thank you, Pepper Basham!)

There were a number of games where you could win more books.

A bookstore where you could purchase more books.

A lunch where you could sit with any of the authors.

A snack in the afternoon.

And of course, a signing event where the authors had their names in front of them, and they autographed books for the readers.

It was nice to go!

A couple of years ago, ACFW became in charge of this and titled it “ACFW Storyfest.” In 2022, they had the first one under the new name and company. It was in St. Louis where it co-existed with the annual ACFW conference.


How about you? Have you ever been to a reader’s retreat? I know that Baker Book House in Michigan does one every May too. I have not been to that one. If you have not gone, does this sound like something that you would like to do?