A New Book Review

I received a new review on my second book, STRANGERS IN THE SPOTLIGHT, on February 13. Unfortunately, the reviewer did not sign their name, but I do know they were hired by PublishAmerica, my publishing company. I present it to you in order for you to make your own judgement.

Book cover 2Review of Stranger in the Spotlight

Donna Simpson lives for the stage. Her talent is finally noticed during World War II, while performing in the Foxhole Circuit with the USO. After 13 months, she’s inspired to follow her dreams in Hollywood where all stars go to make it in the business.

In STRANGER IN THE SPOTLIGHT, readers will learn about what happens to those who set off to chase a dream and are forced to decide whether they wish to compromise themselves for the sake of stardom. Barbara Celeste McCloskey has written a novel about following dreams and the sometimes unfortunate results of taking the chance of a lifetime.

After meeting Tony, Donna thinks she’s found it all in Hollywood. Her luck at finding someone to take her under his wing and boost her professional career enhances when Tony wins her heart. Despite advice to stay away from him, she can’t resist his charm. What she doesn’t know is that Tony has a history that will threaten her life.

In a quest to move her career forward, Donna takes acting lessons and learns tricks of the trade she can combine with her raw talent. Tony’s love for Donna propels him to propose marriage, to which Donna readily agrees. Everything seems to be going according to Donna’s master plan until an unexpected pregnancy adds a layer of uncertainty to her future; then tragedy strikes on her wedding day.

The bitter truth of show business surfaces well into Donna’s path to success, and she’s forced to face the reality that so many women must face in order to succeed in the industry: her agent believes she needs to alter her physical appearance with surgery. Desperate to succeed and rise above other starlets, she agrees to the life-changing surgery.

When Tony’s past surfaces, Donna and Tony’s romantic dream life is shattered. As if that isn’t enough, another unexpected event adds to their already tense lifestyle. The couple watches as their fairytale romance crumbles and they must decide to adapt to the challenges or leave each other.

Barbara Celeste McCloskey presents a piece of Americana, focusing on the American dream and the sacrifices one must make in order to achieve that dream. Like in real life, the dream doesn’t work out for everyone the way they anticipated. STRANGER IN THE SPOTLIGHT is an entertaining page turner for everyone who likes a good romance story.

The Review is In

Book cover 3       Cover_immigrantsAbout a month ago, I sent my two books, TEA AND BISCUIT GIRLS, and THE LOVE IMMIGRANTS to a reviewer in Canada. As it was my first time asking for a professional opinion, I was a bit nervous of the outcome. Here’s what she wrote:




by Barbara Celeste McCloskey,

reviewed by Ruth Latta

Barbara Celeste McCloskey is interested in World War II because her parents were of the generation who came of age during that massive conflict. Her interest has led her to write three novels focusing on young women’s lives in wartime: Apple Strudel Girls, (2011), Tea and Biscuit Girls (2012) and The Love Immigrants (2012).

Tea and Biscuit Girls presents two young British women, Katie and Jenny, who meet while working with the Land Army on a Scottish farm, and forge an enduring bond. The Love Immigrants, subtitled “Three War Brides Come to America”, a sequel which can stand on its own, shows Katie, Jenny and Heidi, a German war bride, starting new lives in the U.S. with their American husbands.

McCloskey’s young women characters go through typical rites of passage, including challenging work, romance, pregnancy, childbirth and loss of loved ones. Both Tea and Biscuit Girls and The Love Immigrants made me remember the stories I’ve heard from people who were young during the Second World War. By including Jewish refugee children and a German war-bride in The Love Immigrants, McCloskey broadens and deepens her story. Her research included histories, diaries and first person accounts.

Readers who enjoyed the late great Maeve Binchy’s novel, Light a Penny Candle, which begins with an English child spending the war years in Ireland, will be interested in Katie’s sojourn on a Scottish farm in McCloskey’s Tea and Biscuit Girls. I was convinced that the Scottish aunt and uncle were drawn from life, but McCloskey informed me in an email that they are fictional constructs. She consulted a friend who grew up in Scotland in the 1950s for details about climate, landscape and buildings and consulted a website of Scottish words, to achieve realism. Her ability to create such life-like fictional characters is one of her strengths as a novelist.

The young wives are surprised and pleased by the standard of living in America, but the one whose fabulous New York honeymoon seems to set the pattern for the future is sadly disappointed. The old saying, “Marry in haste, repent at leisure” applies here. Even those wartime couples who had time to get to know each other did so under atypical circumstances.

While a number of real-life war brides I met had a difficult time with in-laws, the fictional women in McCloskey’s novel are welcomed warmly, including the young German woman. The threat from the old girlfriend at home, however, is a plot element in The Love Immigrants.

Many works of fiction have been set during World War II. Two of my favorites are the TV Foyle’s War and the movie Yanks. It is a well-known fact, however, that if one assigned the same topic to a room full of fiction writers, each would come up with something unique. McCloskey’s novels show her flair for exploring women’s friendships and feelings and will attract and educate today’s generation of young woman readers about an intense, dramatic time in history.

Ruth Latta is the compiler and editor of The Memory of All That: Canadian Women’s Memories of World War II, (Burnstown, Canada, General Store Publishing House), available through