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March 15, 2016

Review: Center Stage by Denise Grover Swank #TuesdayBookBlog

review by Elisa Hordon

Center Stage

I stepped onto my mother’s front porch for the first time in ten years. Typical of my mother, not much had changed. Same red brick with white trim. Same black, steel-reinforced front door. Same silver knocker, the word STEELE etched into it in bold capital letters.
“Get it?” my dad used to ask when I was a little girl. “The door is made of steel, and our last name is Steele.”
I worshiped my father, so I always laughed even though I didn’t get it. I would have done anything to please him.
Until he disappeared.

Would you keep reading?

My Thoughts
Magnolia Steele was born to be a star, or so everyone always told her. Maggie was made for theatre with a voice that could make everyone smile and a face that lights up the stage. So what went wrong on opening night?

Ok so maybe living with the director while he was sleeping with her understudy might not have been the wisest move but then again Maggie didn't know he was cheating on her. Embarrassing herself on stage and becoming an overnight sensation on You Tube when her wardrobe malfunctioned is how Maggie found herself at her Mother's front door: 10 years after Maggie ran away to New York, 10 years after that horrible night she still cannot remember, 10 years after she said she would never come home.

'You're made of steel Magnolia'.

I hope Magnolia always remembers her mother’s words. I have a feeling she is going to need all of her inner and physical strength to solve this mystery and not land herself in jail for murder.

What a busy first couple of days back home! Maggie meets Colt, a gorgeous guy who works for her mum's catering company, he is also an aspiring country singer/songwriter and he wants to be Maggie's friend. Then she bumps into Tanner, her high school boyfriend whom she argued with that fateful night and she never explained why she ran away. Now Tanner wants answers. Then she meets Luke a country singer who is tied up in not 1 but 2 murders. They both took place at his home. Did Luke murder 2 people and is he the one trying to frame Magnolia? Finally, there is Brady a local police officer who clicks with Maggie instantly but is it a good idea for Maggie to get involved with a cop?

It sounds like it's raining gorgeous hot guys in Tennessee and Magnolia needs more guys in her life like a hole in her head especially after the scum bag director she left behind in New York. And then there is her charming brother Roy who is not happy to see Maggie is back in their home town at all.

And seriously if Maggie's life isn't confusing enough with the guys, just try sorting out the girls. Start with Maggie's mum Lila: she is such a card and loves to run her mouth without knowing the facts which is what led Maggie to take off 10 yrs ago. Then we have Lila's best friend Tilly; she is Lila's support but she wants to be there for Maggie too so she is in a sticky Then we have Maggie's sister-in-law Belinda who is a force to be reckoned. Underneath that sweet smile is a tornado just waiting to be unleash. We then move on to Emily, Maggie's high school nemesis who basically took over Maggie's life when she left town but I'm thinking she actually did that to stay close to everyone in Maggie's life because she wants to solve the mystery of what happened the night before Maggie took off. And finally, we come to Maddie, Maggie's best friend from childhood who never gave Maggie the chance to explain after she left. She just played the heart broken card, took everyone’s sympathy, and moved on with her life. Honestly, if she was a true friend she would have tracked Maggie down and demanded answers and now she gets to play the injured party. I'm not sure I like Maddie at all.

So much drama wrapped up in one book; it truly was an amazing read. Denise Grover Swank knows how to write drama, with gripping mystery and wrap it all up with characters you'll never forget. I love how Denise writes female friendships. They are bonded friendships that last through anything and even when you think they are lost forever there is always a glimmer of something still there.

This first book in the Magnolia Steele mysteries really sets the tone for further books. It left me satisfied but with so many more questions, both from the past and from the present. Did Amy really commit suicide? Or was she set up by the real killer? Why does Magnolia's brother want her out of town so badly and is he really abusive to Belinda? And even now that Maggie is remembering that night in the woods what really happened?

I love knowing everything will be answered in future books and I am really looking forward to more.

So we have an all-star cast of characters in Center Stage and even though this is Maggie's story everyone has a part to play. It will be interesting to see who is playing a part and who is real, who can Maggie trust, who can she really be herself around. I am really excited about this new series by Denise Grover Swank.

Buy Center Stage at Amazon

Book info:
available formats: ebook, print 
published: March 2016 by 
ISBN13: 978-1939996435
genres: women's fiction, mystery
source: author

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  1. I'd continue on for a bit to see if I was caught up in the story. Glad you liked it and hope upcoming books will be just as good for you!

  2. That first paragraph did a good job of making me want more. I'd keep reading.

  3. The teaser captured my the cover, too. I would keep reading.

    Here's mine: “IF YOU LIVED HERE…”

  4. I love the character's name - Magnolia Steele - and the opening definitely made me want to keep reading. Sounds like a terrific series.
    My Tuesday post features a contemporary romance: GRIFF MONTGOMERY, QUARTERBACK.

  5. Glad liked this. From the intro I'd keep reading.