All The Books I Can Read

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Review: One From The Heart by Nikki Logan, Daniel de Lorne & Fiona Greene

on September 8, 2020

One From The Heart (Tread The Boards, Set The Stage & Take A Bow)
Nikki Logan, Daniel de Lorne & Fiona Greene
Harlequin MIRA AUS
2020, 500p
Copy courtesy of the publisher

Blurb {from the publisher/Goodreads.com}:

Tread the Boards – Nikki Logan
Rivervue Theatre’s props maven Mackenzie Russell is drawn to enigmatic loner Dylan North. But both Kenzie and Dylan have secrets to keep. Secrets that if revealed could tear the town, the theatre – and Dylan and Kenzie – apart.

Set the Stage – Daniel de Lorne
A phone call from an unrequited past love sends architect Gabriel Mora running back to his artsy home town of Brachen. There, he is forced to hide his involvement in the redevelopment of the town’s beloved theatre to protect his mother’s frail health. It’s just one more secret to keep hidden, along with his feelings for Bruce Clifton, the theatre’s kind stage manager.

Take a Bow – Fiona Greene
Creative director Lexi Spencer is fighting to save the iconic Rivervue Community Theatre and Draven’s play is the weapon she needs. She’s already lost so much in her life, losing the theatre isn’t an option. But with past love Mark Conroy on the scene, old feelings resurface. The controversial play is set to test the loyalty of the town, as well as the strength of their relationship.

When the play’s dark truths come out, the ripples will affect everyone’s lives. Can the show still go on?

Recently Harlequin AUS sent me a little care package because I’m trapped in stage 4 lockdown here in Melbourne and it contained a pack of books to help pass the time! This collection of 3 stories was one of them and I really like connected books so it was the first one from the pack that I chose to read.

The books centre around the town of Brachen and the community theatre there. Bequeathed to the town by its favourite son, the lease is nearly up and the theatre is under threat from the council, who want to convert the beautiful old building into luxury accommodation. The theatre finds themselves given a gift – a play by a mysterious playwright known only as Draven, which could be their way out of trouble, especially as the play is about the very person that gifted the group the building for the theatre. Each story revolves around the play and a couple brought together because of it.

I really enjoyed all three of the books – the first one sets the stage nicely, introducing us to a lot of the key players that will appear throughout. The romance focuses on Mackenzie, who runs the props department, and Dylan, a loner who has popped into town. The second is a m/m romance between local handyman Bruce and architect Gabe, who have to overcome many misunderstandings to find their happy ending. The third and final book is about the creative director of the theatre company, Lexi Spencer, who is the vision behind almost everything that they do, and a man from her past, Mark Conroy, who is sent by the council to “oversee” what could be their final project in their current building. Like Bruce and Gabe, Lexi and Mark have history and are not meeting for the first time during this project.

Each of the stories take place running roughly alongside each other, although the third one does incorporate the theatre’s future. All do a great job to build the town as a setting and the characters from each story do appear in the other books as well. We are introduced to Bruce and Lexi early in the first book, which gives the reader an opportunity to get to know the people that will be the focus of future books, which I enjoyed.

I have never taken part in a theatre production, nor have I ever really been to even see one! So I’m not at all knowledgable about it, especially community theatre but I did love that aspect of the story. It had a great atmosphere, especially the way Lexi incorporated local children and it was obvious just now much the theatre meant to the community and how it was such an important part of so many people’s lives. Everyone was so passionate about it and fighting to keep it in its current location, because moving it to where the council wanted to, would be the death of it.

The romance in all three books is quite low key, I’d probably say chaste in most regards because it doesn’t seem to be the primary focus, instead it’s the theatre with the romances coming because of that, for the most part. The second book is a bit different, Gabe left town after high school for university and is now a successful architect. He returns because his mother is seriously ill, which puts him back in the proximity of his teenage crush, Bruce, who is the local carpenter/handyman. Bruce is having a bit of a rough time, he’s a very nice man who underquotes his customers because he knows they are struggling or can’t afford it and he’s not good at chasing invoices either. Bruce was a really sweet character but I did find this instalment a little heavy on the drama, with a couple of conflicts feeling a bit repeated. I did really enjoy that the compilation included a same sex relationship though and once they sorted everything out, Bruce and Gabriel did complement each other really well. This is a really solid, enjoyable anthology with likeable characters and a really lovely setting which you can easily picture. I’d definitely read more by each of these authors.

7/10

Book #s 175, 176 & 177 of 2020

Tread The Boards & Take A Bow are book #s 65 & 66 of The Australian Women Writers Challenge 2020


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