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Center Stage (Magnolia Steele Mystery #1)

4.39  ·  Rating Details ·  1,031 Ratings  ·  176 Reviews
First book in the Magnolia Steele Mystery series by the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author, Denise Grover Swank.

Ten years ago, Magnolia Steele fled Franklin, Tennessee after an incident that left her with hazy memories and a horror of the place where she had been born and bred. Though her abrupt departure destroyed most of her treasured relationships, she vow
Kindle Edition
Published March 15th 2016 by DGS
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(showing 1-30)
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Jamie Davis
Feb 11, 2016 Jamie Davis rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Sometimes the Spotlight is Deadly

Magnolia Steele fled from her home in Franklin, Tennessee ten years ago, and whether it’s true or not when they say you can never go home again, she has nowhere else to go. Forced to humble herself, Magnolia returns to her childhood home and stumbles into trouble before she can even unpack her suitcase. The danger she ran from a decade ago still lurks, but she’s tired of running. Though she comes home friendless and lonely, she’s destined to find out there really
Magnolia Steele fled her home town of Franklin 10 years ago after an experience so traumatic her mind has blocked it out. All she has are glimpses of blood in her nightmares and a fear of basements.
Now, after a scandal has ruined her career in New York and left her penniless the only place she has to go is back to the scene of that long buried trauma.

She quickly discovers that small towns are filled with small minds and there are plenty of people lining up for their pound of flesh. Even worse,
Trisha Leigh
Jan 05, 2016 Trisha Leigh rated it it was amazing
Denise Grover Swank fans are in for a treat! This new mystery series will entice fans of Rose Gardner and give them something fresh and unexpected in the cynical, traumatized Magnolia Steele. I can't wait to see where the series takes the heroine, OR to find out more about her mysterious past. Enjoy!
Feb 11, 2016 Monique rated it it was amazing
This is a brand new series by Denise Grover Swank, and my believe is, it will be her best yet. Denise is a master at creating characters that you either want to love and hug or just plain slap. You fall for every emotion whilst reading her books and this one especially. Some tender moments between a mother and daughter is touching.

There are a couple of central characters, but the main one being Magnolia Steele, a twenty-eighty year old woman returning home after fleeing ten years earlier. She ju
Feb 24, 2017 April rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
4.5 stars

I am intrigued. I also have ALL the questions. Who was this mysterious man in the abandoned house? Will we see Brady again? (I sure hope so!) Will Maddie and Magnolia reconnect? What else happened in those woods on that rainy night?! BUT MORE SO, WHEN WILL MAGNOLIA PUNCH ROY IN THE NOSE?! I need book #2 right now and I NEED THE ANSWERS, dang it! ;)
Jo Ann Reinhold
Mar 03, 2016 Jo Ann Reinhold rated it it was amazing
Denise Grover Swank is a true story-teller in the highest form of the art! No matter what genre she is writing she always creates complex multi-layered characters and story lines that capture your interest and holds you there reading until the end.

This is her newest series and Denise does not disappoint! At first meeting Magnolia Steel, you find yourself believing her to be the person everyone thinks she is but as the story develops so does this wonderful character and layer after layer you see
Sinéad McKenna
Mar 05, 2016 Sinéad McKenna rated it it was amazing
It's safe to say that Denise Grover Swank is my go-to author when I just need a quality book. I purchase her books without even needing to look at the description anymore. She's just THAT good.
Her Rose Gardner series reignited my love of reading, and I will be forever thankful for that!
I have devoured and throughly enjoyed every single series she has written - I'm seriously addicted! - I expected a lot from this new book but what I got was even more! It's safe to say Center Stage is my favouri
Debby P.
Mar 07, 2016 Debby P. rated it it was amazing
Denise Grover Swank has outdone herself with this new series, something I didn't think possible. Magnolia Steele returns home after leaving abruptly 10 years earlier, for reasons she can't remember, she's broke, humiliated and homeless. Coming back to Franklin, Tn. isn't easy and she no more than sets foot into town than she's involved in a mystery while trying to unravel what happened to make her leave 1o years ago. Center Stage is a well written story with strong, well thought out, characters ...more
Elisa Hordon
Feb 11, 2016 Elisa Hordon rated it it was amazing
'Your made of steel Magnolia' I hope Magnolia always remembers her mothers 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.

Hmm so what busy first couple of days back home Maggie meets Colt, then bumps into Tanner then meets Luke and then Brady 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 dire
Krystal Roe
Mar 03, 2016 Krystal Roe rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Anyone - the plot is universally appealing
Friends wouldn’t let friends miss this book! The characters and mystery are introduced to us in exactly the right manner from the beginning – you find yourself emotionally invested without even knowing they’ve snuck in and have you at their mercy. There’s the perfect blend of foreboding, charm, potential, and conflict to get us gripped from the get go. Can’t decide more if I best enjoyed the banter between the old high school adversaries or between the new kids on the bock but either way I can’t ...more
Feb 11, 2016 Kandy rated it it was amazing
I am so excited about this series by Denise! Magnolia has been through a few years of pain, struggles, and hard work that doesn't pay off; putting her back on her mamas front porch. Ten years is a long time to not be home.
The things that have the capability to show up in this series is beyond my wildest dreams and I am sure it will not disappoint!!
Apr 11, 2016 April rated it really liked it
Shelves: kindle
3.75 stars.
I am intrigued. I also have ALL the questions. Who was this mysterious man in the abandoned house? Will we see Brady again? (I sure hope so!) Will Maddie and Magnolia reconnect? What else happened in those woods on that rainy night?! BUT MORE SO, WHEN WILL MAGNOLIA PUNCH ROY IN THE NOSE?! I need book #2 right now and I NEED THE ANSWERS, dang it! ;)
Oct 15, 2016 JMV rated it really liked it
3 1/2 stars. A lot like Rose Garner mysteries which I enjoyed!
Feb 23, 2017 Jacqueline rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Another great mystery form Denise

Man Denise really writes good books. I really liked this story it was mysterious and sweet. Magnolia was really something. I really felt for her not only did she just up and leave after a tragic event that she could not remember 10 yrs ago she was now considered a suspect to a murder she did not commit. I like how she's trying so hard to prove she's innocent but I hate, how she feels so alone at times. I just wish there was someone that she really felt she could
Karie Mathiesen
Jan 05, 2017 Karie Mathiesen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I had never heard of this book until someone brought it to my attention a few weeks ago. I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised. I love Denise Grover Swank but this type of book is not my typical go to read. I loved the main character! She wasn't spineless which is a must for me. I found myself laughing at parts of the book and I felt tears prickling my eyes at times as well. I enjoy a book that gets me that involved. I now have to read the 2nd book. No choice at all. I highly recommend t ...more
Brandy Barber
Feb 11, 2016 Brandy Barber rated it it was amazing
WOW! I just want to start with I don't know how Denise has done it but this book just wow. I wanted to read the end halfway through. I wanted all the information at one time. I couldn't put it down. This book reads fast. I made notes lets hope I cover the basics. We meet magnolia at the beginning broken. Her Broadway career a flop. Head held low she is back home waiting on her Mama to take her in. I am still waiting on the back story for dear ol' mom. If things can't get any worse our Maggie fin ...more
Kelly Mccurdy
Feb 11, 2016 Kelly Mccurdy rated it it was amazing
~~I received this in exchange for my honest opinion~~

There has only been two other series by this fabulous author that I have waited semi-patiently for, and now I can tell you that this is the third series that I will devour. Set in Franklin, TN Magnolia just wants to get away from everything. But sometimes, what you are running from in the first place has a tendency to come back and bite you in the kiester.

Where do I even begin with this fabulous book? I have waited oh so patiently for Denise t
Mar 06, 2016 Barb rated it it was amazing
Center Stage is the first book of a new series by Denise Grover Swank, who writes such wonderfully crafted stories with believable, lovable, and hate able characters that I knew I was in for good read. Center Stage exceeded my expectations. I was hooked on page one and just couldn't stop reading.

Magnolia Steele has nowhere else to go except home to Tennessee after a disaster on Broadway, only home is not very welcoming because she ran away on the night of her high school graduation without a wor
Nov 05, 2016 Stephanie rated it really liked it
Winner, winner! Denise Grover Swank is quickly becoming one of my favorite authors. I thought I loved her Rose Gardner series, but Center Stage (the first book in the Magnolia Steele Mysteries) gripped me from page one. This new world is full of suspense and angst. There's also great character development and lots of questions left unanswered - which leads me to believe that the rest of the series will be KILLER (pun intended). It's quite possible that Swank's writing has gotten even better. 4.5 ...more
Jan 02, 2016 Elizabeth rated it it was amazing
Denise Grover Swank has done it again! Center Stage is a fantastic book. You instantly fall in love with Magnolia Steele. With every turn of the page I kept wanting more. I found myself overcome with emotions. I was laughing, on the edge of my seat, and even had tears while reading Center Stage. This is everything you want in a book! I can not express how impatiently I will be waiting for the next book so I can find out what's in store for Magnolia!
Mrs. O Living the Chaos
Feb 25, 2016 Mrs. O Living the Chaos rated it it was amazing
Once again Denise created a fantastic book with Center Stage. It was one those books I had to force myself to put down because it was so good! I was sucked into the story immediately. I thoroughly enjoyed entering a new character’s world and look forward to the next books in the Magnolia Steele Mystery series. Write more soon Denise!! (I received this book as an ARC in exchange for an honest review.)
Jeanie Jackson
Gripping tale. Outstanding characters. Unpredictable plot

Denise Grover Swank has once again proven herserf to be a master story teller creating characters and a plot that pulls the reader in and demands that we hang on every word.
Another good series from Denise Grover Swank. Definitely worth reading.
Dec 15, 2016 AmberLou rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is the first book in the Magnolia Steele Mysteries. Its about a young woman coming back to her home town after abruptly leaving 10 years prior. No one knows why she left, but her past haunts her on her return.

Not long after returning home, Magnolia is caught at a murder scene and is now a suspect. She needs the help of her mother and the few friends she has to get out of this. But will that be enough?

I love DGS's books so I was excited to start this new series. Like always, I am amazed by
Jan 19, 2017 Michelle rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Magnolia Steele is a very misunderstood woman.... When she returns to her home town after over ten years, she expected to be greeted with hostility but she didn't think that it would happen within 24 hours of her return.

From being a person of interest in a murder to confronting the demons of her past, this book is an emotional rollercoaster.

I found myself laughing through some scenes and sniffling through others. Denise Grover Swank has done an incredible job bringing Magnolia to life and I can'
Jan 18, 2017 Becky rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting start to a new series but it seemed to leave a lot of questions. Prepare to learn about Magnolia, investigate a mystery, and learn about her past. The end left me with more questions that might be answered later in upcoming books. If you are looking for a new series to follow, definitely check this out.

I was given an ARC copy for an honest review.
I was first introduced to Swank with the Rose Gardner Series (5-star series!!)
This book didn't quite do it for me.
I get series reads - I love them - for me, this story left me feeling like I was just left dangling with nothing to grasp on to.
We know she has returned home, we get clues to why she left but I had more questions than answers
A crime occurs - again I felt like I was left hanging with a basket of questions and not enough answers
I am going to move on to book two -
I like the story in bo
Feb 21, 2017 Nora rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

Loved it! Charming! Suspenseful! Well written! Romantic! If you love an adventure and charm than you will love this strong story of an almost famous actress who fell from grace and had to return home. She never thought she would have to return, but she did and the memories that are recovered lead to the adventure of her life.
Neena Christianson Martin
Feb 26, 2017 Neena Christianson Martin rated it it was amazing
Coming home to murder.

Due to a scandal Magnolia is forced to return home in shame, only to be implicated in murder six hours later. Forced to work for her mother, she soon discovers that if she wants to be exonerated of murder she's going to have to solve the crime herself. The characters are great, some so loving and others evil personified.
Faithangel366 Stoyanova
This book was great. I liked how the author showed the relationship between mother and daughter on such a deep and emotional level. As for Magnolia I am curious about her character. I will definitely be continuing this series.
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“Don’t be so dramatic, Magnolia. So you flashed your tits to the world. At least you’re still young and they look good. Just imagine if I showed my drooping bowling balls. I could have started a world war. Or at least instigated a minor economic depression.” 1 likes
“Someone had told me that once, back when I was struggling to survive after landing in New York. Nothing worth having is easy. I’d believed it back then, but now I had my doubts. Maybe life just wasn’t easy, period. Whether you got what you wanted or not.” 0 likes
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