Title: One From the Heart: A Rivervue Community Theatre romance
Authors: Nikki Logan, Daniel de Lorne, Fiona Greene
Published: August 2020
Publisher: MIRA (HarperCollins)
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Content warnings: Cancer, death of a parent, death of an infant, underage sex/relationship (in the past), secret identities, suggestion of incest between characters (off-screen, in the past), alcoholic family members, financial stress
I received a copy of One From the Heart unsolicited from the publisher (and Netgalley) in exchange for a fair and honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
He’s the Banksy of the international theatre scene – daring, anonymous, renowned. So when playwright ‘Draven’ bequeaths his latest play to the rural Rivervue Theatre, the stage is set for drama.
Three stellar authors offer three stories packed full of romance, secrets and lies…
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?
One From the Heart is a novella anthology with a common thread and timeline linking all three stories to the fate of the beloved community theatre in the small town of Brachen, which is under threat of new developments to ‘revitalise’ the town. But when the theatre is ‘gifted’ a play by the mysterious playwright, Draven, the production manager realises they have the opportunity to capitalise in on the confronting nature of the play.
Tread the Boards is about Kenzie, a props master from the theatre company, who meets and befriends Dylan North who is sleeping rough outside the theatre. She finds a place for him in the props department and gets to know the mysterious man. As they become closer, Kenzie’s love for the stage and acting ability get her noticed and she ends up performing this new, controversial play – which has ties to her family history.
This story was heartfelt and heart wrenching at times, especially as Kenzie’s family history is revealed, piece by piece. Dylan’s past will also tug at the heartstrings as we learn why and how he deals with his selective mutism.
Set the Stage is the second chance romance between Gabriel and Bruce, who were separated when Gabe moved away from Brachen years earlier to pursue his architecture dreams. Returning home to support his sick mother, Gabe finds himself unintentionally recruited into helping the production of the Draven script and rekindling his relationship with Bruce.
Bother characters in this book have their own vulnerabilities that they need to learn to manoeuvre – from sick parents to alcoholic relatives and financial stress, they need to see if they can move from their teenage attraction to relating to one another as adults. There’s a huge amount of character growth between these two as they confront their reality and find a way to be together, seeing beyond their hurts.
Take a Bow, the final novella in the collection is just a gut punch of a book. We follow the creative director of the theatre, Lexie, who’s desperately trying to save the place that saved her. When her past love, Mark, turns up in her town and ends up working alongside her on the Draven production, she is forced to confront their past, and share the heartbreaking truth of their teenage relationship.
I adored this last story and how it tied everything together, but while all of the stories deal with some heavy themes, this one was the one that got to me the most. A lot of old wounds are reopened by the characters and they are heartbreaking.
The collection overall is really wonderful – at times light and fun, but also dealing with loss and grief and family. It’s a great showcase of the writing talents of these three authors and I look forward to reading more of their work in the future.