New Release & Review
Book: Center Stage
Author: Dannye Williamsen
Genre: PNR/Contemporary Romance/Inspirational Romance
I really don't like to give comparisons when I'm writing reviews, but I make exceptions to that from time to time to get my point across easier. CENTER STAGE by DANNYE WILLIAMSEN is a fantastic book. It reminded me of one of my all-time favorite movies, It's a Wonderful Life, but with an imaginative twist. Can you picture it if Mr. Potter were made to examine his life's choices and how those choices affected others? Sounds like fun, doesn't it?
April is a self-absorbed, devious woman who will go to any length to get to the top of the corporate ladder. As the reader is made aware of some of her choices and learns how those choices affected others, you grow to despise this self-absorbed woman. CENTER STAGE is the perfect name for this book, because April strives to be there in the spotlight all alone, at the top of her game without any thought to how her unscrupulous behavior condemns or breaks all those around her, even those who had taken her under their wing and considered her part of their team.
The writing in this book is magic, just as with all other books written by Ms. Williamsen. She spins a tail so breathtaking with her words that the reader literally forgets they are reading and feels more like a fly on the wall, watching as each scene progresses and feeling the pain and anguish within the words. My emotions ran the gambit while reading CENTER STAGE. I was filled with anger toward this woman, but by the end of the book, tears were flowing so freely that I was forced to put my Kindle down and regroup before reading the conclusion. Ms. Williamsen has that uncanny ability to make the reader feel empathy for a character that is so unlikeable you just want to beat her with a stick.
April is one of those characters that I love to hate, but by the end, I was cheering for her. I'm not going to tell you if things worked out for her or not, because frankly, that was one of the high points in this book for me. It kept me guessing all the way to the last page.
I highly recommend CENTER STAGE by DANNYE WILLIAMSEN. I warn you, though, you may be looking at those who hurt you in your past a little differently after reading this novel of a woman being confronted with her past and enlightened to others she has destroyed.
"What!?" April grumbled. Who could possibly be banging on her door at this time of the morning, she thought as she slowly rolled onto her side. "Go away!" she complained. "Just leave me alone." The banging did not stop. It continued with only short intervals between. Lying there, April was appalled to realize that the knocking was now a tune. Next she'd be hearing the raspy sounds of a washboard accompanied by a jug band if she didn't put an end to this.
With renewed purpose, she sat up on the side of the bed and slipped her feet into her house shoes. Grabbing a robe on her way out of the bedroom, she moved with more determination than she had exhibited in a long while to confront this person who was disturbing her misery. Prepared to hit her intruder with a barrage of words that would scald his ears, April jerked the door open. "Wha—" she began but was struck dumb by the sight standing in front of her. It was a woman. At least she thought it was a woman. The way she was dressed, she could be an hallucination, a remnant left over from a fairy tale about gingerbread houses and kindly old grandmothers. She actually had on a pinafore!
"Good morning, sweetie! I brought you these muffins for breakfast. I thought we'd sit down with a cup of coffee and get to know each other." With a look of concern, the woman added, "My! You look like you need more than a muffin and coffee, but it's a start, dearie." She shrugged and moved past April into the house. "Which way to the kitchen?"
Before April could respond, the woman headed off to the right with muffin basket in hand. Speechless, April pushed the door closed and followed her. Coming into the kitchen, she watched as the woman cleared off the kitchen table and began setting out plates and fixing coffee as if she had lived here all her life. Her brief spurt of energy exhausted, April plopped down on a chair, waiting to see what fate had in store for her now.
April looked at the muffin the woman had placed in front of her. She tentatively reached out to touch it with her finger. She wanted to make sure it was real because otherwise, this was one hell of a bad trip. She hadn't thought her meds were capable of creating hallucinations, but maybe she'd gotten hold of some of those black market prescription drugs they'd been warning about on TV. Her finger touched the muffin. It was still warm. Her stomach growled in response.
"Go ahead, eat it. Lord knows you need it," the woman declared.
Taking a bite, April could barely keep herself from moaning with pleasure. After a few more bites, she looked directly at this strange woman and inquired, "Should I know you?"
"Of course not!" she replied with a chuckle. "I just arrived this week. Want another muffin?" she asked, placing another on April's plate without waiting for an answer.
"Do you always bake muffins for your neighbors?" April asked. She knew it was a stupid question, but she was having a bit of trouble gathering her thoughts into a coherent stream.
"Only for very special ones."
Taken aback by her odd response, April asked, "Do you have a name?"
"Don't you?" the woman asked, the corner of her mouth tilting upward.
Flustered, April replied, "I meant what is your name?"
"Well, why didn't you say so? My name is Grace. It's what is known as a virtue name."
"A virtue name?"
"Yes. People have been giving their children virtue names for centuries. They believe they can protect their children from negative influences by bestowing a name that might imbue them with that virtue. Grace means the state of being in God's favor. Do you know what April means?"
"The month?" replied April, suddenly feeling very stupid.
Chuckling, Grace answered, "Well, of course, that's what most people think of, but it comes from the Latin aperire which means to open, like the opening of flowers."
"Oh" was the only response April could muster because she had no idea where this conversation was going.
"What do you think the opening of flowers has to do with you?" Grace poured more coffee into April's cup as she waited for an answer. Since April had no idea, she chose to say nothing. Smiling, Grace continued, "Flowers, my dear, open themselves up, giving of themselves to the world and taking from it only what they need to allow their beauty to shine forth. Where else can you find such a perfect give and take? Where else can you find such perfect beauty than among the flowers? It starts you to thinking, doesn't it?"
It starts me to thinking you're a nutcase, thought April. She decided that if she could just finish her coffee, she would let this woman, Grace, know politely that she needed to get dressed, and perhaps then she would leave.
"Of course, you should get dressed, dear. It would be a wonderful change of pace for you!" Grace said, a broad smile on her face.
April was sure she had not spoken a word aloud. Or had she? Seizing the opportunity, however, she replied, "Yes, I do. If you would excuse me then" as she rose from the chair.
"Certainly. I'll just clean up in here, and when you're ready, we'll head out."
"Head out?" April was no longer sure that she wasn't in the middle of some kind of depressive hysteria. Maybe not emotions, but circumstances definitely seemed to be out of her control. For the first time, she wondered if it was time to do something about the depression she'd allowed herself to wallow in for the last few months. Maybe she should visit her doctor, get a new prescription, and actually take the prescription regularly.
"Yes, it's time you got out of the house and reconnected with the world out there—"
"But, how do you…" April paused, desperately trying to figure out who this woman really was.
"Sweetie, it's not difficult to see that you've been hiding out here for a while. You need to get out," nodding toward the hair sticking out in all directions on April's head.
Incensed, April replied, "I have not been hiding out!"
"Well, whatever you call it, dear, it hasn't been good for your complexion. Now, get along and get cleaned up."
Totally nonplussed, April minded Grace as a child would a parent.
April rummaged in her purse for her sunglasses as she walked down the steps toward the driveway. "Where the hell are they?" she muttered.
"Try the back pocket, dear," replied Grace.
Looking askance at her, April flipped the flap over the main pockets of her purse and unzipped the back pocket. To her consternation, there they were. "How did you—"
Grace tossed her hand dismissively in the air. "Well, it just stood to reason. You'd looked everywhere else."
Not convinced that was how she knew, April nevertheless shrugged it off. "I take it we're going in my car," she remarked.
"Of course, dear. I don't drive anymore unless it's absolutely necessary."
Sighing, April unlocked the car doors and plopped down in the driver's seat. "Where to?" she asked as she pulled out of the driveway and headed toward town. How did she get herself in this situation, she wondered. She felt like Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz. Perhaps she'd fallen asleep and woken up in an alternate universe—one where the 1950s was still going on. Glancing toward Grace, it was impossible to imagine anyone in the 21st century dressing like that. Who wore frilly dresses and pinafores these days? As a matter of fact, the last time she'd seen anyone wearing anything close to Grace's getup was Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz! ............
Center Stage Blurb:
Have you ever looked back over your life and wondered what would have happened if you had made a different choice along the way?
April Saunders never even considered it until her life spun out of control and she was alone. When she is offered the chance of a lifetime, her obsessive desire to be center stage blinds her to other possibilities.
Can there be salvation for one who has betrayed so many?