Uh-oh, it looks like your Internet Explorer is out of date.

For a better shopping experience, please upgrade now.

Center Stage

Center Stage

4.9 18
by Denise Grover Swank
The first book in the Magnolia Steele Mystery series by 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


The first book in the Magnolia Steele Mystery series by 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 vowed never to return . . . until she has no choice. When Magnolia's breakout acting role in a Broadway musical ends in disgrace, there's only one place she can go. She finds herself on her momma's porch, suitcase in hand.

Drama follows Magnolia around like a long lost friend. She reluctantly agrees to help her momma's catering company at a party for a country music star, only to find herself face-to-face with a sleazy music agent from her past. After a very public spat, Magnolia not only finds him dead but herself center stage in the police's investigation. Now she must scramble to prove her innocence, relying on the help of acquaintances old and new.

But the longer Magnolia stays in Franklin, the more she remembers about the big bad incident that chased her away. The past might not be finished with her yet, and what she doesn't remember could be her biggest danger.

Product Details

Publication date:
Magnolia Steele Mystery , #1
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Sales rank:
File size:
675 KB

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Post to your social network


Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews

Center Stage 4.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 18 reviews.
krsy001 More than 1 year ago
~~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 to finish this book and for it to be released! I was lucky enough to get an early ARC so I dove right into it and made sure that I didn't miss any part of it. The writing in this new series is amazing. There are parts that just rip you to shreds, but then there are other parts that you just want to give big ol' hugs and tell her that everything is going to be OK. Denise has a way to make you fall in love with every character that she has ever written. Magnolia is no different. You will fall in love with her and you will want to be her best friend. If you love Denise's' writing you need to get this book Now!!!!
jr347 13 days ago
Center Stage is one of the best mystery books I have read in a while. You will enjoy from start to finish.
Masbjs 5 months ago
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't wait to read what comes next for her! I was gifted a copy of this book which I have voluntarily read in exchange for an honest review.
CyrMath5 6 months ago
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 this book. You won't be disappointed.
TinaCourts 7 months ago
wow what a story. Different then what I usually read. A friend suggested this series to me and so I checked and out and boy am I happy I did. Loved the writing and the mystery. Had me guessing and wanting to know what happened. Could not put the book down and have just bought the second book and preordered the third. love love love. gotta go as now have to read The next in this series "Act Two"
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Kept me reading! I can't wait for next book to see what happens next!
NadineMHaarsager More than 1 year ago
Center Stage: Magnolia Steele Mystery #1 by Denise Grover Swank (Goodreads Author) 9322537 Nadine Haarsager's review Apr 05, 16 · edit it was amazing Read from April 02 to 04, 2016 I really did not want to fall in love with another Denise Grover Swank "leading lady". I adore Rose from the "Reasons" books and Ellie from the "Curse Keepers" etc, etc. So I started this book with a chip on my shoulder. But like any other addict I just couldn't stop myself.. and by the end of Chapter 7 I was front and "Center" waiting for the next drama to play out. Ms. Swank has a real talent for writing about fallible people that win your heart . The cast of this book is no exception. Center Stage is an interesting read, plenty of mystery, complicated players and real to life misunderstandings and drama. Now all I have to do is wait MONTHS..(shame on you Denise) for the next book in the series.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Another start to a series that will keep you reading late into the night.
marincheto007 More than 1 year ago
I am a huge Denise Grover Swank fan and I've read pretty much everything she wrote. So of course I couldn't wait to get my hands on this latest mystery novel of hers. And let me tell you, it is simply extraordinary (like every single one of her books). The characters are definitely intriguing and you will simply fall in love with the heroine. The story in itself is full with twists and turns that will keep you on your toes, the whole time and once you read the last page it will just leave you wanting more. If you've read a DGS book before now, you know that you are up for a great read. But for those of you who haven't, here is a little bit of what you should expect. Magnolia is a woman who lived through a tragedy or two in her life that left deep scars and fears. And years ago, running from her home time was the only escape she could find. And it took her years and her life crashing down to finally go back home. Even though, her demons are still there, haunting her from the shadows. Keep in mind that this is a pretty suspenseful read, that will keep you awake till you read the last page. And after that, it will probably keep you awake craving the next book in the series :) So, yes, this is a great read and I can guarantee that you will love it. And if you aren't already a DGS fan, you will be after this book. The book has everything that will make your heart bleed for the heroine. This is simply a heartbreaking story full with mystery and suspense. Definitely an amazing and recommended read :)
SOldfather More than 1 year ago
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.)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Denise has done it again. I cannot believe that one Author with as many venues that she has can continually please all my reading styles. Center Stage's main character Maggie is one of my favourites. Her journey home has twists and turns that kept me on the edge of my seat and wanting more!!! I can't wait for her next installment to see how the plot unfolds and what awaits Maggie and the other characters!
aimz1972 More than 1 year ago
WOW! Talk about super suspenseful! This book sucked me in and didn't let go till I was finished and my mind is still trying to piece it all together. Magnolia Steele returns home after her career took a fall quite literally on the stage. Unfortunately she is not home but a few hours before she becomes a suspect in a murder. On top of that the past that forced her to leave is threatening her now in the present. There are many twists and turns that will leave you guessing. There are many questions that I hope are answered in September in Act 2! Loved this book!!! DGS has the beginning to yet another amazing series on her hands!
Born2Read More than 1 year ago
"We don't hide from our problems. We take 'em head on." While Magnolia, "Maggie", may have ran from her problems when she was 18, she is now facing them head on like her Momma raised her to. Her life has been shaped by a terrible event that happened on her graduation night. An event that she doesn't remember except for the feelings it provokes. She returns home after 10 years and has many relationships to mend and rebuild, starting with her Momma. She is immediately thrust into a murder investigation, becoming the prime suspect. While trying to clear herself of the current dilemma she has found herself in, she is starting to remember what happened to her that dreaded night that changed her life. Maggie is a strong, independent woman with sass and attitude. Yet, underneath she is still a vulnerable, scared girl who just wants her Momma to love and comfort her. As always with Denise's books, the characters are well developed, the story intriguing and mysterious, yet full of wit and humor. You are pulled into the story and feel like you are one of the characters alongside Maggie. I didn't want to put the book down. When I wasn't able to read, I found myself thinking about the book and even dreaming about it. So many questions went through my mind. What had happened that night? Who done it....then and now? Who can she trust? While the Rose Gardner Mystery Series holds a special place in my heart and will always be my favorite series of Denise's, this new series is giving it a run for the money coming in at a very close second.
jamieelizabeth77 More than 1 year ago
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 are good people in Franklin. Some books you read because you can’t sleep, but when a book by Denise Grover Swank is involved, you can’t sleep because you CAN’T. STOP. READING. This first book in the Magnolia Steele Mystery series is exactly that kind of book. The characters stay in your mind insisting you return to their story to see what happens next. You’ll fall head over heels for some and despise others, but without a doubt you’ll be dying for the next book to see what happens in Magnolia’s life. I was riveted from start to finish, and I can’t wait until the next book is released to find out about more of the mystery hanging over Magnolia’s life. Rest assured, no matter how badly Magnolia wants to disappear into the background, she’s destined to be center stage!
crashdeedee More than 1 year ago
I was hooked from the very first sentence. Magnolia Steele is back at her mother’s house in Franklin, TN for the first time in 10 years. We know that 10 years ago Magnolia hastily fled Franklin and burned pretty much every bridge by doing so. We know that Magnolia hastily fled New York City in shame and it back in the one place she never thought she would see again. What we don’t know are “why” and “what.” Why did she leave Franklin in such a manner? Why did she never want to return? Why did her big role on Broadway end in disgrace? Why are so many of the people in Franklin angry with her? What happened 10 years ago? Told from Magnolia’s point of view, I learned some of the “why’s” only when she revealed or discovered them. Throughout the book, pieces of Magnolia’s distant (and not so distant) past are reveled. As much as I wanted the answer to everything as soon as possible, Magnolia would only let me know what was going on when she was ready to tell me. Magnolia copes with difficult situations by putting on an act. Using the acting skills she acquired in New York, Magnolia pretends to be whomever she thinks the other person wants or expects her to be. Try as she might, there are a few people with whom Magnolia does not or cannot put on an act for. As this happens, I began to see a heroine that is not only strong as her last name, but vulnerable as well. With this being the first book in a new series, I was curious to how the supporting characters would be introduced and what their importance would be. There are times an author throws too many or too few characters into this type of story. Magnolia has a run-in with a number of people from her past and meets new people as well. I found there to be a great balance between the two and the relevance of them to be perfect. Magnolia has a rushed and eventful first few days home and I felt like the pace was well done. Setting the right pace is hard in the first book of any series, especially one with “Mystery” in its title. Too often authors will spoil the journey for the reader by revealing too much too soon, or even worse – too little, too late. With this being the first book in a series, by having a number of unknowns, it makes me want to keep on reading and guessing. I have been a huge fan of Denise Grover Swank for many years and I admire her ability to write in different genres. With her hugely popular Rose Gardner Mysteries series, I was curious to see how she would tackle another mystery series, especially with the heroines of both being named after a flower. While I find there to be some dark moments in the Rose Gardner series, it has a more humorous feel to them. With Center Stage, I see this series being much darker, more intense and powerful. There is just something so raw and compelling about Magnolia and all the questions surrounding her. I cannot wait to see what the next book has in store.
JWReinhold More than 1 year ago
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 the true person under the protective shell. Magnolia Steel comes home after fleeing the day after her high school graduation ten years ago. She never though she would be back but now that she is she finds herself under suspension and must clear her name of a murder she didn't commit and face the past that sent her running. This is one of those books you don't want to end....and now I can't wait for the next!