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Tuesday, December 8, 2009

The Show Must Go On by Kim Sheard

The Show Must Go On by Kim Sheard
Publisher: Siren-Bookstrand
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Short (123 pages)
Heat: Sweet
Rating: 3 Books
Reviewed by Mimosa

Allyson Parker, the stereotypical shy librarian, finds an outlet for her wilder side by performing in community theater. There she can become someone else, someone infinitely more interesting and confident. Partnered in her first romantic lead with newcomer Matt Dauer, she begins to hope that life can imitate art. But can she overcome her bashfulness and self-doubts, cultivated by years of frequent relocations, in order to keep his interest?

Matt moved to Washington, D.C. from Chicago to escape a cheating, diva ex-girlfriend, but he's now also far from his parents and two brothers. His greatest desire is to create a new family as close-knit as the one he left behind. He must return to that past, though, when his ex is involved in a serious car accident and he is called on to help. Will his benevolent act mean the end of his blossoming relationship with Allyson?

As the bard of Stratford on Avon told us, all the world's a stage, men and women merely players. Kim Sheard looks at the romance that grows between two community theater performers in the eight weeks leading up to opening night -- and their off-stage story is as full of drama as the play.

Set in Reston, Virginia, just outside the nation's capitol, The Show Must Go On centers on the heroine, Allyson Parker, a librarian with an unsettled childhood that has left her wary of friendship and commitment. Her outlet -- community theater.

Matt Dauer, recently arrived from Chicago, is a Congressional staffer and an experienced actor, and has joined the same community theater.

The pair meet when they're cast in the leads of a musical period piece, and find themselves attracted to each other almost immediately.

This is a sweet, lighthearted read without a lot of heaviness, depth or darkness in characterization or plot. The emotional baggage that creates the conflict for Allyson and Matt is appropriate to the story--light without being fluff. Allyson's rootlessness as a child plausibly explains her reluctance to commit and Matt's willingness to back off and give her time and room is the mark of a man willing to wait for what he knows he wants.

Sheard tips her hat to Matt's political career in a couple of places, which keeps the story anchored in the contemporary world nearly any reader can recognize and most can relate to. The secondary characters -- particularly sunny Ginny with her mild psychic ability and Matt's personable brother, Adam -- round out a believable cast and adds extra dimension to the central plot.

The dedication indicates that Ms. Sheard has friends in community theater and a nice touch added to the book is a Glossary of Theater Terms. I found a little too much detail given to settings, and a couple of events of the story were told after the fact, when I really would have preferred to see those events as they happened. Nevertheless, these were minor considerations that did not overly detract from the quality of the story.