Title: The One
Author: Kaneana May
Published: June 17th 2019
Publisher: Mira – AU
Genres: Fiction, Contemporary
Rating: 4 stars
From an Australian TV scriptwriter comes a sparkling debut novel where the quest for love will surprise you.
Fall in love like nobody’s watching…
On the wrong side of thirty, Bonnie Yates wants a happily ever after. Problem is, she keeps choosing the wrong guys. When an ex returns to town with a fiancee in tow, history and temptation collide. Unable to shake her inappropriate feelings, Bonnie flees, becoming an unlikely contestant on popular dating show The One. Will she find what she’s looking for?
Working behind the scenes, Darcy Reed is a driven young producer dealing with a tyrant of a boss. Despite being surrounded by love at work, her own love-life with long-term boyfriend Drew is floundering. Producing a flawless season is her best chance at a promotion. But with the unrelenting demands of the show, how will she save their relationship while making that shot?
Penelope Baker has relocated to a small seaside town to hide away with her secrets and nurse a broken heart. But with The One beaming across the nation’s televisions, she can’t seem to quite escape the life she left behind…
Before cameras roll on the final ceremony, all three women will discover just what they’re willing to do in pursuit of the one…
A visit to the set of E Street (one of my own favourite Aussie sitcoms) thanks to her cousin, provided author Kaneana May with an early appreciation for the television industry. May injects this lifelong passion for film and television production into her debut, The One. Kaneana May’s first novel was a highly entertaining read.
The One offers a behind the scenes insight into all levels of a reality show modelled on a similar format to The Bachelor. The One looks at the lives of three different women, who are all tied to the same television production. Bonnie never thought she would end up as a contestant on The One, but a series of wrong choices in the boyfriend department has resulted in an unconventional search for love. Will Bonnie find her happy ever after? While Darcy, a workaholic and producer on the set of The One has relationship issues due to the unrelenting hours on the show. Can Darcy salvage her relationship and ensure that The One is a hit with viewers? The final viewpoint of The One follows the life of Penelope, a woman who has left behind a trail of heartbreak and pain. To escape her private pain Penelope has thrown herself into The One. The show provides Penelope with some much needed solace. The One is a story that intertwines the lives of these three different women as they are engulfed by the power of The One.
The One surprised me. Kaneana May’s book proved that I shouldn’t be so quick to judge a book based on the genre category and cover design. I expected The One to be a standard chick lit and women’s contemporary fiction offering. However, this book goes much further, delivering a story that encompasses private pain, relationship dysfunction, disappointment, setbacks, work/life balance, IVF, miscarriage and terminal illness. There is also perfect side serving of mystery, as May works to gradually unfurl a series of life changing secrets withheld by her characters.
There are three female leads that direct the proceedings of The One. I liked how May chose to use differing points of view within the range of her reality television show format. Life through the eyes of a contestant, an on set producer and a follower of the series is presented. Each character was explored in detail and there was a sense of familiarity to this set. These women came across as authentic and almost ordinary at times, which was a good thing as I was able to make a connection to all three protagonists. May exposes their lives, warts and all, which I appreciated very much. The periphery cast also provide well timed moments of humour, conflict, contention and semblance.
With such roles as a script assistant and script writer to her name, Kaneana May has applied her industry knowledge to full effect in her first novel. Although I have to confess to avoiding reality television shows such as The Bachelor but I did appreciate the insightful glance of this industry May was able to apply to her novel. What interested me the most was what happened when the cameras stopped rolling. I enjoyed the mishaps, problems, high emotions and the overall politics of the show. There are moments of lighthearted comic relief and rushing elation, but there are also some crushing sequences. It was interesting to see how this all played out for the characters. I was surprised by the final fate of the protagonists that I followed in The One, it hit me a little harder than I expected. I was clearly more attached than I realised!
If you are looking for something a little different from the usual romance fare on offer in the contemporary fiction field, The One may be just what you are looking for. I’m keen to see what Kaneana May conjures up next!
The One by Kaneana May was published on 29th June 2019 by Mira – AU. Details on how to purchase the book can be found here.
To learn more about the author of The One, Kaneana May, visit here.
*I wish to thank Harlequin Australia for providing me with a free copy of this book for review purposes.
The One is book #61 of the 2020 Australian Women Writers Challenge