I love Melissa Brayden’s books because they’re often fluffy and profound at the same time. They touch delicately on challenging topics (family, anxiety, imposter syndrome…). They seem lighthearted and happy, and they are, but they’re also more than that. And I’d do well to remember that because as much as I enjoy the joyful feelings they give me, I also feel the angst deep inside.
When her dream of becoming an actress didn’t pan out, Lauren Prescott became the best stage manager she could be, and now loves her job at the McAllister Theater in Minneapolis. She loves the environment, loves her coworkers, loves that she’s so good at a job that satisfies her need for order. So when her boss and mentor asks her to put her well-deserved vacation on hold to handle the next production because of a high-profile actress, she says yes, albeit reluctantly. Carly Daniel is a very talented Hollywood actress whose star is on the way down (way down) after too much partying and starletting. When her agent suggests she gives the theatre a try, she’s not convinced at first, and brings her bad habits to the stage, unintentionally and carelessly messing with Lauren’s precise organisation. Her sweet personality and willingness to do better go a long way to help her find her footing within the more theatre-savvy cast, except for her costar, who seems intent on looking down on her.
To The Moon And Back is all about Brayden’s love of theatre, onstage and backstage, and she does a delightful job of sharing that love. This novel is pure Brayden, so don’t expect anything else. The characters will feel familiar because that’s the way she writes them. They’re lovely and sweet, the kind of people I want to be friends with, but with much better dialogue than most people come up with in real life. It’s quick and witty and fantastic. There’s even a hint of the new series Brayden has been teasing for a while, with Carly mentioning her mother works at Tangle Valley Vineyards.
This is not a story with plot twists and unexpected developments. Brayden set the scene so well I knew what was coming, not because it’s unimaginative but because she made it obvious it was the only way things could go. She leads the reader exactly where she wants to take them, with brilliant writing as usual. Also, not everyone can make office supplies sound sexy.