To the Moon and Back by Melissa Brayden

Melissa Brayden, her books just bring me happiness and joy. Happiness and joy! Sometimes it is the little things in life like a fantastic run, a smile from a stranger, or a really good book that make the world seem just a little bit better. While reading To the Moon and Back that’s how I felt, just a little bit better, and you know what I’ll take it.

Brayden takes us to the theater in her latest novel. Carly Daniel is a successful actress in Hollywood. She’s made her mark out in LA, had a run of successful movies but now her star power is in trouble. A few antics here and there and her image and reputation has been tarnished. She has been labeled a diva who makes trouble on and off set and now her job prospects have all but dried up. Carly is given an opportunity to do theater work in the world-renowned McAllister Theater in Minneapolis. She has to take the gig, even if she really doesn’t want to because this may be her last opportunity to get her reputation back on track.

Lauren Prescott is the stage manager at McAllister. She has worked her tail off for weeks on end and is now scheduled for a vacation. When her boss lands Carly Daniel for their next play, Lauren’s plans for sunshine and relaxation are put on hold to make sure Ms. Daniel stays out of trouble and preforms to her highest potential.

Carly and Lauren have immediate chemistry. They know it, and better yet we as the reader know it. Add in some fabulous banter, fun stage antics and you have the recipe for a fantastic read. Melissa Brayden does what she does best, she delivers amazing characters, witty banter, all while being fun and relatable. I loved this book, and I loved the distraction and escape from the real world it offered. You cannot go wrong with this book.

4.5 out of 5 stars

Set the Stage by Karis Walsh

I really adored this book. From the characters to the setting and the slow burn romance, I was in it for the long haul with this one. Karis Walsh to me is an expert in creating interesting characters that often have to face some type of adversity. While this book was no different, it felt like the author changed up her game a bit. There something new, something fresh about this book from Walsh.

When we first meet Emilie Danvers, Emilie is saving every cent she gets from her fast-food gig to save up enough capital to start over with her new career as an actor in an Oregon Shakespeare Festival company. Emilie has one a coveted lead role and is about to get her acting career back on track after a long hiatus. Nothing will deter her from her passion for acting. She’s learned this the hard way after giving up promising roles to travel with her ex-girlfriend. A relationship that left more scars than happy memories.

Arden Philips is a gardener at the nearby park from the theater festival. While Arden has had dalliances with the performers over the years, but she carefully guards her heart knowing that they are just passing through Ashland on the way to the next career move. Arden is unknowingly kind of stuck in a rut. Abandonment issues from childhood have caused her to settle for a career she likes but doesn’t truly love. When she meets Emilie, these two have an instant connection and draw each other out of their proverbial shells.

I have always enjoyed Walsh’s work. I think you are guaranteed a solid read each time you pick up one of her stories. This one felt different, it gave more, it felt like more. It’s not a page burner but a slow fulfilling story with beautiful characters that had a deep connection. You have an amazing backdrop that is laid out perfectly that just pushes the story to flourish even further. I absolutely enjoyed my time with this one. It is a great book to escape with!

4.25 stars out of 5

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