Saturday, March 24, 2012

Waiting in the Wings by Melissa Brayden

Waiting in the Wings by Melissa Brayden is another solid romance, this time with a bit of story tossed in. Set in the high-pressure world of acting, the story begins in the world of musical theater as recent graduate, Jenna McGovern, lands her first major audition and her first big role in the touring company of a popular musical starring former teen star Adrienne Kenyon. A strong friendship quickly develops between the two and despite their mutual agreement to stay just friends, the two become lovers and possibly more. But their careers get in the way and the two are torn apart. Years later, the two are successful (to varying degrees) actresses who've managed to avoid each other until Jenna accepts a plum role in an ensemble co-starring her ex. Inevitable sparks fly.

This was an engaging book with believable characters and story development. It's always a pleasure to read a book set in a world like theater/film that gets it right. Too many glamorize or idealize the film/theater world or rely on popular portrayals like Glee for their source material. Brayden's background is in theater and it shows. The details ring true (my GF was an actress and I worked in PR in Hollywood) as does the struggle with the demands and stress of a career that is relentless, merciless, and exhausting. Although the story does rely on some miscommunication, it works here as the characters are young and inexperienced their first time round and later are jaded, wary, and cynical thanks to their time in the public eye. I really felt that the novel was strongest in the beginning when we were immersed along with Jenna in her first role and first experiences in all their terrifying and exhilarating detail in the world of musical theater.

Although I would have liked to see a bit more fleshing out of the characters (despite all of the details, Adrienne, in particular, came off a bit flat and too idealized and the supporting characters are virtually paper-thin and seem to exist only to further the plot), this was a thoroughly enjoyable read. It's Brayden's first novel and I'm hoping it isn't her last. I expect great things from the next one. Again, if you're expecting a novel heavy on plot and/or story, look elsewhere. This is a romance w/bonus theater/film world setting.

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