Book Cover of Eyes Like Those By Melissa BraydenHollywood romance in the bright lights of a writers’ room.

Isabel Chase can’t believe it. After years of working terrible jobs between her film projects, Izzy’s finally achieving her dream of being a scriptwriter on a hit family drama. She happily packs all of her things, including her ornery cat Fat Tony, leaving New Hampshire behind to start her new life in Hollywood. With everything coming up Izzy, the last thing she expects is to have her head turned by the show’s beautiful and brilliant executive producer.

Taylor Andrews’s life would be perfect if it weren’t for the writers room being short-staffed on her show. Isabel Chase looks like the solution Taylor needs, but the talented, funny, gorgeous writer might be the source of a whole new problem. Taylor’s learned the hard way not to date at work, but how can she resist when spending time with Izzy feels so good?

Eyes Like Those is the first instalment in a new series by Melissa Brayden, following Izzy and three of her new friends in Venice Beach as they all fall in love. And while it’s first and foremost a romance, the friendship aspect of the book is so good it’s worth noting. We see Izzy meet these women in and near the apartment complex she moves into, and watch as they become a necessary fixture in her life. Izzy doesn’t open up easily, and it’s refreshing to see how these friendships are as much a part of her character arc as her move to California or her relationship with Taylor. It’s particularly gratifying to see female friendship have such a prominent role in this book because it truly is something that can get us through difficulties like those that Izzy faces with her career, her relationship with Taylor, and even her relationship with herself.

With Izzy several steps behind Taylor in her career, Taylor is someone for her to look up to in addition to being a love interest. And while Taylor may be at the top of her game when it comes to that career, her love life is non-existent. She’s drawn to Izzy, but she’s also very cautious because she knows all too well how detrimental it can be to the show when she dates a colleague. Even still, watching Taylor warm up to the possibility is just delicious and will be responsible for many a reread.

Another aspect that works very well is the way Izzy’s anxiety is brought to the fore by getting her new job, even though her career leap is exhilarating and satisfying. It’s not often that we get to see characters in romance deal with mental health challenges, especially in a book that’s billed as a beach read, so to see it done so authentically is affirming to people who also live with anxiety like me. She has to learn how to trust herself, her instincts, her talents, and Taylor, and her journey is so beautifully executed with exactly the right amount of angst.

If you haven’t read anything by Melissa Brayden before, this would be an excellent place to start, and if you’re a diehard fan like me, you won’t want to miss it. Eyes Like Those is a wonderful book and it’s exciting to know that we’ll get to revisit these characters a few more times.

Get it on Apple Books