More Than Music (Chasing The Dream #1) by Elizabeth Briggs
Reading Level: New Adult
Release Date: June 10, 2014
Publisher: Elizabeth Briggs Books
Pages: 311 pages
Reviewed By: Kate McMurry
Maddie Taylor is a musical prodigy who is classically trained, plays multiple instruments, and after completing her junior year of college as a music major, is all set to participate in a prestigious, summer internship at the Los Angeles Philharmonic. She is a certified "geek," by her own estimation, living a very quiet, hard-working existence. But she has a secret passion that none of her classical-music professors and professional contacts know about: in the privacy of her own room, with the occasional living-room performance for her two best girlfriends, she rocks out on the electric guitar. Then one day her whole life changes when she is at a party at the home of a friend from school, who performs in an up-and-coming rock band whose music she loves, and the lead singer, sexy Jared Cross, whom she's crushed on for years, catches her playing one of their songs on his guitar. He is blown away by her talent and obvious joy in music that he himself wrote. He begs her to join their band and take the place of their female bass player who has abandoned the band within days of the most important event of their band's career--a chance to perform on a reality TV show which involves a battle of various types of bands. Both excited and scared at such a wonderful opportunity, with trepidation Maddie agrees, and only later learns the full story of the female band member's departure--she had become obsessed with Jared after a single sexual encounter and walked out on the band due to screaming jealousy every time he dared to seem interested in another woman.
Once on the show, Maddie learns, little by little as she spends time with him, that she and Jared have a great deal in common, in spite of the obvious huge difference between her "good girl," quiet nature and his "bad boy," bigger-than-life, flirtatious persona while onstage and while interacting directly with female fans. When Jared makes it very clear to Maddie that he is as attracted to her as she is to him, she is extremely tempted to get involved with him, in spite of the fact that she has no desire to be his latest fling, and the warnings from their mentor on the show that the show's producers absolutely will not allow a band to win in which two members are involved romantically with each other. The winner gets a record deal and goes on tour, and not long ago, a previous winning band blew up and abandoned their obligations when the marriage between two of the band's members ended in a very public, highly publicized, combative divorce.
For fans of new adult who like sex, there are multiple sex scenes in this book. There are a few more than I was personally interested in reading, but I really liked the fact that these two protagonists develop a believable, fascinating friendship based on their mutual musical genius and shared interest in geeky things like comic-book heroes. In short, they have much more in common than raging hormones, which is all too common in NA romances where there is frequently far more sex than story.
I don't personally watch The Voice, a reality TV show on which this story is clearly based, but I have read multiple, fairly recent, self-published romance novels set in the midst of various types of reality shows, and I personally enjoyed this one the best of that type of plot because I'm a sucker for well-written teen, rock-star romances.
The writing in this book is smooth and well developed. The characterizations are strong, and each of the band members is quite sympathetic. For those who liked these band members as much as I did, the good news is that the author has written a romance novel dedicated to each of them as lead protagonist. I intend to purchase and read them all.
I rate this book as follows:
Romance Plot: 4
Battle of the Bands Subplot: 4