Series: Chasing the Dream #1
Genre: Contemporary Romance, New Adult, Fiction
Publication Date: June 17, 2014
Publisher: Elizabeth Briggs Books
Page Count: 311
Source: Oops I Read a Book Again
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Synopsis: Music major Maddie Taylor just finished her junior year of college and has a summer internship lined up with the LA Philharmonic, yet every night she practices guitar and secretly dreams of a louder life. But geeky girls like her don't get to be rock stars. That is, until tattooed singer Jared Cross catches her playing guitar and invites her to join his band on The Sound, a reality TV show competition.
Once on the show, Maddie discovers there’s more to Jared than his flirty smile and bad boy reputation – and that he’s just as big a geek as she is. With each performance their attraction becomes impossible to ignore, but when the show pressures them to stay single they’re forced to keep their relationship secret.
As the competition heats up, Jared will do whatever it takes for his band to win, and Maddie must decide if following her dream is worth losing her heart.
About the Author: Website ~ Twitter ~ Facebook ~ Tumblr ~ Instagram ~ Pinterest
Elizabeth currently works with WriteGirl to mentor at-risk or pregnant teen girls in writing, to help them get through high school and into college. She also volunteers with Bichon FurKids to help rescued dogs find a new, loving home. She previously worked as an intern for literary agent Jill Corcoran of Jill Corcoran Literary Agency, an intern for Entangled Publishing, and an editor for Curiosity Quills Press.
Elizabeth is represented by Kate Schafer Testerman of KT Literary and is a member of SCBWI and RWA.
Jared’s guitar was beautiful, with a smooth white faceplate, gleaming struts, and a shiny fingerboard. My fingers itched to touch the silvery strings, to form a chord and let it ring out through the amp, to hear what it sounded like without all the other instruments accompanying it. And if I was honest, I wanted to close my eyes and pretend I was on stage, playing for a crowd, hearing them scream for me. The longing I felt every time I went to a concert stirred up in me again. It wouldn’t hurt if I played one chord, right? That was it. One chord, and I’d put it back. No one would ever know.
Before I could stop myself, I picked up the guitar and threw the strap over my head. It settled against my shoulder, and with one hand on the fret board and the other on the strings, I was home. I closed my eyes, picturing Jared when he was on stage and how his talented fingers had moved across the guitar. I imagined him singing my favorite song of theirs, “Behind the Mask,” and the words and notes melted together in my head. I strummed the guitar, the sound ringing from the amp, the vibrations traveling up the ground and into my feet. God, I loved this guitar. It sounded just as good as my own, if not better.
Now that I had the guitar in my hands, the compulsion to play was irresistible. What was one more chord, right? I was alone and the room was soundproof. The door had locked behind me. Kyle was dealing with Becca, and he’d given me permission to come in here anyway.
I knew it was a bad idea. I knew I should put the guitar down and walk out of the room. But I started strumming anyway.
I was hesitant at first, but once I started, I couldn’t stop. My hands found the chords automatically, and the words flowed out of me with the music. Exhilaration swept through me with each note, and I closed my eyes and let the song take me away. Soon I was belting out the words, shredding the guitar like I was on stage playing for a massive crowd. I’d never do this in front of anyone else, but here, alone with this guitar, I could pretend. I could let myself go.
And then I opened my eyes and wanted to die.
Jared stood in front of me, his eyes wide and mouth open slightly. He must have come in while I was playing. How much did he hear? Or worse, see?
My fingers slipped off the strings with a screech, and I nearly dropped the guitar. Thank god for the strap. “I’m so sorry. Kyle gave me the key and I was just—”
There was no way to explain what was going on, so I shut up. I’d been singing his lyrics, playing the song he’d written. Not to mention, I’d been using his guitar. That was like wearing someone else’s underwear. You didn’t just play another person’s guitar without their permission.
I yanked the guitar off and tried to put it back, but knocked the stand over instead. Hands shaking, it took me two tries to right it again, all while Jared stood there, gaping at me. Why didn’t he say anything? Was he so angry he couldn’t speak? I set the guitar down carefully, then backed away like it was on fire—and ran straight into the drum set. Cymbals crashed as I fell against it, knocking the equipment all over the floor. Great, now he must think I’m a stalker and a complete klutz. I jumped up too fast, and my legs were so unsteady I started to topple over toward the table. Jared caught me before we had another disaster, his hands gripping my arms to balance me.
“You okay?” he asked, his blue eyes holding mine and making my heart pound even faster. If I stared into those eyes too long, I’d fall into them completely.
Pro ~ Romance: I have to admit something, there is insta-love in this novel, and not only is insta-love, it is obvious insta-love. The synopsis clearly states that Maddie and Jared are the two protagonists that fall in love over the course of the story, and I also have to say that the plot is driven by romance. You're probably sitting there wondering why on earth romance is in the "Pro"section if I'm busy saying there is insta-love that drives the plot. The answer to your wonderings (totally not a word) is, "The insta-love actually works." I adored Maddie and Jared as a couple, and was routing for them the entire time. Despite screaming fangirls and sneaky producers, their ship did not sink.
Con ~ Maddie: While I liked who Maddie was as a person, I disliked some of her decisions and judgements. For example, when she was asked to join Villain Complex, I didn't feel that she pondered the decision long enough. Sure, she had doubts and was apprehensive about the situation, but I felt that she agreed to fast because of her attraction to Jared. Then, when she joined the show, she had to give up her internship at the LA Philharmonic which she had been so excited and went through such an intense elimination process in order to join. Even though she had her loyalty to Kyle, Jared, and the commitment she made to the band, it still seemed so sporadic and hasty how she just dropped everything for the show. Nearing the end of the book, Maddie makes a particularly crazy decision which effects not only her, but a lot of people around her, and doesn't help her reputation. She has regrets of course, but things just seemed so hasty.
Pro ~ Vivid Descriptions: Something I read in an interview in June was that Elizabeth Briggs could not include song lyrics, so she learned how to play all the songs she featured in More Than Music in order to describe playing the songs as well as possible. She did a superb job with this, and a good example of this is found in the excerpt I posted (why else would I have posted that specific one?). Brigg's vivid descriptions also helped a lot in the romance department.... if you know what I mean. Certain scenes between Maddie and Jared were extremely intense and not advisable for younger readers.
Con ~ Lack of Information on Supporting Characters: The reason Maddie was invited into the band in the first place, and how she even met Jared in the first place was because of Kyle. Kyle is one her friends from college and the real instigator of the entire story. Yet, after the first six or seven chapters, it's almost as if he disappears and only shows up when he's needed to be the "bad guy" of the situation, and of course to play in the band. Luckily, Elizabeth Briggs is scheduled to release two novellas, one that will focus on Kyle and another that will focus the other band member - Hector.
Pro ~ Music: What drew me into More Than Music was the fact that the characters had to go through a reality television competition that was based off of The Voice. You may not know this about me, but I am a very avid fan of The Voice, I love watching the four coaches every Monday and Tuesday nights and all the amazing performances. In terms of how The Sound worked, it is almost identical to The Voice in terms of rules and regulations, but instead of just one or two people performing, there are whole bands.
Con ~ Predictability: The plot, characters, and even some dialogue in More Than Music was predictable. I don't want to spoil anything for you, but the end was very predictable, as well as the chain of events going on for the duration of the story. You kind of knew what would happen because it had to happen in order for the story to continue.
Pro ~ Pacing: The last thing I loved about More Than Music was how quickly the story went by. I literally started the book on a whim.... you know, as much of a whim as you can read a book that has a to be read by date, directly after I finished Falling Into Place by Amy Zhang. I would totally recommend this novel to other people, which is saying a lot because you would expect the book hangover to be really bad after Falling Into Place and that nothing could compare, but this one did. As I was saying, I picked this book up around 11 at night, and finished it around 2. I just kept reading, and everything was so fast paced, I hadn't noticed the time.
Conclusion: More Than Music is a fast-paced read full of romance, vivid descriptions, and of course... music.