Book Review: More than Music and More than Exes by Elizabeth Briggs

A few weeks ago, Elizabeth Briggs mentioned on Twitter that she had a post office mishap and some slightly beat-up books she was giving away for free. Since I’d been wanting to read More than Music anyway, I thought it was the perfect chance. I sent her a request for the book and got it in the mail on Saturday. I finished it Sunday afternoon.

Tuesday, I saw that the prequel, More than Exes was free for the holidays. (Click the image below to buy!) I finished the sequel in a few hours.

Both books were excellent.

More than Music follows Maddie Taylor, a classical music guru/closet guitarist who gets thrown into the otherwise all-male band Villain Complex, with sexy lead singer Jared, for a reality show competition called The Sound, which is like The Voice, but for bands.

When their mentor on The Sound recommends Jared keeps his playboy image and stays single in order to gain votes, Maddie knows she’ll never get him. He can’t seem to leave her alone, though, and while she tries to ignore it, since he flirts with anything that breathes, they eventually give in to their feelings.

As the show continues, someone seems out to ruin their chances of winning, and Maddie must find out who it is before they expose her relationship with Jared to the other members in the band, and worse, the watching world.

(OK, so synopses are hard for books you didn’t write, too. Wow.)

More than Music was so easy to get into. I immediately connected with Maddie’s voice, and I loved the pop culture references throughout. I found myself singing along when a character would accidentally quote lyrics, and I loved the inside jokes that Maddie and Jared shared. Their chemistry was palpable from the first time they meet, and I was aching for their first kiss right along with Maddie.

I enjoyed the behind-the-scenes look at this (fictional) reality show, and thought the secondary characters were well fleshed out as well. Like anything on reality TV, no one was quite as they seemed.

There were a few times I wanted to smack Maddie over the head, and likewise Jared, but that’s necessary for a good story. The only thing I truly felt was missing was an exploration of Maddie’s relationship with Jared’s brother Kyle. At one point, Kyle yells at Jared, saying she’s the one girl he said was off limits. I really wanted to know his reasons for this. While they’re explored in a paragraph or two in More than Exes, I still wish I saw more of their buddy-buddy relationship.

Another thing: it was a romance novel. To that end, I knew the ending from the very beginning. I was nearly spot on for one of the plot twists regarding the TV show, too. Like all romance stories, the question that keeps you reading isn’t “are they going to end up together” — it’s how. Briggs does a great job keeping you wondering what all is going to go wrong next, and the tension and chemistry between Maddie and Jared is phenomenal.

4 stars.

More than Exes is a prequel to More than Music and it takes place all on the same night, the evening of the USC/UCLA battle of the bands. The story is told from Kyle’s perspective as he tries to keep his band together and avoid his ex-girlfriend who has suddenly shown up at the battle.

Obviously, this doesn’t work, and Alexis ends up helping him on his mission to find their strung-out bass player and convince her to play the show, despite a one-night stand with Jared that leaves her devastated.

I loved the look into Kyle’s head, and seeing what Jared was like before his determination to stick to one woman at a time. The hints at Kyle and Alexis’s relationship from high school were great, and their chemistry and ease with each other were apparent for the whole story. They had such a different dynamic than Maddie and Jared, which was refreshing and shows off Briggs’s talent.

I was a little frustrated by how much of a player Jared was–throughout More than Music I assumed the guys were exaggerating, or that when Jared said it was in the past, he meant by more than a few months. But that didn’t keep me from falling in love with Kyle’s good-boy image under his bad-boy exterior, and rooting for him and Alexis all the way.

3.5 stars.

The next book, More than Comics comes out in February, and I can’t wait!

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