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Music major Maddie has long admired her friend Kyle’s rock band, Villain Complex.  She loves their sound, their stage presence, and most of all, their lead singer, Jared, who just so happens to be Kyle’s brother.  But Maddie keeps her crush secret, she keeps her feelings under wraps, and she never once asks Kyle to introduce her to his brother.

One night, she attends a party at Kyle’s house and finds her way into the band’s studio, where she can’t resist picking up a guitar and getting lost in one of their songs.  She’s mortified to find Jared watching her, but it turns out that the band is down a member and desperately in need of a new guitarist before their audition for The Sound, a reality show not unlike The Voice.  Maddie doesn’t know if she has the guts to join the band but is ultimately unable to say no to (1) her good friend Kyle, (2) her long-time secret dream of being a rock star, and (3) the object of her affection, Jared.

While I’ve never really seen the appeal of reality shows that focus on music (The Voice, The X Factor, American Idol, etc), I did really enjoy this book that focuses on one band’s journey through the fictional competition called The Sound.  While I’m not familiar with these competitions in any way, I wouldn’t be at all surprised to find that this is really how they work behind the scenes.

The competition may be one of the main plot points here, but the book also focuses on the attraction building between Maddie and Jared.  There are a number of reasons they can’t be together, including, but not limited to:

  1. The fact that Jared’s relationship with their former bassist almost ended the band.
  2. The idea that Jared’s smoldering good looks and single status get the band more votes.
  3. The idea that Maddie’s cute, nerdy look also helps their vote count.
  4. The powers that be basically telling them that they can’t be together.

But that doesn’t stop them!  Their attraction is too strong.  Hours spent together working on songs only push them closer together.  But the votes and the rules and the possible scorn of their fellow bandmates lead them to keep this budding relationship under wraps… and we all know how that turns out.

More Than Music had all the makings of something that I would really enjoy.  I mean, when I was in high school, I literally fantasized about my crush asking me to join his band.  (Forget about the fact that I played the flute and could only sort of muddle my way through a song on the piano.)  This book was like experiencing my dream come true!  It was well-written, with more or less likable characters, and I had very few (admittedly petty) complaints.

At least until Maddie threw the temper tantrum to end all temper tantrums. I went into this book having read various reviews talking about the low level of angst, how rationally the characters behaved, how nice it was to read a book where the characters aren’t constantly fighting… and I’m sorry, but did we read the same book?  Maddie suffers from the same problem as many other new adult heroines.  She says she’s okay with a secret relationship until she’s actually experiencing it.  Then she passive-aggressively complains about the thing that she agreed to, expecting some grand gesture from her partner, and throws an absolute fit when she doesn’t get it.  I don’t feel like this is a spoiler, because I’ve read it in at least a dozen other books.

I wanted to throw my Kindle across the room toward the end, but I made it through without any damage.  (And let’s be honest – I would never risk breaking my Kindle, I love it far too much.)  For that reason alone, this book hovers somewhere between 3.5 and 4 stars for me.  Just because I loved the rest of it, I’m rounding my final rating up to 4.

Despite my complaints, I would not hesitate to read more books from this author.

Final rating: ★★★★☆

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