Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Chasing the Dream series by Elizabeth Briggs


Disclaimers: while my blog post itself does not contain any sexual content, this book does. This is a review for a book that is meant for mature audiences, and therefore is unsuitable for minors.

Thoughts at a glance: *** (I liked it)

The Chasing the Dream series consists of four books (so far) and a prequel novella. Like most romance series, each book can be read as a standalone focusing on a particular pairing, but there is an overarching connection between them all.

The rest of my review will contain spoilers since I'm covering the entire series at once. (Although, you HAVE to know that they tend to end happily, right?)

I read Book 1, More than Music, as a part of a collection of novels from different authors about rockstar bad boys, and I liked it enough that I wanted to read the other books in the series. 

Summary: More than Music is about a Los Angeles band, Villain Complex, trying to make it big. Jared is the hottie lead singer who needs to fight off girls with a stick - or rather, he never tries to fight them off. The band also includes his brother Kyle, the keyboardist, Hector the drummer, and a revolving door of bassists. When a hookup gone wrong with their current (female) bass player jeopardizes their shot at the tv program The Sound (which is pretty much exactly like the show The Voice, but with bands), Jared recruits Maddie, Kyle's friend who is a classically-trained musician but also harbors a secret passion for rock. They make it onto the show, but things get complicated when the chemistry between Jared and Maddie threatens to destroy the band.

(Spoiler alert: it doesn't end up destroying the band.)

More than Exes is the prequel novella about how Kyle and his high school sweetheart Alexis reconnect at the Battle of the Bands (which occurred before they got their audition in Book 1).

More than Comics is about Hector, who is also an artist in addition to being a drummer. He has spent the last I-don't-know-how-long collaborating with writer Tara (who lives in New York) on a graphic novel series that is getting quite the following. They finally meet for the first time at Comic Con San Diego, and sparks fly - Hector's been in love with her for years, but she's always had a boyfriend, whom apparently she broke up with shortly before coming to Comic Con. But the idea of a long-distance relationship, and the fact that Tara seems not to be over her ex, and the fact that a failed relationship could wreck their friendship and partnership, all seem to stack the odds against them.

More than Fashion is about Maddie's friend Julia, who is a pre-med student with a talent for fashion design. After her costume designs win the competition at Comic Con in the previous book, she's offered a spot on Behind the Seams, which is essentially like Project Runway. The night before the show starts, she has a disastrous drunken hookup (attempt) with a guy she picks up at the hotel bar... who turns out to be one of her competitors on the show. Julia and Gavin pretend to be lovers on the show to create drama (which makes the show more interesting, so that they won't get kicked off yet), but the bottom line is that only one person can win.

More than Once is about Becca, Villain Complex's former bassist, and Andy, Tara's ex, who hooked up for a night at Comic Con and now both of them have moved to Dallas (coincidentally, not together). Becca is tired of being the screwup girl whom guys want to hook up with, but never want to date. Andy is tired of being the good guy that girls ditch for "bad guys." It seems to work at first, the way they balance each other out, despite the fact that both claim not to want anything serious. When Becca gets a call from Villain Complex to come help them out for a show, she is afraid that all her old issues will come rushing back, and moreover, she's afraid that Andy is still not over Tara.

(There's another book coming out this year. I don't know if it's the last one or not.)

Thoughts: I gave this a solid three stars because I do genuinely like this series. It's fun, and I like that, while Villain Complex for the backbone of the general plot, the series itself isn't just about rockstar dreams. For example, I love that almost all the characters have geeky interests - I mean, they ALL go to Comic Con in Book 2. And I loved hearing about all the fashion design stuff in Book 3. 

But to be honest, that was what drew me in - I used to play in a band when I was much younger, and Book 1 really reminded me of the days when I was really passionate about playing music. 

Another thing I absolutely loved was the diversity. Hector is Mexican-American, Julia is Korean-American, and Carla (who will be in the forthcoming book) is half-African-American, half-Portuguese. I liked the nuanced portrayals, and how Briggs managed to incorporate their diverse backgrounds but avoid stereotypes - it's an important part of who they are, but it's not all that they are. I could definitely relate to Julia's character, who echoes the familiar refrain of "lawyer or doctor" that many Asian-American kids hear throughout their lives. Carla's book hasn't come out yet, but I feel like three POC main characters in one of these series is pretty unique. Could there be more? Sure. But this is a great start. (I should also note that while all the main pairings have been hetero, there are a lot of side characters that are gay or bi.)


So yeah, this was fun. I liked it. They're quick reads, great for some escapism if you have some geeky/rockstar daydreams.

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