Julie Hong is a pre-med student at UCLA with a dream and a plan–albeit, a dream and a plan that don’t necessarily mesh with what her family envisions for her future. After a hot almost fling with the sexy Gavin Bennett (who she soon finds is one of her competitor’s on the fashion reality show Behind the Seams), her limits are tested. And she learns about a lot more than fashion.
He laughed and it set my panties on fire. His voice was like butter, and I wanted it spread all over me. That didn’t even make sense, but it was true.
From the minute Julie sees Gavin across the bar, the heat practically singes the pages. I’ll admit, the tats and British accent were a huge appeal to me. Throw in the fact that he’s a gentleman, has an architect’s mind AND is creative? Well, ladies…he’s the whole damn package. I’m honestly a bit jealous of Julie. In Gavin, Elizabeth Briggs manages to create a man who fits beautifully into the fashion world, while being neither gay nor particularly metrosexual.
BUT, any romance gets a bit boring without some tension, and boy do Julie and Gavin have tension in spades. From their illicit, semi-taboo pre-show hotel fling to their clashing creative alpha personalities, Julie and Gavin burn hot in more ways than one.
Yes, he was hot enough to melt my panties off, and yes, his accent was doable all by itself, but every time he opened his mouth, I wanted to wrap my hands around his throat. And not in a sexual way.
Ok, maybe also in a sexual way.
Now, I love heat as much as the next lady, but I also need some depth to my characters. Again, Briggs does not disappoint. With all of the Chasing the Dream books, Briggs excels at taking what might, at first glance, seem like a shallow concept and creates meaningful, soulful characters. I’m no fashion maven, so I was a bit worried about how well this book would hold my interest (even knowing how much I adored the previous books, More Than Exes, More Than Music, and More Than Comics). That fear, however, turned out to be baseless. Because this book and its heroine? Well, you guys…they are about way more than fashion.
Being surrounded by others hard at work, who loved fashion and designing clothes as much as I did. Even though they were my competition, I felt a kinship with them. We were creators chasing after a shared dream.
And that’s really what this book is about. Passion, drive, and dreams. We see that Julie constantly struggles to be in control, in every aspect of her life. And really, it’s because she feels so out of control–as if she can’t possibly follow her dreams and have the love and respect of those most important to her. Her encounters with men are short and hot, and she is slow to let people in because her family, the people who are closest to her and who should love and support her the most? Well, it doesn’t seem that they support, or really even understand, Julie at all. Instead, she feels expected to chase after a hand-me-down dream. So, she holds tight to her close knit group of friends, and she shows everyone else the cold, determined bitch she feels she has to be.
Life was a bitch, and so was I. But fuck it. Bitches got stuff done.
And my dress wasn’t finishing itself.
Despite her best efforts, though, Gavin sees through the facade to the heart that makes Julie more than just a shallow and cold fashionista who lives only for what others think. He sees her “why”–her reason for being. He sees her passion for creating. And he pushes her to question her hesitations and her self-imposed limitations.
What would you do if there were no limits?…What would you do if you had no fear?
Isn’t that really a question that we could all stand to ask ourselves? Don’t we all dream of having that person to balance us, to ask us the hard questions, to push us, and to keep us safe from our own stubbornness and stupidity?
Beyond the romantic basics, Briggs hit on some pretty major social issues in this book, and I absolutely loved that she did. That she made me think about more than just sex (hot as it was) and romance (though Gavin is, admittedly, quite swoon-worthy).
The first of these issues was culture. A huge part of what is working against Julie is her family’s Korean culture and the limitations she feels that her family’s expectations put on her. As if stepping out of her comfort zone weren’t difficult enough, Julie also has to face the aspect of shame, which is not something that many of us can truly claim familiarity with. Briggs pinpoints it beautifully though.
I was scared. What if I took this risk and it didn’t pay off? What if I failed? It was such a huge life change, and I didn’t know if I was ready yet…was I willing to risk the disappointment and shame from my family if I let them down and went on my own path?
Perhaps on the opposite end of the spectrum from these feelings of needing to live up to conservative cultural expectations is a fear that I think is at the forefront of many a modern woman’s mind: work life balance. Can we really be successful at a career that we love and are passionate about and have a successful relationship? I’ll be honest: I really kind of hate the books where the heroine just gives up her dreams and goals and is content simply being taken care of by her strong, sexy man candy. Briggs, at several times, addresses the perception that Julie is only where she is because of things that others have done for her, and I think she handles the concept well.
I’d always worried about settling down, scared that if I got serious with one guy I’d be giving something up. But Gavin made me realize that I could both be in love and do what I loved at the same time. I didn’t have to choose between a career or a relationship. I could have both.
In love, as in life, success is based upon compromise. Not compromising your values or dreams, but recognizing the values and dreams of those you love and figuring out how yours and their can overlap and work together as a cohesive unit.
I loved this installment in the Chasing the Dream series, and I can’t wait to read Carla’s story next!
To get your own copy of More Than Fashion, go here.
If you haven’t yet read the other books in the series, you should do so immediately!
More Than Exes
More Than Music
More Than Comics