Review: Beautiful Disaster by Jaime McGuire ★★★★

Beautiful Disaster by Jaime McGuire
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Beautiful #1
Publication Date: May 26, 2011
ISBN: 1466401885
Page Count: 362
Rating: ★★★★
Review Copy: ARC

The new Abby Abernathy is a good girl. She doesn’t drink or swear, and she has the appropriate percentage of cardigans in her wardrobe. Abby believes she has enough distance between her and the darkness of her past, but when she arrives at college with her best friend, her path to a new beginning is quickly challenged by Eastern University's Walking One-Night Stand.

Travis Maddox, lean, cut, and covered in tattoos, is exactly what Abby needs—and wants—to avoid. He spends his nights winning money in a floating fight ring, and his days as the ultimate college campus charmer. Intrigued by Abby’s resistance to his appeal, Travis tricks her into his daily life with a simple bet. If he loses, he must remain abstinent for a month. If Abby loses, she must live in Travis’s apartment for the same amount of time. Either way, Travis has no idea that he has met his match.


Beautiful Disaster has to be the most apt book title I've seen in a while, because that's exactly what Abby and Travis's relationship is. When it's right it's a beautiful thing, when it's bad....Oh boy.

I have been totally lost in this book for the last three days. It's a sneaky little thing. One of those insistent books that calls to you when you're away from it, drawing you back time and again until you're fully immersed in it and everything else fades away. It's very much a character driven tale; there was little going on other than the developing relationship (in all its twisted glory) between its two main characters: Travis "Mad Dog" Maddox, and Abby Abernathy.

I admit, having scanned the reviews before starting this book, I was slightly nervous but also somewhat excited to begin, because it was clear that, good or bad, this is a book that brings out a strong reaction in its readers. (Which is awesome). There are wildly differing opinions and ratings for it. The negative reviews I've seen have been slamming the bad behaviour of the boy, Travis, as the main issue. Pointing out how wrong his actions are. But...that's kind of the whole point of the book. The very fact that it is so wrong and so dysfunctional, yet chocked full of such intense feelings and emotions, is what makes the story so absorbing. It's like a car wreck you don't want to see but your eyes stray back to it against your will and better judgement. So I find the negative reviews based solely on his behaviour, the very behaviour that makes the book interesting to read in the first place, slightly off.

Everyone interprets things differently, of course. And don't get me wrong, both Travis and Abby do some incredibly stupid and hurtful things to each other in this book, and also overreact or react badly in certain circumstances. It's an extremely intense, first love-type relationship between two people who have no idea how to be together. Or in Travis's case, to be on his own, either.

I really like flawed characters such as these; they're so much more interesting to read about, contemplate and analyse. But enjoying reading about them does not automatically mean I agree with their actions. That's a distinction that needs to be made. My rating it 4 stars doesn't mean I think Travis is perfect. I don't think anybody that reads the book would think Travis was perfect. Cripes, I wanted to bash his face in myself a couple of times during the read. But my strong, emotional reaction, and even anger, to me means the book was doing its job. It drew me in, it made me care, then it smacked me in the face. And I loved it for it! And ultimately, by the end of the book, I also loved Travis.

Moving on. The book was mainly focused around four characters: Travis and Abby, and their respective best friends, Sheply and America, who are also a couple. The highlights of this book for me were the development of the friendship relationship between Travis and Abby before the romance got in the way, and then the lead up to their falling in love. It was allowed to progress slowly and naturally. Once they began  falling in love, I then developed more of a love/hate relationship with the book. I loved it because I like high emotion and drama in books, and I hated it because.... because it hurt my feelings! *sniff sniff*

There were also some incredibly sweet moments to enjoy; it's not all heartache and angst by any means. The clue is in the title, and some parts of it were beautiful and some very ugly.

The reason it didn't make 5 stars for me were that I felt the physical descriptions of the characters were lacking to non-existent. I don't know if this was intentional or not, but I had no idea what America or Shep were supposed to look like. The only one who got a lot of physical description was Travis, but that could be because it's written 1st person through Abby's eyes, and it's what she would notice. So not her best friend for years then, but the strange, tattooed boy that's suddenly following her around and grinning a lot.

I do also think the book could have been shorter. I was so absorbed in Travis and Abby that I actually wasn't missing any other kind of background plot, I just wanted to watch more of this strange yet weirdly addictive relationship, so I was quite resistant when the whole Vegas bit started interfering with my voyeurism. Which is unlike me, I'm normally the first to cry "let's play find the plot" if I find one lacking. In this case I just didn't care and didn't want any interference.

And lastly, I thought the descriptions of all the Barbie wannabes drooling over Travis, despite his reputation for being a serial one-night stander, to be slightly unbelievable.

To sum up- I was really lost in this book. It wasn't perfect, and it definitely wasn't always pretty, but oh boyo it was entertaining and addictive. If you enjoy messed-up characters, drama, growth, heartache, joy, intense love and very bad boys, then this book is for you.

4 Stars ★★★★
Review Copy: Received from the publisher for an honest review

**For anyone concerned about any potentially disturbing elements, let me confirm there is no abuse; sexual, physical, emotional or otherwise in the book. There's plenty of jealousy, insecurity, neediness, pettiness and miscommunication. But no abuse. And also, I think the book is often referred to as a YA title which is inaccurate. The characters are teens (18,19) but it's not really a teen read. Not young teen, anyway. I'd say 18 + **

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