This book is Beautiful Disaster by Jamie McGuire.
“Abby Abernathy is a good girl. She doesn’t drink or swear, and she has the appropriate number of cardigans in her wardrobe. Abby believes she has enough distance from 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 wants—and needs—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.”
I picked this book up on Wednesday and finished yesterday night. I brought this book because it had about 240,000 reviews and brought in (almost) a 4.5 star rating (goodreads.com). Usually I am of the opinion that if everyone likes it, usually there is a reason and it’s worth consideration. But after reading this book [and the result of the last election], I have radically changed my mind on how much faith I put in the masses.
‘They’ also said it was similar to ’50 Shades Of Grey’ which is a total lie. So don’t read it based upon that assumption.
I don’t quite know where to start because I had so many problems with this book and honestly I written and re-written this blog a thousand times.
There are a lot of feminist issues in this book. Specifically but not only, the romanticism of a potentially violent relationship. Although the main character, Travis, never actually hits a women in this book, he is an archetype for a domestic violent male. Most of the negative reviews slammed the book on this point alone.
(If you feel this might be an issue for you, I would suggest not reading this.)
Personally, none of the feminist issues bothered me. Generally in romance novels writers tend to sway to the stereotypes of each gender. ie. females are beautiful and innocent, males are ripped and possessive. I think these kind of novels are made more interesting by emphasizing some of these gender traits. I also like to believe that I am intelligent enough to differentiate between right and wrong behavior in real life to that of what is acceptable in works of fiction. I definitely had issues with the characters but not because they don’t comply to feminist ideals.
Abby the main female character has moved across the state to get away from her family life. Her father was a once a famous poker player who blamed Abby for his sudden ‘bad luck’ in his career. Abby’s dad supposedly destroyed her life hence her moving, however we are never told how he destroyed her life. There are suggestions about money problems and alcohol abuse. As reader we receive a lot of conflicting, confusing and half formed ideas about her allusive past. What we do know is whatever happened it is the reason she wont get involved with Travis. This made it hard for me to connect and empathize with her as Abby is obviously in love with Travis from the start and why she wont be with him unknown.
When she does make progress as to admitting her feelings and eventually a relationship, it’s always sudden. She doesn’t provide the reader with insight into why she has changed her mind, usually simply saying that it ‘felt right’. As her dark past was obvious an issue I would have expected a gradual and reasoned change in mind. Possibly a sense of closure or acceptance of whatever happened in the past in order for her character to move forward.
Travis is conveyed as a bad boy, who is irresistible but violent. Personally, I didn’t find his character to be convincing. From the hints we received from America and Shepley (Travis and Abby’s best friends), I was expecting Travis to have a troubled past, maybe grown up in a rough environment or something similar.
Travis’s mother died when he was young,and he claims to not have known her. This is also apparently his reason for never being close to anyone, but if he can’t remember her, then why is he traumatized enough to keep everyone at arms length?
Travis apparently learnt to fight from his brothers. It was unclear as to why they fought each other, only that they did and that it wasn’t friendly. But when we met Travis’s brothers none of the violence that was assumed was present.
Travis’s father was also an alcoholic, but when we met him we really didn’t see that side of him. In fact his whole family came across as a warm loving bunch, that was a bit dysfunctional due to a women not being present. (sexist? maybe. but that’s the way it is)
Truthfully we never found out why Travis is so closed off from the world and quick to temper and why Abby could break through all his issues and reach the person inside. I found the lack of reasons made his character contrived. Over all there wasn’t much character development in Travis. Travis’s character remained consistent, predictable and unwavering for the entire 423 pages.
Together they were as the title suggests a disaster. Beautiful? I’ll leave that up to you. There relationship was predictable. A long get together filled with fights, denials, and rejection, until they decided to be together. Once they were, of course they could only ever break up again. On and off until a near death experience tips them into marriage.
Overall the character development was contrived and not developed at all. I think you might be able to get away with this in other novels, but romance novels? mmm
The structure of this novel was less than great. The writer introduced a secondary plot line when Abby’s father suddenly steps on the scene for all of one page and they have a brush with some mobsters from Abby’s past in Vegas. It happened all to suddenly and ended even quicker. It felt irrelevant to the overall story beside create another fight between Travis and Abby.
To be fair, it was probably meant to show Abby’s past life, however it felt rushed and brushed over. I was left wondering what the point was.
We did get to met Abby’s ex-boyfriend in Vegas. I thought this relationship would have been a great segue into revealing Abby’s past life. However, we were given nothing.
The climax of the book had no real lead up. There wasn’t a sense of something building up or leading to a moment. They had a brushed with death but you never felt any of the characters were in real danger. Emotionally I felt this made it flat. There was no sense of desperation or finality, no epiphanies or wishes. The drama was all over so quickly, with a very quick resolution.
I felt this made it mundane, predictable and uninteresting. It certainly did grip me or create a sense of emergency or anticipation.
Overall I think it lacked convincing structure. I felt the Author could have ended the story half way through and it would have made little difference.
The editing was embarrassingly bad at times. The kindle edition had a scene repeated and some sentences just did not make any sense. Reading through it would have fixed a number of problems. The writing wasn’t descriptive or that emotive. The only saving grace was that it had the have-it-keep-reading factor and clearly the ratings show how strong a factor this is.
I enjoyed some of the secondary characters like Shepley and America, Trav’s and Abby’s best friends, but again we didn’t get to know them that well.
Obviously a lot of people loved this book. So I don’t know whether to recommend this to you. Maybe you will like it?
I am not sure.
There is a second book maybe this will clear up problems from the first book.
Personally, I didn’t think it was a worthwhile piece of writing but there you go.
1 1/2 stars from me.