Title: Beautiful Disaster
Author: Jamie McGuire
Published: May 2011 (Jamie McGuire, LLC)
Summary: 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 America, 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 charming college co-ed. Intrigued by Abby’s resistance to his charms, 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.
My Review: I have struggled with how to go about this review. I had pretty much planned on simply not reviewing if a book was anything less than "okay" for me. BUT. I have decided this book is an exception, if only because I, personally, felt incredibly misled about it. I want to do a review so others don't go into it expecting something else like I did. I saw a couple glowing reviews and the high Goodreads rating, read the summary, thought "Older young adult romance! They're actually in college! SCORE!" and marked it as to-read. Then I (eventually) read it. There are very few books I disliked so much by the end that I wanted to throw them across the room. This was one of them.
If you get nothing else from this review, get this: Beautiful Disaster is NOT a romance. I really want to stress this point. I have seen it portrayed as a twisted but passionate and beautiful love story. That's even how it tries to present itself. And trust me, I love a good twisted love story. You want romance? I can give you romance. I can give you Good Girl/Bad Boy romance. This book? Not romance. The "love story" in Beautiful Disaster is a hot mess of dysfunction, codependency, and psychological, emotional, and borderline physical abuse.
You may have noticed (especially if reading this on Goodreads) that I rated this book 2 stars. If I hated it so much, why not 1 star? Honestly, there were parts in the beginning that I did enjoy, before the red flags started popping up all over the place. And even with that, the story was interesting in its own way. I really think I would have enjoyed Beautiful Disaster a lot more if I had gone into it knowing what it actually was. Perhaps "enjoyed" is not quite the right word...maybe "appreciated." I would have been in the right mindset. I wouldn't have felt tricked and cheated. I've read very good books about unhealthy relationships in the past (Stay by Deb Caletti and Dreamland by Sarah Dessen, among others). I would not put this among them, but I certainly could view it as a much better book if looking from the perspective of a cautionary tale about what to avoid in relationships, rather than a portrayal of a swoon-worthy romance for which you should long.
On the technical side, there were also quite a few grammatical mistakes; a more intense editing process was definitely needed before publishing.
❝The more he smiled, the more I wanted to hate him, and yet it was the very thing that made hating him impossible.❞
❝I had died and woken up in High School Musical.❞
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