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Lindsey's Literary Life

Book Review: Beautiful Disaster by Jamie McGuire

Beautiful Disaster  - Jamie McGuire

Despite getting sucked into this book and finishing it pretty quickly there are a few glaring problems that made it impossible for me to really enjoy. First of all, this could be the most destructive, volatile, train wreck of a relationship since Bobby and Whitney and we all know how that worked out, and it wasn't happily ever after. The main problem for me and the reason I didn't buy into what I'm supposed to believe is this fated, all consuming, awesome love story was the incomplete and inconsistent characterization of Abby and Travis. More explanation needed to be given for why Abby needed or wanted to completely reinvent herself at college. We are given glimpses of her life with her father but the back story lacks a convincing reason or sequence of events that would make Abby reject her former lifestyle so strongly or be so secretive about it. And the trip to Vegas makes things even more confusing when we find out that her ex-boyfriend is really a hot pit boss who seems like a pretty nice guy instead of the I'm-saving-myself-for-marriage youth pastor making the characterization of Abby as an innocent, sexually inexperienced virgin even more unbelievable. Clearly, the virgin thing was just a device to make Abby and Travis's relationship seem more profound that it really was since from the beginning she never acted innocent or inexperienced in her dealings with Travis from not showing the least bit of awkwardness or confusion while snuggling up to Travis in bed to when she finally does decide to have sex with him because she's going to miss him? I'm still a little confused about her reasoning behind that move. The only times she seems naive or oblivious to what is happening between her and Travis are when it is convenient for the plot. Her feelings about Travis are also inconsistent and when she finally decides she loves him and wants to be with him forever it seems more like an embracing of the inevitable than an actual coming to terms with her feelings for him and her sudden emotional reversal makes all the seemingly endless romantic obstacles of the last half of the book pointless. I don't even know where to begin with the problems with Travis. I get that he's supposed to be the rebel without a cause bad boy who rides a motorcycle and avoids any kind of relationship because he's just too damaged with too many demons blah, blah, blah. But, when you really get to know Travis, turns out he's really just an ass-hole frat boy who drinks too much with major aggression issues. In other words, every college frat boy I've ever hated. And speaking of being a frat boy, no way would a so-called bad boy like Travis even think about being in a frat. That just goes against every anti-commitment, anti-establishment thing he supposedly stands for. Even though he and Sheply (the douchiest of douchy frat boy names) are cousins I can't figure out why they're friends. Anyway, back to Travis, his big demon? His mom died when he was a little boy. Yes, this is tragic and possibly explains his commitment issues but not his excessive drinking, violent tendencies, jealousy and scary obsession with Abby, none of which were treated as the major problems that they were and were barely even considered obstacles to the relationship. Travis needed some real past trauma, like an abusive foster home, to justify his rehab-worthy violence and obsession and needed to show some kind of growth and maturity over the course of the book which didn't happen. The only people I can imagine enjoying this book are new to the romance genre in general. Traditional romance, esp. historical and paranormal, do the tortured bad boy with demons much better and to greater emotional effect and satisfaction. Only desperate, insecure door mats put up with this crap, real women kick it to the curb.