by Jamie McGuire
Series: Beautiful #1
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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
I grabbed a copy of Beautiful Disaster after seeing so many conflicting and passionate reviews. I had to know what within these pages was eliciting such feelings. Beautiful Disaster is a realistic look into the lives of two dysfunctional people who meet and fall in love. McGuire offers us a chance to get inside the complexities of this relationship and to understand what draws the moth to the flame.
The love story that unfolds takes place at a small Eastern University. It is here that we meet Abby Abernathy. She is dressed like Sandra Dee before she meets Danny Zuko in the movie Grease. She looks like a good girl; she doesn’t curse, drink and has a plan to escape her dark past. Her well laid plans are challenged when she meets the campus king of one night stands, Travis Maddox. He is a student by day and a fighter by night. Abby is drawn to this sexy, charismatic, intelligent, tattooed love machine. She is drawn to him like a moth to a flame even though she recognizes the danger.
The characters in McGuire’s world beautifully depict both the dysfunctional and those who enable them. Abby grew up in a dysfunctional family, where her parents put their own needs first. She lived in a home where she often played the parent. I liked Abby and all of her complexities. She appears so well adjusted on the outside, when really she lacks confidence, has low-self esteem, wonders if she is loveable and wants to be needed. I admired her attempts to forge a different life for herself. Travis Maddox is a character you will either love or hate. He has true attachment issues, is quick to temper and has difficulty expressing emotions. He is charismatic, and despite his tattoos and bad boy looks he is cute, smart and witty. Woman are drawn to him, they want to fix him; to be the one. Travis is traveling without a compass until he finds Abby. Travis’s cousin enables, protects and coddles Travis’s volatile personality. America, Abby’s best friend adds to the drama and is perhaps as messed up as Abby. Kara is Abby’s roommate and the only normal person in the book; she recognizes that the relationship is unhealthy. Parker represents the life Abby thinks she wants.
Beautiful Disaster gives us a rare look at a dysfunctional relationship. Abby and Travis’s relationship is like a hurricane. It is beautiful, scary, deadly and uncontrollable. McGuire’s tale shows how two needy people are drawn to each other and how they feed off each other. A lot of people will struggle to understand why Abby is attracted to Travis or vice versa. The truth is each has what the other needs emotionally. We are all drawn to the bad boy; even the fictional characters we adore are often rogues in need of fixing. Most of us get a little too close to the flame, recognize the danger and flitter away. This book depicts the startling and harsh truth behind these relationships. The novel also shows some of the dark underbellies that exist on campus. The tale had a nice flow, with plenty of climatic scenes. I was disappointed the author didn’t incorporate a message about seeking help, or at the very least a one eight hundred number in the back of the book. She had the perfect opportunity with the voice of Kara and failed miserably. I firmly believe this does not belong in the YA genre and should be shelved under New Adult. My emotions where all over the place while reading this and my feelings for the characters changed with each scene. This is a love story that you will think about and talk about. I love when an author is able to breathe life into the characters as she draws emotions from the reader.
I recommend Beautiful Disaster for those seeking a realistic look at a romance between two volatile and dysfunctional people who try to make the best of it in their crazy, messed up world. Walking Disaster is the second novel and will be from Travis’s point of view. It has an expected publication date of 2013.