When it comes to Beautiful Disaster by Jamie McGuire, my feelings are still somewhat tangled. The novel focuses on Abby, a cardigan wearing freshman who is excited about making a fresh start in a new state at Eastern University. Her newfound peace is soon shattered, however, when Travis Maddox stumbles into her life. Lean, cut, and covered in tattoos, Travis makes money fighting in secret, underground matches, and is known around campus as “the walking one night stand.” Intrigued by Abby’s resistance to his charms, Travis attempts to trick her into his daily life with a simple bet. “If Travis loses the bet, he agrees to remain abstinent for a month. If Abby loses, however, she must live in Travis’ apartment for the same amount of time.”
Raved about by most of my close friends, I was told that Beautiful Disaster was steamy, fast-paced, and absolutely irresistible. In many ways their descriptions were fairly accurate: there were plenty of steamy scenes, the novel was packed with action, and despite my greatest efforts I found it impossible to put down. Nevertheless, the amount of frustration I felt while reading made it difficult for me to enjoy this book as much as they had. Most of this frustration was directed at Abby. While she initially started out as a strong female character who I could somewhat respect, she soon became a bit of a mess. Constantly toying with Travis’s feelings and playing mind games, I quickly lost all sympathy for her character when things didn’t go her way.
Another cause of frustration was the plot itself. While the storyline of the bet between Travis and Anna was entertaining, the novel soon began to jump all over the place as the two lovers broke up, got back together, broke up, got back together ect. There were dozens of opportunities for the story to end, but another argument between the Travis and Anna would result in four more chapters of sulking before yet another happy reunion.
Putting my frustrations aside, Beautiful Disaster did have plenty of good things going for it too. Of course, I think all of the female readers will agree that the best thing about the whole novel was Travis himself. The classic bad boy with a heart of gold, Travis’s character was too irresistible to despise, even during his darkest moments. The novel was also impossible to put down (even though I constantly felt the urge to throw it against the wall). I read the entire book in one afternoon, curled up on the couch despite the beautiful weather outside. Overall, I think romance lovers and fans of the 50 Shades series will devour this novel. While my friends fell completely head over heels in love with Beautiful Disaster, I’m still sitting on the fence.