Rating: 3 1/2 stars
For those who read my reviews, it’s between rare and never that I read romance, para-romance, or any other incarnations of said genres. It’s only due to the hype around 50 Shades of Grey that I have been tasked with finding something “similar” and have therefore been thrust (no pun intended) into the world of erotica and the aforementioned categories.
It was during said research that I came upon a few web sites extolling the five-star virtues of Beautiful Disaster. A fairly straight forward story, BD is about two childhood friends, Abby and America, who go away to college, allowing Abby to escape her alcoholic mother and professional gambler father. America’s boyfriend has a bad-boy cousin/roommate, Travis, who is the heavyweight champion of an underground fight club and the uncontested sexual slayer of woman.
Tall, muscular, shaved, and tattooed, Travis is a living, breathing sex god, and there seems to be no limit to the fair maidens willing to sacrifice themselves at his alter. Totally unobtainable, these willing women have a better chance of domesticating a unicorn than getting Travis Maddox to settle down. Until he meets Abby.
Still a virgin at 19, Abby is doing her best to forget her unconventional past, and focusing on starting anew. But, old habits die hard, and Travis' M.O. is exactly what she's trying to avoid: gorgeous, confident, strong, with a penchant for living on the edge. When Travis sets his sights, and his heart, on Abby, she wonders if she’ll be strong enough to resist.
It wasn’t until after I finished reading did I learn that Beautiful Disaster is consistently being compared to Twilight, and thus luring unsuspecting girls and subjecting them to “inappropriate” material; i.e. Travis. McGuire is criticized for her portrayal of a guy, who is, agreeably, an over-the-top character with an anger issue and prone to settling disputes with his fists. But, let’s face it, those who experience his wrath, almost always ask for it...
Taken with a grain of salt, Travis’ tough demeanor is hyped up to add excitement to his bad boy image and intesify the contrast with his tender side. Despite his violent outbursts—usually limited to douchie men and seemingly innocent doors—he treats Abby with the utmost care and respect—even when he’s flying around in jealous rages.
It’s fairly safe to assume that the average reader (and Twilight fan) will realize that it’s a story. Fiction. The same way—hopefully—they understand that vampires don’t exist, and if they did, they wouldn’t twinkle in the sun or marry a clumsy simpleton.
Yes, it’s possible that Travis’ college-aged wild ways are a glimpse into the future. We can all see Abby and Travis 10 years from now living in a double-wide. He, wearing a stained wife beater, swigging a Budweiser, while she looks haggard and broken, holding a baby on each hip; but, what fun would it be to read about that? Reading is an escape, a form of entertainment, a glimpse into a life that probably wouldn’t exist under real-world conditions. Chances are Jamie McGuire would loath writing it as much as we would to read it.
Despite its plethora of distracting grammar and spelling errors, McGuire’s literary effort is commendable, enjoyable, and just a bit on the indulgent side (but in a good way). Any sour grapes are likely a case of “the lady doth protest too much” (you know who you are), making it a safe bet that the prudish complainers have probably fantasized about the Travis-type at one time or another.
It’s probably also fair to further assume that most (stable) modern women wouldn’t purposely subject themselves to an abusive or otherwise untoward relationship, or consider this book a relationship documentary.
So lighten up, let go, and enjoy the ride.
Paperback: 362 pages
Publisher: CreateSpace (October 3, 2011)