Tuesday 9 October 2012

Review: Beautiful Disaster - Jamie McGuire

Abby Abernathy doesn't drink or swear and she works hard. Abby believes she has buried her dark past, but when she arrives at college, her dreams of a new beginning are quickly challenged by the university's walking one-night stand.

Travis Maddox, sexy, built, and covered in tattoos, is exactly what Abby needs - and wants - to avoid. He spends his nights winning money in a floating fight club, and his days as the notorious college Lothario.

Intrigued by Abby's resistance to his charms, Travis tricks her into his life with a simple bet. If he loses, he must remain celibate 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. Or that this is the start of an obsessive, intense relationship that will lead them both into unimaginable territory . . .

Beautiful Series:
Beautiful Disaster
Walking Disaster
A Beautiful Wedding (Novella)
Beautiful Oblivion
Beautiful Redemption (release date to be confirmed)

Visit Jamie McGuire's website for more information

It's hard to know where to start when it comes to reviewing Beautiful Disaster. This is the kind of book that readers have either loved or hated and I have to admit to enjoying every minute of it. If you want to read about a perfect and healthy relationship then this isn't going to be the book for you but if you like your stories with a lot of angst between two dysfunctional people then you'll be completely hooked. Whether you end up loving or hating it you are pretty much guaranteed to have a strong reaction to this novel and if you ask me that is the most important thing I look for when I'm reading a book. I want to have characters I connect with and care about - even if I don't agree with the decisions they make or their actions.

Abby has moved across the country with her best friend America wanting to start a new life where nobody knows about her past. She is determined to be the good girl, the one who works hard, finishes her homework and doesn't spend her time going out partying. The last thing she expects or wants is to attract the attention of Travis - the campus bad boy, king of one night stands and boy every girl wants to be with. But with America dating Travis's best friend Shepley they are thrown together socially. Abby has no intention of being another notch on Travis's bed post and is determined to remain immune to his charms but Travis isn't used to being turned down. The very fact that Abby tries to resist him makes him want her even more and when a bet ends up forcing them to spend more and more time together sparks are bound to fly.

I don't want to say too much about the story line because this is a very character driven novel, in fact until towards the end of the book the focus is very much on the developing friendship between Travis and Abby. Do you remember the intensity of your first relationship? When you couldn't stand to be apart for even a minute and everything was so new and exciting? Jamie McGuire has captured that feeling perfectly in Beautiful Disaster, thankfully my first relationship wasn't quite as obsessive as this one but it was just as intense!

You can probably guess from the title that things aren't all plain sailing and at times watching their interactions is almost painful. They both have issues from their pasts and they both behave in inappropriate ways that cause each other pain. I'm never going to say that I agree with some of the things Travis does - he is controlling and has issues with a violent temper (I will point out that he never raises a hand to Abby in case that is something you're worried about) - but I also felt that Abby knew exactly how to push his buttons and at times was trying to provoke a strong reaction in him. That doesn't make his reaction right but I don't think her behaviour was any better. I found myself just as irritated with the way she constantly played Travis and Parker off against each other as I was with the way Travis reacted to it.

When their relationship works it really is wonderful to watch but when things go wrong you'll find yourself unable to look away from the horror of it. In a lot of ways Beautiful Disaster works as a "how not to have a successful relationship" guide because I certainly wouldn't want to encourage anyone to emulate or accept behaviour like either Travis's or Abby's but that doesn't make it any less engaging to read about them. I think most of us are capable of separating reality and fantasy and I have to confess I had fallen for Travis in spite of his issues by the end of the book. I think this quote from one of their friends (I think it was Shep but I didn't make a note of who said it) sums up their relationship perfectly:

"You're a goddamn tornado! When you're happy, it's love and peace and butterflies. When you're pissed, you take the whole fucking world down with you!"

Beautiful Disaster is an addictive read, it is a story that you will obsess over with complex and flawed characters who you will love and hate with equal intensity. It's been a while since I had such a strong connection to characters in this age range and I can't tell you how excited I am to read the sequel when it releases next year. Walking Disaster will be the same story but told from Travis's point of view (although it will also include extra scenes) and I can't wait to get inside his head and understand exactly what he was thinking during the major events!

Source: Initially received from publisher via NetGalley but I also received a print copy from Simon & Schuster in exchange for an honest review

Other Reviews:
If you have reviewed this book on your blog please leave a link to your review in the comments & I'll add the link here.

Paperback / Kindle:


  1. I loved loved loved this book. when I finished it I wanted to start all over again.

  2. I read this book some months ago so I don't necessarily remember the intricacies of the plot. I mostly remember how disturbed I was as a result. This review makes me realize that I should probably go back and read it again, because every time I see someone talking about how Travis is their book crush and they just love him, it makes me want to cringe. I really do need to read it again to see.

  3. Great review Sarah.
    This read was a bit of a guilty pleasure for me.
    Like you I loved this book ( and can't wait for Travis's POV either) but I did feel uncomfortable with their relationship at times and the impact this might have on impressionable readers-I'm glad you addressed that their relationship is not one to emulate.

  4. Great review Sarah.
    This read was a bit of a guilty pleasure for me.
    Like you I loved this book ( and can't wait for Travis's POV either) but I did feel uncomfortable with their relationship at times and the impact this might have on impressionable readers-I'm glad you addressed that their relationship is not one to emulate.

  5. @ Escapism Fanatic - I felt exactly the same! I can't wait to read Walking Disaster and see things from Travis's point of view!!

    @ SarahO - I can see why people didn't like Travis, he can be very jealous and possessive and he is also quite violent (but not to Abby). I just felt that she played up to his insecurities and knew what buttons to press to make him worse - I'm not excusing his behaviour though. Like the title suggests their relationship is a Beautiful Disaster not a healthy relationship LOL.

    @ Caroline - I felt exactly the same as you did, the relationship made me uncomfortable but I was addicted and couldn't stop reading LOL. This isn't really the kind of book I'd recommend for impressionable teens (even though it is marketed as YA) but as an adult I enjoyed it. I think the difference is that I know enough about relationships to know that I wouldn't want to be with someone like Travis & I wouldn't accept that kind of behaviour in a boyfriend.



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