…on Beautiful Disaster by Jamie McGuire

Posted August 15, 2012 by Asheley in Uncategorized / 16 Comments

Beautiful Disaster by Jamie McGuire
Series: Beautiful #1
Published by Atria Books
Publish Date: July 12, 2012
(first published May 26, 2011)
276 Pages
Source:  NetGalley

The new Abby Abernathy is a good girl. She doesn’t drink or swear, and she has the appropriate number of cardigans in her wardrobe. Abby believes she has enough distance from 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 wants—and needs—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.(summary from Goodreads)

Beautiful Disaster by Jamie McGuire

My Thoughts
Wow, what a sassy little book! I chose to read Beautiful Disaster because it was getting all kinds of mixed reviews. I sat down and inhaled it. And then I tweeted to another reading friend that it was a very entertaining trainwreck, and I stand by that.

The first thing you need to know is this:
Mixed reviews add fuel to my fire. 

If there is anything that will make Asheley pick up a book, let it have mixed reviews. Beautiful Disaster seemed to be getting mixed reviews lately, so I literally threw everything down and started the book right away. And I can totally understand why everyone feels all-over-the-place about this one.

I went into it thinking that the main male character, Travis, was this big abusive dude that was horrible and awful and that I would hate him. I had this idea that he picked on poor, innocent, sweet Abby and that I would maybe-probably find her to be a weak character. BOY WAS I WRONG. Preconceived ideas, be darned. This book is a wonderful example of how everyone can have different perceptions of the same thing.

I will say that I inhaled Beautiful Disaster, and for good reason. And as soon as I finished the book, even before I turned off the my Kindle, I tweeted a reading friend that it was the most entertaining trainwreck I had ever read.

The second thing you need to know is this:
Abby Abernathy is NOT a good girl. 
Travis isn’t as bad as some people think, either. At least not in my opinion.
Abby is impulsive and wild and reckless. Sure, she thinks about what she does. She just doesn’t think well or clearly or enough. Abby always seems to be able to justify her worst behaviors to herself. She takes shots of alcohol on her birthday because she’s getting paid per shot and she needs the money. (!!!) She has a fake ID because she has some things going on in her life that make her need a fake ID. (Oh, these things!) She has unprotected sex because she just cannot wait. (!!!)

Abby! Have you ever heard of alcohol poisoning, prison, or ALL THE THINGS that can happen when you have unprotected sex with a womanizing man like Travis? YES. Yes you have. Everybody has. So stop acting like that!

Case in point: Abby is reckless, a trainwreck. 

Travis uses women, big-time. He doesn’t do commitment, doesn’t take phone numbers. He doesn’t always get the names of the women he sleeps with. And there are many, so many. Travis is hot, so very handsome. Tattoos, muscles everywhere. Everyone knows who he is – the big man on campus.

Travis is not only well-known for his looks and reputation with women – he’s also well-known in an underground fighting ring on the campus. Travis pays his bills by beating the crap out of anyone who dares to challenge him to a fight. People come out in droves to secret locations to see the fights and they bet money on Travis because he always wins. Travis is very cocky and people are actually a little afraid of him.

Travis! Don’t you know it’s wrong to use women the way you do? YES. Don’t you know it’s awful to beat the crap out of people for no reason? YES. Don’t you realize that having the I’m-the-Boss attitude makes you look weak? Apparently not. 

Case in point: Travis is a well-known guy, a womanizer, a fighter.
People try to stay on the right side of his temper or pay the price.
And women fall all over him only to be disappointed when he isn’t interested,
 even though they know he won’t be.  

Despite everyone’s opinions of Abby, she irked me. Abby made bad decisions. Very bad! She was not weak. She just acted wildly inappropriate on every level. Abby gives good college-aged girls a bad name. And despite everyone’s opinions of Travis, I didn’t dislike him as much as everyone made me think I would. YES, Travis is a raging alpha-male. And YES, Travis acts inappropriately. Travis needs some serious help. The difference that I saw in these two is that Abby did not try to be better. Travis tried to be better over and over, he just kept failing at it. There is a realization in Travis that he isn’t okay, that his behavior isn’t good or safe. I never saw that in Abby. With Travis, he just did not make the extra step and seek out help for his unsafe behaviors – he viewed Abby as the one who could help him when she was clearly as unstable as he was.

For more in-depth information on exactly the things Abby and Travis do, there are tons of reviews everywhere. And they’re very opinionated and in-depth. There are equal parts FOR and AGAINST this book. So find them and read them. 

The third thing you need to know is this:
I was able to read this book without TAKING ON
the issues inside of it. Does that make sense? Probably not.
Let me explain. 
When I chose to read Beautiful Disaster, I sort of knew what I was getting into. I read it because it was controversial. I knew that there were issues of a possibly heavy-handed male being in a relationship with a female, so I knew that this would be an issues-contemp. If you pair a good issues-contemp with a good romance, those are my favorite kinds of contemporaries.

Here’s the thing, friends. That’s exactly what Beautiful Disaster is: issues-contemp + romance-contemp. And if you go into the book expecting exactly that, that’s what you get. If you go into the book expecting to fall in love with Travis – well, you might, cause some are. But you also may be disappointed. 

I was able to separate myself/how I feel about the issues inside of the story from the actual story, and because of that I think I enjoyed it much more. Was it a trainwreck? Heck yes. Was it entertaining? Absolutely! Like I said before, it was the most entertaining trainwreck I’ve ever read. 


Guys, this book is called BEAUTIFUL DISASTER. Don’t go into it expecting the most awesome romantic love story ever with fluffy clouds, butterflies, rainbows, and unicorns. This relationship is troubled. Abby and Travis should not be together! But they are and it is a disaster. Is it a beautiful disaster? I’m not really sure, but it is one heck of a story and the author wrote it like a champ. 

These characters are just nutty. They both have issues like crazy. They both start out the story with so much potential and by the end of the story…well, they’re pretty much the same. If either of them made any forward progress, maybe Travis made a little bit of forward development. Certainly Abby did not. But that is the story! THAT is the STORY – that these two are so absolutely not good for each other and still they end up together anyway.

To make it clear: Abby and Travis are not two characters that I love. I’m not sure if I even like them. I know I don’t really like Abby. I do, however, like their story. 

There are a few secondary characters in the story that stand out. Shepley is Travis’ best friend, cousin, and roommate. If there is a reason that Travis is still standing and functioning, it is probably most due to Shep. He is the most rational and level-headed – and NICE – of the group of four friends. Travis’ family – his brothers and his father – are wonderful, in my opinion. I loved them like crazy and want MORE of them. I want more of them in the next book, set to be from Travis’ point-of-view (I think) or I want spin-offs! One character that I did not care for at all – probably the least in the entire book – is America. As Abby’s best friend, I would have expected more from her. While she did support Abby unconditionally…well, that’s exactly it. She supported Abby unconditionally. Good friends need to step in and tell you when you are drinking WAY too much and making BAD BAD choices in your life or are they really your friends? (Hmmm. Some food for thought there.)

Beautiful Disaster has a bazillion MATURE themes in it. That means that it isn’t something I’m recommending for my younger blog readers. Got it, you guys? This isn’t a young adult book so use some common sense and good judgment! I do recommend it to older and more mature readers that enjoy the new adult contemporary titles and contemporary romance, particularly those that are issue-heavy. 

I gambled on this book and it paid off well for me, and this is because I was able to see the story for exactly what I felt like it was. I went into it expecting a disaster so I wasn’t surprised when I got one. I will absolutely read the next book when it comes out, as soon as I can. Even though Abby and Travis are a disaster, I loved reading about them because I think this author is onto something very interesting and I’m anxious to see what she does with the next book. 

Beautiful Disaster will appeal to fans of:

New Adult Contemporary 
Romance with Issues
(romance-contemp + issues-contemp)

This book has mature themes!
Use some good judgment, young readers. Seriously.

Beautiful Disaster by Jamie McGuire

is currently available for purchase.

**I received a review copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest opinion and review. I received no compensation for my thoughts. Thank you Atria and NetGalley! 


Have you read BEAUTIFUL DISASTER yet?

If you have, what did you think?
If you haven’t, do you plan to?


About Asheley

Asheley is a Southern girl. She loves Carolina blue skies, Ben & Jerry's ice cream, and NC craft beer. She loves all things history but prefers books over everything.

You can find her somewhere in North Carolina, daydreaming about the ocean.

Find Asheley on Litsy @intothehallofbooks!


16 responses to “…on Beautiful Disaster by Jamie McGuire

  1. Interesting review. Especially because you were able to separate yourself from the ton of bad reviews that bashed it and form your own opinion – and then remain independent of the train wreck itself, and still enjoy it. Kudos 🙂

    • Thank you! I always *try* to read objectively. I find that I typically enjoy the books much better that way if I don't hold the stories or characters to any expectations.

      I did enjoy the story. The relationship was the trainwreck; the storytelling was fabulous. 🙂

  2. Ive been on the fence getting this one honestly. I'm so not into abusive guys in books. the piss me the "F" off. Seriously. Maybe because I'm in a healthy loving marriage. I have had my share of messed up relationships, but I always knew when it was time to call it a wrap. I don't understand why people who shouldn't be together, end up together. And even when all hell is breaking lose, they still stay together, making things worse.

    I suppose it would be entertaining in that aspect. I could scream at my kindle much like people yell at their TVs during sports events. I have a few close reading friends who loved this book. I mean LOVED it. I recently tried a book they all raved about, and couldn't get into it, because they guy was crazy and the girl was well, I don't know, but I certianly woudln't have gotten involved with the loser, so DNF it was.

    Now I'm just babbling. Sorry. lol. I am still thinking I may have to try this one. hmmm. I will think on it a while longer. I suppose I could always start it and see how far I get. lol.

    great review as always! <3

    • While this was definitely not a healthy relationship, I thought of Travis more as a 'broken boy' than an abusive guy. I felt sorry for him or I felt compassion for him or something, even when he was acting stupid. And he DID act stupid. But Abby did too, and I think I zero'd in on her stupid behaviors and found them much more careless and harmful than Travis' behaviors.

      I'm not sure that is the popular opinion around the world. People either seem to love or hate Travis, but I haven't seen that much about Abby. That girl was a piece of work.

      I don't know…I hate to say OH YOU SHOULD TOTALLY READ THIS ONE and then you not really like it, but I think if you can handle the 50 Shades books you can probably handle this. At least that's what I'm thinking…

      I'm thinking I'll be reading it again because I inhaled it the first time despite the deplorable girl and the broken boy. I'll read it slower the second time so I can enjoy the story more. Jamie McGuire did a great job with two crazy characters.

      I'm VERY interested in the next book and will get grabby-handed for it, I'm sure… particularly since I was more 'connected' with Travis than I was with Abby. (I use the word connected for lack of a better one. Travis is a little nutty. HA)

  3. I really enjoyed reading your review. I've seen mixed reviews across the board, but I feel like your review is the only one that really resonated with me. Yes, the book may be a "beautiful disaster" but you're right in saying that if you go in expecting that, you might like it more than you know! I'm now interested in reading this again 🙂

    • Yes, Alexa – I totally went in expecting a hot mess. So when I got one, I didn't freak out. I got a little wide-eyed and open-mouthed at Abby a few times and tweeted a couple of times, but I didn't hate on the book. I thought the storytelling was great and this particular story called for characters like these two. I want to read it again too. 🙂

  4. The negative reviews totally turned me off of this book…but now I'm thinking it might be my next read. I love your totally honest review of Beautiful Disaster! I think, for me, going into the book expecting to not necessarily like or agree with the characters' relationship will maybe give me a better chance of liking it. Great review, Asheley!

    • You know, Randi, mixed reviews make me HAVE to read a book so I can make my own opinion. Even though my TBR is CRAZY, I shoved everything aside to read this one without caution.

      I didn't love Abby. I liked Travis more than I thought I would. Two people like them DO NOT need to be together and that is all. That's the story.

      Thankfully I read open-minded. I try hard to always read without putting my preconceived ideas on characters so they can be who they're supposed to be. In this case, they're supposed to be the nutty trainwrecks they are. It's what made the story what it is. And in this case THAT is written SO WELL.

      I'm not sure if you'll like them or not, but I thought the storytelling was great. I'm eager for the next book because it is supposed to be from Travis' point of view and that is SURE to be interesting.

  5. See, I'm like you, I got this one from NG for no other reason than to see what all the fuss is about. Well it's New Adult, so that's a bonus too. But I have read the good, the bad, and the ugly reviews and I think you make a good point. If you go into this book with the expectation that you are going to be reading something that evoked a TON of strong feelings, positive and negative, than it will probably work better for you.

    After reading your review I am even more anxious to start this. And I have to admit, I kinda like reading trainwrecks:)

    • You know, a couple of people had recommended it to me and it was New Adult and it had those pesky mixed reviews that I love so much. So it was basically gonna end up in my hands at some point anyway. I was thrilled at the NetGalley opportunity, although at the time I didn't realize exactly HOW controversial it was. It wasn't until after I had finished this book that I really scrolled down on the Goodreads page and saw the range of reactions people have had to this book.

      Yes, these characters are crazy. They really are. But it made for SUCH a great story. I couldn't peel my eyes away. I think if you could hear my own inner dialogue with myself as I read this book, it would be hilarious because sometimes my mouth was gaping open at stuff Abby and Travis would do.

  6. Great review! I read this a while ago and DEVOURED it. You are exactly right in calling it an 'entertaining trainwreck.' I was mindful of the reviews – both OBSESSIVE and HORRIFIED and totally got BOTH sides. But I also went into the story trying not to judge the characters ahead of time, as you did. And that helped.

    I like to read about characters that are NOT anything like who I would ever pick for myself. And I think it's okay to read a book and enjoy it and get into the characters even when they do bad things or have terrible red flag habits. Travis is violent and possessive and has massive anger issues, but he's also addicting and there's something sexy about him as well. Who doesn't want to be the girl who finally tames the bad boy? Transporting him into real life – I would NEVER associate with him. BUT in a book, I can totally get the draw. AND I think I could enjoy this story because I can separate him out from reality.

    I like what you said about Abby and I agree. That is my complaint about a lot of contemporaries. Often it's the female narrator who is the stupid one, and the guy keeps coming back. WHY???? You start off thinking that she is a "good girl" with her sweater combos. BUT she's not. And yes, she's worse than Travis in many ways. And she's the one that leads HIM on. I like how you said she justifies it all – because she does! She thinks she's totally in the right.

    I'll also be reading the book from Travis' perspective Walking Disaster. And any other companion books that come along. Way to own it girl!

  7. "I like to read about characters that are NOT anything like who I would ever pick for myself. And I think it's okay to read a book and enjoy it and get into the characters even when they do bad things or have terrible red flag habits." –> I'm SO GLAD to see you say this! ME TOO. I love the fact that I am able to separate myself from these characters because I can enjoy them so much more and I can enjoy so many more books without getting myself so worked up.

    I can't wait to see what is done with Abby in Walking Disaster. Certainly Abby sees herself and describes herself one way…but I wonder how Travis will see and describe her. Seriously, I can't wait. Will I like Abby any more than I do now? I'm not sure. Will I fall in love with Travis? I'm not sure. Will I devour the book? MOST LIKELY. And I'm quite sure they'll still be a trainwreck of the entertaining variety. Seriously, I can't wait.

    As odd as it sounds, and even the way this blog post sounds, I think this has been one of my favorite books in a really long time – just because it is DIFFERENT. I think this author took some liberties and chances and it paid off. It ticked off a lot of people, but I stand by my reasoning that if you go into it expecting a disaster, you won't be surprised when you get one. It makes the story easier to enjoy.

    • I'm right with you there. This book was entertaining and ambitious and a bit different than other contemporary romances. That's one reason that I like to read indies. They take more risks with plot and because of that, I think they bring something fresh to the genre. And I also think it's why people are noticing these books, and they are getting picked up by publishers.

      I'll be right there with you reading Walking Disaster and Trent's story after that. I hope we get more of a sense of Travis' draw to Abby.

  8. I am trying to decide whether or not to give this one a go. A friend on Twitter thought I might like it. I have a thing for the bad boy types and guys with ink (however not so much if they are abusive or controlling). Someone mentioned that it is being marketed to attract the 50 Shades fan base as well which scares me because I have NO desire to read 50 Shades. We usually have similar tastes in books Asheley, so what do you think??

    • It's funny you mention the 50 shades thing – I never realized that marketing thing until I finished the book and I never picked up on it while I was reading…of course I haven't read the 50 shades books.

      I really really liked this book. Travis certainly is a bad boy and he's inked up, but I think he catches a bad time from everyone for his temper. Yes, he has some issues – but tons of characters we read have issues. Travis needs some help. He's also a fighter, so there is some beating-up. He finds Abby and is attracted to her, and his mommy-issues keep him from being able to act normally towards her so he is a bit controlling. But he loves her. I think if you go into it expecting that, you won't be surprised when you encounter it.

      It's Abby that annoyed me the most because she was unapologetic with her actions and justified her bad behaviors while Travis genuinely acted like he WANTED to be better but had trouble actually BEING better. The two clearly are like real-life people you'd know that you'd shake your head at and ask "why on earth are thy even together?" and THAT is what the story is about – how they shouldn't be together but they couldn't stand to be apart.

      I loved the story, but I expected them to be disasters. I wasn't surprised by it when they were and I was able to enjoy the story. It has mature themes, of course, because it is an adult story, not YA. But I never for a second even considered it remotely similar to 50 shades and I question that marketing, unless it is just a ploy to earn more money (kind of like EVERY YA book is like Hunger Games or Twilight). I just didn't get that at all.

      This author clearly has a talent for writing great stories, she just uses controversial characters to do so.

  9. I think that this book truly had a lot of beauty and caused a lot of thought and hatred towards Abby. But to be truthful her decisions were based off of what her past was like. I became angry with Abby at times and then when you really finally understand,that our past reflect our choices in the future. If you were to get in trouble would you do it again later… no it will reflect your choices in the future.

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