I went on a book-bender this week, but the “bender” consisted of only one book. This one. This is the first book, in all of my reading experience that I have ever finished, just to immediately start reading again. Not because I didn’t understand what happened and had to re-read to comprehend it (it’s an easy,albeit emotionally-involved, read). I didn’t re-read it because I forgot what happened, and needed to refresh my memory for this review. No. Every scene is permanently burned into my brain. I read it twice, simply because I loved it that much.
I have been talking about this book non-stop for a week with Lily, going over every little detail, analyzing moments (luckily, she read it with me, and felt the same way as I did). Her first words to me, when we emerged from our read-a-thon last Sunday evening?
Lily: Hello Friend! Im in LOVE. He KILLED me today. KILLED ME.
Yup, I knew exactly what she was referring to. She got a possessive ”growl-full” from me Hey, I couldn’t help it.
Maryse: TELL ME YOU did not wanna cry with him.
Lily: I DID and you know I don’t do that.
Maryse: I TOTALLY DID. This book is SO real – with little moments of childish YA’ish issues but once you get past that… mostly the best. I am already re-reading.
Lily: you and rereading is a big deal!
And re-read I did. Nice and slow this time.
Maryse: I finished Travis again last night and now it’s time. I have to release him. *sniff*
Lily: *passes tissues * It’ll be ok
Maryse: I know… I’ll find another. But he was something else…perfection in a mess.
Lily: that he was
Considering my intense connection with “Rock Me”, and then right after, my love for this one, I’m worried my book-luck is about to run out, and because of that, I have been procrastinating this review. It’s true. I didn’t want this book to be over. But it’s time now. I’ve got to move on, and tell you guys all about it, so that you can enjoy it too. I have to learn to share.
Okay, so the main characters are officially “young” (they’re in college), and occasionally, there are some immature school issues that are detailed in this story (the rumor-mill, a couple of jealous confrontations, a few drunken frat parties that had me worried for her liver, and some unnecessary angsty misunderstandings that had me eye-rolling just a bit). But overall, I forgot their age. This is NOT a YA book, and while the intimacy is not as detailed like some of the “bad-boy” books I’ve read lately, the issues overall, are very adult.
Abby Abernathy has moved far away from her hometown and left her reputation (and bad childhood) behind. She’s starting new. Nobody (except for her best childhood friend) knows her here, and nobody will (at least, not what kind of lifestyle she’s from). Having an alcoholic, gambling, bad-boy of a father has her determined to meet a preppy, clean-cut ambitious college boy. She is not going back to that lifestyle.
Heh. Yeah… you know where this is going, don’t you
Into her life, walks Travis Maddox. Think UFC fighter. Shaved head, tattoos everywhere, bulging muscles, a ferocious street fighter that never loses in the ring, and a ruthless bad-boy lover that never loses in his bed. Oh but the girls always do, the day after.
Travis rounded the corner in a pair of boxer shorts and yawned. He looked at his guest, and then patted her backside.
“My company’s here. You’d better go.”
She smiled and wrapped her arms around him, kissing his neck. “I’ll leave my number on the counter.”
“Eh… don’t worry about it,” Travis said in a casual tone.
He’s a heartbreaker, but makes no apologies. In fact, everyone knows exactly what he’s like, and yet the girls relentlessly pursue him anyway. Groupies, if you will. He’s locally famous for his unbeatable fighting skills and infamous for his bad-boy ways. Unfortunately for Abby, her best friend “America” is dating Travis’s cousin (they all pretty much, live together), which means she runs into Travis a whole lot more than she’d care to.
He was the worst kind of confident. Not only was he shamelessly aware of his appeal, he was so used to women throwing themselves at him that he regarded my cool demeanor as refreshing instead of an insult. I would have to change my strategy.
He thinks she’s cute, and is intrigued with her. She doesn’t fawn all over him like the others do. She doesn’t care who he is. He decides if he can’t “have” her, then he wants her as a friend (Travis is never “friends” with girls). He’s even nicknamed her “Pigeon” (which I LOVED – you’ll find out later, why).
“What’s wrong, Pidge? Hard day?”
“No, I’m thoroughly disgusted.”
“With me?” He was smiling. I should have known that he expected the conversation. It only made me less inclined to hold back.
“Yes, you. How can you just use someone like that, and treat them that way?”
“How did I treat her? She offered her number, I declined.”
My mouth fell open at his lack of remorse.
And friends, they become. After a few days of having stayed (platonically) at his place due to some issues at her dorm, he realizes how disappointed he is that she’s going back, now that it’s fixed. So he comes up with a little bet. If she loses the bet, she continues to live with him for another month. She takes the bet, loses and the fun begins
Not only do they live together, but they become inseparable. They study together (I mean, he helps her study. He’s actually a straight A student)…
“What? You don’t think a guy covered in tats and that trades punches for a living can get good grades? I’m not in school because I have nothing better to do.”
… eat lunch together, go to parties together. He even brings her to his fights cause she’s his good luck charm. He likes her. LOTS. But, he knows better than to put the moves on her, She’s made it abundantly clear that their friendship better not be a ploy for him to get her into bed.
“I don’t want to sleep with you, Pidge. I like you too much.”
He walked past me to the bathroom, and I stood, stunned. Kara’s words replayed in my mind. Travis Maddox slept with every one; I couldn’t help but feel deficient in some way knowing he had no desire to even try to sleep with me.
He actually respects her, and likes her enough to try and stick by it. Try is the key word here. Because, it’s obvious to everyone, that Travis is developing some pretty strong feelings for Abby. And Abby is proving to be really good at resisting his charms.
“I’ve been drinking, all right? Your skin was three inches from my face, and you’re beautiful, and you smell f*&%ing awesome when you sweat. I kissed you! I’m sorry! Get over yourself!”
His excuse made the corners of my mouth turn up. “You think I’m beautiful?”
I loved that! Fighting in the ring might be easy for him, but resisting his urges, and fighting for Abby’s heart is proving to be quite a battle. This love story is not easily handed to us. I mean, she even begins dating another guy, right in front of him!! ACK!
As fun as this book is, it gets emotionally rough at times. Very rough. Travis tries to be patient, but his temper and his jealousy come into play many times, disrupting their peace. He attempts going back to his “old ways” right in front of her (you’ll be appalled a few times), and manages to break her heart (and his) in the process. Every broken hearted moment,and every time it looks like their friendship might be coming to an end, you will feel it. Lump in the throat, tear-filled eyes, they are unavoidable in this book, and they happen often. He makes mistakes. She makes mistakes.
He looked out the window. The trees cast a shadow across his face. Travis clenched his eyes shut, and a sinking feeling settled over me. It was agonizing seeing him suffer, knowing that not only was I the cause of it… I was the only one that could take it away.
“Trav? Are you okay?” I asked.
There was a long pause before he finally spoke. “I’ve never been less okay in my life.”
Woops. The lump in my throat is back.
Despite his wild, spontaneous ways, and his tough guy stance, he has always had complete control over his situation. No more. And he is freaking out! Travis is extreme in every measure, and he quickly realizes that his heart is the most extreme part of him. He has never been in love before, and has no idea how to handle his feelings.
As I mentioned to Lily:
Maryse: He is so strong and yet so vulnerable. He breaks so easy.
Lily: He breaks for her. No one else does that to him
Maryse: the most fragile heart I’ve ever seen in a book…
I’ll admit, he’s scary at times – there were a few red-flags (the kind of thing you might warn your daughter, in real life, to stay away from) but never once did I lose faith in him, or stop loving his character. Not once. He’s not that kind of “bad”.
But just in case, there were some out there that might not have liked him, I avoided ALL reviews of this book (already 96 5-star reviews and counting). I didn’t want my impression of Travis to be *spoiled* or influenced. I wanted to give you my real feelings for him, and their story, and I didn’t want my logical side to get in the way of that.
Anyway, he’s not the only pain in the butt in this book. She had me growling quite a few times, running from stuff she had no need to run from, and then sometimes, making some very grown-up choices that had me vehemently nodding and applauding her strength. They both have a lot of growing up to do, and a lot of insecurities to get over (her past and her fear of not ending up there again, his past and fear of not having that kind of closeness again). And who knows if “growing up” will fix any of this. Sometimes, this turbulent way of being, is simply ingrained in people.
So are you in the mood to be swept away in a relentless whirlwind of emotional angst? This whole best friend-love affair-devastation mess of an excellent book? Read this. Every little moment, every little nuance, dare I say? Awkwardly perfect. Every breath is there, every tiny nudge, every insecure, hesitant look. Every natural moment in a budding relationship. There.
This book was titled perfectly. They truly are a beautiful disaster.
P.S. this is the song (Invincible by Crossfade), that to me, describes the two of ‘em perfectly. Almost as if the author heard it, and the wrote the story… the lyrics are perfect.
Oh and!!! If you’ve already read Beautiful Disaster and want to know what to read next (for *that* feeling again) – here’s my list —> What To Read After Beautiful Disaster