Beautiful Disaster (Beautiful, #1) - Jamie McGuire Two teenagers, two untold stories, two secret pasts.At the start they couldn't be any more different from each other. Two opposite sides of magnet that keep attracting each other, they keep pushing and pushing but they're meant for each other. There is Abby, a sweet next door girl, unassuming, cashmere cardigans and pearl wearing. She's trying so hard to forget her past and together with her best friend America have just joined the Eastern Uni, away from her past. You don't know what she's trying to hide but she gives the impression of an innocent girl without a bad bone in her body. And there is Travis Mad Dog Maddox, the shaved head, tattooed bad guy. They meet, in the most unlikely places, in a basement room, heavy with cigarette smoke, cheap beer fumes, sweat and danger … he's fighting, the blood of his opponent splashes across Abby's top and she's been marked! She caught his eyes, she'd been following him, every move of his, pushing and elbowing her way to the front to get a better view. The fate is sealed! To anyone they couldn't be any different and less suitable for each other. She comes across as innocent, he is the self-assured, hot headed, bully with the “use 'em and abuse 'em” attitude to girls. They all throw themselves at his feet, vying for his attention, happy to be noticed or so they think. And there's the new girl with high morals and who made it clear that she doesn’t want him or his attention. She is his cousin's love interest best friend. They come as a package, so meeting and spending time together is unavoidable. The reader can see it that they are attracted to each other, she can't see it but she can't help spending as much time as she can with him. Everyone is shocked, how can an ordinary girl tame the famous unattainable Travis. So it starts... Together with Abby we start learning about Travis obsessions, we can see it, his cousin can see it, she can't. It is there staring in their faces, she's so different from what he normally brings home, she's got high standards or so she would like to think, and at first she's worried what the others might be thinking of her closeness with Travis. He's not worried, he's taken her under his wings, helping her with bio studies, protecting her from unwanted attention and it's borderline to obsession, unhealthy really. She's his addiction. You do get worried that she's going to be a victim and he's showing increasingly disturbing behavior, treating Abby as his trophy. There was an uneasy feeling reading through the pages about this relationship, I could see myself shaking my head in disapproval but I kept turning the pages and still secretly routing for the two of them getting together. There were parts in the story where I couldn't believe what was happening, how could a nearly 19 years old could fall for this and go ahead with it.You do have the element of the love triangle as in all the YA fiction but this one was too weak and undeveloped, its only purpose highlighting the wrongness of the whole Travis possession. And what a contradiction he is, one minute immature, hot bloodied, a bully, ready to use the punches and resolve everything with violence, but there's the other Travis, insecure and needy of Abby's love. They both start growing on you. As you read along you start unravelling their secrets and what a surprise. There's not much in Trav's past, a terrible loss at a young age, but what a revelation on Abby's part. You knew that something had happened to her but no way was I prepared for this. You'd expect the contradictions and the inner turmoil with Travis, after all that's what we've been conditioned to expect in most of YA books, the hero is a bad guy with a big heart and it only takes for a sweet girl to fall in love with and he changes. The biggest surprise was Abby, the dark secrets and dark demons she has been trying to run away from have finally caught up with her, threatening her new life, her new friendships and her new love. This is when we start to reacquaint with her. She's got a drink and secret gambling problem, after all that’s how her relationship with Travis started, with a bet!. We get glimpses of her past life in gambling dens, not much but Abby is not very open with her feelings and doesn’t let you in. She's worried that "her curse" or her "lucky streak" will be the death of her love and with bitter memories that still haunt her she starts to distance herself from the very thing or person she can't keep away from. It's the time for realisations, for Travis to realise that his love is so big that he can let her go and for Abby that her love for him is so strong she can't let him go. Two tortured souls, two hormonal teenagers but with typical stubbornness for their years, they continue in their paths that keep intercepting and they finally manage to overcome the obstacles, physical and emotional and realise that they are meant for each other. There were parts in the book that didn't sit well with me, his obsessive behavior, his hot temper, and there's Abby's attitude and easiness towards him. He didn't let Abby spread her wings, breathe free, he suffocated her. Abby seems to be at ease with Travis fighting. I couldn't believe when she egged him on to sort out one of their friends in the cafeteria when he stepped the line! I felt that this should have been explained a bit better, a deeper insight given into her past. We’ve only had few hints so far, i.e. fake ID's, her alleged connections with the mob, her poker skills and her drinking abilities. “Did you mean it when you said you didn’t want me to change?” he asked, squeezing my hand. I looked down at Chris laughing to his teammates, and then turned to Travis. “Absolutely. Teach that asshole some manners.” Oh this is wrong on so many levels.Is this Abby’s way to reassure Travis that she is the right girl for him? Is she really that desperate not to loose him? By admitting to him and everyone else on the table that she doesn’t condemn his bullish behavior she either has shown her real self or fallen into the trap of so many abused girlfriends, wives. This is when you start feeling that things are not right. I can’t get my head round this and I don’t know what the writer is trying to say with Abby condoning and encouraging Travis’ usual modus operandis. Is this right? She won’t let us know more about what and how Abby is feeling about this. Is this the non-turning point for Abby, is she girl gone bad now? Is there something we don’t know about Abby, we’ve already gone through a lot of pages by now but we still don’t get any glimpses into her emotional state, not even from her best friend America “Mare”. She’s always quick to slag off anyone who threatens to upset Abby, but there really isn’t any closeness. Even the gay element (we need diversity nowadays!) wasn’t very convincing, as if he was conveniently there for Abby when her friend was absent. So either Abby was meant to be a very closed and reserved person and unable to communicate or her character needed more work. But I couldn't help wanting Abby and Travis to get together and solve their problems and differences. I found the other part of the love triangle Parker, weak and only used as a tool to speed the storyline. This was a love triangle that didn't feel like it had any substance, half-baked really. This guy had absolutely no chance and I did not understand why he was even introduced. I never had the unfortunate experience knowing a bad guy to such a close extent. To be honest they both seems like the kind of people I would stay away from and avoid if I could. I do applaud the writer for trying to give us an insight into the mind and the emotional turmoil of the bad hero, explaining along the way that there is always a reason or an event that changes and shapes the life of the baddies. While in most of the fictions we see the transformation I wasn't sure that Abby was your usual heroine. The only thing missing from this book was the drugs but don't think that was necessary as the unhealthy obsession Travis had toward Abby surpassed any addictions. I did not at any point fall for Travis, I just could not feel any sympathy for him even though the author tried to make us feel sorry for him, loss of his mother at a very young age, bulling from brothers etc. I just couldn't portray him as a lovable person. Usually we have the heroine and the anti-heroine bitch, but in this story apart from Abby and Mare all other girls were sluts and deserved to be treated as such. If you knew that someone who loves to fight, it's a bully and got a reputation of sleeping around and not caring, you would be scared and would keep away from him, not so in this book. They all seem to queue for his attention and are prepared for the humiliation in front of everyone. Where is the self-respect and self-preservation?! I feel contradicted about this book, I liked the pace, I liked the storytelling style, I overlooked the typos and the holes in the storyline, but once I finished it I felt uneasy. I am trying to be devil’s advocate here and suggest that all the mistakes and errors are part of the self-publishing package. With a good editor this book could have been a good one. I don’t want to slam and bash the author and I want to distance myself from some other reviewers. I think that the book was rushed, we didn’t get to see much into the mind of Abby, who I think is the main problem. It has been mentioned here in Goodreads that there was no resemblance between her father and Travis, but I think there is, they are both into making easy money via gambling, one playing poker and the other throwing punches. Abby shows remarkable maturity to recognise this and she fought at first not to get involved but her willpower is not very strong. Also we don’t get to know or even get close to what her attraction with Travis was, her friend Mare did say something about Trav resembling her father but this was not taken any further. We were left with loose ends. Was that the very last fight for Travis? Will he still punch his way through life? Has Abby given up gambling and drinking? Did the near-death experience changed their values in life? Have these two flawed people reached a new stage in their life?