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Jennifer Lane Books

Hi, I'm Jen, a psychologist/author (psycho author) in Columbus, Ohio. I write romantic suspense for adults and new adults. And I'm a voracious reader of romance and fiction. I love laughing, swimming, volleyball, and Grumpy Cat.

Currently reading

Standing at the Crossroads: Next Steps for High-Achieving Women
Patricia J. Ohlott, Marian N. Ruderman
The Space Between
Victoria H. Smith
Chasing Hope
Kathryn Cushman
Beautiful Disaster  - Jamie McGuire Intriguing Characters with Disastrous Ending

I've heard about this story for ages and I'm glad I finally got to experience it myself. The characters definitely held my interest.

Abby's first year of college is supposed to be a fresh start for her, away from her father and all that he represents. She wears pearls and a pink cardigan when she accompanies her friend America to a secret campus fight, where she catches her first glimpse of legendary fighter , college sophomore Travis "Mad Dog" Maddox. When Travis attacks his opponent, blood sprays on Abby's sweater.

What a telling image to start the story -- a preppy, pristine pink cardigan smattered with blood. It's a metaphor for the disaster of the relationship to come between Abby and Travis. She doesn't want to get dirty but Travis's mess clings to her like a second skin. Things might not be so black and white though. Abby's good girl image hides her dark background, and the tattoos and muscles defining Travis's hard exterior don't tell the whole story about him, either.

The characterization is superb. I love how Travis stuns Abby with his intelligence, and how Abby surprises Travis with her poker prowess. Abby's friend America dates Shepley, Travis's cousin, and they are both well-drawn. I even liked rich boy Parker, who tries to woo Abby aka "Abs":

I waved, watching Parker walk down the steps to his car. "'Bye."
Once again, when I turned the knob, the door yanked away and I fell forward. Travis caught me, and I regained my footing.
"Would you stop that?" I said, closing the door behind me.
"'Abs'? What are you, a workout video?" Travis sneered.
"'Pigeon'?" I said with the same amount of disdain. "An annoying bird that craps all over the sidewalk?"

That's right, Travis calls Abby Pigeon. My friend Roche filled me in that "Pigeon" is a reference from Lady and the Tramp. I guess Tramp nicknames Lady "Pigeon", and that signifies that Abby is the only lady Travis knows. I thought once I knew the meaning of this nickname that I would accept it, but I still think it's rather dumb.

Travis cracks me up, like when Parker leaves Abby's birthday party:

"Daddy's gone!" Travis yelled when the door closed. "Time to get the party started!"

Ha ha. Poor Parker doesn't have a chance.

I easily related to Abby's roommate Kara, who views Travis with disdain:

"It's dangerous to need someone that much," Kara said. "You're trying to save him, and he's hoping you can. You two are a disaster."
I smiled at the ceiling. "It doesn't matter what or why it is. When it's good, Kara . . . it's beautiful."
She rolled her eyes. "You're hopeless."
Travis knocked on the door, and Kara let him in.
"I'm going to the commons to study. Good luck," she said in the most insincere voice she could muster.
"What was that about?" Travis asked.
"She said we're a disaster."
"Tell me something I don't know," he smiled.

It was a cute touch that there was no chapter thirteen. ;-) I also loved Abby's insight into the similarities between Travis and her father.

The plot has some problems, however. I thought Abby's ongoing rejection of Travis lasted a bit too long. It was climactic when Travis wants to go work for Benny, much to Abby's heartbreak. But then the story keeps moving after that big moment, which felt disjointed. I understand that the back and forth breakups show exactly how disastrous this relationship is, but they were too jarring for me.

My biggest negative critique is how the story ended. I'm fine with what happens between Travis and Abby, but I disapprove of the timing of that event, following a major campus tragedy that doesn't even get mentioned in the aftermath.

With so many great books I want to read, I'm not sure if I'll read Travis's POV in [b:Walking Disaster|15745950|Walking Disaster (Beautiful, #2)|Jamie McGuire|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1352338368s/15745950.jpg|21436019]. I'm sure it will be entertaining, though!