Review: Beautiful Bastard by Christina Lauren

4:15 PM

Beautiful Bastard by Christina Lauren | Rating: ★★☆☆☆

After reading Dating You / Hating You by Christina Lauren last summer, I have to admit, I was curious about the rest of their publications. Imagine my surprise upon realizing that I had read Beautiful Bastard, the first of their highly popular series, in its original form: Twilight fanfiction sensation The Office. It's no secret that my mid-to-late teenage years were spent tucked between the pages of books like Gossip Girl, Harry Potter and Twilight, and that I read basically every fanfiction set in one of those worlds I could get my hands on. My motto, back in the day? The smuttier, the better.

Teenage hormones are fun! Not. But, in all seriousness, I am stunned. Beautiful Bastard marks the third or fourth Twilight-based FF that I obsessed over in high school to be published. Which is thrilling in its own right, even if the finished product isn't adult!me's cup of tea. While I have only the fondest of memories of this book's original form, and it was thrilling to see the author's success in mainstream publishing, Beautiful Bastard just didn't work for me as its own book.

What made it work as a smutty fanfiction, was that we didn't need a full-blown plotline to enjoy its massively steamy love scenes. We knew the characters to a degree already. It was pure smut and pure smut leads to no substance. Beautiful Bastard desperately needed something to add to it, however, because in this form we are unfamiliar with its characters and they end up feeling like they are just... there.

And naked.

Which just isn't my thing. There has to be something more to it. I have to feel like I know each of the characters and root for them. Normally, smutty stories can stand on their own, and have the lives of the characters weave into the sexy-times.

(Don't get me wrong. The sex is great in Beautiful Bastard. The chemistry sizzling so quickly, the pages threaten to catch fire. It's just... there has to be more than just that.)   

The thing is, we know that Christina Lauren can do so, as a team, based on their more recent releases. I cannot hold them to the flaws of this story due to its age and humble beginnings, because I know their prose has recharged and improved itself. There's just this part of me that wishes the story had gone through a bit more of an extensive rewrite so that the characters and the settings and the plots could actually thrive in the way they had potential to.

We all enjoy a enemies-to-lovers plotline. The tension scratches an itch for many of us. Beautiful Bastard is merely to short, too underdeveloped, too rushed to really make its mark on the romance genre. While it is entertaining, a quick read that is 98% smut, it's quickly forgettable and under-whelming.

Still, it sets the stage for the possibility that its sequels--each of which appear to be tied into Chloe and Bennett's love story but feature a different couple each book--will succeed where it didn't and I'm quite curious about the remaining books.

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