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The Eleventh Hour

Reading for fun, knowledge and power.

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A Hundred Summers
Beatriz Williams
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Antonia Fraser
Beautiful Disaster (Beautiful, #1) - Jamie McGuire This is a really difficult book to even express my thoughts about... So, the book's compulsively readable, that's one thing. It's also compulsively screwed up, any prospective reader should know that too. I read this book with a sense of dawning horror at what was to come next, and as the page count mounted, what came next was usually the main male protagonist beating people up while the female heroine waited anxiously in the background.

Anyway, Beautiful Disaster is the story of Abby and Travis. They are a freshman and sophomore, respectively, in college. Travis is a frat boy and a cousin to Abby's best friend's boyfriend. Abby has come to college to get away from her terrible father figure who used to play pro poker and drink a lot. She's determined that she'll be someone new this time, which is why she wears a lot of cardigans and fake pearls. For his part, Travis is seducing (which is the classy way to put it) anything that moves and has breasts. He also has a reputation for having breathtaking anger management issues. Sounds like these two people are about to enter a healthy and mature adult relationship, amirite?

This destined duo of soulmates, Abby and Travis, meet at an illegal, underground fighting ring where Travis is fighting; he walks up to her as she is trying frantically to clean up blood (sprayed into the crowd when Travis punched his opponent) on her pink sweater set. It really just sets the tone for entire story, actually. Because the rest of the story consists of Travis stalking Abby and everyone harassing Abby to just go ahead and date Travis, even though he is clearly an unhinged emotional terrorist. For example, Travis violently assaults men who vocalize an appreciation for Abby's physical appearance. He violently assaults men who even dare to come within a 5 foot radius of Abby. He follows her, and forces her to change her hair-style and clothing so that other men won't admire her. He tries to strong-arm her into staying in a relationship with him because he needs her so much, can't she see!

I was honestly unsure, until about 80% of the way through the story, if this was a romance novel or a cautionary tale about abusive and/or co-dependent partners. It really could have gone either way. It's scary the way this is presented, actually. Because Travis comes across as pretty textbook domestic abuser (he just doesn't hit women allegedly), and all of the characters seem to think that Travis is romantic and this behavior is just fine. I spent the whole story thinking "oh honey no" to Abby, as she tried to rationalize her boyfriend's unpredictable and violent actions. To be honest, I left the story thinking I had just read the prequel to a Scorned: Love Kills episode on the Investigation Discovery channel.

As for technical considerations... The writing is readable. I would put this, stylistically, with Fifty Shades of Grey on writing technique. Nothing great, but passable. On the whole, I can't really recommend this book. I feel like I need to read something non-romance to cleanse my palate from this story, and that almost NEVER happens to me. 1 star = F.