Beautiful Bastard
by Christina Lauren, contemporary (2013)
Gallery Books, $15.00, ISBN 978-1-4767-3009-7


Christina Lauren is actually the pseudonym for the writing team of Lauren Billings Luhrs and Christina Hobbs Venstra. You may have read that press release where these ladies were actually proud to announce that Beautiful Bastard is actually a shaved Twilight fanfiction previously called The Office.

To stave off the inevitable "EL James copied Stephanie Meyer first!" comparisons, there is a blurb in this book from Anne Jamison from the Unversity of Utah, which claims that The Office was actually the fanfiction and EL James is just an imitator of these ladies. Oh, and there are quotes from fellow "I sold my fanfiction too after changing all the names" writing buddies and gushing praises from Robert Pattinson groupies.

The selling point of this book, therefore, can be summed up as follows: "We are proud to announce that we violated Bella Swan and Edward Cullen for money, but that tart EL James beat us to the punch, and now we want you to know that she copied us and we did it first!"

It's like arguing over which member of One Direction is the hottest. Does it matter? Such arguments just make everyone stupid because the whole thing is stupid.

Oh yes, the book. You know, I just spent three hours talking about the origins of this story because there's not much point to the story itself. It feels a lot of Fifty Shades Of Grey, only, this one has all the depths of an official autobiography of Taylor Lautner.

The story is simple: Chloe Mills works at Ryan Media Group, but as of late, she hates her new boss Bennett Ryan because he's a jerk. But he's hot so they have sex non-stop. He continues being an ass and gets violent when she seems to be paying attention to other guys, she insists that she hates him and he's such a jerk, and they have sex again - repeat this pattern until the rushed happy ending that is as believable as Kristen Stewart's attempts to pretend that she was actually dating Robert Pattinson.

So, the similar basic ingredients are there - jerk millionaire boss whose so-called bad childhood is an excuse for him to act like an incontinent asshole, and the "nice girl" who catches his eye and his pee-pee in a blaze of glory.

Here's the thing, while EL James at least tries to show me that Anastasia Swan and Christian Cullen have a relationship to work on, Chloe Swan and Bennett Cullen just have hate sex all the way from start to finish. Bennett is an ass for no reason other than because he's an ass - an ass that specializes in public humiliation and sexual harassment - who targets Chloe because she makes him hot and he can't stand that. He ignores her weak efforts to tell him that she will lose her credibility altogether if their hate-sex marathon is found out, as Bennett is of course too manly to care. He doesn't have any real reasons to be an ass, and his family members even point this out. But an ass he remains, I guess because it's now compulsory for every hero in a romantic tale to be one.

Throw in ridiculous conflicts arising due to wrong assumptions that arise from eavesdropping and I have a book that is high on childish behavior and silly hate sex and low on everything else.

I guess it goes without saying that Chloe is a Mary Sue. She's an intern that is at the same time so brilliant, so awesome, so beloved, and so amazing that I don't know why she hasn't been promoted to be the queen of the universe. Maybe it's because good girls shouldn't be more successful that their boyfriends - that will be so unfeminine.

Looking at this book, I guess it took two authors to write this because each handled a main character's first person point of view, as it's not like they worked together to introduce any depth in this story. And the scary thing is, they claim that this book has been significantly reworked and that only 20% of The Office remained here. Let me guess, they added in 80% more hate sex and painful displays of childish behavior?

No, I don't know why you should read this book. I don't even know what compelled the people at Gallery Books to pick this up either, apart from the obvious, that is. Maybe it's all a plot to show the world that, compared to books like Beautiful Bastard, those Fifty Shades books probably aren't so bad after all.

Rating: 48


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