Book Talk: Beautiful Bastard by Christina Lauren

Book Talk: Beautiful Bastard by Christina LaurenBeautiful Bastard by Christina Lauren
Series: Beautiful Bastard #1
Published by Gallery on February 12, 2013
Genres: Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 305
Format: eBook
Source: Library
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An ambitious intern. A perfectionist executive. And a whole lot of name calling.

Whip-smart, hardworking, and on her way to an MBA, Chloe Mills has only one problem: her boss, Bennett Ryan. He's exacting, blunt, inconsiderate—and completely irresistible. A Beautiful Bastard.

Bennett has returned to Chicago from France to take a vital role in his family's massive media business. He never expected that the assistant who'd been helping him from abroad was the gorgeous, innocently provocative—completely infuriating—creature he now has to see every day. Despite the rumors, he's never been one for a workplace hookup. But Chloe's so tempting he's willing to bend the rules—or outright smash them—if it means he can have her. All over the office.

As their appetites for one another increase to a breaking point, Bennett and Chloe must decide exactly what they're willing to lose in order to win each other.

When this book first came out, it was part of the massive pull-to-publish scandal, something which has long since blown over. I’d never had any interest in it, and it didn’t really sound like my sort of romance anyway. However, after getting recommendations for Lauren’s second series and after reading Autoboyography, I wanted to give the Beautiful Bastard series a shot. I’m so glad I did, because Beautiful Bastard was so much more than I expected.

From what I recalled, I thought this was either built as Twilight or 50 Shades fan fic, but that’s really not what the story felt like to me at all. Yes, Bennett’s a powerful executive and he refers to Chloe by her last name (Miss Mills) for most of the book and they have a bit of a dominance kink, but really that’s all there is for commonalities.

In the tone of the relationship, I was actually reminded much more of The Hating Game and even Pride & Prejudice a little bit. As with The Hating Game, Bennett and Chloe’s relationship very much has some problematic elements: I mean, hi, she’s his intern when he puts his hand on her ass during a one-on-one meeting. That’s not an okay thing to do at all, but I don’t think Lauren is trying to excuse that. It’s very much clear to both people that the affair isn’t a good idea.

However, everything really just worked for me, even though it was problematic and even though their kinks are not mine. There are a couple of reasons for that. First, because you have both POVs the whole time, it’s clear that Bennett isn’t as much as a dirtbag creep as he seems to be. You also know from both POVs how much they’re both into everything that’s happening. The boss element makes consent fiddly, but they both definitely want the sex even though they’re both constantly trying to think clearly and not do the sex.

Second, and more importantly, they both have the power in the sexual relationship. Bennett’s not a controlling alpha male player who tells her what to do all the time. He bosses her around sometimes, but he also very much gets off on her taking the reins. They trade off in dominance, and they both love the shit out of it. Unlike 50 Shades, it doesn’t feel like the heroine’s being forced into things she doesn’t want to do. Chloe’s concerned about the affect this could have on her reputation, but she’s very much making her own choices.

I also really loved that Bennett came off like this total asshole womanizer, but he actually has more of an awkward Darcy vibe. Even when he tries to be nice, he’s too much of a prickly perfectionist, and he scares other people off. Everyone in his massive, sweet, loving family jokes about it. He’s kinda socially awkward and brusque, but Chloe can deal with his attitude, just like Lizzy does. Plus, I love that Bennett totally falls in love first, because he’s all squishy inside.

Basically the only thing that drove me crazy about this book was the sheer amount of ridiculously expensive underwear Bennett destroys. Panties come off pretty easily! You don’t need to rip them EVERY TIME. GAH. Or like, buy some cheap shit for that, damn it.

Like with The Hating Game, this is a romance that’s a bit fucked up but also seems to perfectly fit the two people involved. The writing could have been a bit stronger in places, but a fabulous debut.

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:


Book Talk: Beautiful Bastard by Christina LaurenBeautiful Bitch by Christina Lauren
Series: Beautiful Bastard #1.5
Published by Gallery on July 9, 2013
Genres: Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 160
Format: eBook
Source: Scribd
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Picking up where Beautiful Bastard left off, Chloe Mills and Bennett Ryan continue their steamy, combative relationship.

Just when Chloe’s career starts to take off, Bennett wishes it would all slow down long enough to spend a wild night alone with his girlfriend. But after he refuses to take no for an answer, Chloe and Bennett find themselves with two plane tickets, one French Villa, and a surprising conversation that, predictably, leaves them wrestling under the covers.

Man, I hate this cover. The proportions look super weird, like she’s crouching or something. IDEK, but I loathe it. The novella covers the time just after Beautiful Bastard to a little over a year afterward.

If you’re wondering how a novella covers so much, you are right to be a bit concerned. The answer is that Beautiful Bitch takes place just over a year from their relationship beginning. However, there are very long flashbacks to key moments of their relationship in the intervening year. The flashbacks are in italics, and they are anything but seamlessly interwoven. None of the scenes are bad, but the method of storytelling did interrupt the feels.

The blurb for this novella’s also super misleading. It makes it sound like Bennett resents that Chloe’s becoming super successful, which is fucking untrue. They’ve both been working ridiculous hours, and he’s sad they don’t get to spend more time together, so he plans a vacation. There’s actually very little drama, and he’s super supportive of her.

Though not as well constructed as the novel, Beautiful Bitch very much fits Chloe and Bennett. The last scene is adorable, and I totally still ship them. Even more actually, as I got to see them settle into a stable routine.

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:

I love that either one of them would say this.


Book Talk: Beautiful Bastard by Christina LaurenBeautiful Stranger by Christina Lauren
Series: Beautiful Bastard #2
Published by Gallery on April 16, 2013
Genres: Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 345
Format: eBook
Source: Scribd
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Escaping a cheating ex, finance whiz Sara Dillon’s moved to New York City and is looking for excitement and passion without a lot of strings attached. So meeting the irresistible, sexy Brit at a dance club should have meant nothing more than a night’s fun. But the manner—and speed—with which he melts her inhibitions turns him from a one-time hookup and into her Beautiful Stranger.

The whole city knows that Max Stella loves women, not that he’s ever found one he particularly wants to keep around. Despite pulling in plenty with his Wall Street bad boy charm, it’s not until Sara—and the wild photos she lets him take of her—that he starts wondering if there’s someone for him outside of the bedroom.

Hooking up in places where anybody could catch them, the only thing scarier for Sara than getting caught in public is having Max get too close in private.

Damn, Beautiful Stranger was just as unputdownable as Beautiful Disaster. Lauren is totally killing my ability to read anything else.

Chloe’s friend Sara ends up moving to NYC to work with Chloe and Bennett at the firm’s new branch there after her politician fiance turned out to be a cheating asshole. Shortly after arriving, Chloe meets a hot guy at a club and bangs him, only to later discover he’s Bennett’s friend Max.

Because of all the shit she’s been through in her six year relationship, the last thing Chloe wants is a relationship, so she gets Max to agree to a once-a-week, monogamous sex relationship that will indulge her in the discovery of her exhibitionist kink. Again, this isn’t a kink that I’m into at all, but they’re both having so much fun with it that I loved reading about it.

Once again, I’m impressed with the slow and believable build of feelings that follows behind the mind-blowing sex. I’m also impressed by how non-dramatic this series has been, aside from the kinky sex. Like, all of them have loving families, and they’re generally pretty reasonable about stuff. I totally shipped Sara and Max, and I loved how thoughtful he was of her and how often Sara takes the lead in sexual situations. There’s such a great balance of power to the romance in these books.

I really just can’t get over how fun these books are.

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:


Book Talk: Beautiful Bastard by Christina LaurenBeautiful Bombshell by Christina Lauren
Series: Beautiful Bastard #2.5
Published by Pocket Star on September 3, 2013
Genres: Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 160
Format: eBook
Source: Scribd
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The gentlemen from Beautiful Bastard, Beautiful Stranger, and Beautiful Player are out for a wild night on The Strip.

When Max, Henry, and Will steal Bennett away for a weekend of shenanigans and strippers in Vegas, the first stop of the night doesn’t go at all as planned. With their scheme for a Guys Weekend completely derailed anyway, Max and Bennett begin to play a wild game of stealth and secrecy in order to have their bombshells all over Sin City.

Beautiful Bombshell was a much more fun novella than the prior one. It’s by far the most humorous and light-hearted of the series thus far, and I enjoyed the time spent on the bromances (though I didn’t like Henry in this at all and he seemed nice in Beautiful Bastard). The moments between Chloe/Bennett and Sara/Max are cute, and it’s great set up for Will to be the MC in the next book. I also really loved the ending.

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:


Book Talk: Beautiful Bastard by Christina LaurenBeautiful Player by Christina Lauren
Series: Beautiful Bastard #3
Published by Gallery on October 29, 2013
Genres: Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 402
Format: eBook
Source: Scribd
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A bombshell bookworm. A chronic Casanova. And a lesson in chemistry too scandalous for school.

When Hanna Bergstrom receives a lecture from her overprotective brother about neglecting her social life and burying herself in grad school, she’s determined to tackle his implied assignment: get out, make friends, start dating. And who better to turn her into the sultry siren every man wants than her brother’s gorgeous best friend, Will Sumner, venture capitalist and unapologetic playboy?

Will takes risks for a living, but he’s skeptical about this challenge of Hanna’s…until the wild night his innocently seductive pupil tempts him into bed- and teaches him a thing or two about being with a woman he can’t forget. Now that Hanna’s discovered the power of her own sex appeal, it’s up to Will to prove he’s the only man she’ll ever need.

Beautiful Player marks a bit of a departure from the first two books, the first foray into a slow burn romance. As per usual, I couldn’t put it down, and I devoured it whole.

Hanna and Will have known each other since she was 12 and he 19, a friend of her eldest brother. They reconnect at the behest of said brother, concerned that she doesn’t get out enough. Will expects to be helping out Jensen’s awkward little sister, but Hanna’s grown up now. The romance arc itself hits the expected notes, particularly the self-doubt Hanna has with regards to Will’s intentions and the break up caused by a failure to communicate.

However, aside from those elements, I did really love these two. Hanna’s very outspoken, and she doesn’t believe in sex being a taboo subject. If she’s curious about something, she asks. It’s fun the way that her openness can sometimes make Will seem the innocent one, as he’s thrown for a loop by her. Much less experienced, Hanna asks Will to teach her, which could feel creepy or domineering but really doesn’t. I’d have liked to see more nerdy bonding though. She wears a Firefly shirt at one point, and he wears a Doctor Who one; I’d have loved for them to discuss sci fi or watch it together.

Another smash tbh. I’m thrilled to see that Lauren can make a book compelling, even without hot sex in almost every single chapter.

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:


Book Talk: Beautiful Bastard by Christina LaurenBeautiful Beginning by Christina Lauren
Series: Beautiful Bastard #3.5
Published by Pocket Star on November 19, 2013
Genres: Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 208
Format: eBook
Source: Scribd
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Back when not being able to stand each other also meant not being able to keep their hands off each other in Beautiful Bastard, neither Bennett nor Chloe could have seen this day coming.

An exasperated bride who just wants to elope. A determined groom whose only focus is getting to the wedding night. And—of course—a whole lot of name calling.

This novella covers Chloe and Bennett’s big day and the week prior. Bennett decides he wants to make the wedding night special, so he puts the kibosh on sex for the week, which launches a war between the two of them. That part was fun and very them. I was less enamored of the constant comedy gags as things to do with the wedding go wrong in over-the-top ways. Like, Bennett and Max, both intelligent and thoughtful men, don’t shut the back of a van, and Sara’s bridesmaid dress ends up with tire tracks across it. I know I’m supposed to be amused and also charmed by the fact that they all react so well, but I just thought it was stupid and distracting. There’s humor in these books, but, aside from Beautiful Bombshell, it was never this kind of humor. Not a bad story, but, for my taste, I’d have preferred something a bit less absurd.

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:

Only Max and Bennett, not Phoebe


Book Talk: Beautiful Bastard by Christina LaurenBeautiful Beloved by Christina Lauren
Series: Beautiful Bastard #3.6
Published by Pocket Star on February 2, 2015
Genres: Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 113
Format: eBook
Source: Scribd
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In Beautiful Stranger, finance whiz Sara Dillon met the irresistibly sexy Brit, Max Stella, at a New York City club. Through the series we’ve watched them learn to balance commitment with their less than private brand of playfulness. In Beautiful Beloved, Max and Sara take it to the next step. But the question is: Will they be able to find a balance between the wild sexcapades they aren’t ready to retire, and the demands of parenthood that come along with their new Beautiful bundle of joy? Parenthood: it’s not for the weak of heart.

Listen, this novella’s good, but it’s so absolutely not my thing. I was tempted to skip the short story with the pregnant woman on the cover, but I’m a completionist and I love these characters, so I didn’t want to miss anything. Unsurprisingly, though, I didn’t like the baby stuff. It just does nothing for me, except gross me out. Hot men being sweet to babies doesn’t get my motor running.

That said, I do think it’s pretty stella-r that, even for a romance novel couple who banged constantly pre-baby, they’re struggling to make their sex life work as new parents. That’s an element of realism I wouldn’t have expected. Max and Sara are sweet, and their love for themselves and their kid shines through, so if you do love babies, you will love this.

I DID love meeting Niall. He’s such a sweetheart and, based on his chapters here, a very atypical male lead.

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:


Book Talk: Beautiful Bastard by Christina LaurenBeautiful Secret by Christina Lauren
Series: Beautiful Bastard #4
Published by Gallery on April 14, 2015
Genres: Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 385
Format: eBook
Source: Scribd
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When Ruby Miller's boss announces he's sending her on an extended business trip to New York City, she's shocked. As one of the best and brightest young engineers in London, she knows she's professionally up to the task. The part that's throwing her is where she'll be spending a month up close and personal working alongside and staying in a hotel with Niall Stella, her firm's top urban planning executive and The Hottest Man Alive. Despite her ongoing crush, Ruby is certain Niall barely knows she's alive until their flirty overnight flight makes him sit up and take notice.

Not one for letting loose and breaking rules, recently divorced Niall would describe himself as hopeless when it comes to women. But even he knows outgoing California-girl Ruby is a breath of fresh air. Once she makes it her mission to help the sexy Brit loosen his tie, there's no turning back. Thousands of miles from London, it's easy for the lovers to play pretend. But when the trip is over, will the relationship they've built up fall down?

Holy shit, Beautiful Secret is so good. Immediately, Ruby and Niall became my favorite ship of the series. I mean, I love them all, but these two are absolutely my shippy catnip.

Something this writing duo does so well is writing weirdos who happen to believably be perfect together. Niall and Ruby are nerdy and awkward in a way that not even Hanna ever really was. Their initial conversations are stilted and painful but also adorable at the same time by some dark magic. I really love when that sort of social anxiety is pulled off in a way that feels true to life, because it’s super relatable when it doesn’t feel like a gimmick.

They’re revisiting the boss/intern romance, though thankfully Niall isn’t Ruby’s boss; they’re in separate divisions of the company. Usually I’m not a big fan of romances where one person has been crushing hard for ages, because it generally feels like the wrong kind of wish fulfillment, but here it works for me. I think it works because Niall isn’t what Ruby thought he was, and she falls in love with who he actually is even harder.

Also, I am all about romances with atypical romances, so obviously I love that Ruby’s much more experienced and that Niall’s the one who is nervous of a sexual relationship outside of love. They move much more slowly than the previous couples, but I was so incredibly invested. Like, Niall’s repressed Darcy vibes and the fact that Ruby wants to be the Lizzy to that Darcy is soooo my catnip you don’t even know.

The one thing that I didn’t like here, which keeps this and pretty much all of the books in this series from being five star reads for me, is the nth hour breakup. All the books follow the same pattern where right near the end they have this falling out for a couple of months, during which they are miserable so you can tell it’s real love, before they get back together. This is never my favorite trope, but it’s extra frustrating in this circumstance because Ruby won’t let Niall explain, and he doesn’t push as hard as I wanted him to.

That said, I loved the fuck out of this. It’s the nerdiest, awkwardest book of the bunch, so clearly that earns the spot closest to my heart.

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:


Book Talk: Beautiful Bastard by Christina LaurenBeautiful Boss by Christina Lauren
Series: Beautiful Bastard #4.5
Published by Pocket Star on February 29, 2016
Genres: Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 118
Format: eBook
Source: Scribd
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The ninth work in the New York Times and #1 internationally bestselling series that started with Beautiful Bastard. In this novella, Will Sumner and Hanna Bergstrom (from Beautiful Player) find that a wedding and everlasting love were just the beginning.

One Player tamed. One nerd girl satisfied. And one more major life decision to make. When Will fell for Hanna, her quirky sense of humor and fierce dedication to her career were part of the attraction. (Not to mention her coy newbie attitude toward sex and her willingness to let him teach her everything.) But when the job offers start rolling in for her—and oh, they do—Hanna has trouble deciding what she wants, where they should live, and how much she should burden Will with the decision. Magic between the sheets is only one part of a relationship...getting on the same page is quite another altogether.

The novellas collectively are good, but, as per usual, good novellas still don’t tend to compare to the novels of the series they’re adding to. Beautiful Boss is one of my least favorite of the novellas. Most of them have been cutesy feel good, heavily comedic additional bits of fun. In Beautiful Boss, though, Lauren tackles real life problems, and that’s really not what I want from a romance novel tbh, even when done well.

I’m not sure what Will and Hanna did to piss off their authors, but they alone get a book about relationship problems. Hanna’s searching for employment and interviewing at possible schools around the country (and even in Europe), and Max is freaking out about not knowing where they’ll end up. It’s all well done and very realistic, and ultimately their relationship is stronger for working through the rough patch. Still, this novella’s not very fun to read, because it’s stressful watching your ship argue.

The quality’s good but, oof, not what I wanted.

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:


Book Talk: Beautiful Bastard by Christina LaurenBeautiful by Christina Lauren
Series: Beautiful Bastard #5
Published by Gallery on October 4, 2016
Genres: Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 400
Format: eBook
Source: Library
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In a final installment of the series, a new couple finds love and the casts of the previous books join in to celebrate in the most beautiful way possible.

Beautiful brings together two secondary characters (Jensen, Hanna’s brother, and Pippa, Ruby’s bestie) in a sweet romance of happenstance. This book is by far the most adorable and rom-com.

Plot-wise, Beautiful loses some of the realism and heads into unlikely trope-land, but they’re all done so cutely that I really didn’t mind the change. Willing to suspend disbelief for the adorbs over here. Jensen and Hanna meet on a plane, and he’s very turned off by her loudness and drunken over-sharing, only to discover that she’s going on a wine tour with him and his friends. Of course, he learns this when she shows up just in time to overhear him talking about the crazy woman he sat next to on the plane.

They’re then stuck in set-up hell as they set out on a road trip with the disgustingly in love Will/Hanna and Ruby/Niall. Everyone ships them, and they’re not really sure how to feel about it, even once they overcome the horrible first meeting and strike up a rapport. Happenstance intervenes in the form of an ex and a surprise appearance of the fake dating trope. The rom-com-ness continues to the end, complete with more happenstance and a grand gesture.

I can imagine this book being underwhelming for some readers, considering that there’s way less sex than usual and no sex until about halfway through the book. Perhaps more surprising, there are sex scenes that are referenced but which don’t happen on-page. I didn’t mind this though, because I thought Jensen and Pippa were adorable together. He’s all buttoned-up and stuffy, where she’s bright and silly. They both have such a strong impact on each other, and it’s really cute. Even the nth hour break up fits better with this book, because they were in weird circumstances, what with her living in London and him Boston.

Along with the cuteness of the main relationship, this book’s such a celebration of the full cast. All of the couples make appearances, and there are even epilogues for each couple. The running gag of the nice Chloe, altered by pregnancy is cute, and I LOVE that George finally got himself a love interest. Oh, and Pippa’s Mums are adorable too. There’s way too much pregnancy and baby-having for my taste, but they’re all so happy it’s hard to begrudge them.

I say this every time, but Beautiful was one of my favorites. I’m just so impressed with this whole series. Each romance and character is distinct from the rest, and the ships are all so good. There’s so much variety, and it’s all so high quality. Writing team Christina Lauren is officially on my obsession list (though lbr that happened at book two).

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:

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