This week I’m reviewing Beautiful Bad by Annie Ward. I seriously knew nothing about the book’s plot when I sat down to read it. I must have read something at some point to request it on Netgalley, but I started totally oblivious to what the story would be about.
As I started to read, it struck me as very unique from a lot of the other thrillers out there. For one thing, the characters in the book all have wanderlust. They live and operate all over the world and don’t seem to have many worries about what could happen to them.
This has always fascinated me. Because while I enjoy travel, I worry. I worry before we go that the house and the cat will be okay. I worry we will get in some horrible accident on the way there or back, and I worry some more. My husband thinks I need a therapist. But that’s for another time.
So, I’m a definitely a homebody. But I’m so intrigued by people who just go. I now several of these folks, those who would rather take a trip somewhere far away and exotic than spend money on just about anything else in the world. I have friends who laugh in the face of danger. And really, I think they seem more free because of it. They just go!
Before I even get to my review, I’m going to go ahead and say if you like travel, and you don’t worry as much about risks because they hold you back from your next adventure, you will find a kindred spirit in Ward’s main character, Maddie.
But read on!
From the Publisher:
For fans of The Woman in the Window and Gone Girl comes a twisted and addictive psychological thriller about a devoted wife, a loving husband and a chilling murder that no one saw coming
Things that make me scared: When Charlie cries. Hospitals and lakes. When Ian drinks vodka in the basement. ISIS. When Ian gets angry… That something is really, really wrong with me.
Maddie and Ian’s romance began with a chance encounter at a party overseas; he was serving in the British army and she was a travel writer visiting her best friend, Jo. Now almost two decades later, married with a beautiful son, Charlie, they are living the perfect suburban life in Middle America. But when a camping accident leaves Maddie badly scarred, she begins attending writing therapy, where she gradually reveals her fears about Ian’s PTSD; her concerns for the safety of their young son, Charlie; and the couple’s tangled and tumultuous past with Jo.
From the Balkans to England, Iraq to Manhattan, and finally to an ordinary family home in Kansas, sixteen years of love and fear, adventure and suspicion culminate in The Day of the Killing, when a frantic 911 call summons the police to the scene of a shocking crime.
The exotic locations in this book is what grabbed me first. The book starts with Maddie, Ian and her friend Joanne all living in the Balkans in their twenties as part of school or service. And while the characters weren’t overly concerned with danger in the parts of world they live in, they are young, and it was right before September 11, before many of us felt we had to worry as much–whether we were right or wrong.
One thing I craved more of in the beginning of the story was more history and insight into the conflicts in the regions the characters lived in, more physical descriptions of the places they traveled. Because this book definitely starts differently than many thrillers and I wanted more of that.
As the story unfolds, we are taken through the intense and deep friendship that Joanne and Maddie share. We also see Maddie and Ian’s toxic relationship unfold…with what starts as a deep undeniable attraction that smolders and smolders, erupting several times before the inevitable end. And we all know that type of relationship does not provide the stability to last, to live with every day. But those relationships are also the most tempting and memorable ones.
I didn’t dislike Maddie, but I certainly felt she was not capable of making good decisions. There is some insight later on the book that helps explain why she would be this way, and I really appreciated that. All in all though, the end of the book left me feeling extremely unsettled. And I know that can leave a memorable mark sometimes when a book ends that way. But I wanted more of a resolution.
Beautiful Bad is the sweeping international story of a bad romance. There were things about the book I didn’t love, but I still really enjoyed the book as a whole. Those traits and baggage that when we are dating we pass off as fixable or just a phase, can have long-lasting impacts on our lives. Ward does a great job illustrating these toxic relationships.
A special thank you to Park Row and Netgalley for an advanced e-galley in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.
This book releases March 19! Pre-order your copy: