Twisted (Toxic) Love | BookishFirst

Twisted (Toxic) Love

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Beautiful Bad is a portrait of a marriage hitting a crisis point but the real question is how did it happen--and more importantly, who hit that point first? Very much recommended for fans of psychological domestic thrillers.

Ok, I will start with my one nitpick. I know thrillers need to be compared to a popular book, but it's not necessary here. Beautiful Bad stands on its own!

The plot is pretty straightforward: We open with a 911 call and then move back and forth in time, one piece of the mystery unfolding at a time.

Well, sort of.

We have:

Maddie: former world traveler who chased adventure and certainly courted danger, who is now living back in her home state of Kansas, where she's raising her son Charlie while battling the aftermath of a severe injury sustained while she was with...

Ian: Maddie's husband, former British soldier turned protection agent when Maddie first meets him. Suffering from severe PTSD sustained from that but also from his work serving as a defense contractor/ground support liasom in war torn countries.

He and Maddie meet while she's visiting her friend:

Joanna, humanitarian aid worker willing to do whatever it takes to get aid to the refugees she works with. Brilliant, beautiful, living as hard as she can, and all sharp edges. She's less than pleased when Maddie and Ian hit it off, leading to an estrangement that breaks Maddie's heart.

Maddie, in Kansas, is trying to deal with the changes--physical, yes, but more frightening to her are the emotional ones--she's felt since her accident with the help of her new therapist, the delightfully written Cami J, whose help Maddie resists as it means she has to deal with:

Ian, who was dark and brooding when she met him, a looming disaster of a man whose ongoing battles with PTSD and alcoholism have made Maddie's life a minefield.

She's scared, you see. Scared of what she sees on the news, worried about Charlie. Worried about Ian. His drinking. His temper. Her injury, which she really can't recall getting and she doesn't like being pushed by Cami J, she understands Ian, she does. Except that maybe...

Maybe she's afraid of what really understanding him would mean--and not just for her. Maybe she needs to be terrified for Charlie.

After a lot of thinking about what Cami J has gotten her to reveal, she reconnects with Joanna. Arranges for her to come visit, but while Ian, who is still traveling all over for his job, is still away. She and Joanna can reconnect, repair the friendship that was so important to Maddie back before her life was Ian and then Kansas with Ian and Charlie.

And that's all there is.

Sort of.

That's the beauty of Beautiful Bad. There is everything that's there--and then there's everything underneath.

I don't want to reveal any spoilers, but let's just say truth can be a lot more than it seems and that what Maddie says she wants isn't what she actually wants.

And when Maddie wants something-- or someone--she gets it. No matter what the cost might be.

I really enjoyed Beautiful Bad, and think anyone who enjoys twisty (and twisted) thrillers, especially those where you know what the endgame will be and get to watch almost as trapped as those in the web of the truth and lies are, will love this. It's fast, it's furious (on many levels) and hooks you fast and keeps you locked in. (!)

(Quick aside: Joanna! I actually felt the worst for her. I think she always thought she was miles ahead of everyone else and-- well. No.)

Overall it's predictable. but in a "oh no, is that? And that? Dammmmmmn!" way, which is to say that there's a lot (a lot!) of twisted fun waiting for those who enjoy Beautiful Bad is a portrait of a marriage hitting a crisis point but the real question is how did it happen--and more importantly, who hit that point first? Very much recommended for fans of psychological domestic thrillers.

Ok, I will start with my one nitpick. I know thrillers need to be compared to a popular book, but it's not necessary here. Beautiful Bad stands on its own!

The plot is pretty straightforward: We open with a 911 call and then move back and forth in time, one piece of the mystery unfolding at a time.

Well, sort of.

We have:

Maddie: former world traveler who chased adventure and certainly courted danger, who is now living back in her home state of Kansas, where she's raising her son Charlie while battling the aftermath of a severe injury sustained while she was with...

Ian: Maddie's husband, former British soldier turned protection agent when Maddie first meets him. Suffering from severe PTSD sustained from that but also from his work serving as a defense contractor/ground support liasom in war torn countries.

He and Maddie meet while she's visiting her friend:

Joanna, humanitarian aid worker willing to do whatever it takes to get aid to the refugees she works with. Brilliant, beautiful, living as hard as she can, and all sharp edges. She's less than pleased when Maddie and Ian hit it off, leading to an estrangement that breaks Maddie's heart.

Maddie, in Kansas, is trying to deal with the changes--physical, yes, but more frightening to her are the emotional ones--she's felt since her accident with the help of her new therapist, the delightfully written Cami J, whose help Maddie resists as it means she has to deal with:

Ian, who was dark and brooding when she met him, a looming disaster of a man whose ongoing battles with PTSD and alcoholism have made Maddie's life a minefield.

She's scared, you see. Scared of what she sees on the news, worried about Charlie. Worried about Ian. His drinking. His temper. Her injury, which she really can't recall getting and she doesn't like being pushed by Cami J, she understands Ian, she does. Except that maybe...

Maybe she's afraid of what really understanding him would mean--and not just for her. Maybe she needs to be terrified for Charlie.

After a lot of thinking about what Cami J has gotten her to reveal, she reconnects with Joanna. Arranges for her to come visit, but while Ian, who is still traveling all over for his job, is still away. She and Joanna can reconnect, repair the friendship that was so important to Maddie back before her life was Ian and then Kansas with Ian and Charlie.

And that's all there is.

Sort of.

That's the beauty of Beautiful Bad. There is everything that's there--and then there's everything underneath.

I don't want to reveal any spoilers, but let's just say truth can be a lot more than it seems and that what Maddie says she wants isn't what she actually wants.

And when Maddie wants something-- or someone--she gets it. No matter what the cost might be.

I really enjoyed Beautiful Bad, and think anyone who enjoys twisty (and twisted) thrillers, especially those where you know what the endgame will be and get to watch almost as trapped as those in the web of the truth and lies are, will love this. It's fast, it's furious (on many levels) and hooks you fast and keeps you locked in. (!)

(Quick aside: Joanna! I actually felt the worst for her. I think she always thought she was miles ahead of everyone else and-- well. No.)

Overall it's predictable. but in a "oh no, is that? And that? Dammmmmmn!" way, which is to say that there's a lot (a lot!) of twisted fun waiting for those who enjoy dark psychological thrillers. I know I sure enjoyed the ride!