Series: Beautiful #1
Published by Gallery Books on February 12th 2013
Genres: Contemporary, Romance
Barnes & Noble
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.
Originally only available online as The Office by tby789—and garnering over 2 million reads on fanfiction sites—Beautiful Bastard has been extensively updated for re-release.
There’s a lot of love out there for this series, but for whatever reason, I just hadn’t gotten around to starting it yet.
I found myself a little… underwhelmed, I guess. There’s a lot of good sex here, but not a lot of story. I do not like boss/employee relationships at all, which didn’t help. There are some ways that relationship can work, but not many, and this wasn’t one of them. Bennett was Chloe’s direct boss. He had all the power in this relationship, and in fact, since she was finishing up a scholarship program and had to present a project as part of her thesis, a project he assigned and was overseeing, he had an inordinate amount of control over her professional life, and potentially her future. She’s his intern, but was basically his admin, too, so she works for him directly. How being an admin is a requirement for a Master’s in…. marketing, I think, I don’t know, but she was apparently some sort of admin/intern/marketing exec hybrid who did everything perfectly. And this was the biggest red flag for me. The sex is initiated one night when Bennett has made Chloe stay late for some ridiculous reason and puts his hand on her ass. I got the bad kind of chills and expected her to at the very least move away from him and call HR in the morning and possibly to punch him as hard as she could in the testicles, but she didn’t. I just…. there’s so much wrong with it. There’s so much gendered bullshit in the work place. There’s no chance Chloe comes out of this unscathed. She’ll always be the intern who fucked her boss, even if they go on to get married and live happily ever after. And he’ll always be the awesome dudebro who bagged that hot piece of intern ass and get beers bought for him out of it. So I was really disturbed by the nature of the relationship from the start, and it didn’t get better. It doesn’t matter what happened at the end, it doesn’t matter that they fell in love and decided to stay together, all that will matter is the Chloe screwed her boss. It’s not fair, but there it is. There was some lip service paid to both of them wanting to keep their relationship quiet because they knew how it would go for her, but that was a really minor plot point, and it should have been bigger, because it’s a big freaking deal.
But even beyond that, there just wasn’t a lot of story to the book. They called each other names (asshole, bitch, whore, bastard), had sex in inappropriate places (against the window in his office after hours, in the elevator in the middle of the day, in the stairwell, a restaurant bathroom at lunch time, a lingerie store dressing room, etc.) and he kept her used panties in his office desk after tearing them off of her. Every single time, he tore them off. And they were expensive panties! Also, they had sex every single time without a condom. After the second time, she told him she was on the pill (“Thanks for asking, asshole.”) but that’s the only conversation they had about it. And she thought a lot about how much of a manwhore he was. Why would she let him have unprotected sex with her if she thought that about him?? That really bugged me.
I didn’t realize until I started digging around online about this book that it started as Twilight fan-fiction, but it makes complete sense to me now. There just wasn’t a lot here. I have no idea what it was about these two that drew them together. They didn’t like each other very much, and really there wasn’t enough depth to them for me to know if they should have or not, much like my initial reaction to Edward and Bella.
Bennett and Chloe are just a little too cookie-cutter for me, and they stay that way through the entire book. Bennett’s an asshole boss who has no real reason to be an asshole, and Chloe’s is his perfect assistant who does everything right and everyone else in the world loves and Bennett is just too much of a dick to see that she’s a great assistant. He criticizes absolutely everything about her, even after they start sleeping together, so much that his father, the CEO of the marketing company where they both work, calls him out on it. I was happy to see Chloe hold her own with Bennett, but there just wasn’t a lot of character development here. At the same time, I have had many jobs. Even though she was holding her own against him, and even though he was an asshole, there are some things you cannot say to your boss and get away with it, no matter how much of a dick he is.
I can absolutely see Chloe being a fan fiction version of Bella, who was a Mary Sue stand in for everygirl. There was no real depth to Chloe, no reason for me to root for her, even though she was pretty, and thin, and smart, and snarky, and clever, and perfect at everything. And, in fact, when they broke up, she resigned and went to a much smaller firm, where she worked on a much smaller project for her thesis. But, even that ended up perfectly because Bennett showed up with the million-dollar project she had worked on for him just as she was getting ready to present the thesis to the board and they were so impressed that she had managed to finish two projects that she got the degree and prize she’d been looking for. I just need more than that. I need an actual story in my story. I also thought it was weird the way, until about 60% of the way through the book, she referred to Bennett as “Mr. Ryan”, even in her own thoughts, and presumably during sex, since they’d been having sex since about 4% of the way through the book. The first sex scene came out of nowhere, since we’d been in her head the whole time and there wasn’t even a clue that she would welcome him putting his hands on her, but once they started they didn’t stop, so that’s a lot of “Mr. Ryan” sex that they had.
I can’t decide if I’m going to go on with this series. As far as I can tell, it’s the first one, so maybe they get better? And despite the 1.5 star rating, I didn’t hate this. Christina Lauren’s entire backlist can’t be Twilight fan fiction, can it? I really don’t like the boss/employee dynamic, which probably had a lot to do with my dislike. There’s just so much love for this series from readers and bloggers I really like. Maybe I’ll try the next one; I don’t know. It won’t be right away.