Every once in a while you stumble across one of those book heroes who just make you melt. They might be an alpha guy, a sensitive jock, or the hipster boy who likes to write poetry about sunsets. It doesn’t matter; they’re so sexy that you’re ready to crawl into the pages of the book to make out with this fictional character. For me, that weakness is all about bad boys with a secret heart of gold. And no bad boy is quite as hot, or as melt-worthy, as Travis Maddox.
When I first read Jamie McGuire’s genre-defining new adult novel, Beautiful Disaster, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Would this book live up to the hype? Was it really as romantic as all the reviews made it out to be? The answer is a definite, oh-holy-god yes. Travis is sex-on-a-stick, the campus bad boy covered in tattoos who participates in an underground boxing league to make some extra cash. He’s also sweet, smart and a total player. But he’s ripe to be reformed, and he ultimately finds redemption in Abby Abernathy, the good girl covering up a dark past.
This book was like nothing I’d ever read before. Not only was it about an age group that most publishers had been ignoring for years, but it also pushed the limits in a way that kept me captivated from the first page. McGuire’s writing was — and is! — sexy, fun, and still somehow completely heart-wrenching. She can write a light and sweet scene, right before turning on a dime to deliver a moment that’s dark, deep and pushes her characters to the brink. That kind of writing will always keep a reader on their toes, and it’s a delicious dance that makes it impossible to put her stories down.
After Beautiful Disaster, I knew I needed to get my hands on the rest of McGuire’s novels. Luckily, she decided to write romances for all the Travis brothers, each one better than the last. Due to her dark, realistic stories of true love and redemption, Jamie McGuire is officially my Author Crush for October.
Here are five McGuire books I especially fell in love with — and why you’ll fall just as hard:
Beautiful Disaster (Atria, July 12, 2012)
There’s no way to praise McGuire without mentioning Beautiful Disaster, the first in her Maddox series and the one that instantly stole my heart. Abby is a college student who’s trying to run far from her past when she meets Travis, the bad boy who can get any girl he wants. But Travis only wants Abby, instantly drawn to her outward sweetness and her secret, hidden fire. Despite Travis’s instant devotion, Abby does everything she can to fight their attraction, afraid of the reminders to her past. But soon the two become friends, then roommates (after a lost bet), and completely inseparable through it all. Still, Abby keeps fighting Travis’s appeal, trying to convince herself that it will never work out. Her denial leads to some sexy times, but also some dark ones, and it’s not always easy to root for Travis’ bad-boy ways. But the strong, deep bond between these two will keep you coming back for more, again and again.
Beautiful Oblivion (Atria Books, July 1, 2014)
I never thought McGuire could top Beautiful Disaster, but when I read Beautiful Oblivion, I was forced to eat my words. This book focuses on Trent Maddox, Travis’ older brother who’s just as scorchingly hot. He might even be more sensitive too, making him a real contender for very-best-Maddox-brother-ever. Just like with Travis and Abby, Trent instantly falls hard for bartender Camille Camlin, or Cami. She’s independent and tough, used to looking out for herself and truly strong at her core. But she already has a boyfriend, and a major secret, one that could jeopardize everything she’s developing with Trent. Speaking of Trent, while I thought Travis was single-minded in his pursuit of Abby, he has nothing on his older brother. Cami and Trent truly become friends in this book — best friends even — and that dynamic just makes their romance so much sweeter. These two are my everything, despite the final twist in the book that left me reeling.
A Beautiful Funeral (Jamie McGuire LLC, August 15, 2016)
This is the last book in the Maddox Brothers series, and oh man, is it a doozy. There are secrets, deaths, romance, and so much drama that you’ll need to put the book down to take regular breathing breaks. You’ll want to dive back in again ASAP though; it’s impossible not to get caught up in this story, which brings back all of the brothers and their wives, giving each of them a voice as they face the biggest challenge this family has ever confronted. And that’s saying something, believe me. Let’s hope this isn’t actually the last installment in McGuire’s bestselling series; I’m not ready to say goodbye yet!
Happenstance: A Novella Series (Jamie McGuire LLC, May 9, 2014)
Aside from her Maddox series, McGuire has also written Happenstance, a three-part young adult novella series that tells the story of teenager Erin Easter. Erin is one of three other Erins who all live in the same small town, and who even all share the same birthday. The other two are pretty and popular, leaving Erin to feel like the perpetual outcast. She’s always pined for Weston “Wes” Gates, the boy from a wealthy family who struggles to live up to his parent’s expectations. Their love story is at the heart of this sweet, poignant story, and it’s a perfect set up for the next two installments.
A Beautiful Wedding: A Novella (Atria Books, December 10, 2013)
Though it’s only a novella, there is so much to love about this sweet little glimpse into Travis and Abby’s relationship. When we last left them in Beautiful Disaster, the pair had — SPOILER ALERT!!! — decided to get married. Now we actually get to see all their romantic dreams play out. Abby’s proposal (of course!), their trip to Vegas (yay!), and their actual wedding (so sweet!). Travis and his pigeon are the cutest couple around, and this adorable novella will only make you fall in love all over again.