Gallery / February 12, 2013 / $15.00 print, $7.59 digital
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.
There’s another book with roots in Twilight fan fiction on the horizon: Beautiful Bastard by (two authors writing as) Christina Lauren. While the writers make no attempt to hide the story’s origins, readers of The Office (the fanfic predecessor) will notice some changes, including a different ending. This will hopefully spark renewed love from old fans and pique curiousity in new ones.
The story revolves around an MBA candidate and her boss, who has just recently returned from France. But there’s a problem...
Chloe Mills and Bennett Ryan cannot stand each other. With barely disguised anger, the two have to work together on multi-million dollar advertising projects. Despite their intensely negative feelings for each other, they seem to be able to work together successfully, which perhaps implies a contradiction in their outward attitudes. Tempers boil over, with one thing or another, till it mounts...or rather, they mount, each other. Wait, what?
That’s right, Chloe and Bennett end up in a sizzling hot office affair that’s based on angry sex and mutual dislike. These two factors are usually exclusive of one another but in this case, they take it to whole new levels, with sex in a stairwell, sex in a bathroom (or two), sex in a boardroom, and on and on. Their physical connection takes the story to new heights (even literally as, at one point, Chloe finds herself pressed up against a window in the high rise office building, with a wonderful view of the city while she is being thoroughly....well, you get the picture). The reason behind their animosity is a little cloudier than perhaps it should be from the beginning but with all good tales, a little mystery is needed to persuade us to keep on reading.
The steamy scenes are spot on for what had occurred in its previous incarnation. The story does change as it progresses, bringing Chloe’s career issues into the forefront. Towards the end is where the real differences can be seen. Yes, the relationship between Chloe and Bennett morphs into something that could become real, highlighting that maybe their assumptions about each other were off from the beginning.This is, after all, the main point of the story. It’s how Chloe reacts to Bennett’s asinine behaviour that separates the “Bella” aspects from the mix.
Chloe gives as good as she gets from Bennett, who is undeniably a jackass a lot of the time. The two characters share a stubbornness and a crazy ability to think of horrible insults for each other that can be entertaining at times and, at others, downright degrading. There is no real battle of wits or power struggle between them; they both freely admit that the other has talent in the boardroom and the bedroom. It’s more about their inner battles over doing what they enjoy (ie. having awesome orgasms together) versus maintaining a respectable distance to maintain their credibility at work.
But then the panty ripping starts again and the readers can hopefully put aside the annoyances of any door slamming or other childish behaviour they both exhibit to immerse in the passion shared. There should be a disclaimer on the cover stating “no real panties were ripped in the writing of this story” but maybe its fans will really feel the heat and it will become the new trend in bedroom game play? Either way, the truth of the matter is that this book boils down to lots of angry sex. There is character growth, or maybe a better way to phrase it would be character unveiling, as the two work towards something that could have potential outside of office hours. (This was a sticking point, where the solution seemed simple enough: to take their lusts away from work, but it escaped the two in question.)
The book is a curious mix of a woman trying to make her way in the professional world while not denying her passions, and the uptight man that brings both worlds alive for her. It shows, to a degree, that a woman can have both. Mostly, its appeal will be more fully experienced by those that aren’t afraid to admit that they want someone who can make them crave another the way these two strong willed characters do. Whether those that loved the fanfic version will enjoy the new ending or the shortened storyline remains to be seen. But old and new readers alike will be able to determine the fate of Chloe and Bennett as either another couple riding on coattails or the next big thing, with their many sizzling interactions.
Jackie Lester imagines a day when she can make a living as a writer. Until then, she reviews eclectic books at My Ever Expanding Library and lives in small-town Ontario with her daughter.