New ARC Review: Beautiful Bad


Rated 3 of 5 stars

Hardcover, 368 pages
Expected publication: March 5th 2019 by Park Row


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.


Annie Ward takes readers on a character-driven ride around the world and creates relationships that we question and love to hate. There are many red herrings throughout with an impending since of doom for the main couple. The ending is not completely unknown but the reasons why things happen as they do are a bit shocking. Maddie as a main character is a conundrum. Most readers won’t know whether to like her or hate her (and many will settle with distrusting her as a happy medium). I felt that I couldn’t connect with Maddie due to her poor decision making and her ability to turn a blind eye to things that didn’t suit her causes. She came across as slightly self-serving as did her bestie, Joanna. The relationship carved out between both Maddie and Joanna will make most readers go, “Whaaaa???” a few times because the decision making and lack of empathy is so blatant. This made the book suffer in my opinion. And it affected the ending for me as well. Ian, the tough husband battling PTSD, also has his moments of like and then distrust. So as a reader, there is no one you can particularly feel connected to or understanding of. Not sure if this was purposeful but it affected the emotions tied to the characters towards the end. I also had a slight issue with the authors characterization of Charlie (he could speak very well and seemed much older than 3 years old for the majority of the book but turned into a true 3 year old baby towards the end). The shift in his personality and speaking ability was very apparent and disappointing. I felt he spoke too old in the beginning but would have bought it had the author kept up with it. In the end, the story starts off at a clipped pace but cools down as readers jump haphazardly from years, dates, and events struggling to remember where they are in the storyline. The multiple points of view did not serve the book well until the end. Ian’s parts were unnecessary because it brought no new feelings towards him except his chapter at the very end. Also, the author’s writing can be a bit over the top and heavy in synonyms early on but lessens at the halfway mark. I’d recommend this novel for readers who like domestic drama and surprise endings.

Raging Book Reviews Recommended

*Special thanks to NetGalley and Parker Row for gifting a copy for honest review.

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