Beautiful Bastard

Beautiful Bastard - Christina Lauren I have come to a very important conclusion that has been a while in the making. It may be a controversial opinion amongst some but I stand by it. It is impossible for a writer to take their fan-fiction and make it “original”. You’d think this would be a relatively sensible conclusion to come to, and yet we are now in an age where pulled-to-publish fan-fiction, mainly that of the Twilight brand, has become the new normal. Of course, we’ve got “Fifty Shades of Grey” to blame for this, but it’s not the sole culprit. From “Gabriel’s Inferno” to about 80% of Omnific and TWCS’s output, these works are filling up the best-seller lists and leaving the traditional publishers scrambling for the profits. What is interesting about “Beautiful Bastard” is that it was purchased by the publisher in its original form. It didn’t go through an indie publisher, it wasn’t self-published, it didn’t go through any of the “alterations” EL James put “Master of the Universe” through before publication. The publisher saw a fan-fiction, paid for it and put the writers to work fixing it up a bit. I’ve skimmed through a PDF of the original fan-fiction and can confirm that the work has gone through some editing, certainly more than the search-and-replace hack-job “50 Shades” went through. However, once again, I find myself disappointed with the state of publishing. The truth is that the work just isn’t good enough and that is partly because of its previous fan-fiction state. If you’re a romance reader, or even if you’re just a casual fan of the occasional rom-com, you’ll recognise this plot and set-up pretty well. You could join the dots from a mile away: snarky but hard working assistant begins an affair with the beautiful but dickish boss that starts out as letting off steam and turns to undying love. There’s nothing wrong with a derivative plot-line if it’s executed well. The big problem here is that it’s delivered in a manner as pedestrian as the story itself. The big problem most P2P work suffers from is the inability to fix the pacing. Fan-fiction is serial in manner, intended to be read on a chapter by chapter basis. While the authors of “Beautiful Bastard” have at least offered the reader the courtesy of some reworking of the “original” material, the pacing issues remain unresolved. While the book is readable enough, in terms of pacing, it’s weirdly erratic. The book starts quickly and rushed, things happen quickly without much explanation and the time-scale is a little confusing. Whether this is down to the editing job or just the general quality of the writing, I don’t know. While the sex scenes are mostly quite good (although I wasn’t a fan of all the underwear ripping, particularly given how much La Perla pants cost), certainly a lot better than anything else in P2P right now, the relationship between our Bella and Edward stand-ins, Chloe and Bennett, suffers from fan-fic syndrome. There is very little characterisation of both characters, and their relationship moves quickly and predictably. Once again, fan-fic syndrome strikes. Here’s one of the main reasons I just cannot get on board with P2P, particularly on a creative level. When you write fan-fiction, you take characters that already exist and you use them as you please. Your story may be close to the original material, or it may be completely AU in every way imaginable, but you have been provided with the foundations. You didn’t write those characters, someone else did. Even if they only bear the smallest of similarities to the original source material when compared with each other, your audience come with the previous knowledge of those characters and fill in your gaps themselves. Here, the gaps to make it “original” haven’t been filled in. The pair may not be Bella and Edward, but they’re stock romance characters in every other way.(The one thing that did make me smile was the appearance of a background character called Ed, whose colleagues were called Daniel and Sam, which officially makes me Britain's dullest woman. And if you can figure out why that made me smile, you can join me in dull geek land!)There are a few good lines, and I’m relieved that the story avoids most of the irritating clichés expected of the genre (no blushing virginal heroine, no domestic abuse masquerading as kink, no soap-opera style back-story), there’s just nothing here that rises above stock category romance, and I like stock category romance. However, I don’t know many romance authors in that genre who got a 6 figure for something I can essentially find on Ellora’s Cave for a couple of pounds, if that. If you’re in the mood for a category romance, I suggest you read an original one. If you’re intrigued by this story, get the original fan-fiction PDF from Google. Honestly, this really isn’t worth the time and money that’s been spent on it. 2/5.I received my ARC from Edelweiss. I did not receive any payment or compensation to write this review. I am not paid for my reviews, and I do not set out to destroy lives or careers with my reviews. If I had that level of power, I wouldn’t be living at home and writing book reviews in my pyjamas at midnight!