Book Review: Beautiful Bad

03.05.2019 | Park Row
Rating: 3.5/5 stars


Maddie and Ian’s romance first began when they met overseas many years ago. They were both young and attracted to each other. Ian was serving in the British Army and Maddie was a travel writer. Brought together in a chance encounter thanks to mutual friend, Jo, the two can’t seem to get each other off their minds.

Almost two decades have passed since they first met. They are now married and raising their son, Charlie, in your standard suburban town in Kansas. Tragedy strikes the family while out on a camping trip. Maddie has a terrible accident that leaves her face badly scarred and unable to remember what happened. She being writing therapy as a way to heal and to make the memories of that night come back to her. Her fears start to come to light about Ian’s PTSD, the safety of their son, and what might happen in the future. Then the night of the 911 call happens and suddenly this family is down to two members. What exactly happened that night? Who doesn’t make it out alive?

That’s the world now. No consequences.

BEAUTIFUL BAD falls into the domestic suspense realm of the crime fiction genre. Annie Ward does a fantastic job of building the story of Maddie and Ian for the reader through the use of alternating timelines, alternating narrators, and flashes to “The Day of the Killing”. Three different writing devices can be an overwhelming mix, but Ward effortlessly blends everything together to make a cohesive story about this couple. I’m typically the reader who would rather focus on present day situations between a couple, but Ward succeeded in actually making me interested in the backstory of how Maddie and Ian met. The couple’s origin story was quite intriguing and certainly necessary knowledge to understand their present day mindsets.

One of my favorite aspects of this story was the suspense created around the “The Day of the Killing” passages. Ward doesn’t immediately tell you what has happened, but tosses a partial bombshell at the reader from the start. I found myself anticipating these sections and getting to the truth of what was happening. Ward smartly backtracks the reader to a few weeks before the day in question as a way to keep the reader’s mind guessing.

Time stood still for me as I wavered. I had limits. I had pride. But in the end, he was more important.

I loved everything about this book, until I got to the ending, which is where things started to fall apart for me. There were some obvious clues about what have happened and I was able to guess the final situation. Not every single detail, but enough to know where things were headed. The ending itself got to be a bit too far-fetched for my tastes. While I appreciate what Ward’s end goal was, I would have preferred certain pieces to have been different. I’ll leave it at that to avoid spoilers.

Despite not loving the ending, I do think that BEAUTIFUL BAD is a book worth reading! There are plenty of twists and flawed characters to keep you entertained by this story. It’s definitely a book you’re going to want to discuss with others, so while you’re picking up your copy, snag one for a friend too!

This book is available to buy from: Amazon | Book Depository

Disclosure: What Jess Reads is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to This in no way influences my opinion of the above book.

Disclosure: Thank you to BookClubbish for selecting me as a giveaway winner for a free review copy of this book!

5 thoughts on “Book Review: Beautiful Bad

  1. Despite not loving the ending, you certainly had better luck with this one than me, I’ve not made if past the first 100 pages, it just didn’t grab me. But I agree the suspense to know what happened on ‘the day of the killing’ was great!

    Liked by 1 person

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