Rating: 4 – 4.5 stars
Just when I didn’t think Christina Lauren were able to top Beautiful Bastard, they sure gave it a run for their money with the second full length novel in the series. While the first book was fun, light and sexy, Beautiful Stranger was scandalous, shocking and sinful – and I mean that in the best possible way.
This book follows Chloe’s friend, Sara, as she leaves her ex-fiancé, job and family behind to move to New York to work with Bennett and Chloe. While recovering from the end of her sad relationship with a known – to everyone but Sara – womanizer, she decides it’s time for her to let loose and experience life as she never had before. On day one of her new found outlook, she meets a stranger – gorgeous and British – while out with friends at a club. Thus begins her and her stranger’s sexual escapades throughout New York City.
“Maybe I’d shake his hand for messing things up with Sara so epically that she moved to New York and stopped being the woman who did what she was supposed to do, and started to be the woman who did what she bloody well wanted.”
Now this stranger is none other than Max Stella. Wealthy venture capitalist who is not a stranger to Page Six and who just happens to be an old friend of Bennett’s. Max has never really been serious about any woman. He enjoys them, savors them and then sends them on their way. He and his bevy of women fascinate the public and paparazzi, but to him their perception is wrong. He just hasn’t met anyone he’s liked enough to keep around for more than a few nights. Until he meets Sara.
“For as much of an expert at this as you think I am, most of my adventures are in a limo on the way to drop someone off somewhere. I’m more of an arse than a slut, if I’m being introspective about it”
So I absolutely adored Max. Putting aside that he is British (which definitely added to the hotness factor), he was just the total package. He was never an asshole, he was never rude, he was never shady. If he had a flaw, it was that he held back his feelings for Sara longer than he should have. I love him a little bit more than the Beautiful Bastard himself – sorry Bennett – but that’s just because of how sweet he was with Sara. He gave her what she needed and played by her rules without really even knowing why at first.
“It was easy. Falling absolutely in love with you was really fucking easy. Isn’t it supposed to be that way? Just because I haven’t been broken hearted in recent years doesn’t mean I’m incapable of it.”
Now Sara I had a love-dislike relationship with (it never escalated to hate). I liked that she was strong enough to recognize that she was in a horrible situation for years and move past it. I love her work ethic and intelligence – it added to her attractiveness. As a reader, you really don’t know anything about Sara or her past. But what you do know is that she’s been in the public eye for longer than she’d care to admit and just so happens to be well known in the social circles of Chicago – through her family and her cheating ex. And this is the crux of her problem – she is so afraid of falling back into that lifestyle that she creates all these rules and builds all these walls to try and keep Max at arms length. I’ll admit, I got frustrated with her, but it was part of the angst of the book so I accepted it.
The thing that is different about Sara and Max’s story is how they got to know each other. I was thoroughly surprised by their coupling and their various interludes in various places throughout the city. I think Christina Lauren elevated that hotness and steaminess in this book by adding elements of voyeurism and making Sara and Max exhibitionists. It was a very pleasant surprise to read about!
“What’s crazy is that this is the first time you’re seeing my house. From inside a sex club.”
My only issue with this book was that the central problem of the book comes too far towards the end of the book, thereby making the resolution of it feel rushed. I wouldn’t trade in any of the scenes that came before the plot twist; however, I would’ve expanded on the conflict to draw out the angst in it. Everything just seemed to happen and become resolved in a blink-and-you’ll-miss moment. I think by doing this, it would have taken this book from great to absolutely amazing.
Despite that, I still really enjoyed this book and found that it was different than Beautiful Bastard. These authors do a great job with doing alternating POVs between the hero and heroine in the story and they did an even better job distinguishing Max and Sara from Bennett and Chloe. I feel like both sets of couples and their relationship dynamic are entirely different and that just made this story even better!
If you liked Beautiful Bastard, then you’ll love this book!
Reading Order & Purchase Links
Beautiful Bastard (#1)
Beautiful Bitch (#1.5)
Beautiful Stranger (#2)
Beautiful Bombshell (#2.5)
Beautiful Player (#3)
(October 29, 2013)
Beautiful Beginning (#3.5)
(November 19, 2013)