First of all, I was so certain that I had written like eight of these recaps. Then, I went back and read through them to refresh my memory and I realized there were only four. But they’re long, like books on their own, because these chapters are fucking endless. Expect to see shorter chunks going forward every now and then, so I can actually deliver recaps to you.
Since we last met, something interesting happened on Ms. McGuire’s Facebook page back in the day before my mental breakdown. About seventy of you sent me screenshots but unfortunately, I couldn’t get them posted here or make snarky comments about them until after January 1, 2020, in what was already supposed to be The Year of Minding My Own Business.
I guess if someone is mentioned in something, though, it is their business. And I’m a total bitch and am more than willing to keep this boring-ass “literary feud” going because I genuinely dislike this MAGA garbage woman.
I was like, “Awww, thanks for constantly thinking of me, Jamie!” because our only direct altercation online ever was about her celebrating the fact that one of my publishers wasn’t paying authors and was suing blogger-turned-catfisher Jen Frederick for reporting it on her blog. That entire mess was a thousand years ago (and we mutually blocked each other on all social media that night) and since McGuire is an anti-vax hardcore conservative who’s firmly pro-Kavanaugh, I haven’t really felt the need to keep tabs on her. But somehow, she needed to name-check me in a conflict with another author that arose when McGuire chose to fat shame a child.
No, seriously. This whole thing stemmed from an incident where she questioned whether or not a fat teenaged dancer was really practicing as much as she claimed in an inspirational video because McGuire was certain that no once who danced as much as the girl in the video could possibly be fat. I was not involved in any of it, in any way. I hadn’t even heard of the associated drama. If I’m Quebec, she’s Rio de Janeiro, that’s how far apart we are where social media is concerned. But wow, she sure jumped to my name. Maybe “fat” is just a concept she associates with me in her mind.
My only thought here was that McGuire hoped she could bait me into joining her fat-shaming drama, but the author who went full Wolverine on her ass did a fine enough job. So, all McGuire achieved was yet another self-delivered blow to her public image.
But in her defense, I’ve heard that clown college is actually quite stressful.
On to the recap!
When we left off, the big party that Travis wasn’t going to take Abby to because he doesn’t date and he doesn’t think of her as a girlfriend but also he gets pissed off if she so much as breathes in another guy’s direction was coming up. At the beginning of chapter five, he walks in after Abby has gotten dressed:
A bustier that elongated into a short skirt, it was admittedly more daring than what I had worn in the past. The material was thin, black, and see-through over a nude shell. Parker would be at that party, and I had every intention of being noticed.
I’ve really missed Abby’s hypocrisy. It’s so refreshing to finally read a heroine in a New Adult romance participate in exactly the same behavior that she finds slutty and reprehensible in every other woman on the page. Because remember, when women want Travis’s attention, they absolutely suck in the most whorish way possible.
Travis tells Abby she looks amazing and she describes what he’s wearing, a white dress shirt and jeans, in case you were dying to know. They get in Shepley’s car and Abby notes that it’s awkward to sit next to Travis.
They arrive at the party:
Travis brought me a red plastic cup full of beer and then leaned in to whisper in my ear. “Don’t take these from anyone but me or Shep. I don’t want anyone slipping anything into your drink.”
Travis, do you actually think you need to tell a woman in college that she could get roofied at a frat party? Like she didn’t know before?
I rolled my eyes. “No one is going to put anything in my drink, Travis.”
Okay, apparently he did need to tell her.
“Just don’t drink anything that doesn’t come from me, okay? You’re not in Kansas anymore, Pigeon.”
If anyone at this party seemed like an unsafe person to accept a drink from, it would be Travis. But we know that beneath his sex-crazed exterior, he’s got a heart of gold. That’s why he must control what Abby consumes, not Abby.
An hour into the party, Travis asks Abby if she wants to dance and she says no, she’s too tired. I would have assumed she was too drunk, based on how heavily she drank in those last few chapters.
He put his hand on mine and began to speak, but when I looked beyond him I saw Parker.
Uh-oh! Abby is going for the wrong guy, readers! Panic! She might not wind up with the violence-prone, psychologically abusive, pathological boundary crosser! She even goes onto a balcony with Parker and asks him some uninteresting stuff about the frat before asking him if he’s a business major.
“Biology, with a minor in anatomy. I’ve got one more year left, take the MCAT, and then hopefully I’m off to Harvard Med.”
Harvard is a sure thing for Parker, as he’s a legacy admission and that legacy involves a lot of donations.
Ugh, Abby, this rich guy who’s going to be a doctor is so not the one for you! Don’t you see, you belong with the guy who beats people to death for money and uses the communal couch in his apartment as a pussy juice sponge!
She tells Parker that she hasn’t decided on a major yet, and jokes about being unexceptional.
“Oh, you don’t have to worry about that. I noticed you the first day of class. What are you doing in Calculus Three as a freshman?”
I smiled and twisted my hair around my finger. “Math is sort of easy for me. I packed on the classes in high school and took two summer courses at Witchita State.”
Women playing with their hair for male attention is something Abby has complained about more than once.
After mentioning that they talk for an hour, Parker brings up the gossip about Travis and Abby:
“It’s just unusual for Travis. He doesn’t befriend women. He tends to make enemies of them more often than not.”
“Oh, I don’t know. I’ve seen more than a few who either have short term memory loss or are all too forgiving when it comes to him.”
Parker laughed. His white teeth gleamed against his golden tan. “People just don’t understand your relationship. You have to admit, it’s a bit ambiguous.”
And of course, Abby just cannot fathom what’s so ambiguous about the fact that she hangs out with Travis all the time and like, lives with him and sleeps in his bed. Okay, those things don’t really come up but let’s be honest: by now, Abby should have at least some inkling as to why people think they’re more than friends. Even when Parker offers to take her home, she tells him she lost a bet and is staying with Travis but doesn’t elaborate further.
Yet, people have the gall to assume she’s dating Travis. The utter cheek.
You’re probably thinking, “Wow, we’ve gone to this party with Abby and we’ve yet to hear anything about how much Travis hates every woman other than Abby. Fear not, gentle reader:
I trotted down the stairs to find America and passed a sullen Travis, who seemed annoyed with the drunken girl speaking to him.
Phew. For a second, it seemed like Abby wasn’t The Best Girl.
When she says Parker is going to take her home, drama inevitably ensues.
He glared at America, and then pulled me around the corner, his jaw flitting under his skin.
To flit is to move quickly. Or flee your debtors. Either he’s on coke or his jaw owes him money.
“You don’t even know the guy.”
I pulled my arm from his grip. “This is none of your business, Travis.”
“The hell if it’s not. I’m not letting you ride home with a complete stranger. What if he tries something on you?”
From the guy who is a habitual stranger trying things on women. Plus, she does know him, from school. Her friends know him. And he doesn’t have a reputation as a violent womanizer.
I crossed my arms. “Stop it, Trav. You’re being a jerk.”
He leaned in, seeming flustered. “I’ll kill him if he touches you.”
Abby is like, IDK, I like him, and Travis becomes furious.
“Fine. If he ends up holding you down in the backseat of his car, don’t come crying to me.”
This is the love interest of a hugely popular romance franchise telling the heroine, in essence, “I hope you get raped.”
Of course, when she tries to walk away, he grabs her again and says he didn’t mean it and absolutely she should tell him if Parker tries anything untoward.
The anger subsided, and my shoulders fell. “I know you didn’t. But you have got to curb this overprotective big-brother thing you’ve got going on.”
Travis laughed once. “I’m not playing the big brother, Pigeon. Not even close.”
Gosh, like, why does everyone think that like, Travis wants to date me? He doesn’t even like me that way. There have been zero clues that he has a romantic interest in little ole unexceptional me.
Abby goes home in Parker’s Porsche 911 GT3, so like. Marry him, get that cash, then divorce him if you don’t love him, Abby. Be smart. Your only other option is a jagweed.
Parker took me straight to Travis’s, keeping to the speed limit, my hand in his. He pulled behind the Harley, and like before, opened my door. Once we reached the landing, he leaned down to kiss my cheek.
And this is the guy she doesn’t end up with because it’s more epically romantic if she gets with Travis.
- Drives too fast with Abby on his motorcycle with inadequate PPE, showing zero concern for her safety.
- Treats college like one endless fuck parade.
- Violently grabs Abby, has physically hurt at least one other woman on the page.
- Expresses his feelings for Abby through possessiveness and lack of boundaries.
- Is a constant ball of barely contained rage looking for any excuse to harm other men.
- Makes his money beating other people nearly to death.
- Drives carefully, as though he cares whether Abby lives or dies.
- Studies and has a plan for a successful future.
- Doesn’t physically restrain Abby in an attempt to prevent her from leaving him.
- Expresses his feelings for Abby through conversation and interest in her feelings.
- Is a pretty chill dude who hasn’t threatened anyone with physical violence.
- Has family money, so he doesn’t have to resort to fight clubs.
But Travis is so dreamy!
When Abby opens the door, Travis is standing directly behind it, which means he’s been waiting and listening to the entire conversation, waiting for her to open the door so he can glower at Parker. Of course, Abby falls because all early New Adult books featured heroines with catastrophic inner-ear disorders, and Travis catches her by the arm. Parker makes a joke about giving a “humiliated, stranded” girl a ride home from the apartment, which Travis doesn’t appreciate. When Abby joins in on the teasing, Travis uses the nickname she doesn’t like.
“Pidge?” Parker asked.
“It’s, uh…short for Pigeon. It’s just a nickname, I don’t even know where he came up with it,” I said. It was the first time I’d felt awkward about the name Travis had bestowed onn me the night we met.
So…help me out, because I did recently have a mental breakdown: do I have false memories of her not liking the nickname before?
Travis stands in the doorway while Parker and Abby say goodbye.
“Don’t you mean good morning?” I said, watching him trot down the stairs.
“That, too,” he called back with a sweet smile.
Travis slammed the door, and I had to jerk my head back before it caught me in the face.
HOW IS THIS BOOK ON VARIOUS “BOOK BOYFRIEND” SHELVES ON GOODREADS?!
“But he’s just being protective because he loves her!” Just like he protects her from her own shoes.
No, seriously. When Abby tries to take off her shoes, this happens:
He sighed and walked over to me. “You’re gonna hurt yourself,” he said, hooking his arm around my waist with one hand and pulling off my heels with the other.”
Thank god the pulse-pounding danger of a grown woman taking her shoes off resolved safely.
Of course, there’s a description of them removing every piece of clothing to get ready for bed. I know this gets compared to Lady and the Tramp fanfic in the comments but damn, it’s the slowest “and there was only one bed!” fic I have ever read. Plus, the scenes of their nightly routines are written so robotically that it’s like watching a slow indie drama about a fractured marriage shot in cool neutral tones.
“I missed a fight tonight,” he said. “Adam called. I didn’t go.”
“Why?” I said, turning to face him.
“I wanted to make sure you got home.”
Let me just…
raise this up a little…
Travis is using a classic abuse tactic. He chose to deprive himself of something so he can use it as ammunition later. Your bad behavior caused me to miss out on something. Don’t you feel bad about that? But Abby (and anyone else) shouldn’t fall for this tactic. She didn’t ask him to miss the fight, nor did she expect him to wait around for her “safety,” as she wasn’t unsafe.
For the most part, Abby doesn’t fall for it, telling him that he had no obligation to watch out for her. He says he did it because he felt bad about his obnoxious threesome and she says she doesn’t care about that. He asks why she didn’t sleep in the bed with him that night and her excuse was that she couldn’t sleep.
“You slept just fine in the recliner. Why couldn’t you sleep with me?”
“You mean next to a guy who still smelled like the pair of barflies he had just sent home? I don’t know! How selfish of me!”
Travis winced. “I said I was sorry.”
Sorry is not a magic word. She doesn’t owe you payment for your sorry.
At this point, Travis starts stroking her hair and kissing her forehead and talking about how he was worried about how mad she would get but it’s worse that she doesn’t care.
“What do you want from me, Travis? You don’t want me to be upset about what you did, but you want me to care. You tell America that you don’t want to date me, but you get so pissed off when I say the same thing that you storm out and get ridiculously drunk. You don’t make any sense.”
He asks if the reason she talked about him behind his back with America is because he said he wouldn’t date Abby.
“No, I meant what I said. I just didn’t meant it as an insult.”
“I just said that because,” he scratched his short hair nervously, “I don’t want to ruin anything. I wouldn’t even know how to go about being who you deserve. I was just trying to get it worked out in my head.”
I used to have this friend, and I’ve probably already mentioned this in these recaps, who would go out on a few dates with a girl and he would be like, “We’re working on the relationship and ironing out our differences,” and I would always think, you know, if you already have to work on a relationship due to serious differences two weeks into it, maybe she’s not The One. This is several tiers above that on the pyramid of relationship dysfunctionality. Abby and Travis are constantly working on a relationship they don’t have and neither of them wants.
Look, I know the sexual tension is supposed to be palpable here because they’re in a bed together and they’re supposed to be fighting this internal battle or something? But it’s not reading that way at all.
Anyway, they go to sleep and Abby wakes up at three in the afternoon. She has to go take a shower because it’s the only god damn thing anyone does in this book. So much so that it’s creeping into my own writing; I just had to cut several mentions of characters wanting to take a shower. America comes in to pee and to have a conversation that is wholly unnecessary to the story because it’s full of shit we already know:
“I hear you have a date tonight. Travis is pissed!” she lilted.
“At six! He is so sweet, America. He’s just…” I trailed off, sighing. I was gushing, and it wasn’t like me to gush. I kept thinking about how perfect he had been since the moment we’d met. He was exactly what I needed: the polar opposite of Travis.
This has already been established, so I can only assume that the entire point of this scene is that the author could wedge in more of the hero’s “concern” for the heroine:
The toilet flushed, and the faucet turned on, making the water flash cold for a moment. I cried out and the door flew open.
“Pidge?” Travis said.
America laughed. “I just flushed the toilet, Trav, calm down.”
“Oh. You all right, Pigeon?”
He just busted into the bathroom when America was in there. He didn’t know if she was done on the toilet or changing her clothes or something. She doesn’t matter, because Travis has a moment to be heroic/possessive.
“It’s really too bad you two couldn’t get on the same page. You’re the only girl who could have…” She sighed. “Never mind. It doesn’t matter, now.”
America, it is not your friend’s job to fix this broken man. Because he’s not fucking broken. He’s a spoiled brat. He gets everything he wants and if he doesn’t, he lashes out. He can’t make up for that by pretending to protect Abby from tap water.
So, Abby gets ready for her date.
I curled my hair and painted mmy nails and lips a deep shade of red. It was a bit much for a first date. I frowned at myself in the mirror. It wasn’t Parker I was trying to impress. I wasn’t in a position to be insulted when Travis accused me of playing games, after all.
Okay. So, she wants to fuck him, he wants to fuck her, they’re both awful people, book over, right?
Ha ha ha, just kidding. Do you know how far into this book we are?
Twenty. Fucking. Five. Percent.
Jamie McGuire is truly the Victor Hugo of banality.
So, even though Abby is straight-up admitting she’s into Travis, she’s still gonna go on a date with Parker. I’m not really gonna criticize that choice too much because while Abby doesn’t deserve better than Travis, she’s at least making the smart choice for, you know, however long this Parker thing lasts before Travis beats him up and wins her heart or Parker becomes a rapist or something like that.
“I have to say, I was a bit nervous about picking up the woman Travis Maddox is in love with…from his apartment. You don’t know how many people have accused me of insanity today.”
“Travis is not in love with me. He can barely stand to be near me sometimes.”
“Then it’s a love-hate relationship? Because when I broke it to my brothers that I was taking you out tonight, they all said the same thing. He’s been behaving so erratically–even more than usual–that they’ve all come to the same conclusion.”
Everyone is telling Abby that Travis is in love with her. Like, a dude who barely knows him is like, yo, I happened to notice he’s in love with you, and she’s still like, naw, lil’ ole me? I’m not skanky enough.
Parker drove to the restaurant at exactly the speed limit, using his turn signal appropriately and slowing at a reasonable rate for each yellow light.
So boring and different compared to Travis, am I right? She even comments on that, telling Parker he’s a cautious driver and Parker is like, oh, not like Travis on his motorcycle and she’s all, let’s not talk about Travis. They go to the restaurant and it’s super rich people swank. And wouldn’t you know it, they run into someone Parker knows:
A woman approached our table. Her blond hair was pulled into a tight French bun, a gray streak interrupting the smooth wave of her bangs. I tried not to stare at the sparkling jewels resting around her nec, or those swaying back and forth on her ears, but they were made to be noticed. Her squinty blue eyes targeted me.
She turned quickly away to look at my date. “Who’s your friend, Parker?”
“Mother, this is Abby Abernathy. Abby, tis is my mother, Vivienne Hayes.”
I extended my hand and she shook it once. In a well-practiced move, interest lit the sharp features of her face, and she looked to Parker. “Abernathy?”
I gulped, worried that she had recognized the name.
How would she have? I realize there’s this dark secret that made Abby leave Witchitaw, but Abernathy isn’t a particularly conspicuous name.
Parker’s mom tells Abby that Parker is leaving for Harvard, and Abby is like, you must be proud, and the evil blonde Vivienne (no joke, E.L. James is mentioned in the acknowledgments as being a mentor or some shit) is like, we are.
I was amazed at how her words were so polite, and yet they dripped with insult. It wasn’t a talent she had developed overnight. Mrs. Hayes must have spent years impressing her superiority upon others.
I just can’t get over the “evil blonde!” thing that happens in all these generic wannabe romances. What’s interesting is that every book I’ve sporked so far on this site features the blonde bitch, except for Handbook For Mortals, which featured a brunette bitch. And she was written by the only blonde author so far. Are women really this fucked up and competitive about hair color?
Even Parker thinks his mom is a treacherous predator, describing her as a piranha and apologizing to Abby for having to meet her.
So, obviously this date builds more chemistry with Parker through interaction between the two characters.
We talked endlessly about the food, Eastern, calculus, even the Circle. Parker was charming and funny and said all the right things. Various people approached Parker to greet him, and he always introduced me with a proud smile. He was regarded as a celebrity within the walls of the restaurant, and when we left, I felt the appraising eyes of everyone in the room.
Here’s what I’m loving. Besides the fact that they’re talking about the super-secret fight club nobody knows about right out in the open in an environment where people seem very invested in Parker and will no doubt be eavesdropping. Abby is introduced in the story as wearing cashmere and pearls and being too uptight and goody-goody to go to an underground fight. She is exactly the type of girl Parker’s mom would be impressed with.
Also? That’s the date. That’s the whole date. They go to the restaurant, meet his mom, we get a paragraph about them talking about stuff, and then Parker is like, well, gotta take you home so I can study for my test tomorrow. He takes her back to the apartment and asks her for a second date, which she agrees to, and they have a good night kiss.
Once again, when I turned the knob, the door yanked away and I fell forward. Travis caught me, and I regained my footing.
And once again, he’s been listening the whole time and mocks the fact that Parker calls Abby “Abs.” When she points out that he calls her pigeon, he says:
“You like Pigeon,” he said defensively. “It’s a dove, an attractive girl, a winning card in poker, take your pick. You’re my pigeon.”
“It’s what Tramp calls Lady and that’s where I got the idea!”
Also, a pigeon in poker isn’t a winning card. It’s a really, really bad player.
They go into the bedroom to get ready for bed and Abby tells Travis about how great her kiss with Parker was and how soft Parker’s lips are, etc.
Travis stripped down to his boxers, and sat down with his back to me. A bit slumped over, he looked exhausted. The lean muscles of his back stretched as he did, and he glanced back at me for a moment. “If you had such a good time, why are you home so early?”
“He has a big test on Monday.”
Travis wrinkled his nose. “Who cares?”
The foundation of this “friendship” with Abby was studying for tests.
So, there’s about a page left in the chapter and not much happens it, so I’ll sum it up. Travis asks Abby about the date, she tells him everything about it, he seems happy that she enjoyed herself, and her phone rings. Parker waited until after midnight to call her and is like, LOL it’s tomorrow. He asks if Monday night is a good time to go out, and she’s like, yes, and Travis gets annoyed. And that’s it.
I don’t get this. Like, I legitimately don’t understand how this book is so boring, yet has so many devoted fans. There’s absolutely no reason for the main characters not to get together. They both want to. The only thing holding them back are their weird principles that are never justified with any sort of motivation in the text. It’s long, it’s slow, the characters do the exact same thing in every chapter (get ready for bed, get up, shower, talk about their conflicted feelings, do something to make the other one mad, go to bed, get up, shower, etc.). There’s no sense of tension. Just frustration that two bad, manipulative people are manipulating each other and enjoying it so god damn much that they don’t want to stop and therefore will continue inventing drama throughout the rest of this neverending trashmare.