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Jealous Haters Book Club: Beautiful Disaster chapter 5 “Parker Hayes” or “Obvious Foil”

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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.

A facebook post by McGuire that reads: "Gracie... seriously... you need an intervention. I'm here to help. I haven't had someone follow me around the internet to be my personal social media police since Jenny Trout seemed herself the author patrol. You have enough time for this? That's... kinda sad." She follows it up with a gif of Regina George from Mean Girls saying, "Why are you so obsessed with me?"

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.”

Red blank flag with flagpole waving in the wind against white background

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.

Let’s compare.

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.

Parker

  • 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.

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Here for the first time because you’re in quarantine and someone on Reddit recommended my Fifty Shades of Grey recaps? Welcome! Consider checking out my own take on the Billionaire BDSM genre, The Boss. Find it on AmazonB&NSmashwords, iBooks, and Radish!

94 Comments

  1. Maggie
    Maggie

    So good to see JHBC back! At first I was like “Hm, I should reread earlier recaps ’cause I’ll probably be lost.” But wouldn’t you know it, this book is so boring and repetitive that I feel like the last recap came out yesterday.
    Love your commentary, as always <3

    January 16, 2020
    |Reply
  2. Ren Benton
    Ren Benton

    “I trotted down the stairs to find America”

    It’s been so long since the last installment, I forgot America was a character. I just sighed and accepted the laughably pretentious interpretation as consistent with this masterful writing.

    Then I realized “RATHER THAN DEAL WITH MY FEELS, I SHALL GO IN SEARCH OF AMERICA ASTRIDE MY STEEL HORSE” would be a much less cringey story than this.

    January 16, 2020
    |Reply
    • Mr. Fell
      Mr. Fell

      There is a great indian movie where the heroine is left at the altar but she still goes alone on her European honeymoon because it’s her dream. It’s pretty nice.

      February 4, 2020
      |Reply
  3. Yay! Another recap!

    Also (shameless plug alert), if anyone’s interested in reading recaps of the equivalent bit in ‘Walking Disaster’ (the Travis’s-POV novel) they’re at https://freethoughtblogs.com/geekyhumanist/2019/02/20/walking-disaster-review-chapter-ten-part-two/ and https://freethoughtblogs.com/geekyhumanist/2019/02/28/walking-disaster-review-chapter-eleven/. (Yes, the chapters aren’t even vaguely sequential. Also, yes, McGuire didn’t bother putting the last bit of this chapter in the Travis recap – I’ve now read the beginning of Chapter 12 and it’s not there – so maybe even McGuire found that bit too boring to write out again from a different POV.)

    January 16, 2020
    |Reply
    • Rebecca
      Rebecca

      Wh…WHY IS THERE A TRAVIS’S POV NOVEL. WHYYYYYYYY.

      January 17, 2020
      |Reply
      • De Roche
        De Roche

        Why, money, my dear friend.

        January 18, 2020
        |Reply
        • Rebecca
          Rebecca

          *SIIIIIIGH* Yeah, okay, you’re right.

          January 18, 2020
          |Reply
      • Errapel
        Errapel

        Well Twilight did it (or was going to) then 50s grey did it, so authors in the genre decided there was money to be made there.

        Honestly I’m not sure there are any books I can think of that I liked enough to want to read again but inside a different head…

        January 19, 2020
        |Reply
        • I actually love the ‘different POV rewrite’ as a genre. In this case, however, it just means we get an even closer look at what a toxic fuck Travis is and how little this bothers McGuire.

          January 21, 2020
          |Reply
        • KR
          KR

          You know I just finished reading a novel where it’s from one character’s POV, but I would love to have the insight of the other main character’s POV.
          Maybe it wouldn’t work for all stories, but I think it just depends on how interesting the characters are that you actually want to know both sides of the story. In the case of this book, neither character is interesting enough to warrant another POV read.

          January 22, 2020
          |Reply
          • I wouldn’t mind reading a book from Parker’s POV now…only not written by JM

            January 30, 2020
  4. Avery Knight (formerly Skylar)
    Avery Knight (formerly Skylar)

    I just finished rereading all of the 50 Shades recaps, so apparently the trick to getting new installments of JHBC is for me to binge-reread old ones.

    Aside- have we gone addressed the fact that Abby showers as much as Ana Steele?

    January 16, 2020
    |Reply
    • Ariel
      Ariel

      In the multiverse of these horrible ‘abuse written as love’ books Ana and Abby are related, and the propensity for constantly taking showers is actually a debilitating genetic disorder.

      January 18, 2020
      |Reply
    • Maybe the characters shower so much because their authors subconsciously feel dirty about pawning these books off on the masses.

      January 30, 2020
      |Reply
  5. NavigatorBR
    NavigatorBR

    *Fist pump* Yeah, back to this book… Can’t wait for us to reach the ending, because boy is it something….

    January 16, 2020
    |Reply
  6. Siobhannabon
    Siobhannabon

    Getting the poker term wrong sounds exactly like someone was messing with Jamie about what it meant and she believed it. So much so that she put it in print

    January 16, 2020
    |Reply
    • Amanda
      Amanda

      Boy, let me tell you, you are going to laugh and laugh about this poker thing later on.

      January 18, 2020
      |Reply
  7. Amy Too
    Amy Too

    I so appreciate these JHBC posts. They honestly can turn my entire day around when I see them. I squeal, out loud, when I check your site and see a new installment. Thank you so much for writing them.

    January 16, 2020
    |Reply
    • Rebecca
      Rebecca

      I feel exactly the same.

      January 17, 2020
      |Reply
      • Ariel
        Ariel

        As do I. They are a true blessing and an eternal, witty delight.

        January 18, 2020
        |Reply
    • Errapel
      Errapel

      Same here. I learn a lot of good writing tips, and get some enjoyment from the snark. It’s the highlight of my day discovering there’s a new post.

      January 19, 2020
      |Reply
  8. Maria
    Maria

    usually i can find reasons why certain things will have a devoted fanbase, even if my personal taste doesn’t line up. in the case of beautiful disaster, however, i am utterly baffled as to why anybody likes it. this isn’t even a slow burn. they’re already attracted to each other. travis is obsessed with abby. there’s nothing building up, it’s just… stalled.
    it’s also so repetitive that it feels suspiciously like the author wrote each chapter one after the other without checking back

    January 16, 2020
    |Reply
    • Rebecca
      Rebecca

      I’m writing an *academic* book that is more gripping than this. And also, my chapter dis-/continuity is better.

      January 17, 2020
      |Reply
  9. Katie
    Katie

    I finished reading chapters 1-4 recaps this morning. This post makes me exceedingly happy

    January 16, 2020
    |Reply
  10. Sigyn
    Sigyn

    #TeamFatDancer
    I personally think if you’re hardworking and athletic enough to be a dancer, it doesn’t matter what your size or weight is. I mean, look at Lizzo – dances, sings, plays the flute, amazing breath control! She’s a lot bigger than me, and I can barely walk and sing at the same time.

    Aww, is McGuire showing her ass with how obsessed *she* is with *you*? That’s so silly of her.

    PUSSY JUICE SPONGE That’s disgusting (accurate tho) and hilarious.

    So um
    -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 just binged the show “You” on Netflix and the line about being unexceptional (Beck: “Do you think I’m unremarkable?”)  made me read Parker’s dialogue in Penn Badgley’s voice. Haha yikes…

    “People just don’t understand your relationship. You have to admit, it’s a bit ambiguous.”
    ^ What I don’t understand is why “people” think it’s their business.

    The hell IF it’s not? That’s– is that regional?

    Also my dude, what if she calls an Uber or Lyft? Are you not gonna let her take one of those either? I forget where the party is but Travis is being irrational and not in the relatable way.

    Hey I wonder if Travis knows that threatening murder is a crime.

    “if he rapes you don’t come crying to me. Wait yes do. And I’m not your damn brother” UM. Yeah no I don’t like this guy.

    Abby is…dense. Like, *I’m* dense, as in, “correct the spelling and grammar in your love letter to me and wonder who it’s about” dense, but Abby is just a whole nother level.

    Travis “Is a constant ball of barely contained rage looking for any excuse to harm other men” – reminds me of Edward and Chedward.

    Dude i like Parker. I kind of want Abby to go “yeah Travis you’re kind of bullshit and i don’t deserve to be treated nasty, so i’ma just…go.” And then either become good friends with Parker & stay single or be with someone else, or be with Parker (assuming his family won’t cut him off because they dislike her for whatever reason).

    Uh why would you slam the door anywhere near your roommate’s face? Assbutt.

    I am so grateful you point out red flags and explain them, if i haven’t said it before. I’ve had exes who did some shady stuff but I wasn’t able to verbalize it correctly and this helps. It also teaches me which stuff I have done that isn’t ideal, so that’s helpful too!

    Abby and Travis are constantly working on a relationship they don’t have and neither of them wants.
    ^ yeah man, they shouldn’t even be friends. I say this because I don’t think Travis understands how to be a friend.

    “it is not your friend’s job to fix this broken man. Because he’s not fucking broken. He’s a spoiled brat”
    ^ that resonates so hard with me

    Whoa whoa whoa ok so Parker knows Travis is in love with Abby – whatever, fine. But he chooses to say that to Abby’s face right before a date? That– nah man. I’ve dated (or “dated”) dozens of people and not a single one of them that I can remember would tell me another person is in love with me before, during, or after a date. Also, Parker’s word choice – he had to “break it to” his brothers and not just tell them.

    oh WOW Mrs. Richie Rich wears jewelry that was MADE to be NOTICED ummm sweetie have we forgotten what accessories do?

    Dude, I love blondes. I think they’re beautiful. The “evil blonde” and “dumb blonde” stereotypes are truly idiotic and I don’t know why so many authors go for them when they’re not based in reality. (I mean, I’ve known people (both men and women) who were blond and evil but they weren’t evil BECAUSE they were blond.

    So Parker doesn’t respect his mother. Um, that puts another question mark in his column.

    …this book has fans? Oh…oh no.

    January 16, 2020
    |Reply
    • Jules
      Jules

      “Dude i like Parker. I kind of want Abby to go “yeah Travis you’re kind of bullshit and i don’t deserve to be treated nasty, so i’ma just…go.” And then either become good friends with Parker & stay single or be with someone else, or be with Parker (assuming his family won’t cut him off because they dislike her for whatever reason).”

      NOOOOO Parker deserves to NOT have Abby in his life in any way shape or form. I mean, the girl can’t even open a door without falling over and is literally sleeping with a guy she claims she doesn’t even like. WTF.

      I am going to start a FREE PARKER campaign right now!

      January 17, 2020
      |Reply
      • Casey
        Casey

        You’re absolutely right, and Parker deserves better than Abby. That being said, we already have compelling conflict right here that doesn’t rely on willful stupidity or abuse! Meeting of two worlds! A protective mother who disapproves of her son’s dating choices — and is physically close enough to run into him on dates! Abby living with another guy who’s aggressively into her despite her (stated) lack of interest in him! The (presumed) difference in their ages meaning that Parker will graduate a few years before her and they’ll be at radically different points in their lives if their relationship is serious enough to survive for that long!

        Abby doesn’t deserve Parker, and this book doesn’t deserve this storyline, but it’s just . . . fucking *sitting* there, man. I wanna see this story written by someone competent and not just super goddamn gross.

        January 22, 2020
        |Reply
        • Jules
          Jules

          That would be far more interesting than…whatever the fork this book is. lol

          January 22, 2020
          |Reply
    • Grace
      Grace

      Thanks for the positivity about blondes. As a blonde woman with plenty of insecurities before my hair colour, it amuses and disturbs me that this mentality is apparently so common.

      January 18, 2020
      |Reply
    • Ariel
      Ariel

      I’d lie to second your appreciation for Jenny’s clearly layed out call outs of abusive or manipulative behaviour. The more subtle signs of such can sometimes fly right over my head, or leave a vaguely bad taste in my brain-mouth, and it’s so rewarding to have someone explain them so clearly.

      It’s funny, that you should mention “You”, because I’ve spend the last couple of weeks reading various YouTube comments sections, that talk about the show, and the number of fans, who keep on romanticising, excusing and justifying Joe’s behaviour, while demonising and slut shaming Beck is…unreal.

      It’s really fascinating to watch people sympathise with an abusive, delusional stalker and proclaim, that Beck was a terrible, selfish girlfriend, who deserved to die in the same breath. And by “fascinating”, I mean “tear-my-hair-out enraging.”

      Remember, when people used to say ‘If Christian Grey was poor, “Fifty Shades of Grey” would be an episode of “Criminal Minds”’?
      Well, Joe is a lower middle class version of Chedward, albeit sans kink, and hordes of girls and women are still hellbent on treating him like some endearing, broken romantic hero (while some men, including one YouTube reviewer, firmly believe he was actually in love with Beck, and his actions stemmed from his desire to protect and care for her.)

      It’s really doing my head in. I wish Jenny would write an analytical take down of the pungent witch’s brew that combines internalised misogyny and unconscious defense of toxic male behaviours, that spawns such misguided reactions, but she’s probably got enough on her plate already.

      I know I shouldn’t really be surprised. We’re shown time and time again, that people will go to great lengths to excuse male characters, if they’re either romanticised in the text itself, or position themselves as justified, because they’re acting in the pursuit of love, but my god, that’s not what this series intended…at all…quite the opposite.

      In summation – AAAARRRRRRRGGGGHHHHHHH!!!

      January 18, 2020
      |Reply
      • Bookjunk
        Bookjunk

        Ah, but you forgot the hot-factor. Christian is rich and hot; Joe is just hot. Apparently, that is enough for some people to think his behaviour is okay. Now if he were poor and ugly…

        January 19, 2020
        |Reply
        • Ariel
          Ariel

          I agree, that the Halo Effect plays a major part in people’s perception of others, but I think it’s deeper than that. If Joe was played by Steve Buscemi, the number of viewers, who romanticise him would go down drastically, but I think great many of them would still find him largely sympathetic, if not downright likeable.

          Judging from the many comments I’ve read, a lot of fans tend to use both Joe’s abusive childhood, and his supposedly genuine desire to care for Beck as excuses for his sick behaviour. (Spoilers ahead!)

          Him deciding to murder two people close to her is often viewed as somewhat justified, because his motive was an attempt to get rid of those, who were bringing her down. (Never mind, that his actual reason is a need to control her and have her all to himself). It’s his protectiveness, that makes him a well-meaning boyfriend. He’s essentially given a pass for stalking and premeditated murder, because, though damaged, he is enacting the role of a knight valiant, slaying those, who would harm his lady. His actions are framed as excusable, because he’s conforming to the stereotypes of what a male suitor should be – aggressive, pro-active, determined and over the top protective. He’s allowed to be flawed and misguided, because romantic male heroes have been repeatedly given a pass for such behaviour in pop culture.

          Whereas the female characters (both Beck and Peach) in the show are judged very harshly for not conforming to the stereotype of kind, considerate, selfless girlfriend, or best friend people have been used to. Their flaws are amplified, yet Joe’s negative characteristics get minimised.

          The abuse Joe suffered as a child is, as I mentioned, also used by fans to make him seem like a broken, but romantic character. It’s not his fault he doesn’t know how to express his love and devotion. He was made to be this way. The tools he’s using to form a relationship are wrong, but he’s doing his best! His heart is in a good place!

          All of which leads me to suspect, that Joe’s very brokenness is part of his appeal. He’s a wounded bird in need of care and affection. Yes, he’s a bad boy, but all he does, he does for love! All he needed was someone to accept and love him, and he would have been fine! But his slut of a girlfriend couldn’t appreciate him, so she deserved to die for cheating on him, and being an insecure, broken girl herself.

          It’s really startling to see girls and women mistake Joe for a caring, selfless figure, who genuinely cares for the woman he’s stalking, lying to and manipulating. It’s like his ever present narration, where he reveals himself as the delusional, deeply mentally ill, unremorseful, hypocritical, arrogant and psychopathic creep that he is, is just white noise in their ears.

          FTheir romanticisation of his character would be somewhat understandable, if “You” was a romantic comedy, but it’s very clearly presented as a thriller with a dark satirical edge. Joe isn’t another Christian Grey or Travis Maddox, he’s a commentary on the toxic trope those characters exemplify. He’s meant to represent what happens, when we take abuse and portray it as love. The writing doesn’t paint Joe in a good light at all (although it does humanise him), but the blinded hordes of delusional fans are incapable of seeing that. All of that is really scary and depressing.

          Sorry for this overlong reply, that you didn’t ask for. Feel free to ignore it – it seems like I just needed to vent. Again. Uff.

          January 19, 2020
          |Reply
          • Black Knight
            Black Knight

            If it’s any comfort, I think some of that is shifting after the events of season 2. There’s some recognition now that Joe is addicted to the chase and isn’t actually in love with any woman.

            January 19, 2020
          • Joe from “You” and Travis fit the depressive demon nightmare boy trope (https://thenarrativearc.org/twilight).

            The attractiveness and brokenness work together to make these characters appealing even though they’re horrible.

            Men are also “allowed” to be violent and murderous because aggression is correlated with virility and power. It’s why so many romance novel heroes are warriors. (police officers, mountain men, war heroes, etc.) The abusiveness is just a proxy for their sexual appetite.

            It’s a cheap trope, but it works because fear, anger, and lust are all high arousal emotions that amplify each other. (https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/in-the-name-love/201302/why-make-sex-and-breakup-sex-are-so-good).

            Is it messed up? Absolutely. Does it work on a wide array of people? Absolutely.

            What we need are more characters that defy this stereotype.

            January 30, 2020
        • Jeppsson
          Jeppsson

          Me and Husband just finished watching the Russian sci-fi show “better than us”, and it’s interesting in having a sort of gender-flipped version of this dynamic…

          So pretty advanced androids are par for the course in this future, and they’ve got the classic Asimov robot laws. Then there’s Arisa, a prototype which is hinted at being the only android with actual sentience, plus she lacks standard robot laws. She’s revealed, later in the show, to be the creation of a Chinese engineering company, that tried to solve the lack of women that still plagues China in this near-future by creating a “perfect wife” android. So Arisa looks like a life-size Barbie doll (white for some reason), and is programmed for absolute family loyalty instead of traditional robot laws. (Later on, it’s also increasingly obvious why her creators didn’t try to track her down after a Russian company got their hands on her, and tried to pass her off as THEIR creation…)

          By a series of coincidences she ends up “imprinting” on our hero Gregorij and his children (he’s even asleep when this happens, so didn’t even know about it). After that, she sees herself as his “perfect loyal wife”, which means she’s gonna alternate between cooking, cleaning, playing with his youngest daughter and doing everything he says, causally murdering people she considers threats to “her family”, and physically restraining, even at one point roofing Gregorij “for his own good” when his “preferences are irrational”. She’s near invulnerable and much stronger than a human being, so he’s pretty helpless when she goes into that mode.

          I thought she was a really interesting character, and through most of the show Gregorij just tries to deal with both Arisa and all the other crap he’s caught up in as best he can. BUT I get the feeling towards the end of the season, and this is probably gonna go further in season 2, that they’re actually gonna do some kind of romance between him and abusive murder-droid Arisa. Although I’ll have to wait for next season to see if this is gonna be the case.

          January 21, 2020
          |Reply
  11. Sigyn
    Sigyn

    Also – sorry for the double post – I’m rereading the other entries and yes, Abby disliked being called Pigeon since the first chapter. You said, “Travis sits down by Abby and calls her “Pigeon” again and she doesn’t like it, so obviously he’ll keep doing it through the rest of the book because men doing things you ask them not to is such adorable behavior.”

    January 16, 2020
    |Reply
  12. Indigo
    Indigo

    A pigeon is a flying garbage-rat that poops everywhere. Who in their right mind thinks *that’s* a cute nickname?

    January 17, 2020
    |Reply
    • Jules
      Jules

      “A pigeon is a flying garbage-rat that poops everywhere. Who in their right mind thinks *that’s* a cute nickname?”

      I keep wondering why he is calling her a flying rat, but flying garbage rat is even better. lol

      If any guy called me pigeon and thought it was cute to keep doing it after I said I didn’t like it, well, I certainly wouldn’t be spending each and every night in his bed. I would also cross the street if I saw him coming my way and sit at the complete opposite side of the room if we had a class together. Abby is one of those horrible “yes means no” girls. UGH

      January 17, 2020
      |Reply
      • Jeppsson
        Jeppsson

        Yeah, for a nickname to be endearing, obvs the target has to LIKE it, but there should also be some backstory.

        Off the top of my head… I have a friend who photographs pigeons for a hobby, regular city pigeons, but she manages to capture such cute and funny expressions etc. Imagine she had an exhibition, Travis and Abby went there, they thought one of the pigeons somehow resembled Abby, and they joked and laughed about it. After that, Travis calls Abby Pigeon.

        But in this book, he calls her that for NO reason (ok, I know there is an extremely stupid “reason” revealed in his own PoV book, but not in this one) the very first time he sees her.

        January 18, 2020
        |Reply
        • Ariel
          Ariel

          That would actually be a cute and endearing scene.

          But in reality, Travis would just buy all the photos featuring the Abby-esque pigeon, and then threaten to beat up the artist, because him talking pictures of birds, that kind of look like his girlfriend is a clear sign, that he has the hots for her. And that cannot stand in the world of Christia-, I mean Travis, in the world of Travis Maddox.

          January 18, 2020
          |Reply
          • Jeppsson
            Jeppsson

            100 % true!

            January 19, 2020
    • cheerfuloptimistic
      cheerfuloptimistic

      This made me laugh.

      January 18, 2020
      |Reply
  13. Jeppsson
    Jeppsson

    The stuff about Parker’s driving is really weird. If someone else drives and I’m just along for a ride, sure, I’ll notice if they drive in a very reckless manner, or if they’re cautious and slow enough to disrupt traffic. I won’t pay attention to whether the driver follows every traffic rule perfectly like Parker apparently does, or whether they’re more of an average driver.

    This is just one more instance of Abby being SUCH a sexist asshole, like she’s thinking that a REAL MAN has to be a reckless driver with no regard for other people’s lives.

    January 17, 2020
    |Reply
    • Ariel
      Ariel

      Ooh, that’s a good catch – it’s not only propping up toxic behaviours (reckless, dangerous driving is hot and signifies a sexy, passionate nature), but also subtly emasculating the one male character we’re not supposed to root for.

      It’s interesting, McGuire seems to subscribe to the binary system of masculinity; a man is either a milquetoast, kind beta or a manipulative perpetually angry, but “obviously” sexy alpha.

      Only one type can be attractive, since considerate, respectful men cannot ever be perceived as truly hot.

      January 18, 2020
      |Reply
    • ShifterCat
      ShifterCat

      I noticed that too. It’s one thing to follow all the rules of the road during a high-speed chase or superfast ride (as seen in Big Hero Six, the second Lego movie, and the Good Omens TV series), but under normal circumstances it’s kind of like noting that someone walks by putting one foot ahead of the other.

      January 30, 2020
      |Reply
  14. Anon
    Anon

    “Jenny Trout seemed herself the author patrol.”

    Is English a second language for this woman? What does that sentence mean?

    “Are women really this fucked up and competitive about hair color?”

    I’m a redhead. I guess we’re neutral because I have not experienced this.

    I forgot she has some deep, dark secret. Shouldn’t that feature more in the action? What even is the plot of this book?

    January 17, 2020
    |Reply
    • @Anon: I think ‘seemed’ is actually a typo for ‘deemed’ (probably from autocorrect), so, to be fair, that phrase is only one typo away from making perfect sense linguistically…

      …and that’s about the only good thing you could say about it.

      January 17, 2020
      |Reply
    • Jules
      Jules

      “I forgot she has some deep, dark secret. Shouldn’t that feature more in the action? What even is the plot of this book?”

      All I can imagine is that her deep, dark secret is that she is not actually a human being and was somehow created by Travis wishing really, really hard for a girl to love, and Fate giving a little chuckle and making that girl as boring as humanly possible. Fate also forgot to calibrate her little invention, hence all the tipping over.

      January 17, 2020
      |Reply
  15. Diana
    Diana

    So, legit the thing that bothered me the most was there being a class called Calculus 3, because in my mind calc 2 was multivariable and after that you’re done with calculus classes – only to find out that apparently my calculus classes in high school had been smushed together and sped up.

    All of which is to say, the book was clearly trying to sell Abby as soooooo smart, and it’s not as impressive as it thinks it is. Especially because I’ll bet what math class she’s in never comes up in any sort of useful context that showcases her personality, and is entirely there to tell the reader that she’s super smart, I promise!

    January 17, 2020
    |Reply
    • Rebecca
      Rebecca

      She’s super smart in a “what, like it’s supposed to be HARD?!” way, because she is Not Like Other Girls ™.

      January 17, 2020
      |Reply
    • Red-handed Jill
      Red-handed Jill

      For what it’s worth there was a Cal 3 in my big state school known for its engineering program. I didn’t take it because I was an Econ major, though, so I couldn’t say what it covers.

      January 19, 2020
      |Reply
      • Kelsea
        Kelsea

        I was in an engineering program. Had four semesters of calc required. Been a while, but pretty sure 3 was linear algebra and matrix junk and 4 was multivariable for what it’s worth!

        January 19, 2020
        |Reply
    • Al
      Al

      Yeah I was confused too. Most of the people at my high school took the equivalent of Calc I and II before going to college, but there wasn’t a Calc III; it was just multivariable and then after that you could pick your favorite math topic — linear algebra or advanced math topics or differential equations or discrete math or what have you. College seemed to be more or less the same way — Calc I and then II and then multivar. I’m not sure what colleges even have a Calc III, but if it’s basically multivar… then it’s not even remotely unusual or smart to be taking that freshman year of college? Most of my high school classmates finished that class senior year of high school. Even the people not from my high school had mostly had some Calc experience and could skip Calc I and take Multivar their second semester freshman year if they wanted to. If it’s Abby’s first semester, that still only necessitates that she take BC calculus in high school, which is maybe slightly unusual depending on location in the US but is nowhere near unheard of; there’s literally no way a whole class would be like “whoa! What’s a freshman doing here?!”

      And that’s ignoring the fact that how would they even know she’s a freshman to begin with, unless the professor did the thing at the beginning of class like “everyone say your name, Year, and major”, in which case most people weren’t paying attention and probably wouldn’t remember by this point in the school year.

      Shrug, at least we know what year Abby’s in now.

      January 29, 2020
      |Reply
  16. Sea Sun
    Sea Sun

    Who the actual fuck are these people having conversations during showers! It was gross and invasive when turdis did it in an earlier chapter but at least it established some (terrible negative) things about him in the narrative like how he doesn’t respect boundaries or requests to fucking leave a room she is wet and vulnerable in. But now she is having “gushing” conversations about a boy she like with America while she showers? Does this bathroom not have a lock? Is this an established thing in their friendship even in the dorms? Because I bet their whole floor is fucking glad they’re gone if it is.
    Also the only use of pigeon as slang that I know are either in gambling/cons where they are the mark due to naivety or stupidity. OR slang for just straight up ugly girls.

    January 17, 2020
    |Reply
    • fluffy
      fluffy

      As a senior I lived in a suite with a multi-use bathroom– 1 shower, 1 toilet, 2 sinks, and enough privacy for them to all be used at once. We definitely talked to each other while we were in there, but it was too long ago for me to remember if full conversations were a thing.

      January 18, 2020
      |Reply
      • SeaSun
        SeaSun

        I suppose it makes sense the more I think about it. I definitely don’t have a problem chatting away with friends in a change room as far as casual nudity goes. Just something about the shower just raises an immediate NO in my brain

        January 18, 2020
        |Reply
  17. Gretel
    Gretel

    CN: mention of rape

    You know, when this started, people were saying how Travis’ behaviour is the conservative wet dream: aggressive and combative behaviour paired with possessiveness and a unhealthy protective streak with a very narrow and toxic view on masculinity.
    So when people point out the *obvious* toxic masculinity and how it’s based on super conservative views and gender norms and how this reflects the author’s view, whether the author knows it or not is irrelevant, and some go like: “Noooo, you don’t know if she actually likes this!”, then I want to fucking scream until my head explodes.

    The point of romance is to write what you think is sexy, alluring and enjoyable. The fans and the author enjoy his toxic masculinity. His toxic masculinity is the fucking point of the story BECAUSE IT IS NOT SEEN AS TOXIC.
    So it’s no fucking surprise that the author is a M*G* anti-vaxx pro-Kavanaugh nightmare BECAUSE SHE HAS REVEALED WHO SHE IS WITH THE STORY SHE WROTE. If she hadn’t conservative views on romance and masculinity and gender roles, then she wouldn’t have written this kind of story as something that is desirable but rather, oh, I don’t know, a book with hero’s like those by Alisha Rai, Jenny or Courtney Milan.
    I’m just so fucking tired of people pretending that a genre that is based on fullfilling desires does not have authors who promote toxic behaviour because they actually like that toxic behaviour and do not see it as toxic, but as romantic.

    This translates to other things, like when authors write rape scenes and then insist that it isn’t rape because they enjoyed reading it and want to be in the protagonist’s place. Latest example is that lady who wrote the gymnast rape series.
    For people who like this stuff, these things – dangerous male protagonist or rapey content – are not bad because for them it’s coded as normal and romantic. I mean, the whole point of romance is to read a good story about people you find interesting and about a protagonist you can be interested in yourself. “This is the kind of person I’m attracted to” is the whole point of romance so I don’t understand why some people have such a hard time to just admit that yes, they like a rapey, predatory douchebag and the authors, who wrote the damn thing, likes it, too.

    I went on a tangent here but I’ve been thinking about this for a long time and reading about McGee’s political views has highlighted how important an author’s idea of love is when it comes to writing a book that creates a fictional couple who will fall in love.

    Also, the chapter is unbelivably boring and I’m sad for Parker.
    I don’t even wanna know how the author will fuck him up.

    January 17, 2020
    |Reply
    • Ashley
      Ashley

      Thank you for this comment. You’re 100% right and it’s wonderful when someone manages to eloquently explain something I’m trying to put together myself.

      January 17, 2020
      |Reply
  18. seaserpent
    seaserpent

    “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. ”

    Have we we worked out who red-headed authors are supposed to hate or do they get to write a blonde AND a brunette bitch?

    January 17, 2020
    |Reply
    • Anonymous
      Anonymous

      As a guy, I don’t know the extent to which women believe the hair color thing. I cringe at it for a different reason: as far as I know, hair color stereotypes are really a distant and subtle form racism.

      Look at the stereotypes blonde authors put in their brunette characters and vice versa, and you will find correlations with stereotypes of certain “races” who often had those hair colors. If it’s not clicking right away, look back at the 19th century; a time when Irish immigrants were not considered American, and Italians were not considered white.

      So of course Right-Wing authors write them in without thinking, along with all their other toxicity. Bleh.

      January 18, 2020
      |Reply
    • Errapel
      Errapel

      Aside from Anonymous’ comment about racism, it’s just really lazy writing. A short-hand for character type. You have the strong, dependable brunette, the exotic raven haired beauty, the feisty redhead etc… blondes get several. If they have green eyes they’re automatically evil. Blue eyes mean they’re innocent (often to the point of naivety). And of course in this type of fiction, blonde women = evil because they’re ‘sexier’ (somehow…) and thus a threat to the protagonist.

      January 19, 2020
      |Reply
      • Jeppsson
        Jeppsson

        Hahaha, I’m blonde with green eyes, I had no idea that was an evil stereotype!

        January 21, 2020
        |Reply
        • Sarah
          Sarah

          Lol same! I didn’t realise it was a stereotype either.

          Funnily enough, it seems like male heroes with green eyes are a dime a dozen and often seen as extremely attractive and mysterious. I don’t feel like the same can be said of heroines though? I can count probably on one hand the amount of popular romance novels with heroines who have green eyes.

          January 22, 2020
          |Reply
    • Ilex
      Ilex

      I’m a ginger, and am embarrassed to say I wrote a novel with a blue-eyed cherubic blonde nemesis. But she wasn’t competitive over men — she wanted to kick my heroine’s tail at sports. (Which she did.) And she had short hair. So I at least played her against type.

      January 21, 2020
      |Reply
      • Jeppsson
        Jeppsson

        Well, antagonists got to have SOME hair colour. It’s not problematic in itself if that colour is blonde. It’s just weird when books have a PATTERN of “blonde bitches”.

        January 27, 2020
        |Reply
  19. small jar of fireflies
    small jar of fireflies

    I think my favorite thing about Parker’s driving habits is that we know that Travis speeds on his motorcycle, even with his helmetless girlfriend on the back, yet here we have an image of a little college town with plenty of lights… which also, likely, means a lot of stop signs.

    Picturing Travis attempting to look badass speeding on little dinky college town roads, between the stop signs and the stoplights. vvVRRRRRMMMMmmputtputtputtvvvVRRRRRRRRRMMMMmmputtputtputtvvvVMMMRRRRMMMmm… They can hear him coming up and down the block, and they still have time to wander to a window and flip him off on the way past.

    January 17, 2020
    |Reply
    • Amy Too
      Amy Too

      That’s hilarious and a good catch. They live on campus in dorms. They go to “town” sometimes which is probably one main road with lots of Targets and Olive Gardens and parking lots on it with a stoplight ever 500 feet or so. At least that’s my experience of a lot of college campuses. The campus is sat back off of a main road and a bunch of chain restaurants, laundromats, and bars spring up on that main road near the campus. So yeah, where/how is he even speeding?

      January 19, 2020
      |Reply
  20. Kyra
    Kyra

    This is some fucked up shit right here. Some long…. slow…. boring…. fucked up shit.

    January 18, 2020
    |Reply
  21. Amanda
    Amanda

    So I have a *couple* of nitpicks about this book. Things that I just can’t get over and I don’t know why because it doesn’t even matter. It’s never going to change so there’s no point getting angry about it, right?

    Pfft

    -I’m not a slut-shamer. I don’t care how many people you’ve slept with. I don’t care which people you’ve slept with. I don’t care how many people at a time you’ve slept with.
    But Travis is just so icky. I don’t care that he had a threesome. But I do care how it happened, I care about why it happened, I care about where it happened, and I care about the aftermath.
    That scene that was supposed to have all this sexual tension? Super, fucking gross to me. Like why are they talking about his threesome and how upset she was and cuddling?

    -Showers don’t go cold when you flush the toilet, they go hot. Why the fuck would they go cold?

    -Maybe this is some crazy, upside down world that the author and whoever-the-fuck-wrote-After live in but why the fuck does everyone know Travis? I didn’t know a single damn person in college, let alone someone so widely known on campus that people are privy to the intimate details of his love life. And why the fuck do they care??

    -About this “secret”… take a moment, if you will, and think of the dumbest thing in the entire world. The absolute most ridiculous thing you could possibly imagine.

    It’s still not as dumb as this secret.

    It’s so dumb that I actually remember it when I really don’t remember much from this book. Blocked it all, I think. The trauma was real.

    You will laugh for days, Jenny, at the ridiculousness of it all. I promise you.

    January 18, 2020
    |Reply
    • Indigo
      Indigo

      Maybe this is some crazy, upside down world that the author and whoever-the-fuck-wrote-After live in but why the fuck does everyone know Travis? I didn’t know a single damn person in college, let alone someone so widely known on campus that people are privy to the intimate details of his love life. And why the fuck do they care??
      I can think of two people who were Known in a general sense at my university when I was there, and even at that they were only famous (or perhaps notorious) within certain circles.
      One was someone who would turn up to student council general meetings and basically filibuster them. Why? Because she felt student government was a stupid waste of time and she sort of delighted in being the wrench in the gears. I don’t believe there was any particular principle at stake other than just “I think you’re all full of shit”. People who went to student council meetings knew her. Everyone else…nah.
      The other person was the kind of guy whose orbit you were pretty well bound to enter if you were into anything nerdy – LARP, anime and tabletop in particular, but
      really anything geeky. He was a big organizer of things. I knew him and most of the people I knew, knew him. But that doesn’t say anything much except that folks who have similar interests will tend to know the same people, especially ones who make a point of introducing themselves around.
      At age 19, I could have given you the rundown on who hated who at philosophy student union meetings and who was being given the stink-eye for sharing drafts outside of workshop in the writing department (major faux pas). I knew some theatre kids to nod at and I got secondhand gossip about the physics and astronomy department from my then-boyfriend. Ask me who the major athletes on campus were and I’d have stared at you blankly. And I didn’t go to a big school or live in a large town.
      Basically, this whole “big man on campus” idea, where there’s an in-crowd who literally everyone knows? Maybe that was a thing fifty years ago, but now, no. Our monkeyspheres have room for about a hundred and fifty people, and your average university campus has thousands.

      January 18, 2020
      |Reply
      • Amanda
        Amanda

        And still, all that’s specialized. Sure I knew people in my department. We all usually ended up in at least one class in the department. But this just seems like Jamie McGuire is writing college like a little kid.

        But to have this one graduating student who is super focused on getting into HARVARD MED having enough time or energy to be familiar with the personal life of some rando? I’m not buying it.

        January 19, 2020
        |Reply
      • Casey
        Casey

        Agreed! I went to a relatively small school (4k students), and I knew my friend group and . . . a couple of creeps who tried to hit on every girl in said friend group . . . and . . . um, I think that’s it. The religious group was 50 shades of culty, so inside that there were some minor “celeb” students, but no one outside that very specific group of 100 or so college kids would’ve known them at all.

        Actually, I think there was one student almost everyone knew . . . because he passed away in a car crash on the way back from spring break. I don’t think anyone (except me and a few others in our tiny English department) knew him prior to that, but tragedy makes quick celebrity. But even there, I can’t guarantee anyone would actually know him by name, just “hey you know that kid who died?” (Sorry, that’s dark, but it’s the only concrete example I can think of.)

        January 22, 2020
        |Reply
    • Amy Too
      Amy Too

      She’s writing college like it was high school. In order for this to work and there to be a notorious super popular guy that everyone knows all about his personal life, it would have to be a pretty small campus that maybe specializes in one type of major so everyone was taking the same classes. But if it’s so small, you would think most people would be commuting—like a community college. And if it’s a specialty college, then they wouldn’t have all these different majors. It seems like everyone knows him because he’s a bit of a celebrity from the “super secret underground fighting ring,” but if everyone knows about that then it’s not super secret at all, is it?

      January 19, 2020
      |Reply
  22. fluffy
    fluffy

    I was sure we were at least 60% into this book.

    January 18, 2020
    |Reply
  23. cheerfuloptimistic
    cheerfuloptimistic

    My theory on the evil blonde cliche is that it’s a way of marking the unblonde heroine as not being conventionally beautiful but without, you know, actually writing a heroine that would be considered ugly by our fucked up beauty standards.

    I don’t fucking know.

    January 18, 2020
    |Reply
    • Jules
      Jules

      “My theory on the evil blonde cliche is that it’s a way of marking the unblonde heroine as not being conventionally beautiful but without, you know, actually writing a heroine that would be considered ugly by our forked up beauty standards.

      I don’t forking know.”

      Yeah, I think it’s pretty much lazy writer shorthand.

      Have an intellectual female character? What people to know she’s smart and sensible and not frivolous or girly? Brunette. If she’s supposed to be very studious make sure she has glasses.

      Have a mysterious, almost supernaturally sexy female? Raven hair! Blue eyes! Done. No need to develop her any further.

      Have a wild, tempestuous girl easily angered. Make her a redhead, but it should be curly, wild red curls like Merida from Brave.

      Cold, calculating bitch? Icy blonde is all you need to say.

      Bimbo? Bleach blond with big boobs.

      This is lazy writer character development in a nutshell.

      We are meant to root for this heroine because she’s “average” looking, which is writer code for brunette.

      I do have to admit I fall prey to the raven haired = witchy, mystical trap. I also am a sucker for raven hair and blue eyes so I tend towards that look in my stories too. And redheads. I love redheads so there are an inordinate amount of redheads. lol

      January 18, 2020
      |Reply
      • Casey
        Casey

        Don’t forget: character of color? All the personality you need’s waiting in the skin tone.

        OBVIOUSLY I’m kidding, though! Why would a popular Nu Romance/YA author bother to write a main character of color? That shit’s for the wacky friend-of-a-friend or atrophied-to-the-point-of-disintegrating leg of a love triangle. Or both!

        /s (dear god please let the sarcasm have come through loud and clear)

        January 22, 2020
        |Reply
      • Anon
        Anon

        Please, pretty please email a copy of this post to Nora Roberts.

        She writes these trilogies comprised of the same stock characters with the same mixed/matched features and traits.

        Oh, she might switch things up now and then with a sassy heroine with a chin-length blonde bob but, for the most part, your rundown holds true every. Single. Time, even for the “heroes.”

        Long black hair=damaged/misanthropic /Byronic/hot-tempered.

        Sandy/dirty Blond=coastal surfer dude/Awe, shucks southern good ole boy.

        Brunette=artsy/sophisticated/absentminded professor/playboy
        Redheads aren’t really represented in any memorable way.

        What every single one of them has in common is a tendency to “take what they need” from women and “do what’s best” for them, whether the women like it or not.

        I used to be an avid romance reader until the sexism and essentialism got to be to much.

        May 27, 2020
        |Reply
  24. Crystal M
    Crystal M

    Sigh. I was once a belly dancer and there were several fat women in my class. They practiced hard, and they were fit and strong. Being fat doesn’t mean the person never exercises.

    January 18, 2020
    |Reply
  25. Izzy
    Izzy

    Despite knowing what happens in this book, I was still half expecting Abby to accept a drink from a guy that wasn’t on the list of Travis Approved Gentlemen which would of course be spiked. And then Travis would need to save Abby from herself. Travis would beat up the guy who gave her the spiked drink, to near death, and not call an ambulance or the police or drive Abby to the hospital until he had sufficiently proved his alpha male status to the party. Because his priority is not nor will it ever be her safety and well-being. He needs to be in control and he needs to be justified in that control.

    This whole Pigeon thing reminds me of my former manager. During the interview he asked me if l prefer to go by Izzy or Bella. I say Izzy and for the entire time we worked together he called me Bella. Me being me, I don’t bring it up. I needed the job and he being a controlling, gaslighting, frankly terrifying man was also reason enough not to mention it. The other staff members picked up on calling me Bella and one woman in particular couldn’t even get the nickname I didn’t want right and would call me Belle.
    Fast forward a few years. My brother comes to work at the same store and calls me Izzy all the time. The store owner notices and asks if I prefer that. I say yes. So he stops calling me Bella. The one who calls me Belle lets me know she won’t bother with that as she’s too used to calling me Belle. Eventually the manager is given the boot for being both a terrible human being and bad at business. Last I heard he was making other people miserable somewhere else. This man was pretty much what Travis would be at 50. He even had a (much younger than him) Abby.
    So yeah, it drives me insane when Travis ignores Abby and calls her Pigeon or Christian would call Ana, Anastasia.

    January 18, 2020
    |Reply
    • @Izzy: To make it *even worse*, in the novel that’s from Travis’s POV we find out that he hates it when Adam (the guy who organises the fights) calls him ‘Mad Dog’, so he clearly knows how annoying it is to be called by a nickname you don’t like… and he’s so self-centred it *still* never occurs to him to apply that knowledge to the thought of how someone else might like to be treated.

      Your ex-boss sounds like a toxic POS, but I’m glad to hear that at least someone eventually recognised that and fired his ass, and I hope he suffered as a result and didn’t just fall straight into another job.

      January 21, 2020
      |Reply
      • Izzy
        Izzy

        I am absolutely unsurprised to learn it is one rule for Travis and another for everyone else.

        My ex-boss is the worst person I have ever known. He used to describe himself as “feisty” but pathological liar and damn near socipathic would be better descriptors.

        Unfortunately as far as I know he’s up to the same shit in a different town but given how unpopular he makes himself and that he’s persona non grata in several places, I imagine he’ll get run out soon, if he hasn’t already. And if he crossed the wrong person and got his ass beat, well it wouldn’t be the first time.

        January 24, 2020
        |Reply
  26. Ilex
    Ilex

    Abby tells Travis about how great her kiss with Parker was and how soft Parker’s lips are, etc.

    I’m just ?!?! over this. Who DOES this? I can’t imagine telling any male in my life about how soft some other guy’s lips are, or how his kisses make me feel. This is just flat-out weird. Or maybe I have weird boundaries. But having this conversation with a guy whose bed you’re sharing, and a guy who you supposedly don’t want to lead on, or hurt, or make uncomfortable … this is so inappropriate. Ugh.

    (Okay, maybe if Mr. Soft Lips told me what his lip product was, I’d recommend it to my gay best friend … )

    January 21, 2020
    |Reply
  27. Taz
    Taz

    Parker seems like such a great catch. I’m just waiting for him to turn out to be a rapist, because of course. How else would we excuse Travis’s controlling and abusive behaviour?
    Also i forgot travis has sex with women on the communal couch and. Blegh. Got the shudders all over again.

    January 22, 2020
    |Reply
  28. I hope someone is hired to adapt this piece of shit for film. I really, really do. The slowly dawning horror as they realize just how many times Travis snaps and wrecks a fool would make Jessica Yates smirk.

    January 22, 2020
    |Reply
  29. This book is so mind-numbingly shitty.

    Their entire relationship is built out of red flags. To quote Jenny Nicholson: there are no flags of any other color.

    All these characters SUCK and it’s impossible to care for them.

    What…why…why is this a thing???

    January 25, 2020
    |Reply
  30. Thomas
    Thomas

    Don’t mind me, just commenting so I can sub to new posts…. (I can’t find a way of doing it without commenting…)

    January 28, 2020
    |Reply
  31. Al
    Al

    As much as Abby sucks, I feel like she sucks significantly less than Travis does. I mean, sure, she’s a hypocritical misogynist and probably at least mildly racist, she doesn’t seem to care much about her friends, and she can’t make any decisions or stand up for herself because she has no personality. But she isn’t actively participating in an illegal fight club where she beats up other students, and she isn’t actively gaslighting or manipulating people she supposedly is falling in love with. While she’s kind of a dick about other women in her head and occasionally verbally, she isn’t physically harming them, or misleading them about her intentions and getting annoyed when they seem interested in more than a one-night stand. Abby’s doing a lot of bad stuff, but it’s not quite as bad as what Travis is doing. She doesn’t deserve someone as wholesome as Parker (and Parker sure as HELL doesn’t deserve to get stuck with her), but neither does she deserve to get sucked into a toxic abusive relationship with Travis.

    January 29, 2020
    |Reply
  32. Mr. Fell
    Mr. Fell

    “I curled my hair and painted mmy nails and lips a deep shade of red.”

    And that’s “too much”?

    February 4, 2020
    |Reply
  33. HateHerSoMuch
    HateHerSoMuch

    I’m honestly just dreading the part where Parker turns out to be a rapist. I swear this MAGA idiot is trying to tell all women “The misogynistic boy who abuses you loves you the most!” It’s like literal fucking propaganda.

    Also whenever women write books like these, I just assume the author is an abuser. People think female authors always insert themselves as the female protagonist, but no. Her insert is the male abuser/love-interest. Probably everyone in that MAGAt’s life is being abused by her. That’s why the abuser is “misunderstood.” They’re 100% the type of women who beat their husbands and start crying about “how hard” they’ve had it when he threatens to leave.

    February 17, 2020
    |Reply
  34. Stormy
    Stormy

    “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?”

    If you’re in college taking advanced math, I’m pretty sure it’s not called “Calculus III” at that point, is it? It would be something more specific, like “Discrete Dynamics” or whatever because despite what McGuire is portraying, this isn’t high school???

    It’s such a little thing on its own, but everything about how their classes/free time work scream high school and it bugs the shit out of me.

    March 2, 2020
    |Reply
  35. […] him that was actually true, or something, and also because plot. On reading Jenny Trout’s recap of the equivalent bit in ‘Beautiful Disaster’, I discovered that McGuire left a bit out of the end of that chapter which was in […]

    April 4, 2020
    |Reply
  36. ‘You’re the only girl who could have…” She sighed. “Never mind. It doesn’t matter, now.”’

    OK, another gem from the commenter from my blog that I linked to yesterday… When I was sporking this bit in ‘Walking Disaster’ https://freethoughtblogs.com/geekyhumanist/2019/02/28/walking-disaster-review-chapter-eleven/ I asked whether anyone could think of a non-awful way to finish the sentence of America’s that trailed off into an ellipsis there, and StevoR came up with this list:

    ‘1) Matched Travis in a fair fight given Abby’s secret is her martial arts ability & secret agent / superhero nature?

    2) Beaten Travis in a drinking / belching / gymastics match?

    3) Killed him in his sleep?

    4) Satsified me better than Shepley and anyone else..

    5) Convinced even my toughest physics professor that you’d invented a truly working perpetual motion whilst squaring the circle and flooring Mike Tyson with a single punch and out fashion-designinng Versace’s ghost as you simultaneously break Pheklp’;s swimming records?’

    Any of which sound like major improvements on whatever the hell McGuire was thinking of to put in there.

    April 26, 2020
    |Reply
  37. Huh? “A gray streak interrupting the smooth wave of her bangs” – I’m just not sure how a colour interrupts a texture.

    May 13, 2020
    |Reply

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