Bland Expectations: Beautiful Disaster Chapter 6

Her?

Previously, Abby and Travis continued not to be in a relationship for some reason [Matthew says: Aside from the obvious reasons, like the emotional abuse and such, but we’re working with post-Twilight erotica logic here], and Abby decided to keep living with Travis even though a bet is an arbitrary constraint (unless you owe money to someone with scary goons at his beck and call). Parker is bland, but this translates into dreamy for Abby.

Chapter 6: Turning Point

Right from the start, we find out that Abby and Parker’s romance is blossoming, but Travis is still trying to cock-block.

Monday night’s date met my every expectation. We ate Chinese food while I giggled at Parker’s skills with chopsticks. [Abby’s expectations were somehow lower than eating Chinese and laughing at the way he uses chopsticks? Way to set the bar low, girl.] [Ariel’s Boyfriend adds: She was expecting McDonald’s and polite conversation, I guess.] [Matthew says: Nope! Her expectations are so low she’s not even looking for motor skills.] When he brought me home, Travis opened the door before he could kiss me. When we went out the following Wednesday night, Parker made sure to kiss me in the car.

I imagine this scene as a sort of cartoonish montage where Parker and Abby are about to kiss, and Travis manages to find increasingly ridiculous ways to prevent the kiss. The next time they’re at a restaurant, I wouldn’t be surprise if Travis was really their waitress. As Parker leans in, Travis rips off his wig and pushes Parker away from Abby.

Travis' Disguise
Travis’ elaborate disguise.

At lunch “on Thursday” (whatever that means in this Lost-esque timeline of a book), Parker puts his foot in it when he asks why he wasn’t invited to Abby’s birthday party. Oops, asshole, it was a surprise party that Travis planned. [Matthew says: Which actually answers his question.]

Abby informs us that everyone at the table is fascinated when she puts her hands on Parker’s and tells him he’s invited. They gawk as Parker sits in Travis’ seat and Travis does nothing. They practically lose their shit when Travis ignores arbitrary slut!Megan. Apparently their friends have nothing more interesting going on in their lives, which doesn’t surprise me since they’re friends with Abby and Travis in the first place. [Matthew says: This scene isn’t even in Walking Disaster. When Travis is telling the story, him breaking one of his only character traits isn’t significant enough to include in the story. But we know a lot about his feelings on paper and plastic! (It’s a joke about “bagging”.)]

Parker leaned over the table and kissed my lips. The silence was cafeteria-wide, [Matthew says: SERIOUSLY. The ENTIRE school is caught up in this drama.] and America elbowed me after Parker walked out.
“Isn’t it creepy how everyone watches you?” she whispered. She glanced around the room with a frown. “What?” America yelled. “Mind your business, perverts!” One by one, heads turned away, and murmuring ensued.

Turns out the stares from the other students aren’t even curious, they’re downright “icy” because everyone thinks she’s playing Travis and Parker. Yes, because Parker and Travis are apparently beloved by the whole school despite the fact that I thought everyone either feared or disliked Travis because they’d slept with him. And come on, plant Parker is so bland I’m surprised anyone even remembers who he is.

Her?
Plant?

I mean Abby’s expectations for her date with him were exceeded simply by eating Chinese and having a laugh.

Abby realizes there is only one logical solution to her boy problems. No, it’s not focusing her attention on math.

Abby decides to ask Travis’ permission to get out of the bet, which I think is almost as dishonorable as just ignoring the bet altogether.

“No. You said so yourself : A bet’s a bet. After the month’s up, you’ll be off with Parker, he’ll become a doctor, you’ll get married and have your 2.5 children, and I’ll never see you again.” He grimaced at his own words. “I still have three weeks. I’m not giving that up for lunchroom gossip.”
I looked through the glass window to see the entire cafeteria watching us. The unwelcome attention made my eyes burn.
I shouldered past him to walk to my next class.
“Pigeon,” Travis called after me. I didn’t turn around.

Reading this scene for the second time really puts into perspective how absurd Abby is being. She ignores Travis’ revealing words to instead worry about cafeteria stares. It also highlights how selfish Travis is because clearly Abby is uncomfortable, but he’s exercising what control over her he does have (no matter how ridiculous it is) for his own needs, and as long as it’s in the name of love we’re meant to find it terribly romantic. Now, it’s meant to be clear to us that Abby doesn’t really want out of the bet or she’d just leave, but it just reads as incomprehensible garbage. [Matthew says: Additionally, THIS scene isn’t in Walking Disaster either. I know I bash on how incomprehensible these books are a lot, but this instance was enough to make me triple check that I hadn’t skipped a chapter. But I haven’t. It’s not like anyone was going to read Walking Disaster if they haven’t already read Beautiful Disaster (except for me, I guess), but so much information is missing it can’t even stand alone. McGuire is fully expecting you to have read the other novel first, because she can’t be bothered to tell the whole story this time around.]

The dramatic leap in Travis’ logic is hilarious to me as well. Refer back to Abby’s incredible expectations for her date.

That night, as Abby and America talk about boys (because nothing else matters), she starts to wonder why Travis is acting the way he is:

The expression on Travis’s face when I asked him to let me out of the bet, and again when I told him people were saying he was in love with me, flashed in my mind. I couldn’t stop wondering why he didn’t deny it.

makes no sense

Guys, Abby’s finally telling us what’s going on in her head, something she’s amazing at avoiding even though we’re in her head. All along she’s dropped hints that she knows how Travis feels but that she’s inexplicably been playing dumb. But no. In this scene she’s revealing that she’s actually just that dumb (even though a chapter ago she was telling us that she wasn’t really that dumb. Also there was that time where she told us the lines between them were so blurred Robin Thicke was like “The fuck is going on here?”). BUT NONE OF THAT MATTERS NOW! Who cares about consistency! Certainly not Jamie McGuire.

Fuck you
What Jamie McGuire thinks when she writes stories. [Matthew adds: Actually, if I wrote stories like this for a living, I’d have complete disdain for my characters and readers too.]
Travis shows up asks Abby if she wants to grab dinner, but she’s already got plans with what’s-his-face, and he’s just shown up! [Matthew says: For perspective from Walking Disaster-land, this is where we resume events. Every single thing in this post up until this point is apparently not important in Travis’s version of the story.] So in front of Parker Blando, Abby gives Travis a massive hug, tells him they’ll have dinner tomorrow night, and heads off with Blando.

“We haven’t been getting along lately. That was my version of an olive branch.”
“Should I be worried?” he asked, opening my door.
“No.” I kissed his cheek.

Yeah, dude, you totally shouldn’t be worried that your girlfriend talks about this other guy like they’re in a relationship, is living with him, sleeping in his bed, and making dinner plans with him right in front of yo face.

And then somehow we’re transported back to the 1950s:

“Will Travis be escorting you to your birthday party?”
“I’m not really sure. He hasn’t said anything about it.”
“If he doesn’t mind, I’d like to take you.” He took my hand in his and kissed my fingers.

Given it was meant to be a surprise party, which you cocked up, Blando, no one was going to escort Abby to the party [Matthew says: HER OWN FUCKING PARTY]. And now that she does know the plan, you could show up with her, or everyone could just fucking show up to the party, no escorting involved. [Matthew says: So it’s conceivable that Abby wouldn’t have a date to her own birthday party and couldn’t go? In that case, heavens, mama! Abby has TWO gentleman callers?! Oh my stars!]

Apparently this is the only conversation they have while out to dinner, well, aside from talking about Harvard. What else would you expect from Blando, though? [Matthew says: No, seriously, if he’s being groomed for Harvard, what’s he doing at Generic Undergrad?]

After those few lines of dialogue, they’re back in the parking lot of Travis’ building, hooking up, when this happens:

His lips grazed my collarbone, and then his head jerked up when the glass vibrated with several loud thumps. Parker sat up, and I righted myself, adjusting my dress. I jumped when the door flew open.
Travis and America stood beside the car. America wore a sympathetic frown, and Travis seemed just short of flying into a blind rage.

Oh yeah, Blando has nothing to worry about.

The situation suddenly felt dangerous.

Sexy? Am I supposed to be reading sexy here? Because if Abby actually identified that Travis is a psycho, I’d be pretty shocked.

I’d never heard Parker raise his voice, [because he’s so bland] Travis’s knuckles were white as he balled them into fists at his sides— and I was in the way. America’s hand seemed tiny when she placed it on Travis’s bulky arm, shaking her head at Parker in silent warning.

This is totally the start of a healthy relationship, you guys. Yes, that could be applicable to Abby’s relationship with Blando or Travis.

America ushers Abby away from this scene, telling her she has something she wants to talk to her about. One can only hope she’s going to tell Abby to move out once and for all and start over with someone new. Someone who ain’t no scrub.

No scrub
And then she and America break into choreographed dance

Turns out America has nothing to say at all! The bitch just wanted to get everyone back inside! Instead, she leaves Abby and a very drunk Travis to hash it out. Hmm drunk Travis? Will this end in a foursome this time?

“Why did you do that?” I asked.
“Why? Because he was mauling you in front of my apartment!” he yelled. His eyes were unfocused, and I could see that he was incapable of rational conversation.

To be fair, is anyone in this book ever capable of rational conversation regardless of their sobriety?

Travis reveals his intentions were noble. He thought Abby was fucking Blando in the backseat, and he had to stop it because she’s too good for him! Abby explains they were just making out, so that makes Travis’ interruption more acceptable somehow? And this somehow makes things more acceptable to Travis?

Abby assures him she wasn’t going to fuck Blando, which is also somehow Travis’ business. I’m not sure how, but I’m working on a few theories. Perhaps he’s really been her subconscious or inner goddess this whole time? [Matthew says: It’s like Fight Club, except instead of being driven insane by the homogeneity of white collar capitalism, it’s her own agency.]

“If you sleep with him, I don’t wanna know about it. I’ll go to prison for a long time if I find out he . . . just don’t tell me.”

Don’t go spying on her/interrupting her sex life then? Let her off this bet which for some reason she won’t let herself off of?…Don’t do something that would make you go to prison? I’m just throwing wild suggestions out here.

Abby insists that she’s a virgin and having sex is too big of a step for her.

“I had the same boyfriend all four years of high school. He was an aspiring Baptist youth minister! It never came up!”

Woah this guy sounds even sexier and wilder than Blando! I’m shocked things didn’t get hot and heavy immediately.

Abby, (sidenote: remember Abby is clueless about how Travis feels), only scolds him when he tries to have sex with her after she tells him she’s a virgin:

He leaned up, nearly kissing me, but I pushed him away. Travis’s eyebrows pulled in.
“Knock it off, Trav,” I said. He held me tight against him until I quit struggling, and then he flicked the strap of my dress, causing it to hang off my shoulder.
“Since the word virgin came out of those beautiful lips of yours . . . I have a sudden urge to help you out of that dress.”

And the award for rapiest/grossest scene this chapter of course goes to Travis! [Matthew says: No, seriously, can we talk about how rapey this scene is? “Until I quit struggling” is kind of part of the definition of sexual assault.]

So they get ready for bed together because, as evidenced by the scene above, everything is totally platonic and friendly and sunshine and rainbows. As they get ready for bed, Travis comes up behind Abby and starts putting the moves on her, which, instead of grossing her out completely, turns her on. Abby is about to have sex with him despite everything that’s happened in this entire fucking book (especially the past couple scenes), and the worst part of it all is that Travis is clearly too wasted to be making any reasonable decisions. Instead of talking to him about his feelings all the times he’s tried to confront her, Abby decides now is the time to act on everything. Somehow Abby has become the rapiest character in this scene, and she’s competing with Travis. Shit, they really are made for each other. [Matthew says: No, seriously, Abby’s 100% sober and Travis is blackout drunk. If the genders were swapped here, this would universally be viewed as a rape scene. Why, yes, I am struggling to figure out how to write jokes when every criticism I make of this scene includes the word “rape”. How did you know.]

Our eyes met, and I could see the ache in his expression as he scanned the bare pieces of my skin. I had seen him peruse women before, but this was different. He didn’t want to conquer me; he wanted me to say yes.

Wait. No. He’s the rapiest character normally just not during this scene? He wants Abby to consent unlike all the other sluts? [Matthew says: I love how obviously Jamie McGuire is trying to make it seem like she cares about consent. Despite how Travis held Abby “until she quit struggling” and how Abby’s soberly taking advantage of a blacked out Travis. He’s waiting for her to say yes, you guys! THIS IS TOTES CONSENSUAL. YOU GET CONSENT. YOU GET CONSENT. EVERYBODY GETS CONSENT.] But then Travis says he wants Abby but not like this. Abby goes to sleep in the living room, suddenly knowing she won’t be able to restrain herself in the morning.

Parker had left feeling slighted, Travis waited until I was seeing someone— someone I truly liked— to show an interest in me, and I seemed to be the only girl he couldn’t bring himself to sleep with, even when he was wasted.

WHAT?!?! He has tried to bring his feelings up almost constantly to you! Since we’re never told, I’m wondering what Abby is thinking about during all of those scenes where Travis lays out his feelings completely for her. Is she just like distracted by paint chipping on the walls? Is she thinking about math? Is she daydreaming about burritos? Planning for the zombie apocalypse? I just don’t fucking know. God, I’ve had so many questions this chapter and no answers.

The next morning, Abby drinks (divine) orange juice, which energizes her to clean the house while everyone else is sleeping or banging (Shamerica is still a thing apparently) [Matthew says: Despite the drama between Abby and Travis? Whaaaat, but I thought that Shep and America would be completely torn apart by two other people who aren’t them and don’t effect them!]. Blando shows up to give Abby a wildly inappropriate and expensive bracelet for her birthday even though they’ve been dating for a week. I know it’s a week because America explicitly, and very helpfully, states this for me. [Matthew says: I’m glad they know we’re not really paying attention.]

Even though she almost fucked Travis the night before, she accepts this gift, and she’s not even inwardly conflicted about any of it. For a second she’s slightly worried that it was really expensive but then she’s super excited about how expensive it is, so all is good. Until Travis walks in and at first he doesn’t remember what happened last night, and Abby goes along with it. But then he does remember and Abby’s like, “I was so pissed you didn’t remember.” The chapter ends with this:

He stormed across the room, stopping inches from me. His hands touched my cheeks, his breathing quick as he scanned my face. “What are we doin’, Pidge?”
My eyes began at his belt and then rose over the muscles and tattoos of his stomach and chest, finally settling on the warm brown of his irises. “You tell me.”

I literally cannot keep track of what is going on from page to page in this book. What ARE they doing? Wasn’t Abby all about Blando again a second ago? And she didn’t seem to give a shit that Travis didn’t remember the night before except he’d initially forgotten about ruining her date. See, just more and more questions with no reasonable answers in sight. Hopefully Matt’s post tomorrow can shed some light from Travis’ perspective, but that hasn’t really done us any good so far, so I’m not holding my breath. [Matthew says: I was hoping your post would shed perspective on my chapter. We are well and truly fucked, Ariel.]

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0 comments

  1. Helen Reply

    Seriously, when did abusive become the new sexy?! As if enough people aren’t in abusive relationships without people freaking idolising it. When I see a lot of people posting about 50 Shades of Grey etc. I always post a link to BBGT because even hopeless people deserve a chance at education.

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    • 22aer22 Reply

      I wish I knew! Every single Cosmo-type article I’ve ever read on abusive relationships align almost perfectly with the relationships in these books. It’s like if you write an abusive relationship but just tell the reader it’s romantic they’ll often believe it. “Well, if McGuire says it’s not abusive…” and it’s like NO. No NO. Fucking ignore what she wants you to believe and look at what she’s actually written, and it’s creepy plain and simple. Same goes to Sylvia Day and E.L. James. There is really good romance and erotica out there where the guy is genuinely likable. And you know I’d rather him be some Gary Stu than an abusive dick whose behavior I’m supposed to excuse because he’s “complicated” and accept him as the most romantic of men not despite these character flaws but because of them.

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  2. Vivienne Reply

    I don’t know that I am going to be able to read these posts. This is one of the unhealthiest, most disturbing, sickening things I have ever read. Travis is controlling her so much it is screaming “abuser” and then her “friend” America (which omg is a stupid name) leaves her ALONE with this blackout drunk, abusive, aggressive asshole? And it only gets worse from there. She fucking FORGIVES him, in the classic battered woman style, and he tries to RAPE her. Then she forgives him again and decides hopping into bed with him is a good idea?! Oh but then she’s turned on! So, now SHE’S the fucking rapist. OH but he doesn’t want her so now she thinks she’s disgusting (which she is) and I JUST CANNOT READ THIS AND PRETEND IT IS OKAY. I’ve been in an abusive relationship and this is just triggering too many bad memories. You know how Twilight hits all the red flags? Yeah, this one does too. I am TERRIFIED that people actually love this stuff and think it’s an accurate description of a healthy relationship.

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    • 22aer22 Reply

      I feel terrible that this brings up such painful memories for you, and even worse that people out there legitimately find this abusive shit to be romantic. In this case I’m talking about both the characters being relatively shitty to one another and people thinking it’s all wonderful and gooey. Two messed up characters can have a beautiful romance, no one is saying they can’t, but the books we write about on here (I’m mainly thinking the Crossfire series and this one) don’t have good enough characterization and certainly don’t have a good enough handle on writing strongly characterized people to deal with this kind of romance. Though I of course hope you keep reading and mocking along with us, I’ll understand if their bullshit brings up too much past pain.

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    • matthewjulius Reply

      I’ll try to write more jokes?
      Seriously though, it’s amazing how awful these books are and sometimes there’s very little we can do to mock them as opposed to simply criticize them for the harm they might bring society. I’m glad people stick around when the times are tough.

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  3. Madeline Reply

    I have never before felt so uncomfortable with a “romance novel”. Wow. Just wow.

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    • 22aer22 Reply

      Dude, I don’t even think this is as bad as the Crossfire series. And that’s saying something because this series makes me uncomfortable and makes me cringe, but Crossfire…man. That’s super uncomfortable.

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  4. 24karats Reply

    This post is EVERYTHING! When I read this in my dark and lonely little corner of the universe, all I kept thinking was “wait…but you JUST said….how did you not know….what about….” Imagine reading this all alone, not knowing that there are other sane and rational people whose reading comprehension skills are still not sufficient enough to understand what the fuck was happening in this book. That was me. Bad books, sad times.

    Here’s my thing. Right there, at the end of the chapter, Travis is like “yo, what the fuck dude?” AND STILL NOBODY HAS A GODDAMNED CONVERSATION!?!?! Even if Abby had gotten all weird and awkward and avoided talking about it, or blew Travis off for whatever bullshit her reasoning is and was like “we’re playing hostage because of this dumbass bet while you keep me from my true love, what’s-his-name”, it would have been something.

    But instead, the chapter just fucking ends and we have to go through more of this nonsensical and pointless will-they-or-won’t-they. Honestly, how does McGuire imagine that conversation ending? She says “you tell me” and he says “I don’t know, let’s go to the cafeteria and get stared at some more?” Are we just supposed to pretend those last few lines didn’t happen. Because, really, that’s how the next million chapters read.

    And even if I believed she was stupid enough not to have even a suspicion of Travis’ feelings for her (which puts her in Ana-level IQ territory), now that she knows, how is she going to continue to play the nut role?

    The rage I feel for this shit….

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    • 22aer22 Reply

      I’m so glad your rage mirrors mine so well. I get so angry writing these posts sometimes that I have to stop and come back later when I can approach it from a more humorous angle than just straight up pissed off. Sometimes the anger just can’t be quelled as happened with this chapter multiple times. It’s just so infuriating.

      Abby totally is getting to Ana-level IQ, but I really want to know whether or not she’s playing dumb or genuinely doesn’t understand his feelings. The blatant contradictions astound me, and not in a way that people are realistically full of contradictions. It just plain doesn’t make any sense, and I don’t know how McGuire (or anyone editing this) didn’t immediately point out how none of it adds up. In the creative writing classes I’ve been in this would have been torn apart straight away.

      Yeah! After this chapter it’s like they’re struck with amnesia suddenly, and Abby’s like, “Time for shopping with America, bai.”

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      • 24karats Reply

        Creative writing classes…editing…..hahahaha….you’re funny! I don’t have enough faith in humanity to think that McGuire sat through so much as an online writing survey.

        What angers me (well, one of the things) is that I dont’ think McGuire thought about it or cared or had the talent to pull it off. It’s like she tried to create dramatic scenes rather than a coherent, choesive story that built up the tension. Without any background or character development or context, these two dipshits don’t make any sense, untless you’re a teen girl with absolutely zero interest in critical thinking, and all you see is Travis’ brown eyes and tattoos. “You tell me” is a nice line – but it’s the BEGINNING of a conversation, not the end.

        McGuire has just strung together the most intense scenes from a movie, thinking she has written a book. When in fact all she’s written is drama for the sake of drama,. Anyone who reads sentences in order will see this shit makes no sense. Even in Cookie Cutter Romance 101, there’s always some expository of why the hero/heroine think they shouldn’t be together, even if it’s ridiculous or corny or just stupid. McGuire doesn’t even give us that. She just asks the reader to assume that these two psychos can’t be together without ever clueing us in as to why (assuming, of course, that the fact that they are both nuts isn’t the problem).

        So no, you are not alone in your rage. I’m on the verge of a rage blackout right now!

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  5. Madeline Reply

    The one upside is that I’ll always imagine Travis as Bugs Bunny in a dress. Thanks Ariel!

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  6. E.H.Taylor Reply

    I hope future writers of romance novels stumble upon this blog and learn from it. THIS IS NOT OKAY! Not the characters, not the plot, not the writing; nothing about this is acceptable.

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  7. Dana Reply

    Ugh … the worst part is when fans try to defend the abuse by saying, “So what? It’s only fiction! That’s the point. These characters are damaged!”

    All of which is wrong on so many levels. People cannot claim “it’s only fiction,” and then proceed to gush about how hot and romantic Travis is. Clearly, the lines between fiction and reality begin to blur a bit (oh god, now I’m just thinking of Blurred Lines, as well as the earlier “the lines were beginning to blur” quote from this book—two things I don’t like very much).

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  8. Natalie Conrad Reply

    I accidentally read Walking Disaster first (not knowing there was a Beautiful Disaster) and I was a little confused at how the author did not describe everything, like what they all looked like, but other than that I thought the book still made sense. I felt more confused after reading BD and realizing that Abby is still a moron in her own head and can’t seem to pick up on anything going on around her.

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  9. travesaou Reply

    How did I miss this brilliant post? And a TLC gif too! Beyond Epic! The roller coaster of Trabby is just exhausting to say the least. I really wanted to see Abby and ‘Mare’ dance to TLC with Travis in his Bugs Bunny get-up. Ah well…

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