Travis and Abby Break Up, Giving the Students Without Netflix Something to Do: Beautiful Disaster Chapter 16


[Matthew says: Quick news-like thing! We’re trying some new stuff with our Twitter starting this week, so it’ll do a little more than just update whenever a new post goes live. We’re going to try tweeting jokes from our posts, tweets about “classic” posts, links to other great content about these terrible books around the web, and more! If you’re on Twitter, check it out!]

In case you somehow could have forgotten, Travis had epic battle against Mobster!Benny’s henchmen because Abby couldn’t quite win enough money to pay back Mick’s debts to the mob. Just when you thought things couldn’t get crazier for our heroes, Abby’s ex, who now runs the casino they’re gambling in, tells her she has to go to dinner with him or leave the premises. Wowza!

Now, Travis is about to fight on Benny’s behalf so that he’ll forgive the rest of Mick’s debts.

Chapter 16: Home 

What are the chances that the gang is headed back home from Vegas in this chapter? At least 50/50 I’m guessing. I mean, they fucking better be going home soon because who the hell has been watching plot puppy this whole time?

Okay, so let’s see how Travis does in his fight.

Travis basked in the applause and congratulations of his triumph as the crowd roared.

Wait. What? You mean there was all that build-up to this fight which was supposed to be insanely hard and against a top fighter, and that’s it? It’s just like, “Oh, yeah, Travis won in like five minutes. Casual. No big deal.”

Travis tells Abby that he’s been offered a job by Benny to fight once a month. The clincher? He gets six figures for each fight. [Matthew says: It’s probably supposed to sound impressive that he’ll make six figures from the fights and our reaction is supposed to be “Six figures! Heavens to Betsy!”, but because the money he makes from a fight finally has a believable enough source (Las Vegas mobsters instead of college kids), the reaction is ironically a more subdued, “Hm, looks like it checks out this time.”] It all sounds so perfect, but Abby’s not having it. She rightfully points out that Travis is being a naive idiot to think that he’ll be able to stop fighting after a year, pick his work hours, and that everything will be just dandy. [Matthew says: He’s also probably a naive idiot for thinking that doing underground fights for the mob isn’t incredibly dangerous, but obviously this isn’t a problem because he and his brothers fought a lot when they were kids! Technically I didn’t even write a joke just there – that is the actual explanation this book is going with.]

“I can’t believe you’re even considering this! Working for a man that would have beat the hell out of the both of us last night if you hadn’t stopped him?”
“Exactly. I stopped him.”

Yeah, Abby. He only tried to beat the shit out of you guys, but he didn’t because Travis was a better fighter than his goons! So obviously he’s completely trustworthy, and this is a sound plan.


And so beginneth Trabby’s breakup. Oops did I spoil the rest of this chapter?

On the plane ride home, Abby tries to reason with Travis again to no avail.

My mouth dropped open. “You already agreed to it?”
He winked. “Not yet.”
“But you’re going to?” He smiled.
“You’ll quit being mad when I buy you a Lexus.”
“I don’t want a Lexus,” I seethed.

She wants BMW, damn it! C’mon, Travis. The gals in all these books may protest that they don’t want the male’s money, but how could that be true! Their ladyparts are just making them confused.

“You can have anything you want, baby. Imagine how it’s going to feel driving into any dealership you want, and all you have to do is pick your favorite color.”
“You’re not doing this for me. Stop pretending you are.” He leaned over, kissing my hair.
“No, I’m doing it for us. You just can’t see how great it’s going to be.”

Travis will do anything for Abby unless she actually asks him for something, and in this case it seems like a pretty reasonable request. “I love you so much, Abby. I’ll change for you! I’ll totally stop fighting! Oh wait, you actually wanted me to stop fighting? About that…”

Matthew says: This seems like a good time to remember that this happened, because this book is full of shit.
Matthew says: This seems like a good time to remember that this happened, because this book isn’t very good at consistent character motivations.

Because apparently location is the issue at hand, Abby decides that Travis will see reason once they’re back at the apartment. It’s unclear why she’s so convinced that where they have the conversation is the problem and not the fact that Travis is completely delusional. They change the subject, and she agrees to attend Thanksgiving at his father’s house. I mention it because this winds up becoming a “major” plot point for some reason.

Once home, Abby finally tells us where plot puppy has been.

I bathed Toto, disgusted that he reeked of smoke and dirty socks from being in Brazil’s apartment all weekend, and then towel-dried him in the bedroom.

This is clearly what responsible dog ownership looks like.

"Supernatural Dean Weary"

At this point, Abby makes the decision that things with Travis need to end because he won’t see reason, and she can’t be a part of that life. She’s clearly not telling him because she knows he’ll go apeshit, but this is one of the reasons she actually gives for pretending she’s just leaving to go do laundry at her dorm (Seriously. That is her excuse.)

If I’d told him in that moment, all hope of separating myself from Mick, and Vegas , and Benny, and everything I didn’t want would be lost. Travis wouldn’t let me leave, and by morning I would have convinced myself to accept his decision.

I’m sorry, but this doesn’t seem like the kind of situation you’d come to terms with in the morning presumably after a night of passionate lovemaking or what not. This is something that has supposedly haunted Abby for a long time and something she was trying to escape completely, so I don’t buy this at all. I guess I could buy Travis’ emotionally manipulating her enough to guilt her into staying.

When America and Abby are about to drive away, Travis sees her crying through the car window and figures out what’s going on. Of course he starts trying to chase the car, call Abby, follow them on his motorcycle, etc. Abby decides she has to hide in America’s dorm room for the night. This is…so romantic?

Travis goes so far as to break into Kara and Abby’s room while Kara is in there telling Travis she’s not there. If you’re wondering how Abby knows this, it’s because she’s hiding around a corner down the other end of the hall. Seriously. This is actually terrifying, and there is absolutely no way McGuire or anyone else could ever convince me he’s not a complete psycho. [Matthew says: I’ve been thinking about this the whole book actually. Abby is seriously stuck with this obsessive, controlling person who we’re constantly seeing stalking her, tracking her down, trying to find her, etc. There’s nothing romantic about this. This is like “I’d get a restraining order, but that might make him commit suicide in front of me” territory. Sorry, I don’t really have a joke about this one. I’ve actually been reading this book, thinking, “Abby has no choice but to move across the country. That is seriously the only way she could actually escape this psychopath.”]

Also holy hell, poor Kara. I was scared he was going to murder her or something.

Things aren’t any better at school the next day according to America:

“He was kicked out of History today. When you didn’t show, he kicked over both of your desks. Shep heard that he waited for you after all of your classes. He’s losin’ it, Abby.”

To be fair, this really is the best way to win back the person you love. Why bother even listening to them in the first place and understanding their needs when you can just cause many scenes later to convince them to come back to you? I know I wouldn’t take anyone back unless they kicked over three desks to prove how much they missed me.

Abby manages to avoid running into Travis for a week until she decides to grab some food at the cafeteria one night. Travis, literally lurking in the shadows, spots Abby. [Matthew says: This actually happens in next week’s chapter of Walking Disaster and not this week’s, but Abby and Travis’s conversation where Abby actually tells Travis it’s over is the least plot-essential scene in these two chapters somehow.]

Just when the lights of the cafeteria came into view, I saw a dark figure approach.

He tells Abby they need to talk and tells her he turned the offer down. Wow, so you will listen to the other person’s feelings when they dump you? That’s a pretty fucking terrible way to approach a relationship, so it’s no wonder Abby tells him she isn’t going to take him back. [Matthew says: Although looking at it from a position of operant conditioning, this is a pretty good way to approach, like, training a dog not to shit in the house. (The dog is Travis.)]

Travis tries to force Abby to makeout with him after his grovelling doesn’t do the trick, but somehow his lips aren’t magical enough to convince her to take him back. [Matthew says: You bet I’ll be going into this more in detail in my post next week. Like I’m going to miss an opportunity to talk about how pathetic and whiny Travis is.]

The most shocking thing is that for once Abby explains something that makes complete and total sense to me. Seriously.

If I gave in, either he would change his mind about Benny, or he would resent me every time money could have made his life easier. [Matthew says: Which we have never observed to be a problem for Travis, but okay.] I imagined him in a blue-collar job, coming home with the same look in his eyes that Mick had when he returned after a night of bad luck. It would be my fault that his life wasn’t what he wanted it to be, and I couldn’t let my future be plagued with the bitterness and regret that I left behind.

Granted, it’s hard to take seriously when you know how ridiculous the Mick issues are [Matthew says: Or why she’s assuming Travis is going to end up in a blue-collar job], but it does make a lot of sense that she would expect Travis to resent her for being the reason he doesn’t have a fuck ton of money. I’m surprised she doesn’t mention how utterly unappealing and scary he is as a person, but at least we’re making some progress.

Lest you forgot this whole scene was taking place outside the cafeteria, Abby lets us know that The Students Without Netflix have been watching the whole exchange. Or, as Matt brilliantly said earlier, “binge-watching Trabby”. [Matthew says: Because you watched “Trabby”, you might be interested in “These Other Two Kids In Your Econ Lecture” or “Those Really Drunk Girls On The Couch In The Campus Coffee Shop At One AM On A Saturday Night – I Totally Bet Something’s Going To Happen”.]

After several moments he finally released my arm. I ran to the glass door, yanking it open without looking back. Everyone in the room stared at me as I walked toward the buffet, and just as I reached my destination, heads angled to see outside the  windows where Travis was on his knees, palms flat on the pavement.

The emotion I have felt most while reading this chapter is embarrassment not sadness or pity or anything like what I’m probably supposed to be feeling. Just plain old embarrassment for Travis. [Matthew says: “Are you still watching ‘Trabby’?” (Continue Watching/Back To Browse)]

Abby goes to cry in a bathroom. Kara, being the best character in this book, apparently sees this happen and tells Finch to go comfort Abby. What a saint! If I were Kara I would have just smugly watched the demise of Trabby without lifting a finger to help either of those shlubs.



  1. Kate Reply

    In all honesty, I downloaded my e-book copy of Beautiful Disaster for free, but I would pay full cover price on a novel that was written by a better writer than McGuire and told this entire story from Kara’s point of view. The scene in which Travis busts into her dorm room was so legitimately upsetting, not because I care at all about Trabby’s pseudo-heartbreak, but because I can’t imagine how traumatized I would’ve been if, during my first semester of college, my roommate’s psychotic boyfriend broke into our room, trashed it, and kept screaming at me to tell him where my roommate was.

    • 22aer22 Post authorReply

      What makes it even more sickening yet hilarious is that Abby is just like around the corner watching this! She briefly is concerned that campus security will show, but because Travis never faces any consequences such as this for his actions, they never do. Meanwhile, Kara kindly doesn’t call security or regular cops and still Abby doesn’t acknowledge what a saint she is.

  2. E.H.Taylor Reply

    The most unbelievable part of these books is that people read them and think of them as romantic. I mean, just look at this line here:

    “Travis wouldn’t let me leave, and by morning I would have convinced myself to accept his decision.”

    If this doesn’t scream abusive relationship with red flags waving and warning bells going off in all directions, you need to reevaluate your life. Seriously though, if this was at all written realistically I would expect Abby to go missing and then find out Travis killed her so she couldn’t leave him. Or maybe Abby would go missing and the police would find Travis’ room plastered in stalker photos of her while she and plot puppy are locked in a basement somewhere…

    If I were Kara, I would transfer to a new college.

    • 22aer22 Post authorReply

      Yup, and then a Lifetime original movie would come out about Abby’s life, rescue from the basement with plot puppy, and getting her life back together after the horrendous ordeal of dating Travis. But I guess it’s more realistic for them to just go to Vegas and get married at the end of this book! Because yay Vegas?

  3. Kristin Reply

    In all seriousness, how is Travis not expelled from this school? Breaking & entering in a dorm, trashing a classroom? At bare minimum the campus chapter of PETA should have him locked up for even owning poor plot puppy.

    • 22aer22 Post authorReply

      And I feel like he’s probably taken part in his wanna-be Fight Club in various school buildings. I guess he’s just too clever and lucky to get caught. You know, if Abby is such a luck stealer, I wish she’d steal Travis’ luck and he’d fucking go to jail already.

  4. Vivienne Reply

    This should be required reading for people who work at women’s crisis centers. “How to spot an abusive relationship.”

  5. Jane Lovering Reply

    I am quietly proud that ‘plot puppy’ has entered the lexicon here. Oh, and appalled and horrified, obviously, that anyone could consider ANY of this to be the height of romance. Or even the depths of romance. It’s only a whisker and a puppy away from ‘I rape you because I love you’ of the old skool romances.

    • 22aer22 Post authorReply

      Be loudly proud! It was a stroke of genius!

      I know. I was scared before I finished reading this book that it would come to that. The whole Thanksgiving bullshit is manipulative but at least we can be thankful that he never actually rapes Abby.

  6. travesaou Reply

    Yes, Matthew. You didn’t have to point it out, we got it. (The dog is Travis.) Pah-haha! xD

    I’m sorry, I don’t know why I laughed so hard at that last excerpt where Travis was kneeling on the side walk. I just… seriously? The only thing he didn’t do was open his arms towards the sky and scream ‘nooooooo! Abby come baaaaaaack!’

    If the aim of the author was to create the most pathetic and emotionally constipated character possible then GOLD-STAR for you McGuire!

    Otherwise… no. Redeemable? I’m not sure. And why do I also get the feeling that Abby will eventually take him back after all these heartfelt revelations she’s having and scream, ‘Trabby, you’re my Fifty, my Everything!’ *rolls eyes*

    • 22aer22 Post authorReply

      I had the exact same reaction! It’s just so hilariously over-the-top. The sort of thing that you don’t really actually see happen.

      You are 100% correct. She’s like, “OMG, Trav I loved you all along, and I’m the one denying our happiness.”

  7. future venusian Reply

    Wait, Abby’s still going to the same school as Travis? Shouldn’t she have, I don’t know, transferred to somewhere across the country and changed her name? How in the hell can she still want to be anywhere near this nutjob? And how come none of the Students Without Netflix have reported this? If I were one of them and was watching Trabby all the time, I’d go tell someone about them. He’s a danger to the public, not just Abby.

    This whole book makes me cringe, it’s so disturbing.

    • 22aer22 Post authorReply

      You would think if that’s how she dealt with her problems before that would be how she handled this situation. But deep down she knows she’s in the wrong and Travis is just fighting for their true love when she’s too scared to! He’s not a psycho at all! He’s just the one who is always willing to fight for his one true pigeon.

  8. Ali Reply

    I don’t even…
    If this were real life, and someone was telling you how their boyfriend
    A-trashed his room after your first one night stand
    B-bought her a puppy to make up for it
    C-trashed her classroom when she didn’t show up
    D-broke into her dorm room and traumatized her roommate (seriously, Kara needs counselling)
    E-stalked her and then sexually assaulted her (forcing her to kiss him is sexual assault, let’s be clear)
    and she
    A-had to hide from him
    B-avoid classes they had together
    C-lie about leaving because she knew he would convince her to stay (HUGE RED FLAG!!!)
    D-NOT EAT because she was afraid of seeing him…

    you would be helping her find shelters.
    Ignoring the fact that one day Travis isn’t going to be the best fighter anymore and he’s going to get the shit kicked out of him

    • 22aer22 Post authorReply

      I am actually imagining if this happened in real life right now. I would be fucking terrified of Travis and for my friend, and I would also think she was batshit insane for not breaking up with him sooner. Actually, you know what, I would understand if she was too scared to break up with him, but for any other reason I’d think she was insane.

  9. Madeline Reply

    Let’s not forget, no matter how handsome Marlon Brando is, his character is still an abusive rapist.

    • Dana Reply


      …Now that I am calm again… Seriously, if I somehow have more sympathy for Stanley Kowalski, a wife-beating rapist, than I do for Travis, there’s probably something deeply wrong with him and his portrayal.

      And no, it’s not just because he looked like this in the film:

      • 22aer22 Post authorReply

        Even if time travel was invented and somehow he was able to play Travis in a film version of Beautiful/Walking Disaster, I still would never be able to find Travis’ character sexy. I just feel embarrassed and disgusted when I think about him.

        I definitely imagined “STELLLLAAAA” when Travis fell to his knees at the end of of this chapter. Except instead of Stella, he was screaming, “PIGGGEEEONNN!!!!”

      • Madeline Reply

        The fact that he would definitely yell PIGEON instead of ABBY makes the scene that much more hilariously awful.

  10. Madeline Reply

    Okay. This is not a romance novel, this is a goddamn Lifetime movie. Except I’ve seen quite a few Lifetime movie characters like Travis, and you know what? He is NEVER the romantic lead. He is the rapist, the stalker, the abusive asshole that gets either killed or arrested in the end. So far he has:

    1. Emotionally manipulated Abby (plot puppy, guilt, making her change clothes)
    2. Sexually assaulted Abby (You’re right Ali, forcible kissing is sexual assault and it was super uncomfortable to read how he tried to do this to win her back)
    3. Stalked her multiple times
    4. Got her involved in illegal activity (Abby kinda sucked him into Vegas but she didn’t do anything overtly illegally and even she knows that illegal fighting with the fucking mafia is a terrible idea)
    5. Threw violent temper tantrums in public
    6. Uses derogatory language about women (ALL. THE. TIME.)
    7. Traumatized her poor roommate
    8. And so, so much more

    Travis Maddox is the most developed Lifetime movie villain that I ever did see. If they made a movie where he eventually murders Abby (because that’s the end result in these abusive relationships) and Kara (being the saint she is) turns him in I’d watch it. Hell, I might even read the book.

    • 22aer22 Post authorReply

      I keep meaning to point this out, but I’m always vaguely scared for America as well. Like in this chapter she has to hide Abby’s whereabouts from both Travis AND Shep so that he’s not put in the middle of it. And even though Shep would protect America, America still avoids going to their place for a week to keep away from Travis. If she wasn’t dating Travis’ cousin, I’d expect her to get killed for helping Abby get away from him,

  11. Jena Reply

    The whole Kara situation is making me feel genuinely sad. She’s dealt with a flighty roommate and her asshole boyfriend and been in an unstable roommate situation (it sounds like Abby has been gone for long stretches of time and then just drops back in for a few days with no warning) all while struggling through her first semester at college. She has every right to hate Abby. And YET, in this chapter she’s been more kind, considerate, and loyal to Abby than her bff America has in the entire book. She covered for Abby while her psycho ex broke into their dorm room (which is a fucking horrifying situation), and is thoughtful enough to be aware of Abby’s feelings instead of gloating. I feel more emotions for her character than I do for anything Trabby has gone through. This girl is too good for this book. I hope she finds happiness away from these nutcases.

    • 22aer22 Post authorReply

      Right?! And yet Abby has yet to say ONE kind word about Kara. It’s like Jamie McGuire is so angry at herself for writing a character that sees through Trabby’s bullshit and doesn’t think Abby is incredible, so she can’t be nice to her even though she’s the best character in the book.

  12. Annie Reply

    The most unbelievable part of this book is that Abby and Travis are supposedly NOT in an abusive relationship and that McGuire has the nerve not only to deny what kind of relationship this is, but to actually become enraged when confronted with evidence from her own goddamn story, claiming that people don’t get it. I just don’t see how it is possible to write shit like that and be all “Oh my! This is ever so romantic! I wish my own husband were like that “.

    • travesaou Reply

      I actually read a review on this book, can’t remember if it was on Google Books or Goodreads, where somebody commented along the lines of, “Who didn’t just fall in love with Travis?” -_____- I actually thought they were being sarcastic for a tiny moment but they continued to gush about him and I just had to stop reading. So I see how someone could be like that, ‘I wish my own husband were like that’ crap! I don’t understand it…

    • Vivienne Reply

      Yeah that’s what gets me. She has the nerve to attack her (completely correct and sane) critics and say that “No relationship is perfect…this is just there thing…this is ‘romantic’.” I can’t handle it.

      • 22aer22 Post authorReply

        I get that not every relationship is perfect, I get that dysfunctional relationships can even be beautiful. This relationship is not one of them. A major thing pretty much all the books we talk about on BBGT have in common is that as long as the male love interest is described as insanely hot, he can behave any way he wants and readers/the female love interest will still swoon for him for some reason.

  13. scummy48 Reply

    So I went to read amazon reviews of this to make sure we weren’t underestimating humanity, and that maybe everyone did think these books were good because they were reading it knowing they were reading about an abusive relationship. because who can like this book thinking it is a good portrayal of romance???

    The top review:

    “you will absolutely love it. I give you my word.

    Beautiful Disaster is a heartwarming and heartbreaking, beautifully written, wonderfully told, passionate and often witty love story, that doesn’t just explore the warm, sweet side of love, but also the complicated and messy side.”

    It really scares me that somehow in the romance genre, the middle ground between a cliche, perfect portrayal of love, and a portrayal of dependency and abuse, has been lost. Suddenly this type of abusive behavior is seen as ok and realistic and desirable because “love isn’t perfect and these books are being realistic in showing that”. Love isn’t perfect. But flat out abuse is not the same as imperfect love.

    This book doesn’t show a couple thats kind of unhealthy but in love. It shows actual assault, stalking, fear, and abuse and readers are thinking that this is just “realistic, complicated, messy, true love”. I am actually getting nauseous thinking about how Stephanie Meyer made abuse the norm for romance novels, and how there are actually people out there reading this and believing it. When these authors tell people that this is what love is supposed to look like, they are buying it.

    I would love a book that explores how two people in an abusive relationship cant talk themselves out of it, if the author understood that that is what their book is doing, and not selling it as an ideal romance. And Jamie McGuire actually telling readers they are wrong for saying this isn’t abuse? It’s disgusting. It is literally warping how real people believe is and isn’t okay to act in a relationship.

    Also, the writing of this book is terrible. Travis falling to the ground when rejected? That sounds realistic…seriously how does anyone say this is beautifully written?

  14. Pingback: Postscript #3: The Kids Are All Wrong. And Stupid. | Bad Books, Good Times

  15. Pingback: Zoey Has Sex With Loren, Angels Weep: Chosen Chapter 22 - Bad Books, Good Times

Leave a Reply