It’s a big day, readers! Today we finish our parallel reading of Jamie McGuire’s college romance novels that Ariel and I have been referring to as “The Disasters”. Ariel finished Beautiful Disaster yesterday, but while writing the parallel novel, Walking Disaster, McGuire clearly realized she left out an important part: the epilogue that takes place years in the future!
As you might know, there is another entry in this series covering Travis and Abby’s wedding, a novella titled A Beautiful Wedding (yet not, unfortunately, Wedding Disaster). Yes, we will read it, but we’re gonna take a break from these characters for a little while. [Ariel says: Mental health is a priority here at BBGT, and unfortunately we often push ourselves to the brink.] We have another series we’ve been on break from that we’re planning on wrapping up next – but with a surprise twist! Ariel will be reading one thing, and I’ll be reading another thing, and we’re gonna see how similar their portrayals of an emotionally abusive relationship are, even though they were written almost 300 years apart.
I know! You’re all going “Whaaaaa? I need to know what this surprise is now!” But before that surprise, we have another surprise for you! We’re going to spend the next two weeks reading something else as a sort of palate cleanser before we dive into another story about an abusive relationship that doesn’t realize it’s about an abusive relationship. Something not “bad”, but rather “kinda dumb in retrospect”. Think like when we read Goosebumps. But it’s not Goosebumps. START SPECULATING WILDLY. Okay, let’s see how this crap ends.
In order to introduce us to a terrifying world in which Travis is a fully-functioning adult, McGuire comes up with this:
The walls dripped with rainwater from the streets above. The droplets plopped down into deepening puddles, as if they were crying for him, the bastard lying in the middle of the basement in a pool of his own blood. […] Both of my Glocks were pointed in opposite directions, holding Benny’s men in place until the rest of my team arrived.
Holy shit, this is going to be awful! [Ariel says: Wait…Benny from Vegas Benny? Seriously?]
Thomas waited for me […] his khaki coat and hair drenched form the storm. “You did what you had to do,” he said, following me to the car.” […] the end of [Benny’s] interrogation was supposed to result in his arrest, not his death. […] it just took Benny speaking her name for that to happen.
Hahahaha what the fuuuuuck! Is Jamie McGuire actually a fourteen year old boy? Dual-wielding Glocks? World-wearied cop dialogue? Rain? Everything about this is priceless! I was laughing so hard when I read this on the subway that I must have gotten funny looks. Didn’t seem them, though. I was laughing my ass off at this epilogue.
Basically, we see that in the future, 1) Travis kills Benny, which is terrifying, [Ariel says: Whew, thank God he didn’t go to work for him all those years ago.] 2) Travis has a job where he has guns and interrogates people, which is terrifying, 3) Travis has now literally murdered a dude just for saying Abby’s name (remember back when he just used to bash their heads into cars?), which is terrifying, and 4) this means Travis is actually the one who works for law enforcement, which is terrifying. We’re not just glorifying an emotionally abusive male romantic lead with a childish, violent temper anymore – we’re celebrating it. Which is… one way to handle not having any character development in your book, I guess. [Ariel says: I seriously can’t believe the “It just took Benny speaking her name for that to happen” line. I mean I can and can’t believe it. WHO GAVE TRAVIS A BADGE, DAMN IT!] How the fuck did we even get here?
[Thomas] practically raised me, but I didn’t truly know him until I was recruited by the FBI.
Okay, this isn’t helping this make more sense. [Ariel says: I’m surprised that Travis didn’t take another chance to clarify that by “raised me” he meant “beat the shit out of me and somehow turned me into a prized fighter.”] [Matthew adds: I know! There’s verisimilitude to consider!]
When Thomas left for college, I thought he was studying advertising, and later he told us he was an advertising executive in California. He was so far away, it was easy for him to keep his cover.
Also the fact that he is one of Travis’s four interchangeably nondescript brothers. That was also a pretty good cover for this twist that this guy who said maybe one line of dialogue that any other character could have said actually worked for the FBI the whole time. It’s so obvious now. [Ariel says: Frankly, I’m embarrassed you didn’t see it coming.] [Matthew adds: There were all those clues, like when Thomas had that one line of dialogue in the whole book.]
The second I graduated with a degree in criminal justice, it just made sense for the FBI to contact me.
“Oh, dang! This guy has a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice! We need this guy!”
[Ariel says: By this logic, every English major should have been contacted by Penguin. That actually is pretty much what happened to Ana in Fifty Shades so I guess it makes sense.]
No, seriously, this might be the most hilariously stupid line I’ve read in a book for this blog. It “just made sense” for the FBI to reach out to Travis. Did it now? Nepotism from a minor character (who was an FBI agent the whole time) aside, this isn’t remotely believable. The book even acknowledges how stupid this is in the same paragraph, and just sort of rolls with it anyway.
It never occurred to me or Abby that they had thousands of applications a year, and didn’t make a habit of recruiting.
Oh, okay! Well, as long as you say this unbelievable thing isn’t usually how things work, I guess that’s totally okay! Can you imagine if other books were written this way?
- It never occurred to Gregor Samsa that people usually don’t turn into monstrous vermin.
- It never occurred to the Career Tributes that to try to get Katniss out of the tree they could use their swords and axes to chop down the tree, or set fire to it with the fire they already have right there like literally right there.
- It never occurred to Anastasia that you cannot walk into an American bank and withdraw five million dollars. Oh wait, this was how Fifty Shades ended.
Travis and Thomas wax poetic all undercover agent-y (In the rain? Check. Smoking cigarettes? Check.) about the failed mission, talk about how Thomas is after Mick next (who is Abby’s father, so, uh, maybe we could get a little more detail about this?), and Travis leaves to go home. [Ariel says: Seriously, is McGuire trying to set this up for FBI Disaster?] He calls Abby, so we can see what Travis is up to during the part of his happy romantic ending where he isn’t needlessly murdering people. Abby tells him that their son James beat her at poker (James, of course, has inherited Abby’s gift for playing poker, because that’s how genetics work) [Ariel says: Wait but has he stolen her luck yet?], which she was playing with him to get him to open up about something that happened at school.
“There’s a kid at school. Made a comment about me today.”
“Not the first time a boy made a pass at the hot math teacher.”
Well, at least Abby’s doing something other than being pregnant. Travis gets to kill people for a living, Abby gets to be hot, what else do these two characters really need out of life? I just finished reading this book and I’m struggling to think of any other character traits they have. [Ariel says: I barely remembered that they studied criminal law and math, so I think you’re coming out ahead.] [Matthew adds: I barely remembered that they studied.] Abby then explains that their daughter, Jessica, was the one who got into a fight with the kid. Travis tells us that Jessica “had an equally bad tempter and never wasted time with words”, which is great, because before I read this epilogue I would have just assumed Travis would be a terrible father, but now I know!
Knowing my family was waiting for me was brutal, but the fact that is was my and Abby’s eleventh anniversary made it even worse. […] Every anniversary was a victory, a middle finger to everyone who thought we wouldn’t last.
…which is an interesting philosophy for when you’re taking your love story seriously. [Ariel says: I feel personally targeted by this middle finger.]
Abby tamed me, marriage settled me down, and when I became a father, my entire outlook changed.
Exactly, like that time he violently shot a man to death for not actually posing a threat to Abby! So different from his old outlook! Now he carries a gun!
I stared down at my wrist and pulled back my cuff. Abby’s nickname was still there, and it still made me feel better knowing it was there. [Ariel says: Where did he think the nickname had gone? It’s a fucking tattoo.]
Holy shit! Guys! This is the first time Travis referred to his “Pigeon” tattoo as Abby’s nickname and not her name! Maybe he did change!
There was only one problem: Abby knew I worked with Thomas… but as far as I knew, she thought I worked in advertising.
SO TRAVIS HAS LIED TO ABBY ABOUT WHAT HE DOES FOR A LIVING FOR ELEVEN YEARS? THIS IS OUR HAPPY ENDING? Travis has changed so much from the violent, emotionally abusive person he was in college that he’s now an FBI agent that kills people when his temper runs short and lies to the love of his life about his job? It’s like McGuire is trying to make their marriage look terrible. McGuire, that is my job.
“What’s this?” I asked, feigning confusion. Abby still had a flawless poker face. “It’s the connection you need to tie Mick to Benny.”
Wait, so Abby has also known that Travis is secretly an FBI agent and lying to her about it, and is helping him get her father arrested for something that he apparently did? Does any of this epilogue mean anything? This epilogue has more plot twists than the rest of the book. [Ariel says: I wonder if when we get a book from Thomas’ perspective it will answer all of these questions.]
Ugh. Let’s just end this already. How’s this shit end?
Even though we’d put each other through hell, we’d found heaven.
And lest we forget, plot puppy ends the novel how plot puppy lived in the novel: completely forgotten. [Ariel says: I’m going to believe Kara adopted him and they lived happily ever after.] [Matthew adds: Someone had to.]