Wanna hear something kind of amazing? My parents offered to split the cost of a much-needed new laptop with me as a Christmas present. After doing some budgeting, I realized that I could pay my half entirely with the money I’ve earned from this blog. Or, as my girlfriend put it:
So, uh, huge thank you to all of our readers! Seriously! Thank you for reading my dick jokes so I could get a laptop that came from this decade.
The chapter opens with Cami and Trenton hanging out at her apartment, talking about how Trenton is taking care of plot puppy until Travis gives it to Abby for her birthday. More importantly, this bullshit happens.
No, not the sexual assault bullshit. We’re still getting there.
“Isn’t Travis’s birthday April Fool’s Day? […] And yours is on Independence Day?”
“Yeah, and Thomas’s is on St. Patrick’s Day, and the twins were born January first.”
Who could this possibly be for? Even if you like these books and get all caught up in the imperfect characters making twu luv work out anyway, how would this not come off as distractingly unbelievable and stupid?
Even with that low bar, Trenton manages to make the conversation even stupider.
“I can’t keep coming to see you at the Red every night and then working all day. It’s exhausting.” […]
I couldn’t stop the grin that touched my lips. “You should try working all night at the Red and then working all day.”
“Quit your bitchin’, ya big baby,” he teased.
No, seriously, how does she not have a case? Trenton is literally complaining about how hard it is to work one job and then not work to someone working two jobs. I’ve been in a relationship for about a year and a half now, so maybe the times have changed, but I’m pretty sure that mocking someone’s financial situation is pretty low-quality flirting.
Speaking of low-quality flirting…
Someone knocked on the door. […] He wore a mint-green Oxford button-down, jeans, and loafers. […] He leaned over and touched his hand to his chest. “I’m Parker. My friend Amber Jennings lives next door. I saw you coming home last night as I was heading home, and I thought maybe you’d like to-“
I like how in the world of Jamie McGuire fiction, the “good boy” approach to asking a girl out is to knock on a complete stranger’s door, tell her you saw him from a distance at night, and then presume she’d like to go out sometime.
Of course, we all know that the irony of the Beautiful books is that Parker, who has the appearance of the good boy, is actually a womanizing, date-raping piece of shit, whereas the Maddox brothers, who have the appearance of the bad boy, are the ones who truly understand how to love and respect a woman.
Of course, we all know that this is a load of horseshit.
“Guys like him think the rules don’t apply to them.”
“Rules of respect.” […]
“I’m perfectly capable of turning someone down. You just wanted to intimidate him so he wouldn’t come around again.” […]
“He was watching you walk to the apartment this morning. I find that a little predatory.” […]
I narrowed my eyes at him. “You’re right, because we’re just friends.”
“Christ, Cami, I know. You don’t have to keep rubbing it in my face. […] How can you not know? Everyone else in the entire fucking world knows but you!”
“I know. I’m just trying to keep things simple.” […]
Trenton grabbed me by the shoulders and planted a kiss on my mouth. Sheer shock made my lips hard and unforgiving
Holy crap, that’s a lot of contradictions! Trenton literally just described the qualities that make Parker a sexual predator, and then proceeded to do all those things. Acting like the rules don’t apply to him? CHECK. Acting predatory, or ignoring what someone expressly does not want? CHECK. So, according to Jamie McGuire’s Beautiful Oblivion, what is the difference between a sexual predator and true love?
Obviously, the “it’s not sexual assault if she likes it!” trope.
Sheer shock made my lips hard and unforgiving, but then they melted against his, along with the rest of my body. […] I had never in my life been kissed like that, and something told me that wasn’t even the best Trenton Maddox could do.
I bet you’re all fuming right now, but just wait, because the book immediately manages to somehow make even less rational sense.
I had just cheated on T.J. Why would any guy, especially Trenton, want a cheater?
I… wow, this is going to take a minute.
- How did she come to the conclusion that she cheated on T.J.? Sure, she kissed Trenton back, but this all began because he sexually assaulted her, which the book is depressingly unsurprisingly cavalier about.
- Even if we decide that it’s cheating, given that Trenton instigated the incident, why does he get to care that she’s a cheater?
- Why does he get to care more than her boyfriend that she cheated with him on?
- Even if we further yet decide that it’s cheating and that Trenton is somehow not at fault, Cami still very clearly did not show consent, so we are left with the conclusion that Cami has suddenly fallen in love with her sexual assaulter. ROMANCE.
Trenton leaves, declaring “Now it’s complicated”, and goes to work at the tattoo parlor. Because the only thing this chapter where Trenton derides a sexual predator and then does the exact same thing was missing is a wacky situation, Cami is also supposed to go to work at the tattoo parlor! How wacky!
“Hey, it’s Cami. I’m not going to make it today.”
“Are you sick?”
“No… it’s… complicated. Really, really complicated.”
“I get it. No problem.”
Said no boss ever.
Cami goes to the Red and drinks with Hank, who reveals to her that he’s going to ask Jorie to move in with him, because this is a good time to give a flying fuck about that.
“What if she says no and then dumps me?” […] Hank poured whiskey into two glasses, and then slid one closer to me. I took a drink and frowned. “Whoa. What is this?”
Doesn’t she work there?
My cell phone rang, and I turned it over. It was Trenton. […]
“Why aren’t you coming to work? […] What the fuck does it matter if I kissed you?”
“Because! I have! A boyfriend!” I yelled into the phone.
This entire book in two lines of dialogue.
“Will he even notice? You haven’t spoken to him in a week!”
“That’s none of your business!”
“Yes, it is! You’re my business!”
Remember, this is the one who is not a predator.
“Everything is the same,” he said. “The only difference is that now you know I’m a damn good kisser.”
I couldn’t help but smile.
Could you imagine if everything were as dismissible as the “it ain’t rape if she liked it” myth makes narratives about sexual assault? “Voldemort killed my parents, and then he tried to kill me?” Harry couldn’t help but smile.” “No, Luke. I am your father.” Luke couldn’t help but smile, even though Darth Vader had just chopped off his hand. Neither of those make an ounce of sense, right? Well, that’s what it should be like when characters in these books are somehow totally good with being victims, but society would have to give a fuck about sexual assault first.
Cami pulls herself together and texts T.J. about what happened. She also has an inner monologue about how wrong it would be to break up with T.J. and start dating Trenton, even if she waited months or years, but this post is running long, so we’re going to focus on things that make sense.
“You kissed him, or he kissed you?”
“Does it matter?”
Why is the only character in the novel who gets to think this is an important distinction the man who got slighted by it rather than the woman who got slighted by it?
“Do you still want to be with me?” [He texted me.]
“The question is, do you still want to be with me?”
Rather than asking her why her being assaulted should make him wonder if he still wants to be with her, he books her a flight to California.
Now, that was literally the last sentence in the chapter, so you think I’d be done with this shit, but this somehow makes the narrative even messier. If T.J. has the disposable income to fly his serious, long-distance girlfriend out to California, how come she’s working two jobs to pay for her brother’s drug abuse treatment? I mean, not that it makes sense why she’s paying for this in the first place, but this seems like a good way he can stay involved in her life and help out?
Question of the day! What is your desktop background? At work I have a picture of my friend’s kittens (because they’re little goofballs), and every week one of my coworkers asks me if they’re my cats. What do you have?
Can you tell I really don’t want to keep thinking about Beautiful Oblivion?