Beautiful Redemption Chapter 1
We learn the most crucial facts about our new protagonist (except her name, but I checked the summary and it’s Liis) in the first paragraph:
Control was all that was real. I had learned from a young age that planning, calculation, and observation could avoid most unpleasant things—unnecessary risk, disappointment, and most importantly, heartache.
I’m going to take these facts with a grain of salt, though, because I’m pretty sure every time McGuire tells us a character is one way (Abby wears cardigans and is a good girl!) we never actually see any evidence of that. Like maybe one time Liis will plan a meal in advance and then we’ll be expected to believe she’s a real planner.
Liis is hanging out in her new local bar, which I think is a requirement for all McGuire books to take place 90% of the time in the local bar, so get comfortable here.
I was experiencing my new independence with the added freedom of having no one at home who expected a report of my whereabouts.
Uh oh…sounds like Liis might have someone from her past who will conflict with someone (a Maddox bro?!?!?) from her future.
The bourbon and sweet vermouth tasted like loneliness. That at least made me feel at home. Home though was thousands of miles away, and it felt even farther the longer I sat on one of the twelve stools lining the curved bar.
I wasn’t lost though. I was a runaway. Stacks of boxes sat in my new fifth-floor condo, boxes that I had packed with enthusiasm while my former fiancé, Jackson, stood and sulked in the corner of our tiny shared Chicago apartment. […]
Jackson had been unfazed when I first told him I was being transferred to San Diego. Even at the airport, right before I’d left, he’d promised that we could still make it work. Jackson wasn’t good at letting go at all. He had threatened to love me forever.
BOOM called it. But I’m sure unlike Blando from Beautiful Disaster this Jackson guy will feel like a fully formed character. We’ll understand why Liis used to love him, understand why she felt she had to get away from him. And I’m sure he won’t show up at an inopportune time and try to get between Liis and TJ!
Liis has a conversation with the bartender, confirming she works with the FBI in case all of her mentions of working with the FBI left you unsure. Jackson also worked for the FBI!
The bartender is attractive, but I think the book is trying to tell us he’s not a romantic prospect?
“Where did you transfer from?” he asked. His too-tight black V-neck, manicured cuticles, and perfectly gelled coif betrayed his flirtatious smile.
Is this McGuire’s way of hinting that these things mean the bartender is gay? Or am I being a dick for thinking that’s what she’s implying? I’ve read this line quite a few times trying to understand how things like manicured cuticles and a perfectly gelled coif betray flirtatious smiles. If this line was written by the Casts, it would have just been, “His too-tight black V-neck, manicured cuticles, perfectly gelled coif, whistling songs from Rent, his gentle and sensitive nature all meant he was ULTRA gay.” They wouldn’t make me read between the fucking lines!
They start talking about Jackson and how Liis is running from her past. I can already tell the bartender is going to be a giver of sage advice:
“Oh. Getting away from your ex?”
“In my line of work, you never really get away.”
“Oh, hell. He’s a fed, too? Don’t shit where you sleep, sweetie.”
Well, it’s going to be pretty awkward when she starts sleeping with/dating/reluctantly falling in love with TJ, isn’t it?
Oh no…we already know one of the major “conflicts” of this story is that when a Maddox bro falls in love it’s for forever…but what if he didn’t love you first?!?!? (No, really, that’s what it says on the tin.) But is the other conflict going to be that Liis is worried about dating a fellow agent again? This isn’t an inherently bad thing, I just want you guys to think I’m the McGuire whisperer.
The bartender introduces himself as Anthony, and he sympathetically tells Liis he sees agents hooking up all the time. Soon after we learn this crucial information, a mysterious man that is obviously TJ rolls into the bar. I know it’s him right away because of this:
He loosened his tie and unfastened the top button of his perfectly pressed white oxford. He glanced in my direction, and in that half second, his hazel-green eyes registered everything about me he wanted to know. Then, he looked away.
No, he’s not beating the shit out of a random passerby, but this isn’t the way you introduce someone that isn’t the main love interest. I mean, it would make me go WOAH if he was like, “Hi, I’m Bob”, and then we met TJ in the next chapter.
Ug but Jackson keeps textin’. We’re not privy to any of his texts, lest his character actually be a character. I’m also a little bummed I don’t get to read any badly written texts.
TJ strikes up a conversation with Liis:
“You’re awfully little to be in a place like this,” the man two stools down said.
From what little we knew of TJ in Beautiful Oblivion I had thought he was supposed to be a bit more mature than his brothers. I feel like McGuire got stage fright and decided he had to be exactly like Travis and Trent. Sort of antagonistic, sexist, cocky…and racist?
“I also have a Taser in my purse and a mean left hook, so don’t bite off more than you can chew.”
“Your kung fu is strong.”
I didn’t give the man the gratification of attention. Instead, I stared forward. “Was that a racist remark?”
“Absolutely not. You just seem a little violent to me.”
“You just seem a little violent to me” doesn’t seem like a solid enough refute to the racist callout. He may has well have said, “Absolutely not. I just ordered another beer.”
Things continue to be sort of racist/an excuse to showcase the diversity Liis brings to this series!
“I’m not violent,” I said although it was preferable to coming off as a vapid, easy target.
“Oh, really?” He wasn’t asking. He was antagonizing. “I just recently read about female Asian peace leaders being honored. I’m guessing you weren’t one of them.”
“I’m also Irish,” I grumbled.
Nothing TJ says even makes sense! From what I remember of him previously, he seemed pretty nice if not a bit bland and not like a complete moron. I feel like his whole “character” was changed just for the sake of having the Liis/TJ dynamic be exactly the same as the Travis/Abby and Cami/Trenton dynamics.
Liis decides that now is the time to get a good look at this man with the sparkling personality:
I rolled my eyes and then decided to look over at him. He was as beautiful as the Southern California weather, and he couldn’t have looked less like Jackson. Even sitting down, I could tell that he was tall—at least six foot three. His pear-colored eyes glowed against his beach-bronzed skin. Although he might be intimidating to the average male, I didn’t get the sense that he was dangerous—at least not to me—even if he was twice my size.
Don’t for a second think this is the only time this chapter that TJ’s body will be favourably compared to Jackson’s. Just wait.
Also is it just me or do TJ’s eyes sound frightening and concerning?
Liis decides that he’s sexy and forgets how weird their conversation has been thus far. What a planning, calculating person she is who observes carefully to avoid unpleasant things.
“Do you live around here?” he asked.
I peeked over at him. “Your stunted conversational skills are disappointing me by the second.”
He laughed out loud, throwing his head back. “Christ, woman. Where are you from? Not here.”
…Because other women in California couldn’t have made that same remark?
Somehow TJ immediately figures out Liis is running from her past/a dude. Liis tells TJ her name is “not interested” and that she’s not even looking for a one night stand. Of course a couple lines later, TJ says he likes how her mouth looks when she’s angry, so she decides to go home with him.
Matthew and I both commented to each other about how McGuire was mixing things up this book by having the protagonists hook up in the first chapter. I can’t even begin to imagine the other cool surprises she has in store for us this time around. I’m only half-kidding, I’m so excited we’re reading this.
One kind of odd thing that might be worth noting is that on the way out of the bar, Anthony makes a weird comment that he thinks TJ won’t go through with it, but TJ tells Liis that this time he totally is. I think this might be a subtle way of telling us Beautiful Oblivion devotees that he has been unable to fully commit to going home with a woman since Cami broke his heart and that clearly Liis is somethin’ special if he’s gonna go all the way with her.
During the hook up, it’s really hammered home to us that this is destiny and that it feels like they’ve done this before/been waiting for each other their entire lives. It’s a pretty realistic portrayal of taking a guy you have exchanged about 15 words with home for the night.
He smelled like beer and a hint of saffron and wood from his cologne, but his mouth still tasted of mint toothpaste.
Yup. So realistic.
Oh, and TJ still hasn’t told her (or us) his name. I think it’s meant to be a shock at the end of the chapter, which I think is really dumb/weird because Liis is just like, “Okay cool hi.” But I guess us readers are supposed to be like ERMAGERRRRRD!!!!!!!
I ran my fingers over each of his protruding muscles and the ripples of his abdomen. One hand settled on the button of his pants while the other gripped the thick hardness under them.
Holy. Giant. Cock.
GIVE THE PEOPLE WHAT THEY WANT. HUGE MADDOX PENISES FOR ALL!!!!!
You’ll all be pleased to hear they practice safe sex. AND you’ll be even more pleased to know his penis is bigger than Jackson’s. I definitely feel like I would have been distracted by that question for the rest of the book if we hadn’t gotten that out of the way now. Also Jackson wasn’t a great kisser like TJ. Good to know, but not as cool as the penis fact.
Liis tells us things go from hot to awkward as soon as they finish. It is the perfect time for TJ to introduce himself as “Thomas” and for me to make the executive decision not to go back and change TJ to Thomas in this post.
Introducing himself makes Liis nervous:
My independence was slipping away from me every second the stranger became something more. Thoughts of reporting my every move to Jackson flipped like television channels in my mind. I hadn’t transferred thousands of miles away to be chained to another relationship.
Dude, chill, he told you his name. Plus this Jackson dude sounds cray. I wonder how many chapters until we meet him and he and Thomas fight.
Thomas reveals that he lives in the apartment above hers! What I don’t understand is why when they got to the building he didn’t say anything? Liis even tells us she takes awhile getting her keys out, and Thomas says nothing. McGuire definitely needs to write this story from Thomas’ perspective so I can understand this.