No More Playing Around, Protagonists Have Sex in the First Chapter: Beautiful Redemption Chapter 1


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.


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.



  1. AJ Reply

    Totally timely question: does either of you listen to Meghan Trainor? Because I found out today that she recently released a new single, “No”, and it’s the musical equivalent of this line:

    Liis tells TJ her name is “not interested” and that she’s not even looking for a one night stand.

    I STILL think the chorus for “No” is pretty funny. Not because the message is bad–in fact, I agree with it–but because the entire chorus is basically Trainor saying “not interested, goodbye” but with at least a dozen more syllables for added effect.


    Also is it just me or do TJ’s eyes sound frightening and concerning?

    Does he have a family-bound, hereditary condition where his eyes turn red with black, geometrically patterned irises and allow him to fuck around with people’s minds? No? Is he from Clan Uchiha, then? Also no? I’m not too worried then.

    In all earnestness, though, TJ sounds like a real charmer already. -_- I’m not really sure how “intimidating” and “frightening” were ever (or became) key traits of an extremely attractive male. “Oh, his eyes were so romantic I almost peed myself”? I guess that kind of logic would fly in HoN or maybe a satirical Naruto shipfic about Uchiha Sasuke, but here…

    • Megan Reply

      I’ve heard that song “No” on the radio and I agree it’s a pretty cool song. I feel it could apply to so many of the books here. 🙂

      • 22aer22 Reply

        I just gave it a listen 1) catchy as hell 2) This is like the first chapter of all these books, but then the female protagonist is like, “But you’re so rich/sexy OKAY!!!!”

        Hey, we don’t all have to be from Naruto to have worrying eyes.

        I read ahead in the book all last night, and there are so many times Thomas’ anger is super sexualised like “he was so angry, the veins in his neck were bulging” and it’s meant to be like omg he is so protective and sexy. Same old story we see in this series and most of the books on the blog.

        • AJ Reply

          If this were still the age of obnoxious autoplay music playlists, I’d vote for “No” as the first song to greet visitors here. The way Trainor shuts down any expectations of passive acceptance on her part of unwanted advances hits you like blunt force trauma, and it makes you sit up and take notice of her intentions. That song’s perfect for these books, if perhaps ironically (because lol they aaaaaaalways give in right?!).

          Yeah…my sarcasm with the scary eyes bit didn’t go through like I’d intended. No body language, welp. My apologies!

          there are so many times Thomas’ anger is super sexualised like “he was so angry, the veins in his neck were bulging” and it’s meant to be like omg he is so protective and sexy


          Uggghh. No. Lines like that make me so happy I’m reading Meg Cabot’s Abandon trilogy, where this kind of bullshit doesn’t fly with anyone and especially not with the protagonist.

          Is it too early for me to replace TJ with Sasuke, whom I’m much more familiar with and who also rings alarm bells in the same way? Oh wait, I have a better idea: TJ is to Sasuke like Charmeleon is to Charizard. Now all we need is for TJ to make threats at Liis and then he’ll be just like Assuke–er, I’m sorry, I mean Sasuke! Darn Freudian slip.

  2. Madeline Reply

    Okay now I finished reading 🙂 Oh how I missed the he-man antics of the Maddoxs and their bland soul-mates.

    Liis is absolutely too wrapped up in this one-night stand. Your independence is not “slipping away” for a guy you met less than an hour ago. So now they know they’re both feds, let me guess, TJ is her partner/boss?

    • Utsutsu Reply

      Right? Liis was like, sorry not interested, and right after sex she’s like, oh man I’m not ready for this level of commitment!!! 🙁

      Oh man, he lives in the apartment above her, right? So basically: “Oh yeah, I’m your new partner who’s also actually your boss, and also your landlord! I’m a Maddox so I like to control every aspect of my love interest’s life. Oh, you’re not interested in a relationship? Well, stare into my piercing hazel eyes and think again!

      Or, alternatively: “I bet you to be my new partner while we go on missions to murder gangsters in Las Vegas. I further bet you to share a room with me in our fancy undercover hotel.”

      How long until we get a Cami appearance, and it turns out that the problem isn’t with Liis and Jackson, it’s with TJ and Cami? That would actually be an interesting twist to McGuire’s usual Find+replace method of writing “new” books.

      • Madeline Reply

        Clearly I’m not in a romance novel. There is no creepy, controlling guy with magic eyes living above me, working with me, and overall constantly in my space. I guess I’m just not heroine material :/

        PS Ariel you are totally a McGuire whisperer, that should be a new title for you.

        • 22aer22 Reply

          Okay Beautiful Garbage is the way we must all officially refer to this series of books forevermore.

          As I’ve read on, I think Liis is my favourite of the protagonists so far, she gets some good one-liners in there, but the romantic conflict is just as dumb as ever. Well, it’s not so much that it’s dumb, it’s more that the arguments about why they should/shouldn’t be together are so circular and repetitive the way they were in the other Beautiful Garbage books that it detracts from any legit conflict BUT WE WILL GET TO THAT. My point is, jumping from one night stand to worrying about getting his name/commitment is just the start of the stupid. The glorious stupid.

          Yup Cami is definitely an issue in this, to the point where sometimes it doesn’t even make sense to a scene.

          @Utsutsu, all your predictions are basically spot-on. You too are a McGuire whisperer.

          • Utsutsu Reply

            I’m…. honored(?) to be a part of this mystic club.

            I’d much rather be a Panda Express whisperer, and always arrive right as they put out fresh cream cheese rangoons. That stuff is the bomb.

  3. Andreas Reply

    What are the chances that Jackson will be revealed to be a small-dicked supervillain that TJ has to kill later? Bonus points when he does so to rescue Liis from imminent danger because she is a weak woman ™ and this is the most romantic thing that could ever happen?


    • 22aer22 Reply

      Ummmmmm you’re not WAY off. I mean he doesn’t kill him as of yet, but everything else is a big YUP.

        • Utsutsu Reply

          I love that you trademarked “Weak Woman.”
          Get your very own Jaime McGuire-brand gender stereotype here! Only five easy payments of 99.95! Plus Shipping and Handling!

  4. Quinn Reply

    You are not the only one who read the description of the bartender and thought “coded gay”, because I did too.

    I do have to give McGuire credit for the safe sex thing because I hate pro het when protection isn’t even discussed at the “I’m clean, are you clean and on birth control? Okay we can bareback now” level.

    Using the “Holy. Giant. Cock.” line and TJ coming across as a racist negates about 95% of that though. (I had to think and scroll back up to check which Maddox we were discussing now, McGuire is also clearly failing to write the Maddoxes as sufficiently different to be memorable)

    This is nitpicky, but “Liis” just strikes me as an odd name for someone with Asian and Irish heritage, although obviously lots of people have names that have no relationship to their ethnic background. (Given this is McGuire I would be thinking Asian first name, probably from a different culture/country than wherever Liis’ ancestors are from for extra “did not do the research” bonus points and something stereotypically Irish for her middle.)

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  6. E.H.Taylor Reply

    I missed the second Beautiful book! So many good bad books that I need to go back and read about.

    For clarification, what colour exactly is ‘pear’? Because our pears here are more of a yellow colour, so I’m picturing this guy with glowing yellow eyes and, I’ll be honest, it’s about as sexy as his personality.


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