Beautiful Redemption Chapter 12: Jackson Is So F***ing Boring

Hey, readers! A quick note about next week: we’re trying a new thing where Ariel and I get a little more time off from the blog, so we’re going to start occasionally doing weeks where only one of us does their posts while the other watches Bob’s Burgers in their pajamas for a whole week travels the world with their loved ones or something. So next week, I’m the only one updating, most likely still on Tuesday and Friday. Maybe you’ll get lucky and I’ll post the second one on Thursday. Ariel’s gone next week; I make my own rules now.

Beautiful Redemption: Chapter 12

Yesterday’s chapter ended with the appearance of this Maddox Brothers novel’s Blando: Liis’s ex-fiance Jackson. Ariel and I have pretty consistently made fun of every book in this series for trying to introduce a second man as a serious contender for the leading lady’s affections, only to have him somehow just be incredibly boring. Which is fascinating, because for all of Jamie McGuire’s characters’ many flaws, the one thing they are not is boring to read. Even in the previous entry, Beautiful Oblivion, where the Blando was another Maddox brother, McGuire couldn’t manage to make him remotely interesting.

And, look, making people interesting is hard. I am newly acquainted with the world of online dating and have rediscovered the joys of struggling to make myself not seem super boring. But even in the realm of fiction – a realm where, I might remind you, Jamie McGuire has given us underground college fighters, cheesy mobsters, and whatever the fuck Olive was – McGuire can’t make a rival love interest who comes across as any more interesting than this:

“You look beautiful. California looks good on you. […] Mom swore that if I brought you flowers, you’d change your mind.”

squidward head slamming gif

Jackson is the goddamn wallpaper of this book, you guys. It might technically be part of what brings the whole thing together, but good lord it is impossible to actually find it interesting. Even his nickname for Liis is boring.

I took a step back, afraid for a second that he might cry.
“I haven’t been handling this well, Liisee. I haven’t been able to sleep or eat. I had a meltdown at work.”
His nickname for me made me cringe. It wasn’t his fault. I’d never told him that I hated it.

Seriously, even Liis can’t find one endearing quality about this guy.

Jackson wasn’t a bad guy. But falling out of love with him had made everything he did grotesque to me […]
“But maybe if I—”
“It’s nothing you did. It’s not even something you didn’t do. We just don’t work.”

I feel like “Liis and Jackson just don’t work” could have been the editor’s notes on this chapter. What’s weird is even Liis gets it. Liis just goes on and on about how nothing appeals to her about this guy. It’s… kind of perplexing, because this is supposed to be someone she liked enough to date for, what, seven years? And there’s just nothing here, y’all.

I put my hand on his back. “I’m sorry. I really, truly am. But what we had is over.”
“You don’t miss me at all?” he asked. […]
After some hesitation, I decided the truth wasn’t pleasant, but it was necessary. I simply shook my head.
“Holy shit.” He laughed once without humor.

And the more she goes on about it, the more distracting it is that he’s this unappealing.

Not only was Jackson terrible at letting go, he was also completely helpless at things like changing a plane ticket, making reservations, or scheduling appointments. I was sure his mother had taken care of his travel arrangements for him to even come here.

"I'm so bored gif"

I simply have no adjectives that can describe Jackson. He is textureless and nothing about him pops. It doesn’t make sense why he and Liis were an item, and even Jackson himself is such a textureless void of graspable qualities that he doesn’t make sense.

“Well, my plane doesn’t leave until Wednesday. I guess there are worse places to be stuck.”

Seriously? Bro. What are you doing? NOTHING ABOUT YOU MAKES SENSE.

Jackson sighs, tells Liis that he has to tell her he loves her before he leaves, and disappears. Raise your hand if you remember a single thing about him.

Strangely, the rest of the chapter is everyone at the goddamned FBI bitching Liis out about this. So for those of you keeping score at home: Liis’s ex has arrived unannounced, Liis turned him down and shooed him away in no time at all, and now every character who’s been in the book thus far is taking turns criticizing Liis for… look, it’s a Jamie McGuire novel. Nobody ever picks a fight for a reason that makes any fucking sense.

“Liis?” Marks called as I passed his office. “Get in here. […] I told you. You’re trouble.”
“What makes you say that?” I asked.
“Everybody can tell that he’s different. He’s practically happy when you’re around.”
“I’m missing why that makes me trouble.”

PREACH, GIRL.

Marks asks Liis if her ex is staying with her. Then asks if she transferred to get away from him. Then tells her that she’s emotionally unavailable. Then talks about how Thomas came back a changed man after Cami chose Trent after their car accident. I’m not skipping over anything. This is the actual flow of the conversation and there is nothing actually seguing between any of these thing. Then he mentions how “he’s just now showing signs of the man he used to be before she broke his heart”, but also tells Liis “don’t fuck him over while you’re trying to figure out if you’ve got a heart”. Does this mean that nobody wants Thomas to become the person he used to be before his heart was broken? Or that Liisis making Thomas happy and therefore Liis should stop? I DON’T KNOW. I DON’T KNOW WHAT ANY OF THIS IS SAYING.

south-park-the-fuck-does-that-mean

After Marks chews Liis out, then it’s Val’s turn to chew Liis out. If Marks came across as inexplicably angry (that Liis… I dunno, exists?), then Val goes totally in the opposite direction and just muses about the nature of love:

“Liis, don’t let a failed relationship govern your next one. Just because you didn’t love Jackson doesn’t mean you can’t love Maddox.”
“He still loves her,” I said, not trying to hide the wounded tone in my voice.
“Camille? She was the one who got away, Liis. He’ll probably always love her.”

Oh, and she also gets inexplicably angry.

I spoke aloud the only question I could, “Do you think he can love two people?”
“Can you love one?” she snapped back.

How was that the point where you get angry with Liis?

“Don’t fuck with Maddox’s emotions. I realize you told him once that you’re emotionally unavailable, but you’re behaving differently.”

…wait, someone in this chapter finally said something that made sense. Holy shit, that’s even weirder.

kermit good point

Buoyed by that last part (presumably), Liis goes to Thomas and tells him that she can’t do their date, because she doesn’t feel any differently about being in a relationship and doesn’t want to hurt him. Thomas has a counterpoint that only a Maddox (or Christian Grey or Gideon Cross) could come up with.

“Do you have any idea how hard it is for me to see you walking around the office in a skirt, knowing you never wear panties?”

My Kindle helpfully informed me that 88 people have highlighted that quote. Thank you, the Maddox Brothers reading community.

For the most part, Thomas assures her that he’s confident in their blossoming relationship, and calms her down. He assuages her reservations by – and I’m not 100% certain I’m reading this right, but I can’t see what the fuck else this could mean – encouraging her to ask Val for mind-reading magic powers.

“I’m not sure. Something’s not right. You’re too okay about this.”
“Talk to Val. Ask her if I’m lying.”
“She doesn’t work like that.”
“Yes, she does. Ask her.” I opened my mouth to speak, but he pressed my lips closed with his thumb. “Ask her.”

Look, obviously I’m being a smartass about the magic powers thing, but this seriously doesn’t make sense because he’s asking her to ask a person who wasn’t there when he said something to determine if he was lying about it or not. But for now, let’s not underappreciate this moment:

“Yes, she does. Ask her.” I opened my mouth to speak, but he pressed my lips closed with his thumb. “Ask her.”

“Ask your friend to use her magic mind-reading powers on me.” He protested when I began to speak by pressing his thumb on my lips. “Ask her.”

God, that’s fucking hilarious.

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5 comments

  1. Anonymous Reply

    I’m really curious now, what does Jamie McGuire think the FBI actually does?

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  2. wordswithhannah Reply

    I would not be surprised, actually, if McGuire decided to randomly throw in a character with magic mind-reading powers. Nothing else in her writing follows any kind of internal logic, so why the heck not?

    This also reminds me vaguely of the end of 50SoG where everyone who’d ever had a speaking role up until that point tells Ana that she’s a moron and should have let Alice or whoever die.

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  3. Pingback: Beautiful Redemption Chapter 13: Drunk Jackson Is F***ing Boring

  4. bookbaron Reply

    Why was I getting some strange Oedipus complex vibes from Jackson. His mom was like in the conversation way too much.

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  5. bookbaron Reply

    Also why is even trying to defend TJ’s feelings? I haven’t got the impression he’s that social or nice a guy. So why is everyone ganging up on Liis with “you mess with one of us, you mess with all of us”

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