by Jamie McGuire, contemporary (2013)
Simon & Schuster, £7.99, ISBN 978-1-47113-356-5
Jamie McGuire's A Beautiful Wedding is a novella, but it has the same cover price as her full-length novel, at least in the UK. The lucky Americans have to buy the digital version or pay for the hardcover, both of which are also overpriced. I guess someone did a marketing survey and discovered that all those readers that spend all their time searching and posting images of hot guys that they imagine to be Travis Maddox don't mind paying more for another 100 or so pages of Travis acting like their, er, Abby Abernathy's whipped puppy.
Maybe it's genetic but it looks that there is some kind of recklessness in many young adult romance authors that drive them to cheese off their fans thoroughly when their career is just taking off. Whether this implosion occurs in the form of forum or Goodreads drama, or the last book in a trilogy that either kills off the main character or break up the romance or even end with a cliffhanger, as the author has secretly wrangled a contract from the publisher to expand the trilogy into a million-ology and didn't tell the fans who have waited for that long-delayed third book in question, something will happen to make the fans see red, causing them to swear loud and even furiously that they will never trust the author again.
Compared to some implosions, Jamie McGuire's is pretty mild. She just makes readers doubt that Abby is marrying the Mad Dog out of true love. And as any veteran that has inadvertently found herself cornered by a bunch of angry teenage girls in a dark alley of the Internet could testify, you don't let anyone cast doubt that these girls' favorite make-believe boyfriend deserves anything less that complete, total, utter worship.
Picking up from where Beautiful Disaster ends, this one sees Abby and Travis getting ready to walk down the aisle. Alas, in this short story - come to think of it, calling it a "novella" is a bit of a stretch - Abby ends up agreeing to marry Travis because she wants to give him an alibi, so that he won't be thrown into jail and become the tattooed love piñata of his cell buddies. The sound you hear is the shocked intake of breath by offended members of the I Want To Have Sex With Travis Maddox And Bear His Babies fan club when they realize that a mere woman dares to marry Travis not out of love, and immediately move Abby from their short list of "Women We Like" to the long list of "Whores That We Hate". I don't blame them, mind you: the author deliberately revised the ending of Beautiful Disaster - where Abby clearly stated that she would marry Travis out of love - so that she can make a few million dollars more before she unleashes her new series on her fans.
The rest of this short story is pretty mundane as it sees Abby acting like it's simply killing her - killing her!- to make a decision while Travis walks around being pathetic. He's transformed completely into that sap that will happily leap off a building to his death if it means that he would get to be the martyr of the year. That's basically it for the story. It ends with the wedding, of course, but by that time, I get this feeling that these two aren't marrying out of love as much as they are marrying because they feel that they have to get married. It's rather awesome, from a detached point of view, how the author sabotages the very romance that made her bank account so beautiful to behold. Is this intentional? Does she secretly detest her characters, like how Sir Arthur Conan Doyle detested Sherlock Holmes?
Well, on the bright side, there isn't much space here for the author to bring on the misogyny like she did with Walking Disaster. The brevity of this story is also a good thing, at least in my case where there is no heartache about the price as I got this book for free in the "Buy three for the price of two" holiday sale at my neighborhood bookstore. If you are going to get this for full price, though, I suggest you do so only if you're that kind of person who currently has "I LOVE TRAVIS MADDOX" tattooed across your forehead. This story isn't worth the price they are charging.
This book at Amazon.com
This book at Amazon UK
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