Simon & Schuster UK, £7.99, ISBN 978-1-47113-352-7
Contemporary Romance, 2014
Jamie McGuire had a big hit with her Beautiful Disaster series, so it is only natural that she extends the series to feature more Maddox boys. And while the author may be one of the earlier pioneers in the new adult gold rush, her stories are some of the less misogynistic ones in the market. I know, it can be hard to imagine, but there you go. Oh, I know, the author has quite the reputation online, but in a genre authored by people with hidden identities and conflicts of interest, Tumblr drama queens, Twitter attention whores, Facebook divas, Goodreads guerillas, and abusers of the caps lock button and the exclamation mark, Jamie McGuire is actually one of the more mellow authors when it comes to online presence – especially when I consider what her online nemeses have done.
So, when I found Beautiful Oblivion on deep discount in my neighborhood bookstore, I figured it wouldn’t be that awful, surely. Well, now that I have read the book, I can safely say that this one isn’t awful – it’s just very average. Readable, but nothing spectacular. It suffers from pacing issues, as for almost two-thirds of the book, nothing interesting really happens unless one really likes reading about stalkers in action. Still, nothing too painful.
The biggest problem here is that the author has basically repeated her last story – which was stretched over two and a half books – here. Same guy, same girl, same dance – not even a different verse. Only the soap opera elements are slightly different, but the fundamental tone and the characters are the same. The stalker is Trenton Maddox, who would show up uninvited and actually stand outside heroine Camille Camlin’s door until she lets him in – and this is when they have just met. He has temper issues and gets mad when he imagines her with another man. She has a boyfriend who keeps standing her up because he’s too busy, but it’s okay, she’s not a faithless tart or anything because (a) her family don’t like that boyfriend, (b) you can’t be a whore when you’re a heroine, it’s the law, and (c) that guy is Trenton’s brother so he’s so going to get his own book, so who cares.
The plot is basically him stalking and harassing her until she puts out, and then it’s him stalking and harassing her to make sure that she’s not buttering any man’s bread behind his back. Make your own “he stole her from another man, so he knows she’d be stolen from him one day” joke here. It takes a near-death accident to get Trenton to see some sense, although Camille isn’t entirely blameless as well since she can be really stupid at times. Then again, she has to be stupid, since she’s involved in a guy whose entire personality can be boiled down to one statement: walking time bomb.
Look, I was young once. I get it – I know the appeal of having this one powerful guy getting so into me that he’d end up being unable to leave me alone because he loves me so much. I get that – I had those lovely daydreams too when I was much younger. But maybe it’s because I’m old, but I don’t get the appeal of such a guy when he treats me like crap even when he claims to love me that much. Stalkers that put me on a pedestal? Yes, please. Stalkers that harass me and act like he’s just one breath away from smashing his fist into my face because he thinks I’m sharing oxygen with another guy? Well, if those guys love me that much, they can go kiss my baseball bat.
In Beautiful Oblivion, the author has basically recycled her characters and placed them into a dull plot in which the more absurd soap opera elements only take place late in the story, while upping the hero’s creepy thug factor and trying to justify his antics by claiming that he had been hurt before in the past. If you like her earlier books and crave more of the same, hey, this is practically a repeat episode, so have at it. Everyone else… well, it’s probably more economical to start a pen pal program for the lonely bachelors in one’s neighborhood prison.