Title: Beautiful Oblivion
Author: Jamie McGuire
Narrator: Phoebe Strole
Audiobook Length: 8 hours, 13 minutes
Genre: Romance; New Adult
Origins: Mine. All mine.
Release Date: 1 July 2014
Bottom Line: Nope.
“Fiercely independent Camille “Cami” Camlin gladly moved on from her childhood before it was over. She has held down a job since before she could drive, and moved into her own apartment after her freshman year of college. Now tending bar at The Red Door, Cami doesn’t have time for much else besides work and classes, until a trip to see her boyfriend is cancelled, leaving her with a first weekend off in almost a year.
Trenton Maddox was the king of Eastern State University, dating co-eds before he even graduated high school. His friends wanted to be him, and women wanted to tame him, but after a tragic accident turned his world upside down, Trenton leaves campus to come to grips with the crushing guilt.
Eighteen months later, Trenton is living at home with his widower father, and works full-time at a local tattoo parlor to help with the bills. Just when he thinks his life is returning to normal, he notices Cami sitting alone at a table at The Red.
As the baby sister of four rowdy brothers, Cami believes she’ll have no problem keeping her new friendship with Trenton Maddox strictly platonic. But when a Maddox boy falls in love, he loves forever—even if she is the only reason their already broken family could fall apart.
In the first installment of the Maddox Brothers books, readers can experience the rush of reading Beautiful Disaster for the first time, all over again.”
Thoughts: At some point in time, no matter how popular a set of characters are, the time comes to move on from their story. Such is the case with the Maddox brothers. They truly are fabulous characters – deeply flawed, fiercely loyal, passionate and intense. Their devotion to one another is beautiful to see and humorous in the way it comes across to others. However, this does not mean that each of the brothers should get the same chance in the spotlight as Travis and now Trenton.
For one thing, Beautiful Oblivion occurs concurrently with Beautiful Disaster. This makes it the third time readers get to see the Travis and Abby story unfold. Granted, Travis takes a backseat to his brother in this version, but that particular drama is still present.
Then there is the little issue of every Maddox brother being somewhat of a man whore. Readers first saw this with Travis, and now Trenton’s sowing of wild oats becomes part of the story. One brother with that tendency is one thing, but to have multiple brothers who find a new woman every single night is a bit much. The fact that this all occurs in a small town only exacerbates the yuck factor because one realizes that the choice for female companionship has to be small. While no one mentions this outright, the chances that the brothers have not slept with the same women are also small. Ew.
To make things worse, readers are expected to believe that Cami’s secret, once revealed, is no big deal. This just is not the case given everything readers understand about the Maddox brothers. Some readers may find it romantic, but others will find Trenton’s acceptance of her secret hard to believe.
Where Beautiful Oblivion does excel is with Cami. Even though her angst over her secret becomes tedious, she is a fantastic character. She is strong, independent, intelligent, driven, and wonderfully sassy. More importantly, she fought for her independence which makes her much more grounded than someone else her age.
To be fair, Trenton is not a bad character either. He is definitely not as volatile as his youngest brother. He is much more responsible, working hard to help his father and trying to save up for his own place. Surprisingly, he also has a wonderfully tender, nurturing side that he is not afraid to show in front of others. Readers who were turned off by Travis will appreciate Trenton’s more grown-up appeal.
Phoebe Strole makes a decent narrator for Beautiful Oblivion. There is no way to make Cami less angst-ridden and whiny about her secret, but Ms. Strole tries her best to minimize the damage. She does a minimal amount of voice changes to differentiate between the many characters with varying degrees of success. Her female voices tend to be shrill and off-putting, while her male voices are merely okay. Trenton and Cami are by far her strongest vocalizations, which is a good thing. The story itself is not the greatest for an audio version, but Ms. Strole makes the most of it and delivers a mostly enjoyable performance in spite of the weaknesses with which she has to work.
Jamie McGuire can write and has written wonderful novels. The biggest downfall for Beautiful Oblivion is the fact that other than seeing Trent and Cami’s burgeoning relationship, readers know exactly what is happening in other parts of the town. It is a bit like the movie Groundhog’s Day, but in this rendition of the day, the camera follows two different characters rather than Bill Murray and Andi McDowell. At some point in time, even the fact that a scene occurs from a different perspective does not change the fact that it is still the same scene. Then there is the issue with the big reveal of secrets, when the entire story becomes improbable given readers’ knowledge of the characters. The whole novel is just one big disappointment and a great lesson that some characters’ stories are best left to the imagination.