“I’m no superhero.”
“Tell that to the girl you’re rescuing.”
WOW!! I absolutely loved this book!!!
Don’t Make Me Beautiful is a deeply touching, beautiful and inspiring story with a powerful message about the strength of survival and the healing power of love.
It’s both heart breaking and heart warming with a to-die-for hero, a strong heroine and a story that will stay with you long after you finish reading. It touched my heart deeply and reminded me that there are still superheroes out there everyday who save each other. This is easily one of my favorites of the year!
I first fell in love with Elle Casey’s writing with her witty romantic comedy, Shine Not Burn, and when I learned that she’d released a new, more serious romance, I couldn’t wait to try out another side of her writing and let me tell you — I was blown away!!
The story is that of a brutally abused woman, Nicole, whose face has been horribly disfigured after years of beatings at the hands of a man she once thought she loved. She was conditioned to never escape and her body had been broken and rebroken more times than she could count.
Brian is a single dad whose whole world revolves around his son. Things may not have worked out with his ex-wife but they remained good friends and his focus is on living in the moment and hoping that maybe one day, if it’s mean to be, the right person will come along who can complete his family.
When fate crosses his paths with Nicole’s, he rescues her, takes her to the hospital under a fake name and offers to take her home with him to give her a safe place to heal. He might not know anything about her but he wants to help shelter her and help her give her back the life that was stolen from her.
“I’m no superhero.”
“Tell that to the girl you’re rescuing.”
Ok, first of all, despite the fact that this book might seem dark, it’s really not. The base subject matter is grim but I generally found the story to be very heart warming. Because this is inspired by true events, it restored some of my faith in humanity and reminded me that there are true super heroes out there living among us each day.
I was hooked from the first chapter. I felt Nicole’s pain, isolation and desperation. Seeing how happy she used to be and how broken she was now was gut wrenching and I knew I wanted to see her journey to safety and happiness.
“If only she’d known then what she knows now, she would have picked up the nearest weapon and beat John to death the minute she met him. Instead she dated him, moved in with him, and then became his prisoner.”
The things she suffered at the hands of her boyfriend/abuser were sickening. There were no graphic descriptions but just the thought of any human being going through that made my stomach turn. I think a huge part of what added to how chilling it was though was the fact that this was all happening in a normal house in the middle of a suburban neighbourhood. It wasn’t some creepy shack in the middle of nowhere. This was right in plain sight. And nobody noticed!!
“She gave up somewhere along the way out of a sense of survival.”
Brian, was just absolutely to-die-for amazing!!! He honestly might be one of the most heroic and truly incredible people I’ve ever read about. A true hero in every sense of the word. He was the embodiment of kind, caring and protective. He was a wonderful dad, a supportive ex-husband, and just generally the kind of person who just made you feel safe.
When he found her, I just felt such strong relief. He rescued her, saved her, sheltered her and helped her heal. He went above and beyond because that’s just what was in his nature. The world would be a better place with more Brians in it.
“Why would you do that for me? I’m just a woman with a destroyed face and body and no where to go?” …
“No, you’re not. You’re a girl who fell in love with the wrong guy. Your face doesn’t matter, it’s your heart that’s important. And if you can love a guy like that, then I know it has to be twice the size of a normal one. Beside… you do have somewhere to go. You’re going to my place now… you had a few years of your life taken away from you. Now we’re going to get them back… You’re going to stumble, but that’s what I’m here for. Lean on me. I’ll keep you from falling.”
She was scared, terrified even, that her abuser/boyfriend would find her and her instinct told her to run back and avoid the trauma of him finding her after she’d escaped. But Brian would hear none of it. He could see the strong girl hidden behind the scars and was determined to bring back that side of her.
“I need to go back.”
“Bullshit… You are NOT going back there. I don’t care what you say… I’m not letting you go back.”
“You’re not my keeper.” …
“You are your own keeper, Nicole. I’m just your protector.”
That just made me melt. I love that he saw right past her scars. He saw her – the girl underneath it all and was drawn to her. Remember that this is a romance but, given Nicole’s situation and everything she’d been through, that side of the story understandably was slow building for the first while allowing time for healing first. I really enjoyed the pacing and loved that it was never rushed and that they bonded first as friends before anything.
“Scars are your body’s way of healing, making that damaged part stronger than it ever was before the pain.”
The more he made her feel comfortable, the more the real her emerged. She was such a fun girl! Full of life, a little snark and had the biggest heart. They really were a perfect match and if anyone deserved a knight in shining armour, it truly was her.
But this wasn’t just about healing, this was also about a woman taking charge of her life once again after it had been stolen from her. Owning her life once again. Facing her demons. Seeing the strength that Brian helped her find again and then the rest of the strength that she found on her own was truly inspiring.
This might sound odd to say because it so rarely happens in books but I actually also really loved the relationship that Brian had with his ex-wife. They truly were best friends. They loved each dearly but weren’t in love with each other. It was so nice to see a divorced couple in a book who weren’t at each other’s throats and who genuinely supported each other and wanted each other to be happy.
In fact, every single one of the supporting characters was wonderful — especially Helen (the ex-wife), Agnes (the next-door neighbour) and Liam (Brian’s adorable son). I fell in love with them all in their own way. Except of course John, the abusive monster who, as Helen said, “deserves to be butt raped in jail.”
Another thing that I really loved about this book was that I absolutely respected and understood every decision each character made. Never once did I roll my eyes or want to shake anyone. I’m always very impressed when a book comes a long like this this where I can genuinely respect each one of the characters and where the drama comes from completely external sources. To me that speaks volumes for the strength of the story itself that it’s able to be this captivating without any unnecessary drama.
There was a twist in the last 20% or so that sent full body shivers through me!! I absolutely loved the direction it took the story in and I read the ending with happy tears in my eyes as everything came together. It was truly beautiful and I was left with the most wonderful feeling ever!!!
Don’t Make Me Beautiful is a beautiful, poignant and unforgettable story about survival, healing, and a second chance at life and love. It made me laugh and cry and feel with my whole heart ❤
Seriously, someone needs to make this into a movie!!
This is a standalone.
Elle Casey says
Wow. I wish I could express how much this review means to me. I want to go write another book right now, I’m so motivated. Thank you so much for your support and for sharing my work with the world.
LOL!! Yes, please do! And then send it to me when you’re done – I’m already looking forward to reading it 🙂 xx
Awesome review – it was a really great book 🙂
Thank you! I’m so glad you loved it too 🙂
Wow… Just reading this review has my heart beating out of chest in anticipation!!! I was in near tears thinking about the characters… You can assure yourself that I’ll be buying this book right now and start reading this TONIGHT!!!
Thank you for the recommendation and review!!! I just finished it and it was beautiful.
Ally Swanson says
Excellent review! This book sounds incredible! I will totally be adding this book to my TBR list. Thanks for the tip!
Wonderful review! Going to grab my copy now!