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Wednesday, January 28, 2015

✮ Don't Make Me Beautiful by Elle Casey: A Guest Review ✮


Author: Elle Casey
Release Date: 09/09/2013
Length: 370 pages

A ROMANTIC SUSPENSE NOVEL. No one knew a woman lived there or that she even existed. A monster, living in darkness...

At twenty-two, Nicole doesn't even look human anymore. The beast made sure of that. So she hides. A monster, consigned to a life of fear and solitude. This is all she deserves, she is quite sure of that.

And then one day out of the blue, the autographed baseball caught by Brian Jensen at the latest Marlins game enters her prison and manages to turn her world completely upside down.

Temptation comes in the form of pity at first, and then perhaps something more. Does she dare to believe the things she's told, that this is not the life she was meant to live? That being a monster is not her forever-fate? And will she be willing to risk everything, to reach out and accept the helping hands around her and share her deepest, darkest secrets? She knows only too well that hands can hurt. Finding out whether they can also heal is a risky proposition, especially when the beast is still out there. Looking for her.

**This story was inspired by true events. If you liked the movie "Sleeping With the Enemy", then you might like this story too. CONTENT WARNING: Violence, foul language, and adult situations. Not meant for younger readers .**


There are times when you come across a book that will not only tug but wholly test the flexibility of your heartstrings. This is the case in this 2013 Elle Casey novel. Equal parts heartwarming and heartbreaking, Don’t Make Me Beautiful tells the story of family, survival, hope – the makings of an undoubtedly beautiful book.

Brian and Liam has made it their life mission to catch a fly ball, baseball glove always on the ready and never giving up. One game night the universe finally conspired with father and son, and lo and behold, there’s a red and white ball zooming in on their faces! As usual, fate has several tricks up its hoodie and unknowingly, their lives will be changed forever.

Nicole is tired of time moving unforgivably slowly, sometimes wishing that one day she’ll wake up a year or ten later. She’s imprisoned by cruelty, despair and a broken rib or two. Once considered a true beauty, roles have been reversed and now what was left is less human and instead more of a beast. She lost everything in the hands of the monster – beauty, love, life and hope. Until one day, fate decides to change the course of the game and hope returns in its white-covered, red-stitched and window-shattering glory.

“Listen, you’re going to stumble but that’s what I’m here for… I’ll keep you from falling.”

This novel has an amazing set of characters that would surely get you attached. What’s not to love about Brian? He’s a gorgeous man, a wonderful father and a compassionate human being. Although, if you are looking for alphas or rakes with admittedly hot caveman tendencies, then you might be a little off-course. This hero is hot but sweet, protective but also gentle, sensual yet a self-confessed goof. Yep! Goofy is the new sexy. It’s also amazing how to him, looks are inconsequential. Brian’s feelings for Nicole were genuine, not minding how she looks or how tainted her past was. He made her feel beautiful, enough so that it transcends the pages and make the reader feel the same. That said, chances of men like him being secretly manufactured in North Pole are pretty slim, which is quite unfortunate to be honest.

“Right now, the name of the game is still survival.”

The heroine has been through a lot, physically and psychologically, and it’s quite impossible for anyone who suffered years of brutality to get out of it unscathed. But instead of summarizing her past with a “Woe is Me” hashtag, she puts her game face on. Naturally that came after healthy bouts of crying. Still, she was a trooper! It would seem like the world did not just crash and burn, the way she bounced back to life. And that’s not a slight to the writer's capability to draw out emotions but a testament to the strength and resilience of the character. Better keep the kid gloves where they are, folks!

“I feel like I’m in a love straightjacket.”

Cruel monsters aside, the people surrounding both Brian and Nicole are very endearing and it’s touching how they became fully invested in Nicole’s well-being regardless of the short length of time they spent knowing her. And gotta love Liam! Brian’s son, with all his “Catch the ball! Live the dream! Baseball forever!” cuteness is simply a delight.

“I figure I have a lot of bad memories to erase from this head of yours before I can even get started on making happy ones. I’m working double time to catch up.”

Elle Casey effectively handled the sensitive issue of domestic violence in this book and how the characters responded to it. She must be applauded for how empowering and well-written Nicole’s road to recovery was. Also, thumbs up to the fact that in a world dominated by penthouse-owning, sports car-driving, Blackberry-wielding alpha males, she made it perfectly possible to fall in love with the endearing man living in the blue house, re-finishing furniture and antique, and mowing neighbor’s lawns for free.

Admittedly there are times when the pace of the story is a bit slow and at there were some points that you don’t feel stoked to turn to the next page but the onslaught of twists and revelations close to the end of the novel made up for it. Those surprises will strongly tempt you to pull your hair out and everyone else’s within a ten-mile radius.  Elle Casey was good at luring readers to a false sense of security only to pull the rag off your feet when you least expect it.

What has to be Elle Casey’s biggest failure in writing this story is that au contraire to the clear-cut request that is the title, Don’t Make Me Beautiful is undoubtedly a lovely story and despite the long read plus the heartache and frustration you might feel along the way, it is HEA-guaranteed.


4 Fairy Wings

Guest Reviewer: Joyce Gabionza
Twitter: https://twitter.com/JustMeJoycey 

Joyce has a sweet tooth and may very well be your next Chocoholics Anonymous seatmate. Spending most of her free time on books, music and TV series, she'll always and forever be a Klaroline shipper and an unapologetic fangirl.