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 book left me speechless. Written in third person present—a tense that I’ve never particularly liked but worked brilliantly here—Don’t Make Me Beautiful is the story of Nicole, a woman beaten so cruelly she looks like a monster. At least, that’s what six-year old Liam thinks, when his ball flies through her living room window, causing him to knock at the door.
Nicole is a prisoner in her own home. She is locked inside the house by her cruel husband, and locked inside her mind by her crippling fear and disfigured face. But her encounter with Liam, and later with Liam’s father, Brian, leads to a turn of events that change her life forever.
Brian is a single dad, living with his son Liam and making a living creating furniture. He isn’t a rich man, nor is he particularly an alpha male. He’s a good, kind man, and this comes across in everything he does. The day after the incident with the ball, he goes back to Nicole’s house and sees her lying on the floor, bloody and unconscious. He calls the police and ambulance, and stays by her side as she’s rushed to hospital.
Don’t Make Me Beautiful is a tale of second chances, of how love can bring redemption and set you free. It’s also a reminder that beauty is truly only skin deep, and it’s the kindness you show others that makes you truly attractive. And the well- crafted characters of both Nicole and Brian really shine through in this story. It’s different from anything else I have read recently, and this is just one of the reasons that I loved it. I gobbled it up avidly, like a child with a candy bar. I was just sorry when it came to an end.
I laughed, I cried and I sobbed some more. The story hooked me in and wrung me out, in the best way possible. I’ve never read anything by Elle Casey before, but I will definitely be back for more.
Five wonderful, emotional, life-affirming stars.