Love sees inside the person. It doesn't stop at the surface. That stuff is all just window dressing, anyway. It says nothing about what you're really getting.
Don’t Make Me Beautiful by Elle Casey is a beautiful and powerful story which revolves around an abused woman’s journey in finally escaping the clutches of the monster who held her captive. Elle Casey depicts a very real, raw and at times very disturbing picture of domestic abuse. However, with this being said, there is beauty in survival and this author also illustrates how love can help make you strong and also aide in healing wounds that have long been open and bleeding.
Nicole is a woman who has lived the last three years of her life under unimaginable and horrifying circumstances. Nicole never suspected that the man she fell in love with while in college was in actuality a monster. She has survived for three years but the destruction of her soul as well as damage to her physical appearance, particularly her face, has not left Nicole unscathed. Having been taught to stay put by the inhumane boyfriend she lives with, Nicole hides in the boundaries of her own home never venturing into the outside world. She has no hope that she will ever escape the life she now leads. Nicole dreams that her escape will come in the form of death…her own. One day Nicole’s world shifts on its axis. Who would have thought that her salvation would come in the form of a baseball, a broken window and a superhero?
Brian is a single dad who is doing his best to raise his six year old son. He remains great friends with his ex-wife as they partner in raising their son. Brian is a fun loving all around guy who would love to meet the right person to spend the rest of his life with. Finding love is not his focus when he has a six year old that keep him on his toes. I absolutely adored the relationship between Brian and Liam, his son. It warmed my heart.
So cute! When Liam comes home one day completely traumatized, Brian is determined to get to the heart of the matter. Brian discovers that Liam broke a window with his baseball and in an attempt to smooth things over with the neighbour, Brian goes over to their house and offers to pay for the damage. Brian has no idea that dark secrets were being kept in that house. Never did he suspect that he would be a man who would play the white knight and help pull a woman back from the depths of despair.
Perhaps it was fate or maybe it was simply the fact that Brian’s curiosity got the best of him. When Brian returns to his neighbour’s home, what he finds is a woman so badly beaten that he automatically rushes in to rescue her. Brian’s need to protect this unidentified woman far surpasses any rational thought. Nothing will stand in his way from giving her a home and a safe place for her to heal both physically and emotionally. Brian desperately wants to provide Nicole with a safe haven, giving her back something that was brutally taken away from her.
The beginning of this book was brutal. Nicole’s loneliness, anxiety and desperation broke my heart. I was also taken aback at how much I wanted her bastard of a boyfriend to suffer for what he has done. The psychopath truly deserved a long and painful death! I believe that this author did a spectacular job balancing out what were horrific scenes without being overly graphic. I think this helped the book be a little less dark, if that makes sense. Yes, this is a story about how a woman suffered at the hands of her abuser; however, the underlying message is one of hope and love. This book was more heartwarming and beautiful than it was grim and dark. It is a story about everyday superheroes and the fair maidens that need rescuing.
Once Nicole is in safe hands, her journey is a long one. To get to a place where she is no longer terrified is not easy. Everything in her was telling her to return to her boyfriend. Better to go back to the known demons that she understood than to possibly face any fallback if she was ever found. Brian is the one who brought her back down to earth and made her feel safe for the first time in a long time. He took her from the clutches of evil, gave her a safe place and helped her heal and restore her shattered soul. He was utterly selfless and was nothing short of Nicole’s own personal miracle.
I must say that I absolutely adored Brian. I know that some readers have had some issues with the fact that he was just so perfect. The fact that he seemed so flawless and his character so unblemished was not so believable for some. Yes, Brian was the perfect and shining white knight with a superhero complex but he was also exactly what Nicole needed. I didn’t really take issue with his impeccable persona. The story for me was more about healing and how Nicole had to learn to take charge of her shattered life once again. Nicole had to face her demons head on and Brian was the person who had her back. It was as simple as that.
The love story between Brian and Nicole was a slow building one. Nicole was in no shape to even look at another man when she was finally rescued. As she slowly gained her emotional and physical strength, her bond with Brian became stronger. I loved the fact that Brian did not see a hideous and deformed monster when he looked at Nicole. He saw the woman underneath – a smart, feisty, complex and funny woman. As Nicole became more and more comfortable with Brian, the old her re-emerged. She once again became the girl who could have fun and back talk when necessary. Brian believed in her and saw her as nothing but beautiful. Because of this, Nicole was able to move past what happened to her and finally understand that she was worthy of love and happiness.
This book is full of wonderfully written characters. Everyone from Brian and Nicole, to Brian’s ex-wife, to the nosey neighbour were all an intricate part of the story. For once it was nice to not get frustrated by the characters and the dip-shit decisions that can be made. I truly understood where each character was coming from and not once did I feel that there was excess drama introduced. The fact that this book was about a difficult subject matter was enough. Further, the surprising twists and turns that Ms. Casey hits her reader with was genius. The past part of the book was full of enthralling turns that I did not see coming.
Don’t Make Me Beautiful is a story that will remain with me for quite some time. Nicole’s journey of restoration and healing and her second chance at life was real and heart-lifting. I commend Elle Casey for taking on such a powerful venture. While the book did have some dark undertones, Ms. Casey gave it a lighter feel establishing that even the most broken can overcome the darkness of their past and find the happiness that was once held from their grasp.