Not everyone likes the same book.
Take a look at your favourite book on Goodreads or Amazon and see the negative reviews it has received.
As an author, it’s one of the first ‘difficult’ lessons we must learn, but is a learning experience we, no doubt, receive.
No other book brought this lesson home for me than Beautiful Illusion. Readers’ responses to this book are black and white. No grey. Readers either LOVE it with a capital L, or hate it. (Thankfully, it is mostly loved).
As far as romance goes, Beautiful Illusion BREAKS ALL THE RULES. And that’s before I even mention the premise, the plot, and the point-of-view switch.
So, as a result, this book received reviews like this:
‘Oh god, this book! It was so incredible and heartbreaking. It is one of the few books that has actually made me cry!’ Kiera
‘This was by far one of the best ebooks that I have read in a long time! From the first word until the last, I was completely captivated.’ Dana (ANovelAllure)
And, sadly, this:
‘To start off with a tongue in cheek and possibly overly British phrase; this book really wasn't my cup of tea’. Sarah Hulyer
And, from readers who couldn’t handle the intentional discrepancies I included in the story to fulfil the premise’ requirements:
‘First, I couldn't finish the story because there were so many things that just seemed unrealistic. What hospital wouldn't give pain medicine to a patient brought in from a car accident that is in obvious pain? I think the story needs some major editing and if treatments for specific injuries like a concussion are going to be mentioned then there needs to be some research done on how it is treated.’ Andrea Garcia
In a few words, Beautiful Illusion stretches reality, and, therefore, requires an open mind. So if that sounds like your type of book, then read away.
Feature bonus – extended ending
Beautiful Illusion is this month’s feature book and, for that reason, I will be including below a never-before-seen extended ending.
Warning: This extended ending can be considered gloomy and bitter-sweet for some readers, and it challenges the Happily-Ever-After requirement of a romance story.
If you haven’t read Beautiful Illusion, I urge that you do before reading the extended ending.
Extended ending - Beautiful Illusion
Ronny followed the doctor down the long corridor to a small, dim room. He took a deep breath in as he stepped over the threshold, not knowing what to anticipate. The doctor stood beside a bed where one of two patients in this room lay.
“This will be Leah’s room permanently now, Mr Shaw.”
Ronny looked at the frail body that rested on the bed, so much unlike the image of the Leah he held in his mind. Her face was gaunt and pale and lacked all the emotions of life. “So that’s it. There’s no more hope?”
The doctor frowned. “Mr Shaw, it’s been a year and although Leah has remained in a state of wakefulness since coming out of her coma, she has absolutely no awareness and no cognitive capabilities. She is now in what we call a permanent vegetative state.”
Ronny leant over the bed and kissed his daughter on the head.
“Because of the level of brain damage Leah received in the accident, we can firmly predict that she will never
be able to achieve a state higher than what she is in now.”
Ronny choked as a sob lurched up and out of his throat. “I was certain she was going to recover, all those months ago. It seemed as though she was progressing so well.”
The doctor walked around to Ronny’s side. “Unfortunately we were unable to contain the swelling in her brain and that caused irrevocable damage. It’s an incredibly unfortunate outcome and I offer you my deepest—”
Ronny raised his hand, shook his head. “This can’t be all there is, trapped somewhere between life and death.”
“I understand this is incredibly difficult,” said the doctor with a soothing, empathic tone.
Ronny looked at the Doctor, his eyes welling with tears. “I know this sounds terrible, Doctor, but it seems that the most humane thing to happen is for her to…to… die.”
The doctor nodded. “I know. But for the time being, something is keeping Leah with us. I assure you though, that Leah would not be in any pain right now and eventually her body may give up and she can be given some peace. Otherwise, of course, if you would like, I can petition to the courts, on your behalf, to take Leah off her artificial nutrition and hydration?”
Ronny screwed his face up. “And she starves to death?”
“It’s just one other option. Otherwise, we’ll keep her comfortable here until…well, until her condition changes.”
Ronny ran his finger across Leah’s gaunt cheeks. As much as he knew that for her to pass away would be the most desirable outcome, he would not be able to starve her to death. “She was so beautiful, Doctor, so full of promise, a wonderful future ahead of her.”
“I’m sure she did.”
He shook his head and let out a short snort. “You know, she told me one day when she was only a teenager that she felt as though she wouldn’t live past thirty. I told her she was ridiculous and to stop thinking such nonsense, but you know what, Doc? Leah was right. She was one day over thirty when this happened.”
“There are many things on this earth that we can’t explain, Mr Shaw.”
“Too right,” he agreed. “Like why my daughter would be trapped for a year in a body that doesn’t work.”
The doctor glanced over towards the other patient in the room. “See that man there?”
Ronny looked at the man, appearing to be asleep, yet possessed the same thin, pale lifelessness as Leah.
“Yes,” answered Ronny.
“He’s been in a permanent vegetative state for nearly ten years. Brennan was a promising AFL junior, only nineteen when he suffered his traumatic brain injury.”
Ronny gasped. “Oh, that’s just terrible.”
“But you know, ever since your daughter was moved in here, the nurses have said they’ve seen him smiling.”
“Yes. It’s only the upper section of the brain that has been damaged. As with your daughter, these patients are still capable of performing involuntary actions—smiling one of them.”
“Why would he smile, Doc?”
“I hope it’s because he’s happy, but I really have no definite answer.”
Ronny nodded and gazed at his daughter. “I’d like to think that it’s because he’s happy too.”
The doctor gave a reassuring smile and put his hand on Ronny’s shoulder. “I must excuse myself; I need to keep on my way.”
“Thanks, Doc.” Ronny took a seat on the bed bedside Leah and watched her as she drew in each quiet breath. He leant down and kissed her on her forehead. “I love you. I’ll come and see you again soon, and I think Cait said she was going to stop in tomorrow afternoon, and Matty was going to swing by on Friday. So you’ll have plenty of company my beautiful girl.”
He stood and made his way towards the door, hesitating at the entrance so he could glance behind him and take one last look at her before he left. As Ronny took in her appearance on the bed, like a sleeping angel, just ever so slightly the corners of Leah’s mouth curled upwards into a smile. Ronny looked over at the other patient and he was doing the same. Strange warmth spread over Ronny and he thought as he left the room, that perhaps, despite her condition and all that had happened that maybe, just maybe, Leah was actually happy.
A beautiful, spiritual story about a woman who meets the man of her dreams — and then wakes up...
The last thing Leah thought she’d get out of a shocking car accident was the perfect boyfriend. But there was Brennan in the hospital bed next to hers — equal parts charm, cheek, and chocolate. Their relationship, their love, her life, is almost too good to be true.
Then, to Leah’s horror, she discovers that it is. Her new life with Brennan is only a fabrication of her injured mind — a coma dream that ends when she wakes up.
Struggling with injuries and grieving for a man that never existed, Leah battles to put her life back together. But a series of coincidences hint that for some people, love can transcend all barriers and achieve the impossible.