Thursday, 2 March 2017

*** REVIEW *** BEAUTIFUL DELUSIONS by Ember Raine Winters

One night . . .

One terrible accident . . .

That was all it took to turn my entire life upside-down. My PTSD is worse than ever. The terror I thought I left in my past is back, and this time I might not survive the horrors he promises to bring.

An old friend, Griffin, my best friend at one time bulldozes his way back into my life. He has the power to consume me. I want him... and that is terrifying. Can he actually protect me from the evil that wants to tear me apart?

Fifteen years . . .

That's how long I have let the guilt eat me alive for hurting her with my words the way I did. I never thought I would get the chance to atone for my sins. Now that I do, I will stop at nothing to help her, save her . . . keep her.

The only thing I want, apart from Kaylee in my bed, is to protect her from the monster who wants to destroy her.

Beautiful Delusions by Ember Raine Winters is a realistic story of survival and love and the first book in the Pride and Honor series.  It is one of the few books that I know of that deals with PTSD that is not associated with combat and the military. 

Kaylee Robbins is a young woman who made some bad decisions—the worst is the abusive relationship with her ex Tyler.  He beat her regularly until she finally reports his behavior to the police and then escapes.  The typical response of most people, including family, when she explains her PTSD is “move on” or “get over it.”  Only she can’t get over it when she has triggers that cause flashbacks that put her right back in the deadly situation. 

Griffin Thomas is a strong alpha hero—ex-military, psychiatrist, security entrepreneur.  Griffin (Griff) needs control.  He has a big heart.  Unfortunately, years ago, he made a mistake and hurt Kaylee deeply.  His actions pushed her down a road of self-destruction.  Now he is back in her life with one goal help Kaylee (Kay-Kay) learn how to deal with her PTSD.  Kaylee is going to bring many more issues than PTSD.

Both main characters are developed well and grow significantly between the covers of this book.  The complexity of Kaylee and Griff and their relationships are the heart of the story.  Ms. Winters does an excellent job with the intricate plots and subplots used to drive the story and build interest in the series. 

Beautiful Delusions is written in the alternating points of view of the heroine and hero giving us the insight into the flashbacks and how they totally take over Kaylee when they happen.  The flashbacks are also insight into the horror of Kaylee’s past.  Griffin, her former school friend, and current psychologist reveals his emotions, regrets, and feelings from his point of view.  

The secondary characters are used well in telling the story.  The members of Griffin’s team are good, loyal, and damaged.  They focus on their mission and pique the interest of the reader to learn more about them.  We learn enough about these men and women to want more in the future.  Tara, Kaylee’s sister-in-law also deals with non-combat related PTSD.  I love her.  She is a good friend, defender, and confidante.  We also have a heavy dose of “bad” guys.  Both of Kaylee’s exes leave a lot to be desired.  They are scum and show their true colors as the story unfolds.  There is nothing better than good characters to hate in a story.  We need someone to throw daggers at while reading. 

I like the way Ms. Winters uses the PTSD, the characters, and other events to build the tension.  It is painful how family, friends and the legal system can be so closed minded or ill-equipped to handle some mental illnesses.  There are a couple scenes with Kaylee’s mother that almost made me throw my Kindle, one in the beginning after her car accident.  Beautiful Delusions shines a light of some of the misunderstandings and roadblocks the illness places in people’s path.  To be honest, parts of the story shocked me, and I’m sure the personal stress is realistic. 

The story is fast-paced and filled with action that feels authentic for the most part.  Sometimes my heart ached for Kaylee as one thing after another is thrown at her in a short time span.  Beautiful Delusions isn’t a book of continuous sex scenes, but when they happen, they are appropriately placed and hot. 

I did feel that Tyler getting into the penthouse feels off or a little unbelievable, especially since she was in a secure building.  My other criticism is the unexpected “sort of” cliffhanger.  I wasn’t prepared, and that is my fault.  I found myself getting excited about the ending and then looking down too late to realize there isn’t enough left to have a real end.  The reason I say “sort of” is because the sneak peek for book two ends the book in a satisfying way.  It isn’t the end of the story but a good stopping point for a hopeful future.

I highly recommend Beautiful Delusions.  Ember Raine Winters is a new author for me.  She is an author to watch.  She is an excellent storyteller.  I can’t wait to see what she has in store for the future.