Beautiful Illusion - Jacquie Underdown

I was feeling quite puzzled by this story until it hit me about midway through -- it reads exactly like Twilight fan-fiction. With that in mind, the disparate plot elements suddenly made sense.

That isn't the reason I gave it one star, however; I don't have strong personal feelings about fan-fiction. Whether original or not, this just isn't very good.

The plot is interesting, and fairly well thought out. Leah wakes up in the hospital after a bad run-in with a truck, surprised to find an injured man sharing her room. As they both recover from the accident, they fall in love, and Leah is warmly welcomed into Brennan's family. (Except for his inexplicably hostile sister-in-law Joanne. And I do mean inexplicably.) But Leah is haunted by flashes of feeling like it's all too good to be true, almost like a dream. And of course she's right.

I thought this section of the book went on for too long. At the very beginning of the story, there was a nice sense of mystery and oddness, but this dissipated as the story continued along mostly normal lines. It was all too ordinary, though not very plausible -- Brennan is the absolutely perfect man and guess what? Also a millionaire! The second section of the book switches from first into third person for no useful reason, and it's a bad switch: the prose becomes very stilted and unbelievable. Leah is supposed to be utterly heartbroken, but she sounds completely analytical as she describes her bizarre experience and concludes it was "all very peculiar."

The writing isn't terrible, though there are a few editing errors. Mainly it's just shallow and amateurish in tone. I was shocked when I realized Leah is supposed to be 30; she never sounds like an adult woman, and Brennan never sounds like a real man rather than a fantasy. (It would make sense for this to be part of the story -- but it isn't.) There's very little character development, or actual basis for Leah and Brennan's love. If this is indeed fan-fiction, I really think it should have stayed there.

(reviewed from e-arc provided by NetGalley.)