Overall Grade: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
D. Kelly’s Just an Illusion Side A follows the story of Amelia. As the daughter of rock royalty, Amelia has lived the rockstar life, and she’s not interested in living it again. One night, Amelia “Mel” joins her best friend, Belle, a music reporter/blogger at a concert for Bad and Dangerous (BAD). There, she is instantly drawn to the twin brothers who lead the band, Sawyer and Noah. However, Sawyer is the “bad boy” of rock. His reputation of bedding women, using drugs (in the past), and his grittiness both entice and deter Amelia. Noah, the “good” twin, calls to her careful side. She’s attracted to him, but she also feels safe with him. When the band meets both Amelia and Belle, they connect with Amelia immediately and ask her to follow them on their farewell acoustic tour to write their story. Amelia is a writer whose recent book is a blockbuster. With her background, they want to give her unfettered access to them as a way to document the band’s life and relationships. Even though Amelia was hoping to never return to the rock life given her past experiences with it, she decides to take advantage of the offer. In doing so, this places her in the path of both Sawyer and Noah. Should she choose the bad boy of rock or his brother? Even more, will Amelia heal from the wounds of her past, opening her up to love?
If I had to write one word to describe D. Kelly’s Just An Illusion Side A and its subsequent titles, it would be detailed. D. Kelly develops her characters, Amelia, Sawyer, Noah, Wyatt, Darren, and Belle well. We are treated to every moment of their journey, albeit through the point of view of Amelia. Obviously, we are treated to every aspect of Amelia’s thoughts and feelings, so she is developed the most. However, we are provided quite a bit of story about the others. These people are a family, and their nurturing and caring natures are some of the best parts of the book. We see quickly in this first book of the trilogy how they support each other through their traumas.
Amelia is a pretty broken heroine. Her past has left her bereft, struggling to move on from it. Therefore, her journey is the most significant in this first book. Sawyer likes to play the villain to a certain extent, and their chemistry is palpable. When Amelia makes her choice of brothers, there are feelings about this choice. It isn’t easily accepted from a reader’s standpoint, and I found myself hurting for the brother who isn’t chosen. That’s what Kelly does well in this book. You can imagine the brother’s hurt. This book begins the start of Amelia’s journey to acceptance about her past. Just An Illusion Side A also ends with a nice cliffhanger that draws you into the second book of the trilogy, keeping you addicted to Amelia’s story. I did feel that the story was fairly dense, though. It took me a bit to move through the story because Kelly creates so many scenarios with her characters. However, it’s entertaining at its best.
Overall Grade: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Just An Illusion Side B begins where Just an Illusion Side A leaves off: resolving the cliffhanger. Amelia has made her choice of the brothers, and her heart is all in on developing that relationship. Even though she has misgivings about any talk of the future and commitment, over the course of the book, her ability to accept a future with the chosen brother evolves over the course of the story. By the end of this book, she is “all in”: married and pregnant. Throughout this book, the band continues on tour and takes a break to celebrate the holidays. This also creates a bit of tension between the brothers and Amelia because the brother who wasn’t chosen still loves Amelia. Unfortunately, this book ends in tragedy. Amelia’s healing is undone, and her future seems uncertain.
With this second book of the trilogy, I fell deeper into the story. It was still dense. Kelly is very thorough in her storytelling, creating so many scenarios for her characters. A lot happens in this book. From the beginning of the book until its end, you won’t recognize Amelia. Many of her misgivings are seemingly resolved through being loved fully, and she finally accepts she can have a happy ending. Until she doesn’t. There is a HUGE twist with this book, and you should be prepared for it.
From time to time, I struggle with Amelia. On the one hand, she acts in control, sometimes shut down emotionally. Then, a scene later, you’ll find her totally surrendered to love. It is sometimes odd. I would have preferred for her, and a few other characters, to be a bit more consistent at times, but the progression of her story is sweet in Just An Illusion – Side B. When this book ends, you are fully invested. There is no place but forward with this trilogy.
Overall Grade: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️++
With Just An Illusion – EP, Amelia’s life has been torn asunder. Her life hangs in the balance, and her foundation is gone. This book, the final book of this trilogy, is a story about her journey back to herself and love. Of the three, this is by far the most emotionally gripping. It tears at your heart in all the best ways. In fact, in Kelly’s note to the readers, she warns that the reader might need tissues, wine, and chocolate, and she isn’t lying. I was a big blubbering baby at the beginning of this story. If that scares readers, still read it. There is a beauty in the trauma that Kelly has created. It’s the reason that the final book is my favorite of the trilogy. Amelia and Sawyer find the greatest growth in character in this book. They finally grow up. There is still quite a bit of push and pull. The story is still fairly dense. Kelly throws everything at you from the start to the finish; however, she also provides you with a serious ‘“gasp” of a moment’ at the end. In the midst of the “happily-ever-after,” there is magic. Of the three, this was the easiest for me to move through the story, but there was also a bit of repetitiveness. Amelia has a tendency to move forward and then backward three steps in her development. But such is life. Just An Illusion – EP finally reminds us that life is meant to be lived fully. To do so means honoring yourself and the people you love.
In love and romance,