Playing with Fire: Shen’s version of the Ugly Duckling

Playing with Fire by LJ Shen Cover

Flaws, flaws, and more flaws. We’re all filled with them, and some carry theirs on the outside, while others internally. Grace Shaw and West St. Claire each have scars that carry them into the pits of the flames of imperfection, self-doubt, and hidden insecurities. LJ Shen forces them out of their own lava pits and embarks them on a soul searching journey to face the facts of life: It isn’t fair. However, it can be molded into everything you dream of if you find your key and share it with someone who understands you. Shen develops two unlikely sorts in Shaw and St. Claire and pens a beautiful tale, filled with deep characterization and a paradox not only through the irony of the title but with the deeper internal working of each character once the surface is broken. The ugly duckling represents both characters when one examines them both beyond the surface and Shen raises them above all the nasty societal finger-pointing and self-loathing into something angelic and beautiful. A 2020 read bound to give you all the feels.

Playing with Fire by LJ Shen

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Grace Shaw and West St. Claire are arctic opposites.
She is the strange girl from the food truck.
He is the mysterious underground fighter who stormed into her sleepy Texan college town on his motorcycle one day, and has been wreaking havoc since.
She is invisible to the world.
He is the town’s beloved bad boy.
She is a reject.
He is trouble.
When West thrusts himself into Grace’s quiet life, she scrambles to figure out if he is her happily-ever-after or tragic ending. But the harder she pushes him away, the more he pulls her out of her shell.
Grace doesn’t know much about anything beyond her town’s limits, but she does know this:
She is falling in love with the hottest guy in Sheridan U.
And when you play with fire—you ought to get burned.

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