Shine Not Burn by Elle CaseyAs I got several pages into Shine, Not Burn I realized something. I had read it before. It was originally published in 2013. Hum… Yep. That is when I read it, when it first came out. The new edition I received through Netgalley is a reedited, republication.

So what did I think of the book this go-round? Honestly, it is good and bad. And that whole ‘good and bad’ thing can’t really be separated out. You see, what is good about it is also bad, and vice versa. Andie is a seriously broken woman, trying to hold herself together the best way she can. After being brutally abused as a child and teen by her mother’s revolving door of drunken, sadistic boyfriends, she decides that, in order to gain control over her life she must work out a lifeplan. A lifeplan that will focus her mind and her actions, allowing her to reach set goals at set times. And so far? So far, the plan has been working out. She got into college, flew through law school with honour, and basically is kicking backside on her way to being the youngest junior partner at her quality law firm.

But then, her friends Candice and Kelly decide that she should tag along with them for Kelly’s bachelorette party in Las Vegas. . . Oy. She really doesn’t want to go. To say that she is a caricature of the overworked, stuffy lawyer is putting it mildly. But off she goes to Vegas, where she meets a cowboy, falls madly in lust, and, well, you get the picture. And she doesn’t remember much the next morning.

Fast forward two years and the guy who dumped her the day she left for Vegas because she went against his wishes and went with her “useless” girlfriends instead of “minding” his orders and staying home, isn’t in the picture any longer. Nope. It is the guy that she and her assistant and girlfriends despised with a passion ‘back then’. A soulless wanker, but he ‘gets’ her lifeplan, works with her to meet her goals, and is willing to create the 2.5 kids and the shared partnership. So what if he hates her friends, hates her assistant, and, yeah, that whole soulless wanker thing? And she ‘doesn’t even remember’ that she used to despise the guy – he fits in the little box, so it’s all good.

We already know all about the Vegas wedding she didn’t remember . . . and the ‘fix it quick before the fiancée finds out’. The rest of the book, starting with the trip to Oregon to get the divorce papers signed, is amusing in many ways. A lot of the storyline is given away in the blurb about the book, so there isn’t a lot to say about that.

What is to say has to do with how Elle Casey handles Andie and her issues. To be honest, like her friends I also wanted to shake Andie until her head rattled. She was abused as a child, that is true. And it explains her rabid need for total control off her life. But instead of growing beyond that, she suffers from “doormat disease” – getting with a guy and allowing him to totally control her – much like her mother’s abusive boyfriends. And in order to meet her goals, she accepts it. She gives up her girlfriends who try to help her see what she is doing to herself, and plows ahead with her ‘plan’ no matter how everyone around he tries again and again to show her what the most recent soulless wanker is turning her into. I can understand the lifeplan – but what is a lifeplan if you wake up one day and realize you never had a life? Come on, girl. Ever consider a therapist instead of marrying an obsessive, controlling prig? You really want to have kids with this guy?

I can understand Andie, but I couldn’t make myself like her. She was too weak, too determined to continue to destroy any chance of a real life in order to stick with that list she was so fond of. Gavin “Mack” Mackenzie and his family are beautifully drawn and likeable, as are the characters Andie runs across in Oregon. What I finally felt at the end of the book? Pretty much the same thing I felt the first time I read it. Mack was too good a guy for Andie. Sorry about that. I am usually much more forgiving of women who have been abused in such a way, and I honestly understand her obsession with her lifeplan – to a point. But when she absolutely, unequivocally refuses to acknowledge that her lifeplan is making her absolutely miserable at this point and she still sticks to it, no matter that she knows that it isn’t working out? Meh. She devolved into an immature child, with the emotional maturity of a six year old having a tantrum and holding her breath to get her way. It disappointed me and took what could have been a good book into a dark place. I know a lot of people “wuv wuv wuv” this book for the cute HEA, but there are serious issues that could have been addressed more appropriately.

I received this book from Netgalley in exchange for a realistic review. All thoughts are my own. If you enjoyed you review, please “Like” on Amazon. It helps draw attention to the books I review. Thank you.

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