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doormat heroine

Review: Shine Not Burn by Elle Casey

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.

Review: Death’s Rival by Faith Hunter

And another strong heroine bites the dust…. sigh.

Jane is raped, tortured and betrayed by everyone she held dear. Beast was raped, tortured and betrayed, and is now enslaved. And you people think this is good? The total annihilation of yet another strong female character?

Hunter did a crap job in this one. Leo sent her to Ashville to do a job, she protected herself from death, and protected his scions also, and she was punished for it.

A man breaks into her room in a hotel while she is sleeping, naked, and shoots at her, TWICE, before she responds, so SHE is guilty of starting a war, NOT him. Yet she is punished by the most vile rape scene I have had the unhappiness of witnessing in an author I used to respect.

And then, Hunter has Leo give and take Jane’s blood – – – which, remind me if I am wrong, turned the last Skinwalker into a raving lunatic. So, she is going to use the vaunted next three novels she was just awarded for this stupidity into us watching Jane turn into a raving lunatic, killing and eating humans until she is hunted down and destroyed?

Hunter has lost my respect, and my money. I am sickened and disappointed, not only by the turn the books took, but by the number of people who found this sort of rape and destruction of a once strong character both exciting and wonderful. Where are your minds, people? I don’t know what is worse – the fact that I am so deeply sickened by the people that liked this book, or the fact that I am so deeply HURT by Hunter’s betrayal of her character – and her betrayal of me, as a reader.

I liked and admired Hunter’s portrayal of Jane Yellowrock. She has known more pain in her life than any one person should have to stand. She lost her life, her friends, her self respect, and yet still she helped people, she met her responsibilities, and she gave of her heart, her body and her soul. Everyone. EVERYONE. Betrayed her. And yet she soldiered on, only to be demeaned, raped, and tossed aside like a used come rag. And everyone read it and called it good. I suppose I feel so deeply betrayed because I, like Jane, have been so brutally betrayed through my life. I too was used, betrayed, and thrown aside. Brutalized and yet I still tried to do my best. I Identified with Jane’s strength and caring. Only to have her turned into a broken mess, with even Beast ripped from her, chained to Leo, a prisoner in her own mind. Her life, her very soul, is destroyed. Sort of like mine.

I suppose I shouldn’t allow myself to become so tied in with a character in a book. But with my own life of pain and betrayal, I had found a friend in Jane. Through Hunter’s betrayal of her character, I have again been betrayed. It hurts. And it is a sad, sad thing…

Review: Malicious by James Raven

Not recommended

I don’t need my sexuality celebrated, and I certainly don’t need it to be criticized. I didn’t necessarily want it to be observed, but here we are. – Ezra Miller

I think anything that has to do with sexuality makes people very interested. – Catherine Deneuve

Houston homicide cop Robyn Tate has a secret. A deeply personal secret – she is addicted to online porn. With low self esteem and a terrible body image, Robyn spends her evenings alone in front of the computer, surfing porn sites and “self pleasuring.” It seems harmless enough, (although it is quickly becoming an obsession) – but then it all falls apart, as she becomes the victim of a hacker. A hacker with a taste for blackmail. And with footage of Robyn having a “bit o’ fun” her blackmailer threatens to release the video and ruin Robyn’s life. And as a homicide detective, this seemingly harmless little habit could ruin her status in court cases, as well as becoming an obsession that is taking over her life. Especially when Robyn becomes the homicide detective on a case where the victim was being blackmailed in the very same way, by the same blackmailer.

And here is where things start to fall apart. Rather than marching directly into her Captain’s office and laying it all out on the table (well, not literally, but you get the point) she promptly panics and decides that hiding her secret is more important than her murder case. And it apparently never crosses her mind that her actions completely compromise her case!

The book goes downhill from this point into lies, cover-ups, fissures in her moral and ethical framework, and other bits and bobs of complete stupidity that are less than realistic. Don’t get me wrong – having been with police departments and crime labs, I have seen cops do things that are so incredibly stupid that it boggles the imagination. But this degree of stupidity by someone who actually was good enough at her job to earn a gold shield just isn’t really believable. Especially when Robyn the Wonder Cop has so many opportunities to admit her involvement and ask for help. She has no moral ground to stand on. Sure, it will be embarrassing for everyone to know her “little habit”. But to place her own embarrassment ahead of finding the murderous blackmailer made me truly hate her as a character. True, some literary characters you “love to hate” and that is totally acceptable. Robyn? Not so much. She is entirely self-centered, whining, incompetent, and overall strikes me as a caricature of every misogynistic wet dream extant.

Another aspect of the book that I found immensely irritating was that many words and phrases were unforgivably “Britishisms” rather than Americanisms. It reminded me quite irritatingly of that embarrassingly bad bit of writing, “50 Shades of Gray” in that this book is set in Houston, Texas and yet was written as if it were set in London! Yes, English authors can indeed write “American” novels, and often extremely well (Mark Henwick comes to mind). This, however, was not well written or edited. The degree of laziness shown by the writer edges on incompetence. Especially when there are so many sites online that will be happy to indicate what is a Brit colloquialism and what is an American one.

Overall, the mystery was pedestrian, but acceptable. The heroine? She ruined it for me. I am going to have to say that, overall, there are much better books out there with which to spend your precious reading time.

I received this book from the publisher in return for a realistic review.

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