Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Playing with Fire” as Want to Read:
Playing with Fire
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Playing with Fire

4.20  ·  Rating details ·  26,348 ratings  ·  2,850 reviews
A broken boy on the path to destruction.
A scarred girl without direction.
A love story carved in secrets, inked with pain and sealed with a lie.

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 wreak
Paperback, 436 pages
Published September 15th 2020
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Playing with Fire, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Shay Not at all. It's a sort of slow burn, but only with them. …moreNot at all. It's a sort of slow burn, but only with them. (less)
Bookaholic NO,it is not a bully romance ,although grace was bullied but west was not a part of bullying . West was not particularly nice to grace in the beginnin…moreNO,it is not a bully romance ,although grace was bullied but west was not a part of bullying . West was not particularly nice to grace in the beginning though(less)

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 4.20  · 
Rating details
 ·  26,348 ratings  ·  2,850 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Playing with Fire
TJ *Book Twins Reviews*
Jun 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing
L.J. Shen reaches new heights with this angsty romance that completely captured my heart. The characters are unforgettable, and the writing is flawless. If you don’t read another book this year, read this one!

Raw, heartfelt, and engaging, Playing With Fire is a consuming story about finding happiness and living life to the fullest. I was immediately sucked into the narrative and gripped by the storyline. While different, this book contains the brilliant storytelling we’ve come to know and love f
Harloe Rae
Aug 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing
You guys aren’t ready! Clear off a top spot on your Best of 2020 list. Playing with Fire is coming in HOT!
LJ Shen delivers an innovative spin on small town romance with ALL the angst and drama we love. This story is different and unique, yet includes all of our favorite elements that this author graciously gives. These broken characters make a chance at love seem impossible and the road to their ruin is so freaking electric!
Once you start, there’s no stopping. Don’t bother trying. I’m still sho
Bookgasms Book Blog
Jul 16, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: ratula
When L.J. Shen says she is writing something so different from what she has ever written, take her word for it and then some. Playing With Fire is nothing short of
MAGNIFICENT! It was heartfelt and breathtakingly emotional and one of the best stories she has ever written! 

No one can ever say that Shen pulls her punches. Playing With Fire is an explosive one-two combo of perfection and pure excellence! Grace and West were absolutely incredible. Two damaged people hiding from themselves and their
Chelé-----4 The Love of Books
I've had to sit with my feelings about Playing with Fire for two days. For me it's not only some of L.J.'s best writing but it's one of the best stories this year.

"Fire symbolized beauty, fury, and rebirth, she explained. Too bad in my case, it symbolized nothing but my demise."

West and Grace breathed new life into me, this may be a small town romance but there's nothing small about their story. They are fierce and powerful. They are ruthlessly honest and transparent with each other.

"I wasn’t
Sep 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2020-arc-reads
I am absolutely obsessed with this book and these characters. It's raw and real and one of my top FAVS from LJ Shen!! I love a book that slowly unveils the depths of each character, and Playing with Fire knocked it out of the park!

West St. Claire is both a surprise and a refreshing alpha-male hero. Yes...he is cocky. He is a ladies' man and rules the campus with his broody looks and persona. But underneath the surface he is compassionate, selfless and is driven by a secret past that is ruled by
Elsa Gomes (BookishAurora)
Rate: 6/ 5 stars

This is the L J Shen I feel in love with. I've missed this side of her writing. Emotional, wonderful and deep characters who you'll connect with on a deeper level! She did such an outstanding job with West and Grace! I loved them and their emotional bagagges, seeing them finding each other, become friends and eventually more was such a fun yet emotional journey. I loved every second of it.

Playing With Fire is an outstanding book with amazing characters and a beautiful message.
Vanessa (When Vane Reads)
English /spanish version

This book, oh God, nothing could have prepared me for the explosion of emotions that this book is, it has been months since I read it and I still can't forget it. With exquisite prose and exceptional characters, L.J. Shen gives us an powerful, unique and emotional story, so different from what she has ever written but so amazing, left me speechless!
The plot is complex, intriguing, with secrets that kept me hooked on the story as a crack addict and scenes so intense that
Ker Dukey
Aug 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shen writes a heartbreaking, yet empowering tale of two people overcoming darkness to find light and life within each other and themselves. Her words create a beautiful woven love story, grown from the purity of real friendship, and cultivated by the understanding of grief and pain. Finding the strength and beauty within the scars' real trauma leaves behind. Grace and West stole my heart and will forever keep a piece locked within the pages of their story. ...more
Sophie Blue
Aug 30, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Like fire, this book will consume you completely. But in the best possible way.

I cannot do this book justice with words.

This book is incredible. I feel like I lived every part of this book. I was so immersed in it. It's beautiful and inspiring and heartbreaking and it really spoke to me. Some books you just know after reading, that they'll stay with you forever. This was one of those books.

LJ Shen has such a way with words. This book blew me away and I cannot recommend it enough. Her best book
Lina's Reviews  ❥Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ❥ღೋBook Blogღೋ ❥Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ❥
From the moment the author started teasing us about this book, I knew I would love it.
Small town romance.
Underground fighter.
An imperfect girl.
It had all I look for in a book.
First, let me say that I have read most books from the author and I can safely say that this is probably my favorite one in terms of characters.
Grace was such a relatable heroine. A struggling young woman, trying to deal with what life has thrown her way from a young age. An imperfect but gorgeous lady, an intr
Lisa (Two Bookish Brits)
Sep 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Oh my gosh.

I think I just found my new favourite Shen characters because these two were just everything!

LJ truly packed a punch with these characters. In a world full of perfect and flawless LJ bestowed upon us flawed characters that are perfect in their own ways.

She gave us beautiful, unique characters with heartbreaking pasts and troubled presents. Grace is an incredible woman, her strength shines bright in this book and her story, the way she battles is one of the many reasons I love her,
Aug 28, 2020 rated it did not like it

🔝 The review above give details about how this book is ridiculous and how the hero is a total irredeemable piece of shit

UNSAFE • Double standards • Sexist

Hero (22) manwhore
-fucked ow 1 (Tess) raw the night he met the heroine 🤢 std’s is saying “hello motherfuckers”
-fucked ow 2 (Mel) after he and heroine are already friends, he fucks her because she reminded him of the the heroine and does it talking about Texas (his nickname for the heroine) *🤬 a few w
Shades of Rebecca
Sep 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This book is one in a billion!

Holy moly this book is something else! I felt so consumed and captivated by the story that I stayed up through the night just to finish it! This is, hands down, LJ's most intense book and I'm saying that as someone who has absolutely loved her previous books like Vicious or Broken Knight. It was so easy to get hooked up on West St. Clair and I'm already going through withdrawals. He is one of the most unexpectedly amazing characters ever written. As I went deeper in
Angie - Angie's Dreamy Reads
Sep 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I finished Playing with Fire at 4am. And OMG, this story is ALL consuming. HANDS DOWN LJ SHEN'S BEST BOOK YET. It is so heartbreakingly beautiful, so breathtakingly tender, so deep and heartfelt and healing. I cannot even put words to what I feel. West and Grace stole my heart. I ached and cried and broke for them. I fell in love with them. This truly is a LJ Shen Masterpiece. A stunning story of rising above in the face of tragedy, of hope and healing and love. I'm blown away! This is something ...more
Tanaka The Bibliophile
Where do I begin with my review?

What do I say after I have read and finished one of the best books of 2020?

What words can I say to fully articulate well to show my emotion of what L.J. Shen’s word to do to me each time I open one of her books?

L.J. Shen has always been a ‘read anything’ author to me. Every book she has written has always been a true and explosive ride for me. Her characters, so addictive. Her words, so illuminating. Her books, full of stories that grab a piece of my heart and mak
Bookshelf Obsessions
Jun 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This is my favorite 2020 read so far with its unique storyline, and captivatingly broken characters you just can’t help but love. Shen not only brought the heat, she also brought all the feels.

**Beta read**
Leeann Van Rensburg
Sep 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing
The Phoenix has risen.

This book was unputdownable.

I loved everything about this book, it was so refreshing to read about new characters.

West is your typical bad boy with a past he's trying to get Way from. He doesn't do commitments and doesn't make promises.
But that all comes crashing down around him when he meets Grace.

Grace shows strengths beyond her age and she won't fall for the notorious bad boy. That is until West shows her that she is worth it.

Leigh Shen has a way with words that brin
Siobhan Davis
Sep 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A beautiful, heart-warming story of two broken souls who find salvation in one another and a romance that is a testament to the powerful force of true love. Another epic masterpiece, written in Leigh's inimitable style, and a book I couldn't put down!

I think this is my new favorite book of Leigh's - I loved every single page!
Sep 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing
As soon as I got my ARC for Playing with fire , I started reading it and I read it straight forwardly. With her upcoming novel, LJ Shen delivers a wonderful and strong romance with powerful symbolism, with heroes with flaws and so who are far from being perfect and this story wil take your breath away. We can't wait to read the final straw.

I had such a gread reading moment. The mentioned issues are different from LJ Shen's previous romances but there is a common point : the strength hidden deep
PP's Bookshelf
Sep 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing
L.J. Shen decided to play with my heart in Playing With Fire. And I am surrendering without fight. Because there is no way to escape the lethal emotions in this small town romance. It was a breathtaking mix of intense feels. My heart has been taken over by this angsty, inspiring and unique romance. She wrote about some truly unique, inspiring and riveting things here.

I don't know what I expected after reading the blurb and seeing the cover. But I certainly didn't expect THIS KIND OF POWERFUL WRI
Weronika -  Little Steamy Reads
„I’ll walk through fire for you.”

In the moment when the prologue itself causes your heart to get stuck in your throat, you just know that you’re in for one helluva ride. And dear lord, did L.J. Shen delivered... Playing With Fire consumed me completely. I pulled all-nighter to read that angsty and unputdownble amazingness, there was just no way for me to stop and put it off for later. West and Grace’s story was totally incredible and I’m not even able to express how many emotions I felt duri
Sep 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing
***Available Now - Full Review***


Sometimes a book finds you when you don’t even know you needed. Sometimes the theme developed is something you needed to hear when the world feels like it weighs a ton on your shoulders. Playing with Fire by LJ Shen was the book I didn’t even know I needed.

Grace is a heroine unlike any who have come before her. The strength she has to endure, the evolution of her character, and the girl she is at the end are astounding. I was so proud of her and
Sharon Thérèse
Sep 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shen has delivered the unexpected and in my book, easily one of the best novels she has written so far. Putting her unique stamp on a trope I love, each of the protagonists’ emotional journeys is a tale in itself. And the title that conveys layers of meaning would consequently show its perfection. Among other things that grabbed my attention was the well-designed book cover, setting the tone to this gritty story.

Playing with Fire is nothing less than spectacular. I am very much a banter snob
Sep 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2020-read, 2020-arc
Playing With Fire is outstanding! I’ve read and loved many books by L.J. Shen and this was so different then what she’s written before. Simply incredible!

This book brings us two broken people going through the motions of college. Both West and Grace have been through fire and looking to rise from its ashes like a Phoenix. Grace with her flawed features and West with his broken promises come together as unlikely pair. They both shine mirrors into each others lives and it is a beautiful thing to r
Nikita Navalkar
Of flames, phoenixes, and pinky promises

Each time I think a particular trope won’t be my jam, Ms. Shen blows all my preconceptions out of the water with one of her stories. Whether it be biker bad boys or friends to lovers romances, this author can get me to read anything, and then love it more than I could imagine. Even when she ventures out of her comfort zone. Her stories often call to my ID, but Grace and West tugged at the deepest darkest reaches of my soul. And frankly, I wasn’t prepared.
...more ||Elizabeth||
Sep 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Playing With Fire was a brilliant story about overcoming your trauma, fears, vulnerabilities and pain. Rising from the ashes and coming back stronger than ever. This was a book I didn’t know I needed and was beyond powerful and inspiring.

“Because at the end of the day, we are all just phoenixes, rising from our own ashes, taking flight to an unknown destination, our wingtips forged by flames.”

I was completely enamored with Grace. This beautiful woman experienced trauma, pain, death, humiliation
Becky Rendon
Sep 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing
You will be burned!

I would love to feign surprise that LJ Shen made me cry but I'm not that good an actress. I am an emotional reader. I always have been. I have to assume in order to make a reader feel it, the author does too. I honestly don't know if LJ cries, throws tantrums/rages, or sits primly at her desk and types 9-5 until she is done and I don't want to. I want to believe that she felt every hurt, every tear, every lash of disappointment/heartache/painful memories  because that is how I
❥ KAT ❥ Kitty Kats Crazy About Books
'PLAYING WITH FIRE:' Is a full length stand-alone/slow-burn romance book by L.J. Shen. Spoken in 'Dual Perspectives.'

Where to even begin with this review..

Lately this author has been a bit hit and miss for me when compared to her earlier works which I loved wholeheartedly to recents which have been just ok for me. But I've still read what she's released.

With 'Playing with fire,' it's like she stripped this book down and given us what we'd all fallen in love with in the past because I s
Sep 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites

Before I give my review I have to say that I don't read small-town romances just because I have never been interested in them, but when I heard LJ was writing one I knew I had to give it a shot.

Playing with fire is such a sweet surprise. It is different, it is fresh, and it's the kind of love story that consumes you.

Grace Shaw, is this young girl whose life takes a 180 degrees turn after her ho
Lana ❇✾DG Romance❇✾
He was going to soar and burst like a supernova once he was out of this small Texas town, and I was going to remain the ashes he left behind—the stardust that slowly descended the earth in his wake.

You know what I love about LJ Shen? Her ability to create some of the most unique and memorable characters I've ever read. Starting with Sparrow, my first book of hers, to now, I can remember every minute detail of her books, and considering most days I can't remember what I had for breakf
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Fierce (Rosewood High, #4)
  • The Devil's Crown: Part 1
  • Seek
  • Driven (Driven, #1)
  • Torment (B.A.D. Inc., #1)
  • Rising West (Save Me #1)
  • The Fourth Time Charm (Fulton U, #4)
  • Fueled (Driven, #2)
  • After the Fall (The Fallen Men, #4)
  • Crashed (Driven, #3)
  • Reveal (Wicked Ways, #2)
  • House of Darken (Secret Keepers, #1)
  • Between Now and Always (Forever Trilogy, #3)
  • Baiting Him (How to Catch an Alpha #2)
  • Always Mine (Liam & Maddie, #1; Roommate Duet, #5)
  • The Harder You Fall (Rixon Raiders, #3)
  • Tell me to Fight
See similar books…
See top shelves…
L.J. Shen is USA Today and Washington Post bestselling author of contemporary romance books. She lives in California with her husband, son and lazy cat.
When she's not writing, she enjoys reading a good book with a glass of wine and catching up on her favorite HBO and Netflix shows.

Yeah, she's a badass like that.

Keep up with L.J. on all platforms:
Newsletter Sign up ➜

Related Articles

  Some people love books. Some people fall in love. And some people fall in love with books about falling in love. Every month our team...
61 likes · 6 comments
“the worst day of your life gave me the best version of you” 14 likes
“if you’re not scared, you’re not brave.” 10 likes
More quotes…