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Playing with Fire (Sweet Valley High, No 3) Mass Market Paperback – September 1, 1984
"Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress"
Is the world really falling apart? Is the ideal of progress obsolete? Cognitive scientist and public intellectual Steven Pinker urges us to step back from the gory headlines and prophecies of doom, and instead, follow the data: In seventy-five jaw-dropping graphs, Pinker shows that life, health, prosperity, safety, peace, knowledge, and happiness are on the rise. Learn more
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From the Inside Flap
the 13th casts its spell on a man and a woman, only the most deliciously unpredictable and passionate results follow!
A warrior risen from the ashes to claim her heart...
Haunted by an age-old secret hidden deeper than a dream, Maggie St. John couldn't brush aside the finger of suspicion Beau Grayson pointed her way. He sensed she knew more about the hospital blaze than she'd told him, but the heat kindled by her gaze was a perilous distraction. Would the arson investigator determined to find the truth in her smoky past fulfill his destiny with the one woman who'd already ignited his desire?
Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
Maggie had the foolish notion that as long as he held her, she'd be safe. She had never had safe. She had control. Or she would have as soon as she pulled herself together, repaired the damage.
"I'm fine...now," she whispered to the top button of Beau's shirt.
Beau barely heard her whisper, but the quiet words etched themselves on his heart all the same. He knew her eyes would write her need on his soul, but he tucked a finger under her chin and lifted her face to his anyway.
"Is it so terrible?" he asked softly, the backs of his fingers trailing along her neck.
She swallowed. "Wh-what?"
"Being this close to the enemy."
"Good. I'm glad." His gaze lingered on her soft, open mouth. "I don't kiss women who think I'm the bad guy."
Beau waited for his words to sink in, waited for Maggie to pull away. When she didn't, he lowered his lips to hers.
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What these books are (I've read 1, 3 and 4) is an updated version of the original series. If you are expecting new storylines, you have come to the wrong place. But Bruce now drives a Caddy instead of a Porsche (I think it is a Caddy), the twins are a size 4 instead of a 6, the Oracle is now a website rather than a newspaper.
I believe that this reboot is for people like me. Those who look back fondly upon SVH (though fully recognizing it's flaws) and want to revist the world in a slightly different way. Though I admit that the original was much more campy and wholesome, while the reboot takes on a snarky and meaner tone.
I have to keep in mind that these books are written in the '80s and fat-shaming sadly still occurs. But, what bothers me is that even the "good" guys that we want to feel bad for are guilty of fat-shaming. I mean, geez! Jessica treats Winston like a doormat. So, you would think that he would be more understanding of others. Yet, when goody-two-shoes-Elizabeth decides to fix him up with a sweet girl like Robin, he makes the comment, “But Robin ...well, she’s OK. We really don’t have much in common, though. I get nervous around people who eat all the time.”
Okay, back to feeling sorry for Jessica. I really wanted to feel sorry for her. No one deserves to be in an abusive relationship and let's just face it, Bruce is a patronizing creep. But when Jessica's doing things like ditching her date to go somewhere with Bruce and calling her "friend" Robin a tubby and musing that Robin would be kind of pretty if she lost weight, I really just want to slug Jessica.
Overall, I think these books explore themes still relevant to today's youth. Kids still bully others. People are still body-shamed. But, I think that there has been an overall shift in how authors approach these matters. Typically you will see an effort from the author to show how wrong these things are. This is the one fundamental flaw with the SVH series so far. I hope to see some improvements as the series continues.
What I rate this book now: 3 stars
What I would have rated this book in 1995: 4. The insinuation that Bruce and Jessica were doing a little something more than making out would have bothered me. I was a goody-goody when I was 13. I would have loved Jessica's revenge on Bruce though.
The plot is boring, the characters are unlikable for the most part, and the attempt at writing teen slang is silly and off-putting. We are meant to root for Jessica, a bratty, flirty 16-year-old, as she finally lands wealthy Bruce Patman as a boyfriend. Since they are both equally superficial and egotistical, it ought to be a match made in heaven. But Bruce is picky about his girlfriends: they can't beat him at tennis, they have to cater to all his whims, and they can't be on the cheerleading squad. (A high school senior who doesn't want to date a cheerleader? Shockingly, yes.) Jessica tries to appease him, but her twin Elizabeth is worried that she's sacrificing too much of herself. Well, since we see Jessica being mean to others and generally being snobby, before AND during dating Bruce, I don't see how exactly Jessica ever really changed.
One thing I really disliked was Jessica's attitude towards new girl Robin, whom she pretends to be friendly with only when it serves her interest. Robin, you see, is larger than a size 4 (how much larger? I guess it's up to the reader), and Jessica's thoughts on Robin's body shape are nasty and almost hateful. Again, there is nothing to like about Jessica's character, so it's hard to wish her a happy ending.
Or has Bruce gotten his hooks into Jessica? Elizabeth, Jessica's twin, notices a big change in her sister. Suddenly Jessica's dropping everything just to spend time with Bruce.
Elizabeth doesn't trust Bruce one bit --- he's arrogant, demanding, and way too fast. Jessica can usually hold her own with any guy, but this time Elizabeth is afraid her sister may be going too far...
Winston is still starry eyed in love with Jessica. Robin, on the other hand, has a big crush on Winston and begins to wonder if he has eyes only for Jessica.
Meanwhile, the band The Droids start playing at a local club in town and have a new manager. Can they make the big time?
Stay tuned for more drama.