Published by St. Martin's Press on August 13, 2019
Genres: Romance, Women's Fiction
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FTC Disclosure: I received this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
THINGS YOU SAVE IN A FIRE Review
Katherine Center’s Things You Save in a Fire is a heartfelt, engaging story about family, love, and the power of forgiveness. It follows Cassie Hanwell, a young woman who unexpectedly has to uproot her life and relocate from Texas to Boston to take care of her ailing mother. Cassie is a superstar firefighter at her precinct in Texas, but it’s a whole new ballgame when she has to start over in another city. Then there’s also the fact that Cassie’s mother abandoned her when she was 16 and Cassie has pretty much written her off ever since. Moving in with her after all these years is awkward, to say the least.
I’m just going to throw it out there right now and say that Things You Save in a Fire was a 5 star read for me. It’s just one of those wonderful books that checks off all the boxes I look for in a read. The writing is excellent, the characters are well developed – both the main characters and the secondary characters, and Cassie’s journey is such a compelling one to follow on every level.
I really adored Cassie from the moment we are introduced to her. Cassie, a female firefighter trying to make it in what is traditionally a male-dominated profession, is impossible not to root for. She’s one of those messy, complex characters that I love so much. She’s scrappy, smart, strong, and she’s very good at what she does – the best honestly, and she knows she has to be if she’s going to be taken seriously. While she’s calm, cool, and collected when it comes to putting out fires and saving lives, she’s the opposite when it comes to all areas of her personal life, especially her rocky relationship with her mother and her non-existent love life. Cassie has made a conscious choice not to date and not to fall in love. She doesn’t have the time or interest in doing either…until she meets the Rookie.
Don’t even get me started on how precious the Rookie is. He’s adorable, like a Golden Retriever in a firefighter’s uniform. He’s sweet, polite, and he even bakes a mean chocolate chip cookie. He’s practically perfect in every way that matters and Cassie is finding him pretty hard to resist in spite of her no dating rule. But it’s not all sunshine and roses for the Rookie either. He has a few messy layers too, in the form of a secret he has carried around since he was a child that weighs him down, a secret that could potentially crush his father if he were to ever find out.
Aside from really enjoying reading about Cassie and the Rookie individually, I was of course rooting for them to get together. They were hired at the firehouse on the same day and their chemistry was immediately off the charts. The more time they spent together, whether it was being tied to a flagpole all night as part of a hazing prank or sharing a late-night omelet (of course cooked to perfection by the Rookie), the more I wanted to scream at Cassie to abandon her no dating rule.
What I loved the most about Things You Save in a Fire is how multi-layered the story was and how every aspect of it was equally compelling. Aside from loving the Cassie/Rookie relationship as it developed, I also enjoyed reading about the firefighting aspect of it – all of it, the pranks, the actual fighting of fires, the EMT training, and of course how the all male dynamic evolves once they have a woman in their midst. It was all quite fascinating to read about. I’m also all about a story that features a complicated family dynamic and that is exactly what I got with Cassie agreeing to move in with her ailing but estranged mother.
As fantastic as all of these elements were though, the themes of Things You Save in a Fire are what really captured my heart. Yes, it’s a story about a woman making it in a man’s world, but it’s also an incredibly moving story about family and the power of forgiveness. And finally, and most importantly, it’s a story about strength and finding the courage to let love into your heart.
From the New York Times bestselling author of How to Walk Away comes a stunning new novel about family, hope, and learning to love against all odds.
Cassie Hanwell was born for emergencies. As one of the only female firefighters in her Texas firehouse, she’s seen her fair share of them, and she’s excellent at dealing with other people’s tragedies. But when her estranged and ailing mother asks her to uproot her life and move to Boston, it’s an emergency of a kind Cassie never anticipated.
The tough, old-school Boston firehouse is as different from Cassie’s old job as it could possibly be. Hazing, a lack of funding, and poor facilities mean that the firemen aren’t exactly thrilled to have a “lady” on the crew, even one as competent and smart as Cassie. Except for the handsome rookie, who doesn’t seem to mind having Cassie around. But she can’t think about that. Because she doesn’t fall in love. And because of the advice her old captain gave her: don’t date firefighters. Cassie can feel her resolve slipping…but will she jeopardize her place in a career where she’s worked so hard to be taken seriously?
Katherine Center’s Things You Save in a Fire is a heartfelt, affecting novel about life, love, and the true meaning of courage.