I’ve been on a Katherine Center kick lately with this being the third book I’ve read by her in the last two and a half months. Center’s writing is so easy and enjoyable to me. I guess that’s why her novels are considered “comfort reads.”
In this novel, main character Cassie Hanwell is a firefighter living in Texas who moves to Boston to help out her ailing, estranged mother. While living in a new town under the same roof as her mom, Cassie is forced to deal with the emotional baggage she’s been lugging around since her mother left her and her father more than a decade earlier. Not to mention, she works at a new firehouse with all male coworkers who aren’t too happy to have a woman in their midst — except for one fireman who is new, too.
My Verdict: “Things You Save in a Fire” by Katherine Center is Worth Reading (4 Stars)
For the most part, I really liked Cassie as a character. She is strong-willed, fiercely independent, and puts her male coworkers to shame with her one-handed pull-ups. The reason I’m giving this book 4 stars instead of 5 is because I didn’t like Cassie’s personality as much. She came across as a bit too cocky and too people-pleasing all at once, which was a bit annoying at times. Throughout the entire book, she constantly seeks the approval of the other firemen and tries her best to be as unfeminine as possible to avoid getting unwanted attention from them. And, of course, dating one of them would be totally out of the question. But in Katherine Center fashion, the rookie steals Cassie’s heart with his easygoing attitude and his love of baking. For nearly half the book, he is only referred to as “the rookie,” but we eventually learn his name is Owen.
I really liked Owen as a character and love interest. Center describes him as having a Boston accent; being the most in-shape out of the other firemen; and he’s always kind even when the other firefighters haze him in very inconvenient ways. He never gets upset or worries about much. I can’t remember much about his physical features other than him being in shape, but he must have been handsome since Cassie immediately feels attraction for him the minute she sees his face. Although it is one of those “I’ve loved you since the moment I saw you” types of romances, Cassie makes every attempt to avoid Owen as much as possible. And, other than being nice, Owen doesn’t express interest in Cassie until he asks her for a favor, which turns out to be a sort-of date.
I love romances that start off as friends (or coworkers in this case). I think it’s especially important to have books with romances where the characters have a mutual respect for one another, and that the male love interest does not immediately pursue the woman. I could really harp on this, but I can’t stand reading books where the man is just so overly dominant and disrespectful. Anyway, I think that’s why I liked Owen a lot. He’s kind and respectful towards Cassie and extremely patient.
About halfway through the book, a new conflict arises just when Cassie is starting to get used to her new life in Boston. Someone tries to intimidate her at work and at her mother’s home. Towards the end of the book, we learn that Cassie went through even more trauma after her mother left, which is the main reason why she puts on such a tough exterior towards everyone.
The moral of the story is based on forgiveness. Cassie must forgive her mother for leaving, and her mother has some specific reasons for doing so. Cassie also has to forgive the person trying to intimidate her, and she has to find a way to move on past the traumatic event that left her scarred both physically and emotionally.
This book is disguised as chicklit, but it does have some heavy, emotional themes, which added more depth to the story and the characters. I really appreciate how Center can draw attention to real-life issues without making light of them.
One fun tidbit about the book is that Center ties in this novel with “How to Walk Away.” Cassie is the firefighter who helps How to Walk Away’s main character Margaret after a plane crash. This reminds me of my favorite YA author Sarah Dessen, who often ties her books together with characters meeting briefly.
If you’ve read this book, let me know how you liked it! If you haven’t read this one, similar books are “The Husband Hour” by Jamie Brenner, “The Recipe Box” by Viola Shipman, or “The Summer Sail” by Wendy Francis. Also, be sure to check out my other book review for Katherine Center’s “What You Wish For.” I really enjoyed that book, too!
As always, thanks for reading! I really appreciate you!