Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Date of publication: August 13th, 2019
Genre: Romance, Women’s Fiction
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.
Cassie is a hotshot firefighter in Austin, Texas. One of the only female firefighters in a progressive firehouse, Cassie is at the top of her game. Until the night of the awards ceremony, where she attacks the presenter. Given a choice of being fired or reassigned, Cassie takes the reassignment. She is reassigned to a fire station outside of Boston, where she will be taking care of her estranged mother. Cassie is in for a huge change when she joins the department. Underfunded, with inadequate facilities and ripe with sexism, Cassie has her work cut out for her. She also has her work cut out for her in her personal life too. What will happen to Cassie? Can she overcome the odds stacked against her? Will she be able to put the past behind her and move on?
I am going to start this review with a complaint. 95% of the book takes places in a fictitious town of Lillian, Massachusetts. Lillian is located south of Rockport/Gloucester. Which would put it in the Manchester-by-the-Sea/Ipswich area. That is not the Boston area. Boston is an hour drive from there. How do I know? I grew up in that area and lived there until 5 years ago. Where I grew up was 20 mins from Boston and Rockport is 20-30 mins from there. That is not the Boston area. That is considered the North Shore/Cape Anne area. So it irked me when I read that. It was the only thing that I didn’t care for in the book.
The primary plotline of Things You Save in a Fire is forgiveness and healing. When Cassie is introduced, she had shut herself off from everything. She didn’t trust because of events that happened 10 years earlier. Cassie despised her mother and had little to do with her. She didn’t have any close relationships outside of work. After the incident and moving to Rockport, I could see her walls coming down. She started to forgive her mother for leaving. She began to come to terms with her rape. Everything came to a head when Owen was injured in the fire, and DeStasio put the blame on her. That scene with DeStasio was one of the most heartbreaking scenes I have read in a while. The details she went into broke my heart in smithereens. But talking about it helped her heal. And in a way, helped her forgive.
I liked the storyline with the rookie and Cassie. I laughed at her first reaction to seeing him the first time. I felt awful about her panicking when she realized that she like liked him. I cried when she told him (in not so many words) what happened to her. I cheered when she decided to throw caution to the wind and pursue a relationship with him. I will say that I thought it was odd that Owen was only known as “the rookie” for about 75% of the book.
The other plotline that caught my attention was the relationship between Cassie and her mother. Cassie was traumatized by her mother leaving on her 16th birthday. In the 10 years since she left, she had little contact with her. I didn’t blame Cassie for flat out saying no to her when Diana called after the incident. But with her father intervening and being forced to transfer, she had to go. Cassie was forced to face her mother. She was forced to start caring. She was also forced to listen to why Diana left. What Cassie believed happened and what she found out is two different things. Towards the middle of the book, it was revealed why Diana wanted Cassie to come to Massachusetts. I didn’t blame Cassie for her reaction.
I loved that Cassie was a firefighter. There are very few female firefighters. The author did a fantastic job of portraying what Cassie had to do to make the men of the Lillian station respect her. She also did a great job of detailing the harassment that Cassie had to deal with.
I will say that I was surprised when I realized that Cassie was the firefighter from How to Walk Away. That one sentence made me go “No way” when I realized it was her.
The end of Things You Save in a Fire was sad and happy at the same time. I was thrilled that Owen and Cassie got their HEA. I loved Cassie’s mindset at the end of the book. I LOVED IT!!! She did get the best revenge.
I would give Things You Save in a Fire an Adult rating. There is sex (not graphic). There is language. There is mild violence. There are triggers. They would be parental abandonment, rape, cancer, and addiction. I would recommend that no one under the age of 21 read this book.
I would recommend Things You Save in a Fire. I would also recommend this book to family and friends.
I would like to thank the publisher, the author, and NetGalley for allowing me to read and review Things You Save in a Fire.
All opinions stated in this review of Things You Save in a Fire are mine.