Buddy Read: Things You Save in a Fire by Katherine Center
Things You Save in a Fire by Katherine Center
Genre: General Fiction / Romance
Published 2019, 310 pages
I generally don't read romance stories - the plots always seem too predictable to me. For some reason the blurb on this one caught my eye - maybe that the female lead is a firefighter. It was both just what I expected and yet surprised me.
In a somewhat typical plot, a badass, damaged woman meets hot, super-nice guy, resists the attraction, gives in to attraction, falls in love, disaster strikes. What surprised me is that the story is also, and maybe more strongly, about forgiveness - forgiving yourself as well as those that have hurt you.
"Firefighters are, on average, very funny people. All the sorrow you absorb in that job makes you funnier. You have to balance out the pain somehow, and joking around is one of the best things about the job. There's so much death in that world, but laughter is life."
Cassie is a physically and mentally tough firefighter that is forced to leave Texas and return to Boston to take care of her estranged mom. I liked how Center handled the emotional walls Cassie spent 10 years building gradually started to crumble; very believable.
The defining event in Cassie's past is handled well and not graphically but there's no doubt about what happened. It's interesting to see how that event and her relationship with her mom formed her and how she gradually changes throughout the story, almost in spite of herself.
"Yes the world is full of unspeakable cruelty. But the answer wasn't to never feel hope, or bliss, or love - but to savor every fleeting, precious second of those feelings when they came. The answer wasn't to never love anyone. It was to love like crazy whenever you could."
Ultimately it was the light read I expected, but with some heavier themes to accompany the fluffy romance, and that surprised me.
As romances go, Things You Save in a Fire was pretty good, especially because in general I’m not a fan of the genre. It wasn’t too heavy on the romance, and there were no explicit scenes, or anything too mushy. The main focus was on Cassie’s relationship with her ill mother, with the good-looking rookie fireman (Owen), and with the other firefighters she worked with. As a medic, Cassie trained Owen and when he can’t get the needle in her arm in the right place, she says:
“The thing about blood is, you can’t overthink it. If you really focus on how odd it is to stick a metal tube into another human being’s vein, it will freak you out. The trick to doing anything well in medicine is to get so familiar with it that it doesn’t seem strange anymore.”
Cassie’s a loner – she doesn’t date, she has no friends, she keeps to herself. “In general, I didn’t let people touch me because it stressed me out to be touched.” But, the rookie had the opposite effect. When the rookie was practicing hooking her up to do an EKG. “It was so good, it was bad. It was so wonderful, it was terrifying. It was so delicious, it was awful.”
Gradually Cassie opens up to those around her. When she moves in with her estranged mother it changes their relationship, even though initially Cassie resists. All the men in the firehouse doubted she would be any good so she had to work harder than they did so she could prove she belongs - and gradually she wins over them over and changes their preconceived ideas about female firefighters. And yes, like she slowly won over the firefighters, the rookie breaks down her resistance and wins her over.
This isn’t a book with any surprises; you can pretty much guess how things are going to end up, but I didn’t mind that. At times it was a breezy read, at times quite serious – a bit of everything.
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