⇒RELEASE DAY REVIEW! Sometimes the biggest life changes can turn out to be the very best.⇐
**Many thanks to NetGalley, St. Martin’s Press, and the author for the opportunity to read a free ARC of this book in exchange for my honest review.
Author: Katherine Center
(4.33 stars – Goodreads rating)
Genre: Fiction / Romance
Publication Date: August 13, 2019, by St. Martin’s Press
Pages: 320 (Kindle version)
It’s a strange thing to know about yourself, but there it is: I’m at my very best when things are at their very worst.
For many, it’s a guilty pleasure. For me, I feel no guilt. I love them and I’m not ashamed. I sit for hours and just enjoy them back to back to back. No, I’m not talking about Thin Mints – although those are utterly delicious and addictive. I’m talking about – drumroll please – … Hallmark movies.
Yes! Hallmark movies! They are romantic; sometimes sickeningly so, but I love them. I love the general idea of them. The heartfelt optimism of them. The knowledge that no matter what goes wrong in the beginning and the middle, in the end, two very attractive people will end up together. That is the feeling I got while reading Things You Save in a Fire. Here’s the blurb:
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?
Choosing to love—despite all the ways that people let you down, and disappear, and break your heart. Knowing everything we know about how hard life is and choosing to love, anyway.. That’s not weakness, that’s courage.
This book combines everything recognizable and lovable about Hallmark movies and puts it in book form. A sudden upheaval (usually involving a change of career and/or location), an ailing or deceased close relative, an awkward or taboo relationship, and a life-altering choice that must be made within a limited amount of time. Add those tried and true ingredients to a serious crisis that threatens all newly discovered happiness and you have the formula for a truly engaging love story / story of strength, redemption, and forgiveness.
Many may read this and imagine that I am being facetious. Trust that I am not. In this current climate of gloom, doom, and general negativity, the positivity and uplifting messages found in Katherine Center’s writing are like breaths of fresh air. I felt that way while reading How to Walk Away and even more so with this new release.
It’s amazing how brave you can be when you feel safe.
More things to like about this novel: It has a strong female lead. I mean genuinely strong. Like still cries when she’s emotional, but is strong emotionally and physically. Cassie is realistic with flaws and judgment, but she grows and she is teachable. I appreciated characters who don’t automatically have everything all figured out, but they put the work in the make their lives work.
Yeah, there’s a bit of insta-love here (usually that’s a big deal-breaker for me), but here it’s kind of expected (“The lady doth protest too much, methinks”) and necessary to kick the story into second gear. All-in-all, this was a cozy summer read that left me feeling all the feels and genuinely happy that I read it. And, yes, I will gladly pick up Katherine Center’s next release.
Katherine lives in her hometown of Houston, Texas, with her fun husband, two sweet kids, and fluffy-but-fierce dog.