Book Review: THINGS YOU SAVE IN A FIRE, an uplifting and entertaining romance

Happy Publication Day to Things You Save in a Fire!

Austin firefighter Cassie Hanwell can outperform her colleagues physically and mentally, and she’s tapped for a leadership track until one disastrous evening derails her career. Cassie moves from her progressive fire department to a small, Massachusetts station where her male colleagues are resentful of the changes the first female hire will bring to the department.

Cassie moves in with her estranged mother who requested her help due to health problems. Her mother, Diana, left Austin for another man on Cassie’s sixteenth birthday, and since then, Cassie has been angry and resentful. Diana and her next-door neighbor, Josie, a crochet club of two, are highlights of the book injecting both wisdom, compassion, and humor.

I was first attracted to this book because I loved the title, Things You Save in the Fire, and the description appealed to me. After reading just a few pages, I realized this was a book I would never normally read. Rather than “women’s literature,” I would position this more firmly centered in the romance genre. What happens is fairly obvious from the beginning, but how it will happen is not at all clear, and that question made me invested in the book in ways that surprised me. I really wanted to know how Cassie navigated her new life in Massachusetts and achieved the ending she wanted (even if she didn’t know she wanted it), and that kept me reading compulsively.

Threading through the plot is theme of forgiveness and connection, and while I value both and laud their inclusion in the book, I did feel that the message was overlaid in a too obvious way and would have been more successful if integrated in a subtle manner. Additionally, though the characters certainly endured obstacles and setbacks, overall things worked out easily for them, which gave the book a whiff of a too-good-to-be-true fairy tale.

While I didn’t always like the writing style of Things You Save in a Fire, I still found it thoroughly and unexpectedly entertaining and heartwarming. Readers who want a quick, uplifting stultifying romance should turn to this book.

Thanks to St. Martin’s Press for an advance reading copy of this book!