This was my first book by Katherine Center, and I’m glad I took a chance on THINGS YOU SAVE IN A FIRE. I thoroughly enjoyed Ms. Center’s voice as an author. The story follows Cassie, a young and tough firefighter whose life is slowly cracking down the middle. It starts with a disaster at an awards ceremony and continues when her estranged mother calls. She asks Cassie to uproot her life in Austin, Texas and move to a small coastal town in Massachusetts.
This book was definitely more women’s fiction than straight romance, but there is a strong love story in the second half of the book. I enjoyed following Cassie’s personal journey to forgiveness and self-discovery. The way she slowly comes to accept personal relationships with not just her mother, but many people in her life was beautiful and incredibly fulfilling to read about.
What I appreciated the most is that even when Cassie was making mistakes, falling down, or falling apart, I was always firmly on her side. She had a hard shell around her feelings, and watching her blossom into a happier and more emotional person was incredible. Ms. Center wrote her transformation in a smart and nuanced way that felt authentic. She did an excellent job of slowly letting the reader find out about Cassie’s traumatic past. She had me glued to my kindle.
I did think this whole book walked the thin line between “heartwarming” and “corny” and sometimes, especially towards the end of the book, started leaning corny. I didn’t think the story needed as many dramatic elements as it had. A stalker/villain, hidden romance, illness, professional problems, and Cassie dealing with her tumultuous past all became a little too much by the end.
Instead of focusing so much on the villain, which made me roll my eyes, I wish we could have seen a little more of Cassie healing emotionally. I think this was especially needed in regards to her relationship with her mother. It just seemed like a switch flipped and she was suddenly okay talking to a mother she had been so angry at, for so long. I also felt that the timeline got jumbled at time. I wasn’t always sure how much time had passed between chapters or moments, even.
Overall, this book is perfect for fans of Robyn Carr and RaeAnne Thayne. It was heartwarming, emotional, and an overall delightful read.
**I received an ARC of this book in order to provide an honest review**