Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Fiction Review: Things You Save in a Fire

All last year, I kept hearing rave reviews of the novel Things You Save in a Fire by Katherine Center, so I chose it for my First Audio Book of the New Year. That was an excellent decision because this unique story about a female firefighter is engrossing, suspenseful, and poignant.

Twenty-something Cassie is one of San Antonio's few female firefighters and a trained paramedic. She loves the thrill of the job and the adrenaline rush, being able to help people and make a difference in their lives, and how all-consuming her career is. She fills her limited spare time with teaching self-defense, volunteering, and helping her dad build an addition on his house. And she does not date, ever. After a violent and embarrassing incident the night she's given a special award for valor, Cassie is in danger of losing the job that defines her. Instead, she bargains with her captain and makes a deal. Her estranged mother recently called, begging Cassie to come to Boston to help her through a medical problem for a year. Cassie was completely against the idea, still hurt by her mother's leaving her and her dad when Cassie was just 16, but now it seems like a solution that will allow Cassie to keep doing what she loves.

So, she moves to a small town north of Boston and joins a very traditional firehouse that has never even seen a female firefighter. They insist on calling her a "lady," curtail swearing and joking in her presence, and generally underestimate her. The only thing that makes the job halfway tolerable is the new rookie who started at the same time, mostly known by all as simply The Rookie. He is kind and friendly toward her and also very handsome. Cassie finds herself attracted to him, but she doesn't date ... and she certainly doesn't date firefighters. That would make her colleagues think even less of her. There are plenty of surprises in store for Cassie, though, in her new life and new job, things that will test her resolve and shatter her carefully controlled life.

I was fascinated to learn all the details of a female firefighter's life, and Cassie is a likable--if damaged--character. When the handsome rookie was first mentioned, I admit I kind of groaned to myself because I don't normally read romances, but this novel does not fit neatly into a single genre. It deals with some very serious and challenging issues, life and death situations, and focuses mainly on how a person overcomes trauma. It's about the long, twisted road to healing and is filled with emotional complexity. The audio book was especially engaging, and I was always eager to pop in my earbuds and listen to a few more minutes of Cassie's compelling story. This original novel has it all: excitement, suspense, family drama, overcoming adversity, and yes, romance, too.

320 pages, St. Martin's Press
Macmillan Audio

Disclosure: I received this book from the publisher in return for an honest review. My review is my own opinion and is not influenced by my relationship with the publisher or author.

Note: This post contains affiliate links. Purchases from these links provide a small commission to me (pennies per purchase), to help offset the time I spend writing for this blog, at no extra cost to you.

Listen to a sample of the excellent audio book, narrated by Therese Plummer, here and/or download it from Audible.

You can purchase Things You Save in a Fire from an independent bookstore, either locally or online, here:
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Or you can order Things You Save in a Fire from Book Depository, with free shipping worldwide.


  1. I enjoyed this too, thanks for sharing your thoughts

  2. I do like the sound of this. Thanks!

  3. I also really enjoyed this one and agree that the romance doesn't override the rest of the story, which is so interesting.