Author: Katherine Center
Publication: St. Martin’s Press, hardcover, 2019
Setting: Present-day MassachusettsDescription: Cassie Hanwell is a firefighter who has fought for and earned the respect of her peers. Yet she has never forgotten the worst day of her life: her 16th birthday when her mother, Diana, walked out on the family. When Diana reaches out and tells Cassie she is ill and needs help, Cassie turns her down flat. But her father persuades Cassie that she was “raised to do the right thing. And she’s the one who raised you.” Soon a reluctant Cassie has secured a job with a fire department in a small town near Rockport, Massachusetts and moved into her mother’s attic. That’s the easy part – gaining acceptance from her new coworkers and forgiving her mother are the hard parts.
My Impression: The Massachusetts setting of this book appealed to me although I had not heard of the author, and I was rewarded with vivid characters and an enjoyable and unusual story. Cassie created a hard shell around herself after her mother left the family in Texas and moved to Massachusetts to build a new life with someone else. Other events on the night of Cassie’s 16th birthday have prevented her from dating or developing an emotional life, and all her energy has been devoted to proving herself to the over-testosteroned firefighters who are already skeptical of women in their firehouses.
When she reaches Massachusetts, she has to cope with a mother who is sicker than Cassie realized and wants friendship and forgiveness. The story might have become too mawkish for me but luckily Cassie’s mother is a determined and interesting character, and the reconciliation theme is offset by Cassie’s workplace troubles, where a rookie firefighter is the first man Cassie has fallen for as an adult. However, she knows that dating a fellow firefighter would be disastrous for her career so she is determined to ignore him. I really liked the fact that this book didn’t fall into a single category: it wasn’t chick-lit; it wasn’t all about losing a parent; it wasn’t a romance, although there were some romantic moments; and there was even a little mystery going on. Owen, the rookie firefighter, is too good to be true but fun to read about.20 Books of Summer. Center is a New York Times bestselling author. Have you read any of her books?
Source: Advance reading copy from the publisher.