Reece’s father hasn’t spoken to him since the car wreck that killed Reece’s brother. Desperate for forgiveness, Reece joins the Junior Cadet program at his dad’s firehouse. But the program is grueling, and Reece isn’t sure he can make it through. Then he meets Amanda.
Amanda understands wanting to belong. As a foster kid, the firehouse is the only place that feels like home. She agrees to help Reece, but falling for him wasn’t part of the deal. And when a string of arsons suddenly point to Amanda, their relationship could go up in flames.
Eh. This book contains many elements that I don’t like, but dammit, it was also just full of heart, and for that, I award it a rounded-up three stars.
Throughout the entire novel, emotions are running high, and things did get quite overdramatic/overexaggerated at times – so that when I finished the book, I felt physically exhausted. Of our two MCs, Reece is struggling at home after a car accident he caused that killed his brother, strained family relations even further and led to his father abandoning the family and his mother crying herself to sleep. Amanda, meanwhile, is a foster kid who is on her best behaviour for fear of being sent away from her current foster home, and struggles with the idea of love.
There is pretty much a random kiss that happens pretty much out of nowhere, and then INSTALOVE. Y’all know how I feel about that. Our two MCs are bandying the L word about after like a few weeks.
Also, Reece keeps staring at Amanda’s boobs. (Ha, this autocorrected to books.) This is mentioned many times. Basically obsessing about her body, from her eyes to well, everything.
Amanda is paranoid about breaking the no-boys rule that her foster-parents have set-down – she thinks she’ll be sent back to a group home if she puts a foot wrong. And this is her reason for not getting closer to Reece. It seems a bit extreme to me – surely she could just sit her parents down and be like “Let’s talk about this and see if we can reach a compromise”?
On the plus side:
-The fire-fighting aspect of the book was meticulously researched, and I found it really interesting to read about the different equipment, procedures, etc.
-I also enjoyed watching a rather stoic father having to overcome his own issues, and show love to his remaining son, which has been lacking for so much of Reece’s life. I won’t lie, there may have been tears running down my face when they finally hugged.
-The teamwork was great – the way the group slowly accepted Reece and helped him get to the level he needed to be at. I’m always a fan of teens working with each other instead of against each other, and this group had big hearts. Furthermore, as the only female on the team, Amanda more than holds her own, and it’s awesome to see her getting the recognition that she deserves, instead of what I expected – shaming about her being weak, etc.
ARC received from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.