REVIEW: Code of Honor by Kathryn Shay
We choose this book for our Dear Author bundle on the basis of a couple of things. First, the writing was good; but second, because it featured a female firefighter and part of the conflict is dependent on the issue of integrating a woman into a traditionally male workforce, one that depends largely upon trust and teamwork.
I knew it was stupid to get involved with a firefighter. Half the world thinks females in the department are lesbians, and the other half thinks we sleep with the crew. But he was so nice at first. So funny and fun loving.
Chelsea Whitmore is transferred to Rockford Fire Department Quint/Midi 12 station under the lieutanancy of Jack Scarlatta. Jack isn’t pleased because Chelsea is being transferred because a firefighter she dated and broke up with endangered himself and the crew in an effort to get back at Chelsea. In other words, she is tainted because the blame is placed on her for her ex boyfriend losing his mind. The unfairness of the situation not only grates on Chelsea but makes her wary of the other firefighters.
Jack just wants to run a tight ship. He is well respected by his team. He treats Chelsea with respect and generally, they follow his lead. But the integration only works because Chelsea is an exceptional firefighter. She is also not a delicate flower. She bench presses 200 pounds and weighs, as Chelsea puts it, “but weighed what most women would consider too much.” They both suffer from insomnia and in those late night hours they start talking and start falling in love.
I thought the firehouse scenes were great. They showed the way in which the firefighters were really a big family, eating and sleeping together. They also showed how awkward it could be for a woman, from the lack of privacy to what jokes could be told.
Actually, I am jealous," Mick confessed when Diaz let him go. "I wish like hell Andrea’d have another kid."
Diaz joked, "Yeah, well, if you need instruction on how to get your peck-‘" He swallowed the rest of the word; everyone stilled.
Here it comes, Chelsea thought. The watch-every-word-they-say syndrome. In the past, she’d put her fellow firefighters at ease with some ice-breaker comment-‘like she knew all the words for the male anatomy and could teach them some-‘but no more.
Chelsea is strong and capable but just when her team is beginning to trust her, rely on her and truly respect her, her competency starts getting called into question. The pilot light is left on at the station house, an oxygen tank is depleted, she falls asleep when she’s on watch. The reader knows that all these things are the work of a sabateur, but cause Chelsea’s team, particularly Jake to wonder what is going on.
In part the story challenges which bonds are stronger: the “male bond” as Chelsea calls it or the bond between two lovers. There are external conflicts such as Jake having to stand up for Chelsea against his brothers and suffer the same kind of emotional banishment as Chelsea and there were internal conflicts such as Chelsea being able to come to terms with the idea that this man could elevate her over the brotherhood.
There are flaws in the story and primarily it is the overt way in which the villain is painted. He even refers to himself as Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. While the intention, I believe, is to add a layer of suspense to the story, the obviousness made me hear echos of Dr. Evil’s laugh while reading the short passages given over to the villain’s point of view.
This book is clearly part of a larger series, but in a short space is able to convey the concept of nurtured families such as the firehouse family or the unspoken ones like the relationship Jake has with his former best friend’s teenaged son. It also challenges the concept of betrayal such as Jake and Chelsea’s purported betrayal of the “Code of Honor” amongst the firefighters. Jake and Chelsea’s descent (or climb) from wary co workers to friends to passionate lovers is a treat to read. B
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