REVIEW: The Firefighter’s Vow by Amie Denman
To love and protect… sometimes means letting go.
After her brother dies bravely battling a forest fire Laura Wheeler is left devastated. Becoming a Cape Pursuit volunteer firefighter seems like the perfect opportunity to take back control of her life. If only fire chief Tony Ruggles wasn’t so reluctant to train her. She doesn’t see the battle going on in his head – How can he train her to risk her life when he wants to protect her at all costs?
Dear Ms. Denman,
I was excited to see a follow up to “In Love with a Firefighter.” And it didn’t even take a kitten on the cover to get me to buy it. Laura Wheeler still has demons to face down in her grief and guilt over the death of her younger brother who volunteered to fight forest fires and lost his life. Unlike her sister Nicole, Laura is tackling those in a different way.
Needing a change of scenery, Laura has come to work the summer as well as help her sister finalize the plans for Nicole’s wedding. Laura hasn’t been in town long before she helps save two swimmers at the beach and realizes the truth that helping others is a way to also help yourself. An epiphany hits her when she learns that the local fire department is having a class to train volunteer firefighters. Doing this will not only help her regain control of an area of her life that has felt out of control but also help her face what happened to her brother.
Tony Ruggles isn’t sure what is motivating Laura but he does know her family history as her sister is marrying his firefighter cousin. Tony tries to treat Laura like any of the other seven volunteers and likes the fact that as a teacher, she’s helping the other students study. Laura is one of the first to volunteer in class and never shirks any assignment. Firefighting has always been in Tony’s blood and he knows how important – and also how painful at times – it is. He wonders if Laura will be able to handle things if something goes wrong. As she wrestles with her future, Laura also wonders if she can do this and for whom is she doing it? Herself, her brother, or to prove something to Tony.
This is a hard book for me to grade. The romance is very low key but not because Laura and Tony aren’t aware they have feelings for each other. They do know but each puts those feelings aside for various reasons. Since Laura initially isn’t sure where she’ll be after the summer there’s the possibility of an end date for whatever type of relationship they might develop whether friendship, work colleagues or anything else.
Then Tony has to be careful not to treat her differently while Laura is also aware of the fact that he’s the station chief. She doesn’t want to be that woman who mixes work and romance. Laura is also fighting her inner demons over the loss of her brother and trying to bring her sister on-board with her volunteering. If this is mentioned once per chapter it’s mentioned two or three times. Frankly, I got bored with the repetition.
The firefighting stuff was what I found most interesting. We get an in-depth view of how volunteers are trained – the book work, the hose management, the turnout gear, how the big trucks are handled and finally the simulated house fire maze that they must face and conquer to complete their training. I almost sighed with relief when the story would turn to this and not another scene of Laura agonizing over whether she was doing this for herself or her brother or watching Tony manfully put aside his feelings so as not to play favorites. Then I’d recall that this is supposed to be a romance and wonder when I’d see any.
I appreciate the inner battle that Laura faced and won. I really like that she’s finally aware of why she wants to do this and has reached some peace in her life. Tony also works through his feelings and comes through on the other side. But it was a slog through parts of the book to get there and I never felt the romance matched the firefighting. C+