by Kathryn Shay

November 2003
ISBN: 0-425-19304-7
Reviewer Graphic Button Berkley
Mass Market Paperback

During a horrible warehouse fire, the lives of ten firemen are lost, weighing heavily on those that are left, including three siblings – all firefighters themselves.

Captain Mitch Malvaso and sister Jenny both fought that fire, anxiously waiting the fate of their younger brother Zach, fearing him dead and greatly relieved when he was brought out seriously injured, but alive. Because of this horrible tragedy, all three vow to change their lives for the better.

Mitch is an unhappy marriage to a self-centered wife; they have two children who are desperate for attention and rebelling any way they can. Mitch vows to spend more time with them and help them, while trying to make his marriage work. In the meantime, he meets new-in-town Detective Megan Hale. Megan has come to Hidden Cove because of the loss of her father, a policeman gunned down in the line of duty. Her father had lakefront property near Hidden Cove that Megan wants to use to build a camp for children of firefighters and policemen. It’s a project that appeals strongly to Mitch and he works closely with Megan to make the camp a reality. All the while, strong feelings are developing between Megan and Mitch, feelings that neither one really wants to feel since Mitch really wants to salvage his marriage, and Megan has no interest in being “the other woman”.

Jenny Malvaso is a tough woman, with two failed marriages behind her. Firefighting is in her blood, but lately she wants more; more than anything, Jenny wants a baby. And she’s decided that the best candidate for a “donor” is her best friend, fellow firefighter Grady O’Connor. But Grady doesn’t want to take the easy way out; he wants to be a real father to Jenny’s baby, in spite of the emotional baggage that he is carrying from his past. The love and camaraderie that Jenny and Grady have for each other is the best part of the book for me. I found myself pulling for them every step of the way as they draw closer and help each other through some soul-searching incidents.

Zach always wants to mend his ways. He’s always been the errant philanderer, the “good-time Charlie” of the family and that’s took such a toll on his marriage that it ended two years ago. Zach wants so much to prove to his ex-wife that he’s changed and ready to be a real husband and father, but she has moved on and can’t find it within herself to trust him, even though she bears him no ill will.

There is so much going on in After the Fire that is it sometimes hard to keep up. There are lots of characters, most of them family members, and Kathryn Shay does an excellent job of making you care about every one of them. She endears them to you with all of their flaws and foibles. Luckily, this is the first of her firefighting trilogy because there is still much to be resolved with this family. The second book comes out in July 2004 and I have it on my wish list so that I can find out what happens. I care very much about Jenny and Grady and feel that Megan and Mitch will probably draw closer together also. And I’m sure that Zach has much more in store for him. I think we all have a new appreciation of firefighters and the police department after 9/ll and this book will give you fresh insight to the trials and tribulations faced by them everyday

Reviewed in July 2004 by Vivian.

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