Saturday, July 18, 2015

Refining Fire by Tracie Peterson

I enjoyed this historical novel, about Seattle in 1889. We again enter into the activities at the Madison Bridal School.

This novel centers on Militine. She has found a refuge in the school, a place that allows her to hide her unsavory past. She really has no intention of marrying as she is sure no man would have her. But when Thane, a trusted escort for the bridal school women, begins to share his own past, Militine realizes she may have found someone with whom she can share her pain.

Abrianna is at the bridal school as a ward of her aunts, owners of the school. She is a fiery young woman. When questioned as to why she didn't trust the elders and deacons to find a new pastor, she says, “I don't put my trust in men... That is reserved for God alone.” And when she does come to discuss matters with the new pastor, he ends up being befuddled. He'd faced off with life long theologians and had never felt this way. I really liked that Abrianna!

Besides being a good romance, this novel has some very interesting aspects to it. The pastor of the church had recently died and there is quite a discussion about the qualities the new pastor should have. I kept thinking as I read that, my, how times have changed.

The new pastor turns out to be a rather ornery man. His attitude toward women was terrible. Reading his thoughts made me glad I was born at a time when enterprising women are accepted. The pastor's comments on many topics give rise to discussions among church members about whether one should leave a church or fight for it.

Another interesting section in the book was about the volunteer fire department of Seattle at the time. For example, when the fire alarm sounded, volunteers had no way of knowing if the fire was the responsibility of their group or not. Going along with the firemen is the whole idea of the great Seattle fire of 1889. I have visited “underground” Seattle and it was interesting to read about how that came to be.

Another enlightening aspect of the novel was about human trafficking. Even at that time Chinese women were smuggled into Seattle and kept imprisoned until they could be sold. This aspect of the novel is not successfully concluded so I hope there is going to be a sequel where the nefarious man will get what is coming to him.

Peterson has a delightful way of writing. She has created well developed characters. Even though the sisters who own the bridal school are minor characters, I really liked their individual personalities. They added much to the story. Peterson also adds some humor from time to time. I can tell she has done her research on Seattle during this era. I really enjoyed learning about the devastating fire in addition to reading a fine novel.

You can read my review of Steadfast Heart, the first in the Brides of Seattle series here.

Tracie Peterson is the award-winning author of over a hundred novels, both historical and contemporary. She and her family make their home in Montana. You can find out more about her at www.traciepeterson.com and follow her blog at www.writespassage.blogspot.com.

Bethany House Publishers, 320 pages.

I received a complimentary egalley of this book from the publisher for the purpose of an independent and honest review.
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