Review: What You Wish For by Katherine Center

Title: What You Wish For

Author: Katherine Center

Published: July 14th 2020, St Martins Press

Status: Read July 2020 courtesy St Martins/NetgalleyUK


My Thoughts:

“Life doesn’t ever give you what you want just the way you want it. Life doesn’t ever make things easy. How dare you demand that happiness should be yours without any sacrifice—without any courage? What an incredibly spoiled idea—that anything should come easy? Love makes you better because it’s hard. Taking risks makes you better because it’s terrifying. That’s how it works. You’ll never get anything that matters without earning it. And even what you get”—she lifted her chin in defiance—“you won’t get to keep. Joy is fleeting. Nothing lasts. That’s exactly what courage is. Knowing all that going in—and going in anyway.”

Really, I feel the above quote probably tells you all you need to know about Katherine Center’s new contemporary romance novel, What You Wish For. The words are spoken by Babette, a surrogate mother of sorts, to the story’s main protagonist Samantha Casey when she is tempted to give up on what it is she wishes for.

What Sam wants most is to be loved for who she is, but she’s afraid to trust it’s possible when offered. Center explores the themes of love, grief, friendship, suffering, and personal growth through her characters. The plot may be largely predictable but the author does touch on some serious issues, with several characters dealing with the effects of emotional or physical trauma.

What You Wish For is a feel-good novel, it was a quick and easy read with an inspiring message – to choose joy.


Available from St. Martin’s Press

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Also by Katherine Center reviewed at Book’d Out 


Review: Things You Save In A Fire by Katherine Center


Title: Things You Save In a Fire

Author: Katherine Center

Published: August 13th 2019, St Martins Press

Status: Read August 2019


My Thoughts:

I’d seen so much praise for Things You Save In a Fire by Katherine Center on various blogs well in advance of its publication date that I was eager to get my hands on a copy.

Cassie Hanwell is a firefighter in Austin, Texas who loves her job, and has worked hard to earn the respect of her crew. When a run in with a local councillor puts her career in jeopardy, Cassie reluctantly decides to move to small town Massachusetts, where she takes a position in a firehouse, and moves in with her estranged, ailing mother.

Things You Save In a Fire is a contemporary romance that also explores the themes of family, courage, forgiveness, and redemption. Center does an impressive job of balancing the romance and humour with the more serious elements of the story.

There is an emphasis on the complexities of relationships in Things You Save In a Fire, not only in the romance that develops between Cassie, and ‘rookie’ Owen, but also Cassie’s difficult relationship with her mother, and the relationships she needs to forge with her new colleagues in order to safely do her job.

I enjoyed the romance between Cassie and Owen, it’s inevitable from the moment they meet, but there are good reasons for Cassie to be wary of their attraction. Owen is perhaps a little too good to be true, but I was willing to embrace the fantasy.

Cassie’s resentment of her mother is tangled up with a traumatic incident she experienced on the same night her mother left the family, their relationship therefore is a complicated one. That her mother is ill adds another layer of strain to their interaction, and I liked the way the author navigated the issues between them.

Not unexpectedly, Cassie has to prove herself to her fellow firefighters who aren’t really sure that a woman is capable of the job. For the most part, the crew are welcoming if somewhat bemused, and it was very entertaining to see her repeatedly exceed their expectations, but it soon becomes clear that at least one of them deeply resents her presence.

Perhaps the most important relationship in Things You Save In a Fire is the one Cassie has with herself. She shut down emotionally at sixteen, fought to become hard, tough and strong, and struggles to relax the control she clings to. I appreciated the growth shown by her character as the story unfolded.

“Choosing to love—despite all the ways that people let you down, and disappear, and break your heart. Knowing everything we know about how hard life is and choosing to love anyway … That’s not weakness. That’s courage.”

Warm, witty, and casually subversive I really enjoyed Things You Save In a Fire, and ?I hope to read more of her work.


Available from St. Martins Press

Also available via Indiebound I via Booko I via Book Depository