F. chose to read this novel for the RITA® Reader Challenge, but after picking it at random she found it had a lot of plot elements she doesn’t like, but that the writing was strong enough that she kept going.
The plot summary: Sixteen-year-old runaway Reagan has always wanted a place to belong. She’s never had a real home of her own, but perhaps she could borrow someone else’s. Under an assumed name and identity, she moves to Harmony, Texas, but keeps her distance from the welcoming townsfolk. Until prairie fires threaten Harmony-and Reagan learns the true meaning of family, friends, and home.
And now, F’s review:
The book follows the relationships of a group of people, almost all with roots in Harmony in addition to a suspense plot involving arson. I really liked how the author tells the story and gives a whole lot of information without the dreaded info dump.
Reagan is easy to like, even we don’t find out everything about her and her past. It makes sense that her and Jeremiah are getting along, they are both very private people and it takes them a long time to trust and open up. Her developing friendship with Noah is very sweet, and his obsession with Rodeo brings some dimension to an almost too nice of a character.
I was less interested in the romance between the town sheriff, Alex McAllen, and the fire chief Hank Matheson. The relationship was already established when the book begins and the characters are introduced during one of their usual Saturday night fights. The unhealthy behavior on both sides is explained with a traumatic event in the past and both, Alex and Hank, feel guilty about it. Now there is all this angst but really no pay off, since the solution is rushed and buried under the suspense part.
The suspense is well written and the scenes during the wildfires were fast paced and believable. Overall the book is a solid read with a good mix of interesting storylines. Just don’t expect a hot and intense romance, there is just not enough focus on any of the couples for that.