Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Refining Fire

Refining Fire
(Brides of Seattle, Book 2)
Tracie Peterson
(Bethany House)
ISBN: 978-0764210624
July 2015/320 pages/$14.99

Twenty-two-year-old Militine Scott is in training at the Madison Bridal School in Seattle, yet she has no intention of pursuing marriage. What respectable man would have her? But she has found the school provides the perfect opportunity to keep her unsavory past hidden.

Thane Patton, though fun-loving and fiercely loyal to his friends, hides a dark secret, as well. He finds himself drawn to Militine, sensing that she harbors a haunting pain similar to his own.

Will they allow God to make something new and beautiful from the debris of their past?

Read an excerpt.


Tracie Peterson is the bestselling, award-winning author of more than 100 novels. Tracie also teaches writing workshops at a variety of conferences on subjects such as inspirational romance and historical research. She and her family live in Belgrade, Montana. Learn more at www.traciepeterson.com.


I've enjoyed so many of Tracie Peterson's books and this story set around the devastating Seattle fire of 1889 caught my attention. It was particularly timely as we happened to be visiting Seattle while I read this novel, and a couple of tours made reference to that fire. However, I struggled to keep reading this story, which is usually not an issue with Peterson's books. It may partly be because I read a digital copy; as convenient as that is, I personally connect better with physical books. Another reason is that it felt a bit disjointed. Without a "back of the book" summary as I began reading, I thought that Militine and Thane were secondary characters to Abriana and Wade, who seem to dominate the first part of the story. I usually hate to set aside one of Peterson's novels in the midst of reading it but this one just didn't hold my attention as much as her previous ones have. Things do pick up in the latter third of the book as the city burns, and the challenges they face not having enough water to put it out, in spite of living on the waterfront, are heartbreaking. I do love the title of the book and there are nuggets of wisdom throughout the story. Check out what other reviewers are saying and then decide if Refining Fire is right for you!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a copy of this book free from Bethany House Publishers, a division of Baker Books as part of a blog tour. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”


1. Why did you choose to write Refining Fire?
This is Book 2 in the Brides of Seattle series. This series shows the ongoing lives of the women who lived at the Madison School for Brides (a bridal finishing school). I chose Seattle as the setting, and the year is 1889—a year that forever changed Seattle when most of the downtown area burned to the ground. I found the real history fascinating and wanted very much to share it with my readers.

2. So what is this story about?
This story focuses on Militine Scott, who comes to the school without references or any background information. She’s running from her past, desperately afraid it will catch up with her. Thane Patton is a young boat builder and volunteer fireman who falls in love with Militine. The story shows the difficulty Militine has with issues of trust and believing herself worthy of love. There is also the ongoing story of Abrianna Cunningham, whose aunts run the finishing school. Abrianna is determined to care for the poor of Seattle, and with the help of her dear friends, she actually accomplishes this for a time. Laced around Abrianna are the villainous Priam Welby and Wade Ackerman, the boy-next-door who loves her.

3. How were you able to use the history of the Great Seattle Fire?
I chose the late 1880s to show Seattle before the fire, and then at the time of the fire, and Book 3 will show the time following the fire. I was so impressed with how the people of Seattle handled the fire and the rebuilding. Seattle was much like any other town that had grown up in a hurry. The streets were poorly planned, the water system badly designed and maintained, and the buildings put up without thought to the hazards. It was a perfect storm waiting to happen. The fire changed everything for Seattle.

4. What about the spiritual aspects of the story?
Learning to trust God when life has never given you any real understanding of trust is what Militine’s character is up against. Thane also is dealing with a bad past and trust issues. Both are wounded, and terrified of letting someone into their heart—especially God. The story is about coming to understand that despite the disappointments and truly horrific things that sometimes happen in our lives, God is always with us, always faithful, and always watching over us. It’s also about realizing that until we learn how to trust God, it’s impossible to have a relationship with Him. It’s the same for our relationships with other people. Trust is vital.

5. Did you do anything special to research this book?
I made multiple visits to Seattle. There is an amazing amount of documented history related to the fire. There’s also an “Underground Tour,” where you can see how the Seattle fire caused the city fathers to just build on top of the destruction, raising the harbor side of Seattle and helping to even out the hilly streets. I also had a few great connections with historians from the Seattle area. Historical accuracy is vital to me, and I very much appreciate the people who willingly shared information on the history of Seattle.

6. What do you hope the reader takes away from this book?
I hope readers find themselves cheering for Militine and Thane, as well as Abrianna and Wade. I’d like the reader to get a real taste of Seattle in 1889 and to be educated on the history of the Great Fire. Lastly, I hope the reader finds encouragement and hope in the Biblical application and example of how God can take difficult situations—situations of utter destruction, be they in a person’s life or that of a city—and make something beautiful rise from the ashes.

7. What’s next on the horizon?
Love Everlasting, Book 3 in the Brides of Seattle series, comes out this fall and completes the series. I’m really excited for readers to see how the romance of Abrianna and Wade develops and the hurdles they have to jump before they can say “I do.” I’m also excited for readers to see how quickly Seattle rebuilds and reclaims its downtown area after the fire. The project was more than a little daunting, yet within a year’s time, they managed to have a good portion of the city rebuilt and modernized. It was quite amazing.


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