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The unhappy wife of a fireman in 1970 realizes too late that her independence comes at a high price in Riggs's often heavy-handed novel. Early pregnancy forced Cassie Johnson into a marriage and a life she wasn't sure she wanted. Her husband Peck's job as their small South Carolina town's fire chief prevents him from giving her the attention she craves. Cassie finds solace in the arms of another fireman, Clay Taylor, and leaves town with him, determined to start over, but when she realizes she's just repeating her mistakes, she flees to her mother in the mountains for some soul searching. Soon she realizes the unexpected and tragic consequences of her actions. Riggs's 1970s South bears little resemblance to the South of social turmoil, and he overuses tired metaphors of rain, drought and oppressive humidity. But despite Cassie's lack of complexity, Riggs captures her internal life well and gives her conflicts legitimacy and gravitas. (Jan.)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.