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?
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By Tracie Peterson
Bethany House PublishersCopyright © 2015 Peterson Ink, Inc.
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Seattle, Washington Territory January 1889
There was no easy way to move a dead body. Militine Scott had this on the best authority.
Abrianna Cunningham cocked her head to the side. "I suppose we could just leave him right here." She gazed down at the man on the floor and tapped a finger to her chin. Apparently the matter was not easily resolved in her mind.
"I don't see why we couldn't just drag him off." Militine moved to the head of the body while her dearest friend in all the world walked around him squinting her eyes.
Abrianna knelt again. "Yes, that could be the irony of it all. For all his heroics and the gratitude of his peers, to just drag him off for burial would leave the audience with a sense of longing." She took hold of the man's lifeless arm. Picked it up and dropped it back to the floor. "You play the murder victim so well, Wade."
The dead man came to life and sat up. "Honestly, Abrianna, I don't see why you need a dead body in the play anyway."
She planted her hands on her hips. "Of course you don't. You aren't the playwright — you're a wainwright." She giggled. "Goodness, but I'm becoming poetic. Do you suppose that's how other poets started? I could just imagine Keats or Lord Byron having a regular conversation and suddenly words and rhyme would just flow from their lips."
Militine couldn't help but smile at the way Abrianna's mind worked. She'd never known anyone to complicate a simple matter as quickly as Abrianna. "I think, however, Wade is right. We could just reference the dead body. That way we wouldn't have to figure out how to move him."
Wade jumped up and dusted o' his clothes. "When is this play to be performed?"
The floor had seized Abrianna's attention again. No doubt she was still trying to decide about the body's placement. "It was supposed to be next Saturday, but at this rate we'll never have it ready."
"We could just recite poetry, as we usually do." Militine had no great fondness for the monthly receptions held at the Madison Bridal School. The entire point of the gathering was to introduce men to the young ladies of the school, and she had no interest in that. Which begged the question as to why she remained in residence. Better still — why she had ever come.
Most women she knew, which had been very few, having been raised in a trading post in Canada, had longed for marriage and children. Militine, however, longed for peace of mind. Something she wasn't sure she'd ever find. How she longed to be more like Abrianna. Happy-go-lucky, full of life and trust. Trust was definitely something Militine lacked.
Her friend looked rather confused for a moment and then nodded. "Perhaps you are right. We shall simply put it o' until I feel confident about where the body should be."
"Now, what about those cookies you promised me?" Wade looked past both young ladies toward the hall.
"They're in the kitchen." Abrianna pointed. "You know the way."
"Indeed I do." He gave Militine a wink. "I believe I could get there with my eyes closed."
"He's always willing to help for cookies. If only the entire world were satisfied as easily. I mean, just imagine the wars that would be avoided. For example, had President Lincoln offered the Southern states large quantities of cookies, perhaps the Civil War could have been avoided altogether. After all, mothers have been resolving battles for years with the promise of cookies."
Abrianna headed for the door and paused to once again return to their original discussion. "I suppose we could memorize Scripture. That always seems soothing, and I'm certain it pleases the Lord."
Militine didn't really care if it pleased God or not. They hadn't exactly been on speaking terms since heinous nightmares had taken over her sleep.
Walking to the window, Militine hoped to say something that would take Abrianna's mind off of God. She pulled back the curtain and looked out on the dismal day. "I hope it's not going to snow again today."
At one time she had thought God to be a loving Father, but over the last few months a hardness had wrapped itself around her heart. If God did care so much — if He was loving — then why had she been given such a terrible life? "I think I'll go rest. We've had a grueling day, what with all that quilting we did earlier, and besides, I'm chilled." She let the curtain fall back in place.
Stopping at the door, Abrianna gave a sigh loud enough to be heard downtown.
Militine closed her eyes and counted to ten. Waiting for what was sure to come, she sank onto the settee and crossed her arms. For whatever reason, her friend felt it necessary to worry and fret over her spiritual life. It wasn't that she didn't appreciate Abrianna's concern for her immortal soul, it was that Militine wasn't at all convinced that people had souls.
Father never had a soul. If he did, it certainly was in hell by now. If he was dead.
Abrianna returned and eased onto the cushions beside Militine as if approaching a wild animal.
"Militine, I know we've discussed this before, but you really mustn't turn your back on God. I thought there for a while you were coming around. I remember you saying that you thought God was a loving Father who would see all of His children safe and happy. What happened?"
Life had happened. The past and all its haunting nightmares had turned a part of her heart to stone. The sermons she'd heard about God and what He could do and what He didn't do had come together to breed bitterness. Surely an omnipotent God, a truly loving God, wouldn't allow evil people to thrive and have their way.
She didn't expect Abrianna to understand, nor did she feel that she had to explain. Militine's past wasn't something she needed to describe to anyone. Fate had allowed her to stay here at the Madison Bridal School. And in time, no doubt fate would rearrange her life again and she'd live elsewhere.
"Not everyone thinks like you do, Abrianna. Some people struggle to accept that there really is a God. Others are wounded by Him so much that they are either terrified or go out of their way to avoid Him."
"And which are you?" Abrianna looked at her innocently, but the question nevertheless stirred ire in Militine.
"That's a very personal question." If it hadn't been so cold and damp outside, Militine might have jumped up then and there and gone for a walk in the garden. She found the solitude of the flowers and shrubs to be most soothing. But it was January and nothing was blooming. In fact, snow had come in the night and now the entire world was shrouded in white. But one glance at Abrianna reminded Militine that her friend was being just that — a friend. In an effort to soften her words, she patted Abrianna's knee. "I suppose I've simply had a change of heart."
"I thought we were friends. Goodness, we've told each other all of our deepest secrets."
"No we haven't." Militine's statement was matter-of-fact. Abrianna had relayed a great many secret wishes and desires — about the death of her mother and adoption as a toddler by the old ladies who ran the bridal school. Abrianna had even let Militine in on her clandestine trips to help the poor and needy in the less desired parts of town. In turn, Militine had shared very little.
And she had no intention of sharing anything more.
But at the shocked looked on Abrianna's face, Militine worried that she'd hurt her friend's feelings. And friends weren't exactly plentiful in her life. "Some of my secrets need to remain hidden. They are ugly and painful, and I wouldn't burden anyone, much less my dearest friend, with such things."
"But that's what friends are for," Abrianna countered. "Think of Jesus with his friends Mary and Martha. Their brother Lazarus had died and —"
Militine held up her hand. "Please. No more, Abrianna. I'm trying to be patient, but my head is starting to pound."
"You're just feeling frustrated," Abrianna said, patting her hand. "And frustration is something I know very well." She flipped back a mass of unruly cinnamon-colored curls. "My hair alone is a trial to me. Most women I know have beautiful straight hair. Just look at your own dark hair. It's lovely and straight. I will never know why the Lord thought to burden me with such a mess, and with freckles, but we all must bear our crosses."
"Oh, for goodness' sake, Abrianna. Do you honestly think that curly hair and freckles constitute a cross to bear? You've lived such a sheltered and easy life that you have no idea of real need and trial, if that is your opinion."
Abrianna's mouth dropped open. For a moment she genuinely seemed silenced, but Militine knew it wouldn't last. Warding off further protest, Militine got to her feet. "I don't want to argue with you, Abrianna. Neither do I want to be hounded about issues of such a deeply personal nature."
"But I thought you wanted my honesty. I specifically recall your saying the other day that you —"
"Let it go, Abrianna. I do want honesty between us. That's why I'm going to be honest with you. If this constant talk about God is required for our friendship, then I will have to release you from further obligation."
Just let me get out of here without saying anything more. For once, please just keep your thoughts to yourself. Militine reached the door. Just a few more steps and she would be able to put the matter behind her.
"Do you truly want to go to hell?"
There it was. The one question Abrianna imposed on a regular basis. It was also a question that Militine could not answer, because she wasn't sure there was a hell ... except for this life.
Militine turned, determined once and for all to put aside the issue of God. "Abrianna, I most seriously appeal to your good nature. Let this subject go. You once told me that a relationship with the Almighty was a thing of a personal nature. If that is so, then please allow me to figure it out for myself. It's bad enough I have to attend church every Sunday and listen to boring sermons about how much God cares for each of the sparrows."
"It's not just the sparrows," Abrianna interjected. The volume of her declaration rose. "Goodness, Militine, did you doze off? Pastor Klingle went on to say that if God cares for each sparrow, He surely cares even more for you and me. And while I do believe we have far more seagulls than sparrows, the point is still that nothing is overlooked by God."
"Say nothing more!" Militine held up her hand, and Abrianna got up from the settee. "Nothing. I don't want to discuss this again. I've tried to be tolerant. I've tried to be interested, but now I demand you leave me be!"
* * *
Brisk footfalls echoed in the hallway.
Abrianna braced herself. She knew those footsteps all too well.
Aunt Miriam entered the room with a grim expression.
"What in the world is all this yelling about?" Abrianna frowned. Militine had already raced out of the room, leaving Abrianna alone to answer.
The older woman gave Abrianna a look that could not be misunderstood. She expected an answer and expected it now.
"I was trying to share God's love with Militine, but she wanted nothing to do with it. I'm afraid I'm to blame for the loud voices. I was rather ... well ... pushy."
"You? I can't imagine." There was a tender teasing in her aunt's voice that did nothing to reassure Abrianna. "Nevertheless, sharing God's love is seldom done in a screaming fashion."
"I don't want her to go to hell. It is my dearest wish that no one suffer the fires of hell, and especially not Militine. She's become a dear friend. I cherish her as much as I cherish any of my friends, including Lenore. Now that Lenore is married I suppose I lean on Militine's friendship more than ever." She paused only long enough for a quick breath. "Do you think that's wrong?"
"I think it's wrong to badger a person about salvation. You know that the good Lord has the ability to bring His sheep into the fold."
"Yes, but He also told us to go into all the world and preach the gospel." Abrianna put her hand to her heart. "I do long to serve Him in that capacity, but how can I do so when I can't even win converts here at home? When Militine first came here, she told me that she believed in God's goodness, but now I can tell she thinks Him cruel."
Aunt Miriam smiled and took hold of her arm. "Come sit, child."
Obedient to her wishes, Abrianna took her seat once again on the settee. The older woman joined her, never once letting go.
"Abrianna, it is not our job to win converts. It is our job to show people the love of God and share the truth of the gospel. You can hardly do that hitting them over the head with the cross."
"But that wasn't my heart. I only wanted Militine to take serious the fires of hell."
"I'm certain that in time God will allow Militine the knowledge she needs to make her own choices. God only desires that you see to your own soul and pray for others. He wants you to seek Him and know Him for yourself. Then, by this knowledge you must live a life that reflects His mercy."
"I wasn't very merciful," Abrianna admitted. "I suppose once again I allowed my enthusiasm to get the better of me. Honestly, I don't know why God gave me such a passion for the gospel if He didn't expect me to get excited about it. Do you know that Pastor Klingle said the end of all time is quickly approaching? He believes God will soon come back to judge us all. What if I didn't do all that I could to see that everyone heard the gospel message?"
Aunt Miriam showed unexpected patience. "Abrianna, do you suppose God would allow even one person to die without having a chance to hear the gospel message? He wouldn't be a very fair or loving God if He only allowed for some to hear the message but then required all to respond to it. I cannot believe our Father in heaven would play such a trick on His children.
"I believe, however, that He has a plan for all of us — not just for Militine or the other girls here at the school. You know that I want each of the young ladies here to have a strong faith in the Almighty. I take them to church every Sunday, rain or shine, as you know. I do what I can to live a godly example before them, and I pray for each one. Perhaps you could spend more time in prayer and less in badgering."
A heavy sigh escaped. Abrianna sat back, nodding. "You are right to correct me, Aunt Miriam. I haven't been at all charitable. I do try. Honestly, I do." She lifted her gaze to the ornate ceiling. "I suppose I am one of the worst of God's messengers, but my heart is truly fixed on Him."
"I believe that, Abrianna. I think Militine knows that, as well. Give her some time. Be a living witness of Jesus, not just a vocal one. Let her choose for herself." Aunt Miriam gave her hand a quick pat and then got to her feet. "And I want you two to make up. I won't have you letting the sun go down on your anger. I'll call Militine to join us."
When Militine returned with Aunt Miriam, she looked none too happy. Abrianna bolstered her courage. If she was ever going to be a godly woman who shared the gospel and helped the lost, then she would have to get over worrying about how to apologize and just do it.
"I'm sorry, Militine." She got to her feet quickly and extended her hands toward her friend. "I was wrong to allow my enthusiasm to overrule my good sense. Your friendship is most dear to me, and I do not wish to act in such a way to suggest otherwise. Please say that you'll forgive me."
Militine hesitated for a moment and then clasped Abrianna's hands. "I do. I'm sorry, too."
"I forgive you." Abrianna pulled Militine close, but she remained stiff and did not return Abrianna's hug. "I never meant to hurt you." The embrace lasted only a moment, but it was long enough to realize Militine was still guarding herself.
Aunt Miriam gave them a smile. "It is never right to argue about God, girls. He loves you both and desires that you come to Him willingly. He only wants the best for you."
"Well, I don't think God is the best for everyone."
Abrianna was surprised to hear Militine say such a thing in front of her aunt. She looked to Aunt Miriam for confirmation of this being the most scandalous thing a person could say, but the older woman only nodded.
"That is a decision that you must make for yourself." Aunt Miriam did the unthinkable and excused herself to oversee supper.
Excerpted from Refining Fire by Tracie Peterson. Copyright © 2015 Peterson Ink, Inc.. Excerpted by permission of Bethany House Publishers.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I loved and enjoyed reading the romantic, inspirational, Christian love story I received free from Goodreads First Read. Militine is in hiding from her past in a Bridal School for Girls. She is drawn to Thane, who also has a past he is running from. Militine fights God as her best friend, Abrianna, continues to show her the true love and redeeming mercy in Christ. Read the highly recommended, beautifully written, Christian love story of Militine and Scott by the talented author Tracie Peterson.
“Coming to Mrs. Madison’s had been an act of desperation, but surprisingly it had proved to be a blessing.” -Militine Scott Once again we join the familiar cast of characters from the Seattle Bridal School as they begin new adventures with the latest batch of bridal candidates from the school. Tracie Peterson offers another humorous and adventure filled story in her Brides of Seattle series in Refining Fire. Militine Scott, a 22-year-old young woman with a dark secret, becomes close friends with Abrianna Cunningham, who lives at the Seattle Bridal School with her aunts. While taking part in Abrianna’s latest adventures, Militine finds herself becoming friends with Thane Patton, a fire fighter and close friend of Wade Ackerman, who we met in the first novel in the series. As Wade gets closer to Militine, his own less than perfect background emerges. Amidst the adventures and relationship turmoil, the city of Seattle is engulfed in flames. Can Militine and Thane overcome their secrets and start an honest, open life? Will Abrianna really marry Priam Welby, the resident bad guy posing a nice guy? Read this quirky, humor filled story and see! This ARC copy was received from Bethany House Publishers and Netgalley.com in exchange for an honest review. The above thoughts and opinions are wholly my own. ***
Tracie Peterson in her new book “Refining Fire” Book Two in the Brides of Seattle series published by Bethany House Publishers takes us into the lives of Militine Scott and Thane Patton. From the back cover: 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? Seattle, Romance and Brides these are the ingredients for a wonderful read. This time the focus is on Militine. She is trying to keep a low profile as she doesn’t want the secret of her past to get out as she feels that everyone will walk away if it does. Thane is a wonderful character but he has a dark secret as well. They keep trying to put distance between them emotionally as circumstances keep drawing them together. There is going to have to be a lot of healing before these two can be together. “Refining Fire” is a wonderful romance and the history of Seattle is explored with some depth in this one. Ms. Peterson is an amazing writer and she has given us a great story with believable characters in Militine and Thane as well as the supporting players that we just fall in love with. I liked this book and look forward to the next one in this series. Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Bethany House Publishers. 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.”
In Refining Fire, Tracie Peterson writes smoothly and creatively to pull readers into the lives of several young adults in Seattle. Two of the main characters, Militine Scott and Thane Patton, carry memories of a difficult childhood and guilt related to their experiences. By reading their thoughts and experiences in young adulthood, I quickly found myself painting a mental picture and observing the story as if present on scene. Though it is a work of fiction, Peterson easily weaves lessons of wisdom and inspiration into the story line. She also clearly portrays the difficult question of how God could allow suffering. Peterson uses the various relationships in the Refining Fire to show how differing responses impact someone dealing with doubt, anger, and fear towards God. I suspect that readers who carry their own burdens of a shameful or difficult past might find some solidarity with the characters of Refining Fire. Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.
Militine Scott lives and trains at the Madison Bridal School in Seattle. Although she has no desire to marry, there she feels safe from being discovered by anyone from her past. She is best friends with Abrianna Cunningham, niece of the school’s matrons who have raised her since she was orphaned. Abrianna is impulsive and headstrong, yet entirely devoted to God and serving Him. Thane Patton is a poor, hardworking friend of the girls, and is best friends with Wade Ackerman, a carpenter who has been Abrianna’s friend since childhood. The foursome work together under Abrianna’s leadership to open a soup kitchen, providing lunch for homeless men on Seattle’s waterfront. Abrianna has such compassion for the destitute, and longs to do even more for them. This leads her to accept a courtship from wealthy Priam Welby, known throughout Seattle for his underhanded dealings. Throughout the story, the foursome grows in their relationships with each other and with God. Thane especially respected Wade’s faith, and saw the difference it made in his life, enough to reach out to God on his own. Because of the social mores that were proper to follow in the late 1880s, the book had a serious tone to it. But several characters, especially Abrianna, certainly lightened it up. Plot twists (which I won’t spoil) made this an interesting book to read. As the second of the Brides of Seattle series, my enjoyment or understanding of the book was never impeded by not having read the previous book. Those who enjoy historical romance will enjoy this book. Those who have a heart for the downtrodden will especially relate to Abrianna. I received this book from the publisher, Bethany House, in exchange for an honest review, which I have given.
Refining Fire by Tracie Peterson is Book Two in the Brides of Seattle series and the first of Ms. Peterson’s books that I’ve had the pleasure of reading. I was able to follow the storyline even though I hadn’t read the first book in the series. It’s an historical fiction novel set in 1889, Seattle, Washington. There are several wonderful characters in this book but one of my favorites is Abrianna Cunningham. Abrianna is light years ahead of her time with her outspoken and independent spirit. She says what’s on her mind without pause to the acceptable societal norms. She does so with vivaciousness and attitude. She’s hilarious at times but she’s also the champion every wounded soul would want in their corner. Abrianna is out to change the world and with her three closest friends, whom she drags alongside her, she is making great strides to do just that. When a pompous preacher comes to town he tries to put her in her place but Abrianna is too strong a woman for that. Militine Scott, Abrianna’s best friend, finds herself fighting alongside Abrianna and letting go of her own personal restrictions. Although she doesn’t share Abrianna’s zeal for following God’s appointments, Militine knows what it is to be downtrodden. I enjoyed Refining Fire and thought it to be a great story that weaves an attention-grabbing tale with history, romance and suspense. I received this book from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for my honest opinion which I’ve provided here.
Tracie Peterson's Refining Fire, the second book in her "Brides of Seattle," reads quickly due to her character, Abrianna Cunningham. Abrianna is a feisty, outspoken young lady with a real love for God, living with her aunts who run a school for young women learning the fine art of "keeping house" and to attract a husband. She decides to open a food kitchen as her calling from God obtaining help with her adventure from her friend, Militine, who is not so sure about her relationship with God or for men, and Thane Patton and Wade Ackerman. This story follows the adventurous Abrianna and her mishaps as she tries to live for God, accepts a courtship from a possible unsavory character and along the way discovers the possibility of love in a most unlikely person. Militine, wanting nothing to do with men and her fear of the past, discovers some truths, acceptance and love. So if you want a historical fiction with adventure and romance and a reminder of God's plan for each of us, then this is the book to read. I am looking forward to part three to see how Peterson wraps up the story for these characters and one or two other unsavory characters. I received this book free from Bethany House Publishers to review.
Refining Fire is an engaging story rich in history! Although it is the second book in the Brides of Seattle series, I believe this story easily stands on its own. I have not read the first book, Steadfast Heart, and had no trouble following the story line. Tracie Peterson’s love of research is evident in her stories, and the imagery and details she included in Refining Fire allowed me to envision the setting and the events that transpired during this time. I really enjoyed the historical aspects of the story, as well as the spiritual messages that were included. I also enjoyed visiting the Madison School for Brides and getting to know the well-crafted characters and experiencing their stories. With elements of drama and intrigue, Refining Fire is an enjoyable historical romance. I look forward to continuing the series in the next book, Love Everlasting. I received a complimentary copy of this book through the Bethany House Blogger Reviewer program in exchange for an unbiased review. I appreciate the opportunity to read this story and share my thoughts.
I really thoroughly enjoyed reading this book, I found it's attention to be of the most influential people and details of the characters in the story of two people who care for one another and had to get through many different obstacles. It's been over all a most exciting book for me to read.
Refining Fire by Tracie Peterson is the second book in the Brides of Seattle series. It takes place in Seattle, Washington Territory in 1889. Abrianna Cunningham and Militine Scott attend the Madison Bridal School. Militine is attending the school, but she is not serious about finding a husband. She has secrets in her past (she is only twenty-two) and does not think anyone will ever want her if they find them out. Thane Patton knows something about secrets. He is attracted to Militine and would like her to consider a future with him. Can these two overcome their past to have a beautiful future? Will they be able to survive Abrianna and her ideas? Refining Fire can easily be read without having enjoyed the first book in the Brides of Seattle series. I have read just about every book ever written by Tracie Peterson and this is the first one that I have not enjoyed. I found it to be very preachy. It is over the top, in your face, shove it down your throat preachy (I prefer it to be more subtle). The story is cute though predictable. It is a normal, Christian romance book. I did not like Abrianna. I found her to be an unlikeable character (very pushy). I give Refining Fire 3 out of 5 stars. The writing is good (as always), but I just did not enjoy the story. I received a complimentary copy of Refining Fire from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
In the late 1800’s the utmost on most girl’s minds was getting married, but not twenty-two year old Militine. In fact she never wants to marry. Yet her home is the Madison Bridal School in Seattle Washington. The three sisters who run the school have taken her in and provide for her in every way. They “think” they are also preparing her for marriage. Their niece, Abrianna, is of the same mind as Militine. Her desire is to serve God and help others, not find a husband. The two are best friends except in the area of God. Militine shuns Him as much as Abrianna embraces Him. Militine has secrets that keep her from trusting anyone, including the Lord and fearful her past may resurface at any time. Thane and Wade are two upstanding young men that Abrianna’s aunts trust explicitly. They help around the school and are also good friends of the two girls. Thane also carries a dark and painful past of his own. Militine and Thane begin to build a relationship. Is it possible with their personal problems and lack of faith in God? Abrianna secretly sets up a soup kitchen on skid row to help those in need. She throws all her heart into it, dragging the other 3 along as unwilling partners. Little did she know how this would affect each of their lives. Together the four face dangerous criminal situations and a massive city fire. I was fascinated to learn historical information about fire departments during that time. I knew they were far from what we have now, but I never realized how helpless firemen were in these emergency situations. Militine and Thane’s story reminded me so much of when people cannot understand how God is love when bad things have happened to them. I loved the way the author works through the characters bring about understanding. I loved Abrianna’s spit fire courage and desire to follow the Lord completely. Her no nonsense, determined personality was frustrating to her friends, but she got things done. In her eyes, no sacrifice was too great nor any obstacle to large for her to follow through with what God had shown her. I wish more of us were like that. The story is like a roller coaster. There is calm and sweetness, then the suspense builds until the reader is caught off guard by unexpected turns. I thoroughly enjoyed it! I received a copy of this book free from Bethany House, 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.”
A historical fiction book, Refining Fire is the second in the Brides of Seattle series, set in Seattle Washington 1889. This book is about the Madison Bridal School, where young women come to learn the etiquette to run a household, and the hopes of finding a husband. Militine Scott has come to the school not for a life of marriage, but an escape from a pain past no thanks to her father. Due to her lack of trust in men, Militine is not quick to realize that she has caught the eye of Thane Patton. He too has a past to hide. Together they begin to trust in God and follow His path, causing them to grow in their love and to heal from the past in their lives. Tracie Peterson's beautiful use of historical periods, along with the deep struggle her characters face, really makes me continue to love and read her books. As I have been a fan of Christian fiction books for quite a few years, I believe that Mrs. Peterson has always done a remarkable job introducing her readers to their faith at just the right time in her books. She did not disappoint me with Refining Fire and I am anxiously waiting for the next book in the series. The book I found was a a very quick read, that kept me engrossed all the way to the end.
Tracie Peterson is one of my favorite authors, and I have read many of her novels. Her recent ‘Land of Shining Water’ series was one of my favorite historical fiction series ever. This is the second book in the ‘Brides of Seattle’ series. I have not yet read the first installment, ‘Steadfast Heart’. The book blurb on the back cover of ‘Refining Fire’ leads readers to think this book is about Militine and Thane; however, it is the story of Abrianna and Wade—mostly Abrianna. The two young women live at the Madison Bridal School in Seattle where they are trained for the skills needed to make a good wife. Sewing, cooking, housekeeping, and laundry are their studied subjects. Militine has escaped a horrid life with her father at a trading post in Canada. He is verbally and physically abusive toward his only child, and she is searching for some peace in her life. She shies away from social events and is uncomfortable sharing her past with others. Militine Scott and Thane Patton, a firefighter, are kindred spirits due to their shared history of parental verbal and physical abuse. Abrianna’s main focus is on feeding the unemployed, hungry men of Seattle in 1889. She works diligently to secure funding from donors to update a dilapidated building and purchase food for a lunchtime meal served Monday through Saturdays. Wade Ackerman is Abrianna’s devoted friend. I felt from the beginning of the book he wanted to be much more than a friend to Abrianna. Unfortunately, she is focused on what she wants. She seems to trample on his feelings and the feelings of the other characters often. To her credit, Abrianna does seem to mature some as the story progresses. **As always with the author’s novels, the setting and plot were well-developed. I love the authenticity this author lends to all of her books with her in-depth research of the fashions, customs, and events of the period she is writing about.** NOTE: I was given a paperback copy of this book by Bethany House Books in exchange for an honest review of this book. The thoughts shared here are entirely my own. I was not compensated for posting my review on this site or any other site.
Refining Fire was a wonderfully woven story of love and self-discovery, but it did not stop there as the added suspense and drama propelled each page forward. Too, this story is peppered with topics on forgiveness, irreligion, remorse, humor, love and sacrifice to name a few. If you are a fan of Christian historical romance, then you might find pleasure in reading this series. The romance, tension, and emotional strife can all be felt as this alluring story unfolds. ___________________________________________ WHAT I LIKED: + It was so wonderful to catch up with the lovely cast in Brides of Seattle, but boy was I ever delighted to see our witty feminist Abrianna Cunningham take the spotlight once more. It’s always refreshing and uplifting to read a tale that features a strong independent-minded woman who does not settle for less but yet, remains forthright and honest in manner despite the stratified society she finds herself in. Which stands to reason, I was utterly absorbed with the emotional and intellectual conflict Abrianna found herself in. More respectively, with the fuss between her and Mr. Welby, and the emotional tension between her and Wade ― it all worked together so perfectly + Tracie Peterson’s writing and storytelling is one of my absolute favorites; truly it is. Namely, because she holds the capacity to make any reader escape into a time where marriage and courtships were handled with formality, where etiquette and social decency was held to a high regard, where young women sought a new independence, all while inspiring the reader to seek their own inner strength and purpose in life ― in the most sarcastic and romantic ways possible if I may add. Peterson’s genius in her storytelling however, truly lies in her ability to allow the reader to see the events unfold ― like a movie, and is this not what makes a book ever so memorable? + The plot ―for the most part ― was engaging. The storyline was well-developed and the pacing was fair, I found the last quarter of the book however, to be the most thrilling. All the same, Refining Fire is full of romance and adventure; that’s for sure, and there’s a bit of mystery and suspense too which is sure to hold your attention. What is more, Refining Fire gave me a greater understanding of the repressive societies―which were deeply segregated by class, gender, and social pretension―the women of yesteryear found themselves in WHAT I DIDN’T LIKED: – I’m rather confused when it comes to the book covers in this series. One would naturally assume, in view of the women shown on the front cover of the book, that the story would remain in relation to them; however this is not the case. In as much as I adore the character of Abrianna Cunningham, it seems as though Refining Fire―as well as, Steadfast Heart ―is more reflective of Abrianna. I would even go as far as to say that 25% of the narrative echos around Militine’s character arc. Perhaps if the cover art included a picture of Abrianna somewhere in the background, the covers would have been fittingly appropriate? Nevertheless, this is but a minor quibble – Which sadly brings me to my next point, I reluctantly admit that I was not too fond of Militine’s character arc. I’m not sure why, but she seemed withdrawn and insociable bringing no energy to her character; though, this was the true nature of her personality. Be that as it may, this was unfortunate, because this owed to my disinterest in her personal journey within the narrative.