Thursday, October 20, 2011

Book Club: After The Fire by Kathryn Shay

By: Aly Hackett --- with some help from Kara and Ronlyn

I started reading Kathyrn Shay’s Super Romance firefighter series back in 2000.  I immediately fell in love with her characters and knew that when she came out with After The Fire, that I would feel the same way.  She did not disappoint!

The Malvaso family siblings – Mitch, Jenn and Zach – have had their share of issues in life.  When a major fire happens, it makes all of them take a look at where they are in life and decide to make some changes.  Mitch wants to work harder at making his family work, Jenny wants a baby and wants her best friend Grady to “father” it and Zach wants to make up for all his past errors.

Mitch realizes that making his family work is going to be difficult for 2 reasons – 1.  His wife is a mean, spiteful bitch and 2.  His attraction to Megan Hale.  I really appreciated watching the relationship between Mitch and Megan grow.  Despite that everyone knows how horrible Mitch’s wife is and would understand if he had an affair with Megan, I give him – and Shay – credit for not going in that direction.  Although, yes, Mitch and Megan were emotionally connecting, they did their best to stay away from each other and keep things professional.

Jenn and Grady were pretty fabulous as well.  They embark on a journey that has so many possible pitfalls.  And of course poor tortured Zach!  He has done so much wrong but you know he wants to make it all right!

Shay writes characters in a way that draws you into them.  The family dynamic and the relationship between the siblings is wonderful.  I also think that the “family” nature of the members of the fire department just adds strength to the book.

I asked Kara and Ronlyn to share some quick thoughts on After the Fire and this is what they had to say…

Kara :  I loved that this was not your typical romance. There wasn't really a main couple who followed a romance formula to happiness. I loved the fact that 'family' seemed to be the main character, both the Malvaso's and the family of smoke eaters.  None of the members were perfect to be sure!
There was raw emotion, which brought tears to my eyes more than once, as well as lighter moments that made me smile.   I couldn't nail down a favorite character, although I'm VERY confident it wasn't Cynthia.

Ronlyn:  I LOVED when Megan went to the record store and chatted with Mitch's son re: his music and her reaction and support of his dream.  Such a small thing for her, but so huge for both Mitch and his son

His psycho ex wife...well, I'm none too fond of psycho exes at the moment. ;-)  But when his brother came clean about what happened and the whole misunderstanding re: that.  Very emotional.

And Megan's memories of her times at the camp with her father.

I laugh that Kara and I had the same reaction to the family element.  And in a way, so did Ronlyn by her reaction to Megan’s interaction with Mitch’s son, Bobby.  Kathryn Shay does such a marvelous job with these characters that you are invested and drawn in and you MUST know what happens next.

If you haven’t read After the Fire yet, you really must.  And then you need to grab On the Line and Nothing More to Lose.

Kathryn is at a conference but is going to try her best to pop in and say hi!

In honor of the Italian Malvaso's, here is a recipe :)

1 1/4 cups water
1 teaspoon salt
3 cups bread flour
1 teaspoon dry milk powder
1 1/2 tablespoons white sugar
2 teaspoons active dry yeast
3/4 cup pizza sauce
4 ounces pepperoni sausage, chopped
1 1/4 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
2 tablespoons butter, melted

Place water, salt, bread flour, dry milk, sugar, and yeast in the pan of the bread machine in the order suggested by the manufacturer. Select Dough cycle.
After cycle ends, roll out dough on a lightly floured surface; shape into a 16 x 10 inch rectangle. Transfer to a lightly greased cookie sheet. In a small bowl, mix together chopped pepperoni and mozzarella. Spoon pizza sauce in a stripe down the center of dough lengthwise; add sausage and cheese filling. Make diagonal cuts 1 1/2 inches apart down each side, cutting within a 1/2 inch of the filling. Criss cross strips over filling, sealing with water. Brush top with melted butter.
Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 35 to 45 minutes.


formerteach said...

I've read all three of these books and I have to agree that they are wonderful! In fact, just reading about them makes me want to reread them to go through all their emotions all over again! The family dynamics are so well written! I hope a lot of your fans will try them out!

Ronlyn said...

I am trying to remember who recommended Ms. Shay to me...but it's blank.
I agree that the family dynamics were amazing. All the misunderstandings and emotions churning in each character were really fun to read.

And, yeah, I realllly didn't like the ex. LOL

Joy said...

Loved this series because the storylines were so complex and the characters lives so interwoven. A touch of mystery added to the depth. Looking forward to hearing how everyone else liked it too.

Alison said...

Good Morning All!

I really liked this series! I read the whole series last week. Each book has multiple storylines and each one sucks you in as you watch the characters stuggle with their feelings and other troubles.

These were my first Kathryn Shay books...I'll be sure to check out her other stuff now too :-)

Marie Force said...

Loved loved loved these three books, the family, the firefighters, the camp, the various romances. I devoured the series as soon as someone--I don't remember who either--recommended them. Looking forward to chatting about them today!

Aly is working like a demon so I told her I'd help out with hostessing duties today. :-) Thanks to Aly, Ronlyn and Kara for the great write up!

ShellyE said...

I have this book in my TBR -- I didn't get time to read it before book club, but I am looking foward to reading it. Is it the first book in the series - I hate to read out of order :o) Great write up and the recipe looks wonderful!!

Hope said...

I have this book on my Nook, and I really tried to have it read before today, happened. I can't wait to read it though, especially after reading with Aly, Ronlyn and KK said about it. Ronlyn is the one that recommended K. Shay to me, and she hasn't lead me wrong yet. Great write up gals!!

krisgils33 said...

I read this book (and the series) a long time ago, but it's the kind of writing and story that just stays with you long after the fact. It's that awesome.

oklanannie said...

I read Kathryn Shay's "Firefighter Series" when it was first published. Lots of drama, lots of emotion and a really good character-based series. The Malvaso family were not perfect by a long shot -- wrecked marriages, playboys, adultry, multiple divorces. Somehow they pull it all together and make you like them. I especially loved reading about the camp for children who lost their loved ones in the line of duty. This common goal brought everyone together and mended wounded hearts and lives. My favorite of the series was the third book with Ian and Lisel. Watching Ian's spirit come alive again was heartwrenching and the relationship between Ian and Lisel was very moving.

Altogether, a pretty solid and well-done series. I haven't read anything by Shay since then. I need to check out some of her more current books.

Crystal said...

I loved this book! It wasn't typical which made it even better. I liked the fact that the characters were so real. They all had flaws and issues that people really have. I wanted to walk into the book and slap Mitch's wife on a regular basis! The family feel was so much like my own family that I felt right at home among all the dysfunction.
Kathryn your writing is amazing! Where do your character ideas come from?

Mary G said...

I knew I shouldn't have read this.
Firefighters, family, awesome romance and another author to love.
I haven't read any KS books but Ikeep hearing about her. It's time I caught up.

Michelle said...

I haven't read any of these before but they do sound good, I enjoyed your review. I like the fact that they didn't have an affair, I think if they had I would be less likely to pick it up, but now I will be looking for these on my next shopping spree. Is it a trilogy or will there be more books in the series?

I haven't been able to comment for the past few weeks as I had no computer. My phone did let me read the posts though and I now have a pile of Christy Reece & Karen Rose to get through! :)

Thanks for the recipe.

Ronlyn, thank you so much for the bookmarks! My package arrived on a day I was feeling down, so they really cheered me up! Not so sure my bank balance is thanking you though :)

Ronlyn said...

YAY Michelle! I'm thrilled the arrived (on a good day for them to arrive even) and that you were able to read the posts even if you weren't able to post yourself.

Joy said...

Shay's other books are pretty good... I think I've read about 3 or 4 outside of this series (I read the 3 about the Educators). It's a good fix to kill time in between Marie's releases :)

Kara C said...

Loved this book! So much emotion in it. Being a former camp counselor/ director at camps for kids with special needs, I was really drawn to that aspect of the story.