Tracie Peterson has long been recognized as a leader in Christian historical fiction. Often featuring memorable female leads, Peterson weaves life int these characters while providing readers landmarks of events, places, or advancements to help anchor her stories,
Refining Fire is no different in this vein, featuring many memorable characters while centering on Militine, Thane, Abrianna, and Wade in Seattle of 1889.
Militine and Thane both have painful pasts that are, in their minds, best left behind them, not only for the bad memories but also for the potential cost to their newly rebuilding lives.
For Militine, this involves hiding out at the Madison Bridal School. For Thane, through his work as a volunteer firefighter. Neither are overly concerned with the Christian life and God their friends continually propose through word or deed.
I really enjoy Militine. I like the wounded character and by now it should come as no surprise the Militine was an instant draw in this book. Her backstory, slowly unfolded was fascinating to guess at although it's abrupt reveal did feel a little anticlimactic. Thane rounded out a wonderful pairing as Peterson captured a great dynamic. The counsellor in me cringed slightly as, in real life, this pairing and the speed with which they progressed could spell disaster but for a fictional account I was willing to simply read and enjoy without getting overly critical.
Wade and Abrianna provided an interest counterpoint to Militine and Thane's intensity. Wade's longsuffering at Abrianna's ideas and lack of awareness provided a lightness to the narrative (although at the same time couldn't be faulted Abrianna's lack of awareness did become an aggravation at times). I appreciated that the Christian models in Refining Fire weren't perfect: Wade struggled with his future, Abrianna with her . . . let's call it intensity, and the Aunt's also had their own little quirks to help them feel less archtype and more human.
Even the climactic adventure, though somewhat expected given Abrianna and Militine's friendship, provided an exciting finish that kept me emotionally invested (an element I often find missing in this genre) as I worried with Militine over her friends safety.
I would definitely pick up other books in the Brides of Seattle series and heartily recommend this to other fans of the genre.
I received this book from Bethany House Publishing in exchange for my honest and unbiased opinion.