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When We Caught Fire

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It’s 1871 and Emmeline Carter is poised to take Chicago’s high society by storm. Between her father’s sudden rise to wealth, and her recent engagement to Chicago’s most eligible bachelor, Emmeline has it all. But she can’t stop thinking about the life she left behind, including her childhood sweetheart, Anders Magnuson. Fiona Byrne, Emmeline’s childhood best friend, is del It’s 1871 and Emmeline Carter is poised to take Chicago’s high society by storm. Between her father’s sudden rise to wealth, and her recent engagement to Chicago’s most eligible bachelor, Emmeline has it all. But she can’t stop thinking about the life she left behind, including her childhood sweetheart, Anders Magnuson. Fiona Byrne, Emmeline’s childhood best friend, is delighted by her friend’s sudden rise to prominence, especially since it means Fiona is free to pursue Anders herself. But when Emmeline risks everything for one final fling with Anders, Fiona feels completely betrayed. As the summer turns to fall, the city is at a tipping point: friendships are tested, hearts are broken, and the tiniest spark might set everything ablaze. Sweeping, soapy, and romantic, this is a story about an epic love triangle—one that will literally set the city ablaze, and change the lives of three childhood friends forever.


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It’s 1871 and Emmeline Carter is poised to take Chicago’s high society by storm. Between her father’s sudden rise to wealth, and her recent engagement to Chicago’s most eligible bachelor, Emmeline has it all. But she can’t stop thinking about the life she left behind, including her childhood sweetheart, Anders Magnuson. Fiona Byrne, Emmeline’s childhood best friend, is del It’s 1871 and Emmeline Carter is poised to take Chicago’s high society by storm. Between her father’s sudden rise to wealth, and her recent engagement to Chicago’s most eligible bachelor, Emmeline has it all. But she can’t stop thinking about the life she left behind, including her childhood sweetheart, Anders Magnuson. Fiona Byrne, Emmeline’s childhood best friend, is delighted by her friend’s sudden rise to prominence, especially since it means Fiona is free to pursue Anders herself. But when Emmeline risks everything for one final fling with Anders, Fiona feels completely betrayed. As the summer turns to fall, the city is at a tipping point: friendships are tested, hearts are broken, and the tiniest spark might set everything ablaze. Sweeping, soapy, and romantic, this is a story about an epic love triangle—one that will literally set the city ablaze, and change the lives of three childhood friends forever.

30 review for When We Caught Fire

  1. 5 out of 5

    Melissa

    I have so many feelings for this book. I felt so many emotions while reading it. I just want to read it again!!! Yes, there is a love triangle that is sure to end badly, but the Great Fire brings so many twists and turns in the story that you won’t be able to stop reading it. Thank you so so much to HarperCollins Canada for my copy of this book❤ I have so many feelings for this book. I felt so many emotions while reading it. I just want to read it again!!! Yes, there is a love triangle that is sure to end badly, but the Great Fire brings so many twists and turns in the story that you won’t be able to stop reading it. Thank you so so much to HarperCollins Canada for my copy of this book❤️

  2. 5 out of 5

    Nadhira Satria

    bleh boring as hell

  3. 4 out of 5

    Sarah Mac

    I can't lie...the minute I saw Anna Godbersen had released a new historical YA , I ordered a copy. I barely even read the synopsis. Chicago fire! Love triangle! Maid! Boxer! Socialite marriage! All red flags for classic 19th-c soap. 😈 Edith Wharton's influence on the Luxe series is undeniable, but IMO this newest effort pushes that appreciation to the forefront. The Chicago fire provides a tangible threat, esp when combined with certain unnamed parties, but the era itself shares much of the blame I can't lie...the minute I saw Anna Godbersen had released a new historical YA , I ordered a copy. I barely even read the synopsis. Chicago fire! Love triangle! Maid! Boxer! Socialite marriage! All red flags for classic 19th-c soap. 😈 Edith Wharton's influence on the Luxe series is undeniable, but IMO this newest effort pushes that appreciation to the forefront. The Chicago fire provides a tangible threat, esp when combined with certain unnamed parties, but the era itself shares much of the blame. Like Wharton, these characters are inherently flawed products of their time: the rough survivors turned New Money, the push & pull of class difference, the love triangle that began in childhood, the carelessly spoiled Emmeline & her symbiotic (but not entirely parasitic) friendship with her maid Fiona. Fiona's angst is considerable, & rightly so --nobody likes being a third wheel -- but despite the power of wealth, Emmeline is flighty, selfish, & naive. She's almost painfully innocent (despite believing otherwise) & proud that her father's success has bought entrance to the upper echelon, yet desperate for something real & wholesome, which she clings to via Fiona & Anders. Indeed, the first half+ is devoted to a portrait of snooty 1870 Chicago elite. There's little action until the second act; I was never bored, but I'm a reader who likes soap to examine the hypocrisy of high-class veneers. The aftermath of the Civil War & how it changed a developing country's pace; the arbitrary, frivolous rules that defined an unforgiving social ladder; the foundation of the Gilded Age & robber barons... But that's primarily background. The core of this book is still the melodrama, which hits all the checkmarks of gorgeous clothes, anxious friendship, bending the rules, & long-suffering luuuurve, plus illegal boxing, abusive creepsters, semi-adulterous behavior, yada yada. AG's favorite themes -- you can't have everything you want, your first love isn't always your best love, choices have consequences & some consequences are irreparable -- are repeated here, with increased urgency thanks to the permanence of the Great Fire. I also liked how fire itself is a motif & metaphor throughout -- the title pun is completely intended. The initial negative ratings make me roll my eyes, though they're not really surprising; audiences today have little patience for YA that's not devoted to a HEA romance with gag-worthy Mary Sues who know kung-fu or spout the virtues of Loving That Bad Boy. But please -- judge for yourself. This *is* a good book, & it's noticeably more mature than my beloved so-good-it-has-to-be-fattening Luxe series. Yes, there are a few minor gripes (pacing seemed slightly off in the climax, better characterization of Ochs Carter & Freddy) but overall I really enjoyed it. :)

  4. 4 out of 5

    ⇝LEAH⇜

    4.2 Out 5 "Incendiary" STARS Despite having less than likable characters (with Fiona as the exception) this was still an engrossing listen.  The backdrop of the Great Chicago Fire of 1871 was what made this story stand-out for me.  I could see how others found this to be slow in the beginning, with its soap-opera-like feel and melodrama of the elite high society of the times, but on Audio, those parts fly by fairly quickly.  Once the fire starts burning, the unceasing flames and the lives at stak 4.2 Out 5 "Incendiary" STARS Despite having less than likable characters (with Fiona as the exception) this was still an engrossing listen.  The backdrop of the Great Chicago Fire of 1871 was what made this story stand-out for me.  I could see how others found this to be slow in the beginning, with its soap-opera-like feel and melodrama of the elite high society of the times, but on Audio, those parts fly by fairly quickly.  Once the fire starts burning, the unceasing flames and the lives at stake make this unputdownable.  The way the author takes the truth about the actual fire and plays it out with her cast of characters is quite the tale.  I found this exert from here about the Great Chicago Fire.    The Chicago Fire of 1871, also called the Great Chicago Fire, burned from October 8 to October 10, 1871, and destroyed thousands of buildings, killed an estimated 300 people and caused an estimated $200 million in damages. Legend has it that a cow kicked over a lantern in a barn and started the fire, but other theories hold that humans or even a meteor might have been responsible for the event that left an area of about four miles long and almost a mile wide of the Windy City, including its business district, in ruins. Following the blaze, reconstruction efforts began quickly and spurred great economic development and population growth.   With the ending the irredeemable characters become redeemable and the love triangle that takes the center of the stage throughout this story has its inevitable outcome.   ๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏ ~~~~~MY RATING~~~~~ ☆4.2☆STARS - GRADE=B+ ๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏๏     ๏๏๏~BREAKDOWN OF RATINGS~๏๏๏ Plot~ 4/5 Main Characters~ 3.8/5 Secondary Characters~ 3/5 The Feels~ 4/5 Pacing~ 4/5 Addictiveness~ 4/5 Theme or Tone~ 4/5 Flow (Writing Style)~ 4.5/5 Backdrop (World Building)~ 4.7/5 Originality~ 4.2/5 Ending~ 4.2/5 Cliffhanger~ Nah… ๏๏๏ Book Cover~ It's incendiary… Narration~ ☆4.5☆ for Suzanne Elise Freeman, she was perfect for this story and she switched from one pov to another quite seamlessly. Setting~ Chicago 1871 Source~ Audiobook (Library) ๏๏๏

  5. 4 out of 5

    Shannon (It Starts At Midnight)

    You can find the full review and all the fancy and/or randomness that accompanies it at It Starts at Midnight 2.5* Historical fiction is so fun, is it not? And the Chicago Fire... well, that's intense! This particular book was... less so. Not a bad read, but I suppose a tad underwhelming? It's basically a story of friendships and romantic relationships colliding in a big ol' love triangle that happens to get extra dramatic. One of the girls (Emmeline) is a newly-minted high society girl who's set You can find the full review and all the fancy and/or randomness that accompanies it at It Starts at Midnight 2.5* Historical fiction is so fun, is it not? And the Chicago Fire... well, that's intense! This particular book was... less so. Not a bad read, but I suppose a tad underwhelming? It's basically a story of friendships and romantic relationships colliding in a big ol' love triangle that happens to get extra dramatic. One of the girls (Emmeline) is a newly-minted high society girl who's set to marry some rich dude that she doesn't care about. Fiona, her bestie-turned-maid, is in love with their childhood friend (and ex-beau of Emmeline) Anders. Emmeline.... is hard to stomach. She's pretty selfish, and so indecisive. Which look, I understand, I am hugely indecisive too, but when you combine it with selfishness, it gets pretty hard to feel sympathetic toward her.  Fiona, on the other hand is incredibly sympathetic. Easy to root for. Unfortunately, there were too many rich people shenanigans to wade through, and those I sort of didn't care about. Now. I liked watching how the girls' friendship was impacted by all of their choices. That was probably my favorite part of the story. But when it got closer to the end, it felt really predictable.  The book, at one point, straight up tells you how it's going to end. Which, is a little bit of an odd choice, because it takes away some of the intensity. Plus a few of the other twists are just easy to see coming from a mile away. Still, the emotional aspect was there for me. Probably because I cared about Fiona, and kind of about Anders too, probably just because Fiona did, but still.  Bottom Line: Liked Fiona, liked the focus on friendship, but could have done with a bit more excitement and less predictability. 

  6. 4 out of 5

    Rachel Rockwell

    Anna Godbersen has done it again!!! I was fully captivated and feeling all kinds of emotions, and maybe I’m biased because I love her work, but she just kills it when it comes to sophisticated writing, vivid details, and of course, historical research.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Madalyn (Novel Ink)

    This review originally appeared on Novel Ink. I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review. I went into When We Caught Fire with high hopes– I mean, you all know how much I love YA historical fiction by now, right? Plus, I absolutely devoured Anna Godbersen’s previous two series– The Luxe and Bright Young Things– when I was younger, and I was excited to see how her writing held up for me as an adult. However This review originally appeared on Novel Ink. I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review. I went into When We Caught Fire with high hopes– I mean, you all know how much I love YA historical fiction by now, right? Plus, I absolutely devoured Anna Godbersen’s previous two series– The Luxe and Bright Young Things– when I was younger, and I was excited to see how her writing held up for me as an adult. However, I’m sorry to say that this one ended up being a huge disappointment. We follow our main character, Emmaline, during the week leading up to her wedding to one of Chicago’s most sought-after bachelors. Emmaline and her father have come from nothing and, over the past couple years, have steadily climbed the social ladder. Finally, with the impending wedding, they are becoming part of Chicago’s elite. However, Emmaline decides that, before she marries Freddy, she needs to pay a visit to her old flame, Anders, in her old, poorer neighborhood. Why, you might ask? Because *gasp* she still loves him. After seeing Anders again, Emmaline realizes what she has given up on her rise to the top and decides to run away on her wedding day to once again be with Anders. Complicating this matter further, however, is Emmaline and Anders’s other best friend, Fiona, who– another shocker– has also always been in love with Anders. Emmaline took Fiona on as her lady’s maid when her father became wealthy and they moved out of the old neighborhood, so there are some shitty power dynamics at play in their friendship from the start, tbh. Fiona is (rightfully) frustrated that Emmaline is pursuing Anders at the last minute like this… because, you know, SHE IS ENGAGED TO SOMEONE ELSE. I honestly felt bad for Fiona throughout this book because she inadvertently got caught up in Emmaline’s web of lies and selfishness. So, yeah, the romantic plot was a bit of a mess. Plus, it’s been done before. Many times. In a much better way. Also, can we please do away forever with the trope of two girls who are best friends being in love with the same boy, and that tearing their friendship apart? It’s overdone, it’s misogynistic, and I’m tired. Without getting spoilery, one of the things that frustrated me most about When We Caught Fire was how, despite all the tension the narrative built (I mean, we’re leading up to the Great Fire of Chicago!), it didn’t deliver on any of that tension. It felt like the author attempted to make me care about these characters and their problems, but I never understood why I was supposed to care. I haven’t read many non-diverse historical fiction books in quite a while, and this is one of the whitest, straightest, most privileged perspectives I’ve ever read. That definitely detracted from my enjoyment of WWCF quite a bit, because I just could not relate to or sympathize with any of these characters’ frivolous problems. They all felt like problems the characters created for themselves, and while I’m here for characters making mistakes in YA– they’re teenagers, after all; I never expect protagonists to be perfect, or even likeable– I’m not here for them when a character’s selfishness ends up causing one of the most destructive fires in American history and said character never has to atone for their mistakes. Overall, I don’t think this is a *bad* book. The prose itself is good– beautiful, even, at some points. I just think these characters and their privileged problems made for a frustrating reading experience, especially because I don’t feel like Emmaline ever showed any kind of growth or learning due to her mistakes. When We Caught Fire just didn’t deliver on its potential, and ended up severely disappointing me.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Jamie

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. This totally reminded me of the romances I devoured in my teens and it was a pure fluff read--love triangle, good guy does the right thing, rich guy turns out to be a bastard, some typical tropes...but a fun read and escape for a quick weekend romance!

  9. 5 out of 5

    Sheila {ShesGoingBookCrazy.com}

  10. 4 out of 5

    Sara (A Gingerly Review)

    I love this author and was excited for this story but it fell short in every regard. I am not a fan of love triangles anyways. I didn't get Anders, I really could not stand Emmaline, and felt a little bad for Fiona. It was rich privileged people dealing with rich privileged problems. FRTC --------- Full review can be found here: https://agingerlyreview.wordpress.com... Before I start my post, I want to take a small moment to admire the cover. It is gorgeous. Beautiful covers make me even more excite I love this author and was excited for this story but it fell short in every regard. I am not a fan of love triangles anyways. I didn't get Anders, I really could not stand Emmaline, and felt a little bad for Fiona. It was rich privileged people dealing with rich privileged problems. FRTC --------- Full review can be found here: https://agingerlyreview.wordpress.com... Before I start my post, I want to take a small moment to admire the cover. It is gorgeous. Beautiful covers make me even more excited to read a story because they have to match, right? Sadly, that was not the case here. Short recap: Emmaline has finally found a way to secure her spot among the wealthy, influential, and sought after list – she is to marry one of the most eligible bachelors in town. Emmaline did not come from wealth and privilege, but she did teach herself how to appear so. While Emmaline is ready to marry her fiance, she feels she needs to find her first love and explain why she will not be marrying him. Things become far more complicated after that. Can Emmaline go through with her wedding into the elite group or will she give it up for her first love? This seems alright but here is what I left out (because I wasn’t sure how to fit it in to that description): Emmaline’s housemaid, Fiona, has been madly in love with Emmaline’s first love, Andres. You read that correctly. These two girls are in love with the same man but Fiona never tells her friend about her feelings. But wait! There’s more! As if that was messy enough, once Emmaline meets up with Andres, she realizes that she is still in love with him! She decides that she will forgo marrying a very influential man who can give her a secure future to marry a man that has fighting matches in back alleys. I’m going to let that sink in for a moment. I know that a person needs to follow their heart wherever it leads but this felt like far too much. The entire story felt like it was trying too hard to make me believe the feelings everyone had for everyone else were real but they felt fake and forced. The chapters were told in alternating POVs of Emmaline and Fiona. I did not like Emmaline’s character at all. She came across as a petulant child. It was not a becoming characteristic. She was like that throughout the entire story. Fiona was okay, but I never connected with her. Reading of how she was constantly pining for Andres grew old real fast. To make this all worse, it appeared that Andres held feelings for both females! He knew they were both attracted to him and he encouraged it. What a hot mess he was. I didn’t like him any further than I could throw him. The big disappointment I had with this story, other than the inability for me to feel the tension that was supposed to be coming from these characters, was that this centered around the Great Fire of Chicago. I was so fascinated with that concept! Sadly, it never delivered on what was promised. This read like a bunch of spoiled white teenagers having spoiled white teenager problems. I could not care about what was happening to anyone or anything. Not only where the characters shallow, the world building did not work for me. There were lavish paragraphs/chapters that talked about nothing more than dress designs and food. I. Don’t. Care. It all was fluff because it went nowhere. Now while I have attempted to make my points about why I did not enjoy this story, it was not necessarily a bad book. There were some very well written scenes, but those few scenes alone were not enough to save this story overall. No character showed growth, nobody had to pay for what happened because of the fire, nobody was held accountable for their actions. I’m not a fan of those stories. Be cautious if you give this one a go.

  11. 4 out of 5

    KristynRene The Hype Queen of Books

    Edelweiss granted me this ARC in exchange for an honest review. And honest is what I will offer you. A Very Well Deserving 3/5 Stars The fire had sometimes leapt over buildings, over whole blocks, leaving safe patches in its wake. But they were not really safe–the fire was often blown back, thus consuming what it had missed the first time. Anna Godbersen wrote a generally enjoyable story I consumed in less than four days. The synopsis sounds like the classic gag-filled love triangle, but I can assu Edelweiss granted me this ARC in exchange for an honest review. And honest is what I will offer you. A Very Well Deserving 3/5 Stars The fire had sometimes leapt over buildings, over whole blocks, leaving safe patches in its wake. But they were not really safe–the fire was often blown back, thus consuming what it had missed the first time. Anna Godbersen wrote a generally enjoyable story I consumed in less than four days. The synopsis sounds like the classic gag-filled love triangle, but I can assure you this story is more enjoyable than any love triangle I've read thus far. The writing was beautifully imaginative, carrying metaphors and descriptions that transported you into the story and the characters. Suddenly the hours of the clock seemed like a strange way to measure the contents of a day. Based on the infamous Chicago Fire, the writing achieves the effect of taking you into the lives of our characters as they are tackling the flames. So, the characters. I couldn't enjoy Emmeline as a person at all because the majority of her spoken lines were, literally, "Oh." and she consistently got away with saying only that. It never made sense how the characters talking to her just brushed that off their shoulders. Also, she is the very definition of entitled. She's supposed to be. She believes her friends are at her beck and call (soon finding out how utterly wrong she is), and her growth is all the way at the end of the story. It sort of goes in a downward drop of annoying little child before shooting back up into a mature-ish lady of understanding. I really did not like her as a character until the end. She redeemed herself. And the relationship between her and her father was something I kept reading in the hopes that it would mature and grow into a healthy and admirable give and take. I’ll let you read and decide for yourself on this one. Fiona. My dearest Fiona. She faced the door, and the door faced her back. In a matter of seconds, she had said out loud a thing she’d forced herself not to say for half a year, and in speaking it, she had become a new person. But she hardly knew what this person should say, what this person should do. She had all the best lines, all the best growth, and I thoroughly enjoyed her POV every time the chapter turned to her. I was rooting for her since page 1 when we see she is one very capable woman. She is the lady's maid to Emmeline, and honestly deserves all the love in the story. Then we have Anders, whom I hardly found likeable, more so tolerable. I didn't understand his emotions, ever. He, as a character, didn't feel as flushed out as anyone else. His line, Yesterday, I didn't think my life was worth very much. I would have given it away for any price. Not anymore. It all seems bigger now, and sweeter. When I look in your eyes, I see my own goodness. Do you understand? I know what it's all for. was his best line and yet it felt kind of empty and forced at the time. His timing for his little monologue didn't make sense. I was sitting here screaming at him to move his ass. His love for Emmeline didn't ever make sense to me, as he was very understanding of how he was treated, and just. Ugh. He was ight. The plot had enough suspense toward the middle that kept me reading and desiring to know what would happen, it kind of kept me on my toes even though it’s historical fiction. I don’t really have much criticism for all the actions and consequences of the decisions made in this story. It was honestly a precious and cute book that was lighthearted enough to enjoy at face value. Anyway, the three stars are for the beautiful writing and Miss Anna’s ability to keep me up at night wanting to find out who survived and what was to happen to Chicago. In her explanations, Anna states the romance of the book was influenced by her maternal grandparents who met and fell in love in Chicago! So cute!! This story was really enjoyable. It was a relatively fast read and hooked me from the halfway point. Any quotations included in this review are subject to change upon release date.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Eden Church | The Required Reading List

    I LOVED this book! Victorian Chicago is so deftly rendered, I felt like I was there—I could see the city as I read, even though I’ve never been to modern-day Chicago, and have certainly never been to Chicago in the 1870s. I burned through this novel with romance that sizzled on every page (pardon the puns). The story of two women, one who fate favoured, the other who fate forgot, this novel delivers friendship dynamics right out of Downton Abbey. Fans of historical fiction, romantic fiction, gla I LOVED this book! Victorian Chicago is so deftly rendered, I felt like I was there—I could see the city as I read, even though I’ve never been to modern-day Chicago, and have certainly never been to Chicago in the 1870s. I burned through this novel with romance that sizzled on every page (pardon the puns). The story of two women, one who fate favoured, the other who fate forgot, this novel delivers friendship dynamics right out of Downton Abbey. Fans of historical fiction, romantic fiction, glamour, and betrayal will not want to miss this book! *Thank you to Indigo and Harper Collins Canada for an advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review*

  13. 4 out of 5

    Nattie

    1.5 stars. I read most of this book and I did like it until Anders joined the story, but even then it was almost exactly like dozens of other books I have read set in the 1800's or early 1900's. I have lived in Chicago my entire life so the story taking place in Chicago really spoke to me. I enjoyed reading all the luxurious details the author included, but could have done without the long winded paragraphs above each chapter. Emmeline was just like every other rich girl you find in these types o 1.5 stars. I read most of this book and I did like it until Anders joined the story, but even then it was almost exactly like dozens of other books I have read set in the 1800's or early 1900's. I have lived in Chicago my entire life so the story taking place in Chicago really spoke to me. I enjoyed reading all the luxurious details the author included, but could have done without the long winded paragraphs above each chapter. Emmeline was just like every other rich girl you find in these types of stories, the only exception was that she was not born rich. I found it hard to believe that a young man from a family like Frederick Tree's would have been fine with his marrying a girl who'd lived on the bad side of town until two years earlier. Before Emmeline was to be married she decided that she must see Anders from the old neighborhood one last time so she can break off their "engagement." Emmeline hadn't seen or spoken to Anders in two years, so it was doubtful that she would suddenly start thinking about him to the point that she did. While the golden-haired Emmeline is pining away for a guy she no longer knows, her faithful childhood friend and current servant is by her side, willing and ready to do anything that is asked of her, though Emmeline rotated between treating Fiona with respect and being downright disrespectful if she felt it was necessary. The "romance" involving Anders was convoluted and melodramatic. One second he acted as though Emmeline was everything he wanted, next second he would turn to Fiona and have moments with her. By the end of the book, I was wishing that every character outside of Fiona's family would burn to death. I do hate to say such an awful thing, but that is how I felt. I think maybe I have outgrown some of the nonsense I used to enjoy, or maybe it's that writers no longer appear to be trying to bring something fresh to the table. You either get a rich girl who hates being rich and wants to have a life with some poor guy, a rich girl who likes being rich, but wants to have a life with some poor guy, or a poor girl in love with a rich guy and maybe a poor guy too. Ho hum.

  14. 4 out of 5

    SJH (A Dream of Books)

    I've only read a few of Anna Godbersen's previous books but this one caught my eye when I discovered that the story was an imagining of events leading up to the Great Fire of Chicago. Although I don't read a huge amount of historical fiction now, this used to be one of my favourite genres so I thought I would give it a try. I read it in one sitting but finished with mixed feelings about it. Godbersen has crafted a love triangle which takes centre stage in the book. Emmeline, Fiona and Anders are I've only read a few of Anna Godbersen's previous books but this one caught my eye when I discovered that the story was an imagining of events leading up to the Great Fire of Chicago. Although I don't read a huge amount of historical fiction now, this used to be one of my favourite genres so I thought I would give it a try. I read it in one sitting but finished with mixed feelings about it. Godbersen has crafted a love triangle which takes centre stage in the book. Emmeline, Fiona and Anders are childhood friends whose paths have taken them in different directions. Emmeline is now engaged and has risen through the ranks of Chicago high society, while Fiona is employed as her maid and Anders has been left behind in the old neighbourhood. It was always a given that Anders and Emmeline would one day be wed but that all seems behind them now. That is until Emmeline decided that she must see Anders one more time and a terrible sequence of events is set in motion. I'm not a big fan of love triangles so that was a mark against the story from the start. It's well written but I felt like it wasn't hugely original and has been done so many times before. I really liked Fiona who at times seemed like the only sensible character in the book but I wasn't keen on Emmeline at all and the way that she only ever thought about herself and what she wanted. She didn't seem to care that in the process she was ruining other peoples' lives. She was also rather shallow and flighty and constantly changed her mind which grated on me. The best part of the book was the last third. Although it was almost a given what was going to happen, there were still some surprises in store and instead of meandering along, as it had done for the start of the story, the pace of the plot picked up and there was a lot more action to enjoy. A bit of a mixed bag for me unfortunately, although I liked the original concept.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Joséphine (Word Revel)

    Actual rating: 2.5 stars Initial thoughts: Some positive points: + It's historical fiction, a genre rather overlooked in YA + Vivid setting with the Great Chicago Fire as backdrop + A father willing to see the error of his ways and who apologises when he is wrong + Friends who love each other like sisters + Good audiobook narrator Some neutral points: + Love triangle quadrangle (I didn't care for it but you might) + Lots of to and fro about marrying for love or status (again, you might care for it more th Actual rating: 2.5 stars Initial thoughts: Some positive points: + It's historical fiction, a genre rather overlooked in YA + Vivid setting with the Great Chicago Fire as backdrop + A father willing to see the error of his ways and who apologises when he is wrong + Friends who love each other like sisters + Good audiobook narrator Some neutral points: + Love triangle quadrangle (I didn't care for it but you might) + Lots of to and fro about marrying for love or status (again, you might care for it more than I) Some negative points: + I didn't care for the romance, which consumed at least 80% of the book + The Great Chicago Fire was merely a backdrop to the romantic plot (not nearly enough exploration of the impact of the fire itself) + Very self-entitled main character, so I didn't even care when she was backstabbed As you can see, I actually listed more positives than negatives. However, I found the romantic conflict rather trite, and since that's the predominant plot line, that significantly reduced my enjoyment of the book. Some readers find romance and weddings and "will she/won't she?" stories exciting though, especially accentuated by the vivid historical setting, so I can see some merit in the book. Plus, I did enjoy the devotion Fiona had to Emmeline and the friendship that they shared, regardless of societal expectations between mistress and maidservant. Too bad Emmeline cared for herself first before others, which did get on my nerves at times. She's not exactly a protagonist I wanted to root for.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Laura (thechronicbookworm)

    2.5/5 Trigger Warnings: Physical abuse, death, grief, murder, When We Caught Fire is a historical fiction novel about a love triangle, during the Great Chicago Fire in 1871. I went into When We Caught Fire expecting to love it. Unfortunately, I didn’t. The writing was engaging, but I felt like I only knew the three main characters at a surface level. The story follows Emmeline and Fiona’s point of view in alternate chapters. I really liked Fiona’s character, and I would have liked to learn more abo 2.5/5 Trigger Warnings: Physical abuse, death, grief, murder, When We Caught Fire is a historical fiction novel about a love triangle, during the Great Chicago Fire in 1871. I went into When We Caught Fire expecting to love it. Unfortunately, I didn’t. The writing was engaging, but I felt like I only knew the three main characters at a surface level. The story follows Emmeline and Fiona’s point of view in alternate chapters. I really liked Fiona’s character, and I would have liked to learn more about her family. The power imbalance between Fiona and Emmeline was an interesting dynamic. Emmeline is an extremely selfish and privileged character. I did enjoy reading the moments between Emmeline and her father. Anders is the boy both Emmeline and Fiona are in love with, and I felt he was quite indecisive. Overall, If you are a big fan of love triangles and historical fiction this might be the book for you. Thank you to HarperCollins Australia for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Sydney

    I looooved 'The Luxe' series and the 'Bright Young Things' series, and I was so excited for this new read from Godbersen. Beautiful cover, although I am not a big fan of the pink hardcover underneath. The love triangle was weird, and I'm saying that as a person who enjoyed Twilight back in the day. I absolutely HATED Emmeline and thought she was such a wishy-washy girl and not too flushed out without any other characters backing her up. Fiona was pretty bad ass, and I enjoyed her and was rooting I looooved 'The Luxe' series and the 'Bright Young Things' series, and I was so excited for this new read from Godbersen. Beautiful cover, although I am not a big fan of the pink hardcover underneath. The love triangle was weird, and I'm saying that as a person who enjoyed Twilight back in the day. I absolutely HATED Emmeline and thought she was such a wishy-washy girl and not too flushed out without any other characters backing her up. Fiona was pretty bad ass, and I enjoyed her and was rooting for her all the way through. Anders was also a bit bleh until he finally grew a pair and thought for himself. Honestly, background characters like Georgie were more interesting in the end. I would LOVE a book focusing on Georgie's story! Overall a great historical read that I would recommend to anyone who likes Godbersen.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Tracy

    It took me a little while to warm up to this. I don't particularly care for Emmeline, and Fiona was a bit of a mystery. But the description of the fire and being caught in it was mesmerizing. A life time resident of Illinois, I remember the shadow box representation of that barn at the Illinois State Museum when I was a little girl. I suppose I had never given much thought to the devastation that must have occurred, the lives lost and the families devastated. A good story about the event.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Zahreen

    I started reading this hoping it would be a good guilty pleasure read, like The Luxe series that Godbersen wrote before, but it wasn't nearly as fun to read as those books. I still need to read her 1920s series, which maybe I will get into at the end of this year.

  20. 5 out of 5

    ItsOwlRight

    Here is my more generic little blurb/summary about this book I used as my review for the bookstore I got it from, then I'll say a couple words about why I ranked it below. I don't think this is a bad book, it just wasn't good for me. ***** Lovers of love triangles will enjoy this 1871 historical romance about 3 childhood friends, now the newly wealthy and engaged Emmeline; her best friend Fiona; and Anders, the boy who Emmeline can’t let go of and Fiona secretly longs for. The constant and a littl Here is my more generic little blurb/summary about this book I used as my review for the bookstore I got it from, then I'll say a couple words about why I ranked it below. I don't think this is a bad book, it just wasn't good for me. ***** Lovers of love triangles will enjoy this 1871 historical romance about 3 childhood friends, now the newly wealthy and engaged Emmeline; her best friend Fiona; and Anders, the boy who Emmeline can’t let go of and Fiona secretly longs for. The constant and a little over-the-top drama builds and ignites a fire, literally: the catastrophic Great Chicago Fire. The combo of the usual love triangle trope with history and a deadly and destructive disaster created an interesting read. ***** Like I said before, if what is above sounds like your cup of tea, then great! If you have read this book already and loved it, you don't need to read my review. I can understand why someone would like this book, I just didn't. ***** But I'll say this right off: if you are someone who hates love triangles, you won't be a fan of this book. I am actually not one of those people, I've read good, bad, and in between as far as love triangles go. I'll keep it brief, but I just did not. Like this book. I'm a sap and a shipper but oh my goodness this book was c h e e s e y, at least for me. About the 3 characters....Anders is okay, I don't understand why Emmeline and Fiona make such a fuss over him. Emmeline acts like a brat for a lot of the book, and I just don't understand why she acts the way she does. I think I was supposed to sympathize with her a little but I didn't. Fiona is annoying too, because she just goes along with whatever Emmeline does. I think I was supposed to sympathize with her too? I didn't because, once again, why are they making such a big fuss over this dude? Their thoughts are expressed a lot and it's so aggravating. I was not concerned with their issues at all. I was literally saying out loud "When is the city going to light on fire?" And also (this was actually pretty funny) but somewhere early in the book I was thinking about how the back/front of the book said "a love that made the world burn" and "the love triangle that started Chicago's infamous Great Fire and wondered for a second, "What does that mean???" and then right away I thought (view spoiler)["Lol I bet two of them make out in a barn and accidentally start the Great Chicago Fire" Don't know where I got barn from, but later in the book, after I'd casually made a prediction I didn't think could be true, they mentioned a barn they liked to play in as kids, which I didn't think much of at the time but oh. My. God. *wheeze* THEY DID!!!!!!! tHeY MAdE oUt iN a BaRn. I started laughing out loud, I kid you not. And surprise surprise, next chapter they wake up and the barn's on fire. (hide spoiler)] (Thanks to Brazos Bookstore Young Reader's Program for allowing me to read an advanced reader's copy, or ARC, of this book.)

  21. 5 out of 5

    Ruthsic

    Warnings: attempted sexual assault, gun violence, domestic violence A love triange set against the Great Fire of Chicago in 1871, When We Caught Fire overdoes the passion and heads straight into angst. Going into the book, I was prepared for high society politics, class struggle or something like that, with three friends stuck in between, but this was more a case of teenage angst raging hotter than the fire. Barely into a quarter of the book, I was prepared to DNF it, but I somehow carried on til Warnings: attempted sexual assault, gun violence, domestic violence A love triange set against the Great Fire of Chicago in 1871, When We Caught Fire overdoes the passion and heads straight into angst. Going into the book, I was prepared for high society politics, class struggle or something like that, with three friends stuck in between, but this was more a case of teenage angst raging hotter than the fire. Barely into a quarter of the book, I was prepared to DNF it, but I somehow carried on till the end, mostly by skimming the long and at times superfluous descriptions. The plot of this book revolves around Emmeline (as the the first page itself declares) and her selfishness. For two years, she and her childhood best friend have groomed themselves into a young elite woman and her maid, respectively, and the foremer has already snagged a rich scion for a fiance. Now, on the last week before her wedding, she starts to remember her other childhood best friend and first love, Anders, and sends Fiona (who has been nursing a crush on him all this time) to rekindle contact. As expected, she falls for him again and is prepared to elope with him, even if he hasn't been very enthusiastic or anything about it. Their plans fail when she has cold feet to her cold feet at the last moment, and jealousy leads to a devastating fire. Firstly, the fact that I did not like or care about the characters was a big sign that I would not like the book. Emmeline is selfish, flighty and naive - even though she comes from a poor background, she has no sense of money or pragmatism. She foolishly plans her elopement as if it was a lavish adventure, not realizing it is a matter of life and death for Anders. The flimsy reasons in the plot for these characters to even go forth with this plan had me rolling my eyes throughout like half the book. The only remotely likeable character was Fiona, and probably Mr Carter who redeems himself somewhat towards the end. Emmy, meanwhile, is the cause of much grief in the plot, and I couldn't forgive her, even accounting for her relatively young age of 18. The domestic abuse angle felt placed just to have us empathize with her character or something, and Georgie felt like wasted potential. The plot overall lacked any excitement and with so much angst and romance, I was way more invested in the actual fire parts. Those parts only made this feel like a historical novel, and it seemed well researched on that front. As for the rest of it, it is just a hormonal mess. In short, a fiery disappointment. Received an advance reader copy in exchange for a fair review from Harper Teen, via Edelweiss.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Teenreadsdotcom

    Emmeline’s upcoming wedding to the most eligible bachelor is the talk of the town. However, she is not quite ready to give up her childhood love, Anders. On a whim, she has her lady’s maid and best friend, Fiona, track Anders down to set up a secret meeting. This course of action strikes a match that lights the world on fire. Anna Godbersen, author of The Luxe trilogy and the Bright Young Things trilogy, is back with another historical fiction that is sure to blow you away. From page one, Godbers Emmeline’s upcoming wedding to the most eligible bachelor is the talk of the town. However, she is not quite ready to give up her childhood love, Anders. On a whim, she has her lady’s maid and best friend, Fiona, track Anders down to set up a secret meeting. This course of action strikes a match that lights the world on fire. Anna Godbersen, author of The Luxe trilogy and the Bright Young Things trilogy, is back with another historical fiction that is sure to blow you away. From page one, Godbersen wows us with her magnificent writing. I admit I have never been a fan of the historical fiction genre but the way Godbersen writes it --- half intrigue and half drama --- makes you want to become a fan of the genre. WHEN WE CAUGHT FIRE focuses on the strength of first love. The theme is terribly romantic yet almost forbidden. Its love triangle is entirely dramatic in true Godbersen fashion which makes you catch your breath at every turn. The story is told in two parts: before and after. Its structure is seamless. Godbersen even gives readers glimpses of the end with the narrators thinking of "later." Yet, no matter how delightful it was to guess how it may end, WHEN WE CAUGHT FIRE is wholly unexpected. The book follows Emmeline, who is about to be married. Only she is suddenly nostalgic and wants to have one last fling with her childhood love (who she hasn’t made contact with in a long time). This fact alone will give readers a clue into who the protagonist is. She is selfish but also borderline unlikable. On the other hand, Fiona, Emmeline's lady’s maid, is the girl to root for. She is kind, hardworking and devoted. When there is a love triangle afoot, readers are always choosing sides. The drama of WHEN WE CAUGHT FIRE will also make you choose sides. Anders is not as developed as the two girls, but he still makes a lasting appearance. He is both mysterious and mischievous. The friendly neighbor turned bad boy encompasses Anders which certainly makes him swoon-worthy. The Great Chicago Fire plays a role in this and it is so interesting to see nature as a conflict since YA rarely makes it one. Godbersen steps the drama up a notch and adds some danger to the mix. It makes for a heart-pounding novel. WHEN WE CAUGHT FIRE is the book we have all been waiting from Anna Godbersen. She takes fact from history and fictionalizes it into a romance that will set your heart aflame.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Holly

    I received a copy of this from Edelweiss in exchange for a review. When I was younger, Godbersen's The Luxe series was what got me interested in historical fiction. I will always have a soft spot for that series, which taught me so much. So when I saw this, I had to try it. I don't want to undersell this. It's actually a decent story. Fiona, Emmeline, and Anders all grew up in what is essentially a part of the slums of Chicago. Emmeline got out and took Fiona with her, but Anders was left behind. I received a copy of this from Edelweiss in exchange for a review. When I was younger, Godbersen's The Luxe series was what got me interested in historical fiction. I will always have a soft spot for that series, which taught me so much. So when I saw this, I had to try it. I don't want to undersell this. It's actually a decent story. Fiona, Emmeline, and Anders all grew up in what is essentially a part of the slums of Chicago. Emmeline got out and took Fiona with her, but Anders was left behind. Two years later, the three of them reconnect just as Emmeline's life is about to change forever. The setting is really awesome. I loved that it was set in Chicago, a town that has a rich and unique history of its own. Chicago was a boom-town in the mid-1800s and it was full of immigrants looking for a better life. This blend of people brought an interesting quality to the story, especially given that it acknowledges the rampant prejudice also present at the time. (The Irish are the focus here, though admittedly the racism is not the story's focal point.) Anyway, the history surrounding the Great Chicago Fire was fascinating, especially since I didn't know about the days leading up to it. What could have used a little more work were the characters and the plot. Neither is inherently bad by any means, but they just weren't molded as well as they maybe could have been. The plot feels overly melodramatic, with everything feeling life-0r-death, especially when it isn't actually. It subsequently makes the actual life-or-death events feel less dramatic, in a Boy-Who-Cried-Wolf kind of way. And the characters were just kind of ho-hum. It didn't feel like there was any real emphasis on getting to know them or feeling what they were feelings, especially when their feelings sometimes flipped like a switch. I wish there had been more to dive into their personalities. There are some interesting surprises along the way, things to keep you guessing. It's worth checking out if you're a history buff (Godbersen also has a very interesting author's note at the end about her research), but be prepared that it's more about the drama than the history.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Annette

    Historical fiction is my favorite genre, and The Luxe Series is one of my favorite book series. So when I saw that Godbersen had a new book coming out, When We Caught Fire, I was very excited. I was not disappointed! The reader knows that this is a book about The Great Fire that occurred in Chicago in 1871. But the story starts out about a girl, Emmeline Carter, who is a society girl soon to be married to Frederick Tree. Emmeline's father has worked very hard, in a sort of rags-to-riches story th Historical fiction is my favorite genre, and The Luxe Series is one of my favorite book series. So when I saw that Godbersen had a new book coming out, When We Caught Fire, I was very excited. I was not disappointed! The reader knows that this is a book about The Great Fire that occurred in Chicago in 1871. But the story starts out about a girl, Emmeline Carter, who is a society girl soon to be married to Frederick Tree. Emmeline's father has worked very hard, in a sort of rags-to-riches story that has gotten the Carter family accepted into society. And now he is to see his daughter "marry up." Emmeline's personal maid, Fiona, is a friend from her past. The days when they lived in squalor. Emmeline treats Fiona more like a friend, but Fiona knows that without the Carters, her family would be much worse off. She still visits her family often and gives them money each visit. But she hasn't seen the third member of their group, Anders, and she doesn't want to. They were getting along fine, but then there was a kiss, and Anders didn't want anything to do with Fiona anymore. Fiona wonders if he knows about Emmaline's upcoming nuptials. Anders and Emmaline were promised to each other at a young age. When Emmeline demands that Fiona find Anders for her just a few days before the wedding, Fiona senses trouble coming. And boy does it come! Emmeline decides she's going to bail on the wedding and run away with Enders. And Fiona has to help her with this plan. I don't want to go any further. There is excitement, entertainment, danger, romance, and some eye-rolling moments. I was thoroughly entertained the entire time. Several well known Chicago figures make an appearance, but this only adds to the authenticity. In Godbersen's accounting, it wasn't Mrs. O'Leary's cow that tipped over the lantern (this story has pretty much been debunked anyway), but of course, our characters are instrumental in starting the blaze. I enjoyed learning about that historical period in Chicago and a bit about how the city changed after the fire. Teens who enjoy historical romance will certainly enjoy When We Caught Fire, and so will adults.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Wren (WhatWrenReads)

    If i read up to at least 50% of a book, I find it hard to just DNF it. I mentioned I was just gonna DNF this but I decided I may as well give it a shot to see if I would enjoy the last half more than the first half. Unfortunately, this book wasn't for me. The concept was really interesting but I just found it way too slow for my liking. For being just under 400 pages, the pace of the story moved at a snail's pace. I kept expecting it to pick up but never quite did, and at around halfway through If i read up to at least 50% of a book, I find it hard to just DNF it. I mentioned I was just gonna DNF this but I decided I may as well give it a shot to see if I would enjoy the last half more than the first half. Unfortunately, this book wasn't for me. The concept was really interesting but I just found it way too slow for my liking. For being just under 400 pages, the pace of the story moved at a snail's pace. I kept expecting it to pick up but never quite did, and at around halfway through the book, it felt like nothing had really progressed, and those 150-200 pages could have been condensed to half that amount at least. The time period could have added so much detail to this story that could have made it more interesting, but I could hardly notice the fact that it was set in 1871, the characters and story all seemed to be caught up in some timeless period with no clear world building to really draw the reader into the time period.  As well, I struggled with the characters. I found that all 3 main characters were either unlikable, confusing or both. Anders, the love interest, was hard to understand and his motivations were unclear. Emmeline was unbearable to read, her personality was so frustrating I really could not stand her. Fiona's personality was lost in the clutter of everything else, and her character development was left in the shadow of Emmeline's personality. By the halfway mark, I had no interest in knowing where the story was going or where the characters would end up. A lot of the time I was confused of the general plot line and what was happening, so I decided to skim the last little bit. On the other hand though, this cover is absolutely stunning. It is definitely a favourite as of recent. I'd also love to know if anyone has read Anna Godbersen's other series (I never did) and whether or not you enjoyed that and if you have or will be reading this one! my other reviews

  26. 5 out of 5

    Colline Vinay Kook-Chun

    The historical aspects of this novel interested me – Chicago’s Great Fire and the possible causes of it. The fire raged over a number of days, killing people and leaving many homeless. The reference to this event in Godbersen’s novel, however, is minimal which, for me, was disappointing. The novel instead centres on the love triangle between three friends since childhood: Emmeline, Fiona, and Anders. There were some moments during the novel, especially in the beginning, when my attention wandere The historical aspects of this novel interested me – Chicago’s Great Fire and the possible causes of it. The fire raged over a number of days, killing people and leaving many homeless. The reference to this event in Godbersen’s novel, however, is minimal which, for me, was disappointing. The novel instead centres on the love triangle between three friends since childhood: Emmeline, Fiona, and Anders. There were some moments during the novel, especially in the beginning, when my attention wandered from their story. The description of their relationship was a little too repetitive and, at these moments, I wished for the novel to move forward. The story did become more interesting to me when the historical aspect of the novel was introduced. The Fire changes the relationship between the three – and also helps the women (Emmeline and Fiona) realise a little about who they are and what their own relationship with one another means to them. I enjoyed the second half of the novel more than I did the first -it was definitely the saving grace of the book for me. This novel was written for those who enjoy romance stories – more so than for those who enjoy historical fiction. As a Young Adult fiction novel, the sexual relationship described is not explicit and focuses instead on the feelings of the two women in the love triangle.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Milena

    DNF at 60% I read just over half of When We Caught Fire before deciding not to finish it. I just couldn't care about the story or the characters any longer. I wanted to read this book because I love historical fiction and I love romance, and was interested in the historical event, The Great Chicago Fire. But I just found the story poorly executed. Love triangles can be tricky and I enjoy them when they are done right, but when they are done wrong, they ruin the whole book for me. I didn't underst DNF at 60% I read just over half of When We Caught Fire before deciding not to finish it. I just couldn't care about the story or the characters any longer. I wanted to read this book because I love historical fiction and I love romance, and was interested in the historical event, The Great Chicago Fire. But I just found the story poorly executed. Love triangles can be tricky and I enjoy them when they are done right, but when they are done wrong, they ruin the whole book for me. I didn't understand Anders at all. Was he in love with both Fiona and Emmeline? (Not that I cared either way.) And Emmeline was such a ridiculous and cartoonish character. Fiona was probably the best out of three of them, but she wasn’t interesting enough for me to continue reading. The whole story was just so tedious and boring that I didn't want to spend any more of my time on it. I wanted to love When We Caught Fire because I love historical fiction but it turned out to be such a disappointment. *ARC provided by the publisher via Edelweiss

  28. 5 out of 5

    Erika Muir

    My rating: 3/5 stars ARC/RC kindly provided by Harper Collins in exchange for an honest review When We Caught Fire is a beautifully written book with, in my opinion, one of the least cliche love triangles that I have read. It had a loveable but honest to life set of characters whose interactions and growth were highly enjoyable to read however, I wouldn’t go as far to say that the book was incredibly impactful. My favourite element was the language and descriptions, especially of the fire. It isn’ My rating: 3/5 stars ARC/RC kindly provided by Harper Collins in exchange for an honest review When We Caught Fire is a beautifully written book with, in my opinion, one of the least cliche love triangles that I have read. It had a loveable but honest to life set of characters whose interactions and growth were highly enjoyable to read however, I wouldn’t go as far to say that the book was incredibly impactful. My favourite element was the language and descriptions, especially of the fire. It isn’t usually an element that stands out for me however, Godbersen use of literary devices and her colorful vocabulary were used beautifully and painted a vivid visual image for me as a reader. I have no criticism other than it didn’t move me the way an amazing book usually does. It is very far from bad, Anna Godbersen is a talented storyteller and I look forward to exploring more of her work in the future.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer

    So, I really enjoyed Godbersen's Luxe series and her series set during the Roaring 20s for their melodramatics and conniving power plays among the rich and the want-to-be rich. But this one? Not so much. It just lacked something. I didn't like any of the characters much, and I didn't even dislike them enough to make them interesting. Emmeline was too flaky and self-centered to cheer for, Fiona was better, but her angelic loyalty to her flaky and occasionally cruel friend wasn't entirely believable So, I really enjoyed Godbersen's Luxe series and her series set during the Roaring 20s for their melodramatics and conniving power plays among the rich and the want-to-be rich. But this one? Not so much. It just lacked something. I didn't like any of the characters much, and I didn't even dislike them enough to make them interesting. Emmeline was too flaky and self-centered to cheer for, Fiona was better, but her angelic loyalty to her flaky and occasionally cruel friend wasn't entirely believable, and the young man they both thought they wanted wasn't all that exciting, and I didn't buy the love triangle at all. And these three supposedly started the Great Chicago Fire? Hardly. Set against the backdrop of a real tragedy, these three just seemed petty and silly. Not my favorite, but I'd read Godbersen again because her other series were such over-the-top, soapy fun. *sexual situations, occasional language

  30. 5 out of 5

    Erikka

    Anna Godbersen is the queen of historical fiction world building in YA. You truly feel like you've been transported to another time and place. This book is no different. That being said, when you set a novel during one of the largest fires in American history, why would you spend 2/3 or more of the book on a lame and predictable love triangle? I do not like romances. I don't. This book promised me fire and gave me smoochiness. I'm not pleased. If this had been a story of Fiona surviving the blaz Anna Godbersen is the queen of historical fiction world building in YA. You truly feel like you've been transported to another time and place. This book is no different. That being said, when you set a novel during one of the largest fires in American history, why would you spend 2/3 or more of the book on a lame and predictable love triangle? I do not like romances. I don't. This book promised me fire and gave me smoochiness. I'm not pleased. If this had been a story of Fiona surviving the blaze, I'd be all here for it. If Anders happened to also be there, even semi-romantically, sure. But give me more Great Fire! And less Emmeline, because she is annoying, impetuous, flighty, spoiled, selfish, and not worth being an MC. I hate to downgrade a book for being what I guess it was supposed to be, but damn. Giant infernos are not exactly the best backdrop for a mushy romance.

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