It’s 1871, and Emmeline is poised to take Chicago’s high society by storm. With her faithful best friend and lady’s maid, Fiona, by her side, all of Emmeline’s dreams are about to come true. And Fiona is delighted by her best friend’s rise to prominence—even if it means living in the shadow of Chicago’s elite. But on the night of Emmeline’s engagement party to the most eligible man in the city, Emmeline is suddenly struck with the memory of a life long ago, a childhood spent in the swamplands of Chicago, and Anders, the boy who she left behind there. Anders, who is now a hot-shot boxer in the bad part of town . . . Anders, who Fiona loves as well. When Emmeline risks everything to see him for a final fling, Fiona can’t help but feel like she’s losing the last thing that was truly hers—her heart. It’s only a matter of time before everything goes up in flames: their friendship, their love, and even the city of Chicago itself.
When We Caught FireFeatured
When We Caught Fire
It's 1871 and Emmeline Carter is set to married eligible Chicago bachelor Frederick Tree. But she can't forget her first love, Anders Magnuson. Fiona Byrne is her best friend and happy for Emmeline's rise in society. This means she can pursue Anders. She loves him, but fears his heart is still with Emmeline. Then Emmeline catches Anders during a boxing match and thinks she still loves him. She wants Fiona to arrange for her to leave Chicago with Anders right before the wedding of the year. Tragedy hits Chicago as the whole city is on fire. Each of the three friends holds secrets. Will they survive the night or will the secrets consume them too?
What worked: I love Godbersen's historical Luxe series and was really excited to find out she wrote another story. This one is set during the 1871 Chicago fire and is just as engaging as her previous works!
Sometimes love triangles are overdone in YA novels, but this one works. Emmeline, Fiona, and Anders are childhood friends and only later, after Emmeline's father rises up in society, does the friendship unravel. Fiona ends up becoming Emmeline's maid and with the recent society announcement, hopes to pursue Anders. Fiona is that loyal friend that will do just about anything for you. She's also strong and wants what's best for the ones she loves. Even if that means walking away from the boy she loves.
Emmeline at first comes across as scattered and confused. She really loves the new life her father has worked hard to give. The problem comes when she's not sure if she really loves Anders or is more in the love with the memory of that childhood romance.
Anders is torn between his childhood declaration of love to Emmeline and how he feels about Fiona. Those scenes when he's with Fiona are very bittersweet. Both come from the same working class background and I feel this helps them understand each other more. The final reveal is sad and I hope the ending sentence of this book means that happiness will come to all of them again.
Captivating historical romance set during the 1871 Chicago Fire where love between three friends consumes the pages.