Hope Flames by Jaci Burton
Series: Hope #1
Published: January 7, 2014 by Berkley
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Thirty-two and finally setting up her veterinary practice in the town she once called home, Emma Burnett is on her own and loving it. Independent and driven, she’s not letting any man get in the way of her dreams. Not again.
That’s fine with Luke McCormack. Divorced and hardly lacking in female company when he needs it, he’s devoted to the only faithful companion in his life–his police dog. Still, there’s something about Emma he can’t shake.
When a series of local break-ins leaves Emma vulnerable, she seeks help from the first man to spark her desire in years. And now they’re giving each other something they thought they’d lost forever…hope
Hope Flames was a fairly standard contemporary romance but I did find myself losing interest several times while reading. I liked both Luke and Emma and they had great chemistry but I just couldn’t get invested in their relationship or story. I can’t really pinpoint what didn’t work for me — the pace was for the most part on target, and there was even a little mystery in the background, but I still struggled.
Both Emma and Luke have had bad relationships that affect how they see their future. Emma doesn’t want to lose herself to a man ever again after escaping an abusive relationship. Emma was sweet, smart, and dedicated as well as stubborn which causes some problems in their relationship. Luke is divorced and he’s had nothing but flings since his manipulative ex left him. At first, I worried he was going to be a bit of a jerk based on some of his early actions and comments but Luke ended up being surprisingly on board with dating Emma. He’s protective, determined and very much an outdoors type of guy.
In a way, both characters gave in too quickly to a relationship they swore up and down they didn’t want. After a one night stand they settle into a friendship but from the outside it looks like Emma and Luke are dating — in fact the whole town believes they are. And then when everything goes downhill on them they both revert back to the independent, no dating, attitude they claimed to have in the beginning but never actually had. These inconsistencies are probably my biggest complaint but overall I just had a hard time staying invested.
**Reader Safety: Heroine was in a prior abusive relationship (referenced, off page)
3 stars – it was good
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