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Review: Hope Flames by Jaci Burton

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Hope Flames
Author: Jaci Burton 
Reviewer: Nima
Rating: B

What I’m Talking About:

Hope Ignites is the first full length novel in the Hope Series. We were first introduced to the little town of Hope, Oklahoma, in author Jaci Burton’s contribution, “Hope Smolders,” to the Hot Summer Nights anthology released in July of 2013.  According to her author bio, Burton resides in Oklahoma and repeats the success of authors like Ruthie Knox who imagined the little hamlet of Camelot, Ohio, the state of which she is a resident, in her Camelot Series.  As a reader, the authenticity of the author’s connection with the geographical area is apparent, and I appreciated that.

I genuinely liked this book, although I can’t really put my finger on why.  This one afternoon, fluffy read has a single, uncomplicated (rather predictable actually) plot, but that doesn’t disqualify it as a worthy read.  This story focuses on the relationship (or lack of one) between Dr.Emma Burnett, Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, and local beat cop Luke McCormack.  Emma has a significant chapter in her past which has affected why she is in Hope to set up her veterinary practice.  I don’t want to downplay her experience because it deserves its due, but for as hard as Emma was working to move forward with her life, she was very repetitive in referring to it, thinking about it, and letting it motivate her—all without telling the reader what it was for the entire first third of the book.  In fact, those initial chapters read like an extended ad for animal shelters.  Everyone in this story loves animals, especially dogs, and has them with the exception of one of Emma’s friends whose landlord doesn’t allow pets.  If you love your dog, this is your book.

Having been burned by an ill-suited marriage, Luke doesn’t want to settle down ever again.  In fact, he’s very attractive and has no trouble in the one-night-stand department. He doesn’t need or want a relationship.  Perhaps it’s watching Emma and Luke try to avoid each other that makes it so much fun when they do come together.  (Hey, this is a romance, I’m not giving anything away here…)  Burton lets us feel the safety of small town life so that when something bad happens, as it inevitably does to everyone, even in small towns, we don’t really feel the threat, expecting Officer Luke to show up and save the day.  It does, however, provide some good tension toward the end of the book.  The final conclusion was too short; wrapped up too quickly in my opinion.  As characters make their final admissions and have new perspectives, I felt like I wanted just a little bit more.  I was content, but not entirely satisfied.  Guess I’ll have to read the next book!

Jane and Will, the focus of the Hope Smolders prequel novella show up in Hope Flames, but it is not necessary to have read it to enjoy this novel.  In fact, Burton has populated the town of Hope with extra characters who will no doubt make appearances in future installments.  All of the women of Hope are strong personalities, redeeming or not, and that was refreshing.  One of the extras is Logan McCormack, Luke’s older brother and rancher, holding down the McCormack homestead.  He will be the focus of the second book, Hope Ignites, due out in April of 2014.  There is an excerpt from Hope Ignites in the back of Hope Flames.

Rating: B Liked It — Recommend

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About the Book:

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.

Release Date: January 7, 2014
Publisher: Berkley
Series: Hope Series #1
 ISBN: #978-0425259764
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Format(s): Paperback (350 pgs), e-book
Book Source: Publisher/NetGalley

Purchase Info:
Hope Flames (Hope Series #1)

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