published by Berkley in January 2014
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.Genre: Contemporary romance
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
Series: Hope, Book #1
The Story: When Emma Burnett was in college, she met a man and put aside her dreams... never imagining that she was embarking in an abusive relationship. However, she was strong enough to get out and put her life back together. At thirty-two, Emma is now realizing her dreams of setting up her own veterinary practice in her hometown of Hope. For the past few years, Emma's focus has been on her studies, her work and had no time for a man. And she's not looking for one, especially not when her booming business is keeping her so busy. If only she didn't find Luke McCormack so attractive...
Luke McCormack comes from a rancher family, but decided to pursue a career in law enforcement. He's currently working for Hope police department with his K9 dog, Boomer, while waiting for an opportunity in a bigger city. He's been burned once by marriage and is therefore determined to keep his interactions with women restricted to sex, ideally one-night stands... that is until he meets Emma.
Neither is looking for a relationship, but they are both attracted to each other. What to do?
My Opinion: I'm going to start this review by stating right away that it was me and not the book. Just keep that in mind.
In the past few years, I feel that Ms Burton has really made a name for herself in contemporary romance, especially with her Play by Play series. Hope Flames is pretty much what you would expect from Ms Burton: nice characters and development, good writing and some steamy scenes :) The problem is I found Hope Flames to be boring ^_^; There was nothing refreshing or different in Hope Flames to set it apart from all the other contemporary romances out there, especially not the romance storyline. Once again, it was about two characters not looking for a relationship, who had sex and somehow embarked in a fling which became more and eventually ended with "I love you." Sounds familiar? Even the addition of cute pets couldn't chase away the feeling of deja-vu and ennui :(
To Ms Burton's credit, she did try to inject a bit of content to the book by adding a series of break-ins. The problem is that she never really developed this part of the story. They happened and Luke as a cop had to work on it, but that's pretty much it. The arrest of the perp was totally anti-climatic. As for Emma's ex suddenly coming back in the picture, to me, it was superfluous. It was just too convenient a way to create conflict in the romance and I really wasn't impressed with Emma's attitude afterwards.
Seriously, have I not known Hope Flames was written by Ms Burton and the start of a new series, I would have sworn it was part of Ms Shalvis' Animal Magnetism series. The characters, the pets and the small town feel were exactly the same... While both authors are good, one such series is enough in my opinion. I think it's time that Berkley and authors shake things up and take some risk instead of playing it safe.
My Grade: C. There was nothing wrong Hope Flames. I'm sure that it will be a comfort read for some. For me though, it was just one more contemporary romance following a pattern I've grown tired of ^_^;;