Thursday, January 23, 2014

Review: Hope Flames by Jaci Burton

Hope Flames by Jaci Burton
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.

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
Genre: Contemporary romance
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 ^_^;;


  1. Agreed. I couldn't finish it. Just not enough meat there.

  2. Thanks for the review Nath. I'll pass on this one. Agree - the pubs and authors need to shake things up. The contemporary romance series have all started to blend together.

  3. Oh man, I was thinking of stopping my reread of Julia Quinn's book, Just Like Heaven and buying this book. Maybe i'll finish getting caught up on the JQ books before reading this.

  4. Angiegirl - I'm so glad I'm not the only one feeling this way for this book, Angie!

    Leslie - No problem Les :) It doesn't make sense to me if we can no longer distinguish who wrote what and if the stories all start to bled together in my mind. Wendy was right, that's the reason why category romance is still so popular: diversity.

    Isabel - Well you haven't read a lot in the past year, perhaps you'll enjoy it more than I did. But I would finish the JQ books first LOL

  5. it was just one more contemporary romance following a pattern I've grown tired of

    Sigh… this has happened a lot to me lately. Particularly with historical romance and some contemporaries. I think it's the reason I've switched to reading other genres lately. I'm a bit fatigued. :(

  6. Hilcia - I know, me as well. I want to shake things up. I want to read different genres as well, but not sure which. Guess I'll eventually find out.