Hope Flames is the first book in the new Hope series by Jaci Burton. I am a huge fan of Burton’s Wild Rider series so when I saw that she had a new series coming out, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it. She writes smoking hot sex but one of the things I enjoy about reading her books is that the sex isn’t the primary focus. A lot of authors lately seem to build a storyline around the sex but Ms. Burton builds strong characters and interesting worlds, and then adds the sex as a bonus.
Emma Burnett is a veterinarian who has recently moved back to her hometown of Hope, Oklahoma to take over the practice of the popular town vet who had recently retired. When local police officer Luke McCormack brings in his injured police dog Boomer, the sparks fly. Luke promptly puts his foot in his mouth by asking Emma out in a way that makes it look like a pity date and Emma says thanks, but no thanks.
After a disastrous marriage and divorce, Luke is determined to never do a serious relationship again. He is careful to only hook up with women who know the deal, and his first impression of Emma is that she’s not a one night stand kind of woman. Emma has her own relationship demons and is as adamant as Luke that she does not want a boyfriend or complications.
A burglar has targeted Hope’s medical facilities, stealing all the drugs and frustrating the police. Their first break comes when Emma happens to catch a glimpse of the guy and Luke moves in to her place to protect her while they try to catch the guy. The couple and their dogs fall into a comfortable routine, despite their insistence that the relationship is just casual.
While I really wanted to love this book, I’m afraid it was just okay. There were several things that frustrated me and interfered with my enjoyment of the story, and I found myself focusing more on those things than the overall book. The first thing was the constant mentions about this horrible relationship that Emma had been in. It was brought up so often that between her inner dialogue and comments from her parents, I was expecting something much more dramatic. I’m not trying to trivialize what Emma went through, but it felt a little anticlimactic when we got the whole story.
The second thing that irked me was the wrap up of the two “dramatic” storylines. It felt like once we got to the end, there was a mad rush to finish the book and I kind of sat there and said “where’s the rest?”. There was also a complete overreaction by Emma to a situation that came out of nowhere. I don’t want to give anything away so I won’t get specific, but that part had me wondering if I had been missing pages because it felt like I must have missed something.
Despite these issues, the secondary characters were really interesting and I’m looking forward to reading the next book in the series. I’m hoping that this was just a one-off because I really enjoy Jaci Burton books overall.
*ARC Provided by Berkley
Click to purchase: Amazon
by Jaci Burton
Release Date: January 7, 2014