by Jaci Burton (Goodreads, Website, Twitter)
Published by Berkley on January 7th, 2014
Genres: Contemporary, Romance
Format: eBook (320 pages)
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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.
This isn't my first Jaci Burton rodeo. I've read almost every book in her sexy sports romance series, Play by Play, which I absolutely adore. And did I mention that she's got the sexiest book covers ever? EYE CANDY ALERT!
Dr. Emma Burnett returns home to Hope, Oklahoma, now that she finally owns a vet practice which she'd purchased from a retired veterinarian. On her first day of business, she meets Officer Luke McCormack who brings in his injured German Shepherd sidekick, Boomer, and all the sexual chemistry just begins from there. Pretty Doctor meets Sexy Officer, equals, "sparks". The only problem is, both Emma and Luke haven't been on the dating wagon in so long, with Emma being busy preparing for her big business break, and Officer Luke just not in the zone for the "R" word, but they can't resist the chemistry they've got... and the cute dogs.
"Hope" is where the heart is.
Our heroine, Emma, is a victim of an abusive relationship from the man she walked out on, prior to her return to grad school. Due to the terrible experience, she's vowed never to be the weak one and a victim again, and has morphed herself into a strong independent woman. It's actually refreshing to read about her character going through a positive turn around in her life. Jaci Burton's female leads are always the best there is, because of how they're a representation of strong willed women. Now that she's opened her very own vet clinic, she's not on the lookout for a relationship, just the same as Luke.
On the other hand, Luke has been burned by his ex-wife; a city girl who can't handle the country life, and just hightailed it out of Hope, away from him when she finally thought it was too much. Poor Luke. He's such a sweet character, that can be quite dense sometimes when it comes to women, but everything else about him is perfect: a handsome protector, and an animal lover at that? I need me a Luke.
Not exactly flaming as I thought.
Judging from Jaci Burton's sports contemporary romance series, I should know her romances are often explosive and do well for me. For me, she's the Queen of Sports Romances. However, I'm assuming, since this book is a new set up and has nothing to do about sports, it had a bit of a downfall.
Hope Flames was definitely a good book to start the series. Although I'd have to say, it wasn't a huge welcome slam that knocked me off my feet. Not what I expected, but I wasn't disappointed much... okay, maybe a little. The whole book turned out to be somewhat bland.
Sure enough, there was chemistry between Emma and Luke, in the form of short circuiting electricity -- one minute it's there, then the next thing, it's gone. Something constantly appearing and disappearing. Their relationship was truly sweet, but there wasn't just enough flame to grab me and leave me intrigued.
The whole time they spent with each other in the book was mainly "hanging out" with a little bit of steamy sex coming from here and there. It wasn't exactly a 'Friends with Benefits' trope, since there was no specific discussion about it in the book. I'd rather call it a Friends-To-Lovers trope, judging from the romantic development as they spend more time with each other, alongside their adorable sidekick doggies.
I love it... kinda.
I read a lot of sweet, small town romances, and I surely consider this as one of those. Although, there were a series suspenseful scenarios, with the break ins and the robberies in the book, it wasn't exciting enough. Then again, this book isn't exactly a romantic suspense novel.