Hope Flames, Jaci Burton

When I say I waited until the last POSSIBLE second to read this book, I’m not really kidding. It’s 1:30 am, I’ve JUST finished the book and I’m writing this review which gets posted in…carry the 2…4 1/2 hours. This one kind of snuck up on me. Whoops. LOL While I’m known for writing my reviews late, I’ve usually already read the book.

This book has some of my favorite things: Small towns, great family, fantastic animals (in this case 3 adorable dogs with some others making brief appearances) and a really great couple.

When we first meet Luke he’s kind of known for being a man whore. He’s been burned by the bitchy ex-wife and wants absolutely NO part of a relationship again. He’s got his job (small town cop). He’s got his dog (Boomer, a police dog). He’s happy as can be to be a love ’em for a night and leave ’em guy.

Emma, for her part, has some deep dark trauma in her past which makes her wary of relationships. She’s up to her eyeballs in debt starting up her vet practice in her hometown and has neither the time nor the inclination to get involved with anyone.

Now, for a lesser author, these two could have been very cardboard cutout. We’ve seen these characters in COUNTLESS books. Heroine needs emotional “healing” and Hero has got just the Magic Wang to do it for her. Hero needs to realize all women aren’t money grubbing bitches, and Heroine is the perfect, wholesome small-town girl to prove it. What I loved about this book is Ms. Burton didn’t take the easy way. She didn’t do these characters that disservice. She made them normal people. Yeah, Emma needs to get past the trauma of her past, but she’s doing it. On her own. She doesn’t need Luke or any guy’s Magic Wang to get her through it. And Luke, while he IS skittish about relationships (for that matter, so is Emma), he DOES realize what’s going on and he’s okay about it. For the most part. LOL.

There’s even a point in the book where Luke realizes he and Emma need to sit and TALK about the hard stuff. He knows they’re glossing things over, and he wants to go forward from where they are, and to do that they need to talk. Love it. So refreshing to see a couple like this.

There’s a couple subplots going on, one of which involves Emma and some trouble. My favorite part was this:

Someone was in her house.

So here was her independence. Should she take out her gun and go check it herself? Hell, no. She was independent. Not stupid. She needed to get out of the house now.

And let me just say for the record she was smarter than I was. When I came home a few years ago to find my house robbed, I not only went in, but I WENT UPSTAIRS before calling the cops. *sigh* Yup. I was THAT GIRL. If it was a horror movie, I would have been blonde and the first one dead. No, no. No need to tell me how stupid that was. My BFF did that already. Loudly. A lot.

ANYway…

Overall I liked this book a lot. There were a few areas where I think the info dump was a little heavy handed, and the dialogue seemed a little forced, but that was always with the peripheral characters. Where Ms. Burton really shined was with Emma and Luke. She’s created a couple who I not only enjoyed spending time with, but would love to just go and hang out with them and their dogs. Although I did notice a distinct lack of feline characters.

Lynda the Guppy
aka A Fish With A Cat
aka A Fish With Sticks

Rating: 3.5 Stars