Can dogs bring together lovers? Hope Flames by Jaci Burton #Review

Can dogs bring together lovers? Hope Flames by Jaci Burton #ReviewHope Flames by Jaci Burton

Series: Hope, #1
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Published by Berkley on January 7, 2014
Pages: 320
Format: Paperback
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three-half-stars  

Who says you can’t go back? Emma Burnett learned a hard life lesson that still leaves a mark and also a determination to stay away from men since she obviously can’t choose them right. But now she is living her dream of owning her own veterinary practice back in her home town. She has her parents and her best gal pals and she is resigned to a long cold spell with her love life until attractive Luke McCormack brings in his police dog, Boomer, in for a strained leg. Not long after that, she’s on a Just Friends date and its tough to remember why she put a moratorium on men. Luke isn’t the guy who hurt her, but she doesn’t dare give up the hard fought for independence and she can’t possibly lean on a man for help ever again no matter that a rash of robberies around town even a break in at her own vet office makes her nervous.

Luke swore ‘Never Again’ when he saw the back of his ex-wife. He didn’t get women and he wasn’t putting his heart out there ever again. Hook-ups? Sure Relationships? Not Happening. So why was he constantly thinking about the sweet attractive vet and why was he going out with her again? Between dinners with the folks, dogs getting along like family, baseball game, weekend at the lake, shooting lessons and sleepovers, his resolve weakens and he starts to want something with the skittish Emma if only she would want him back.

This was a first of series story set in small town, Hope, Oklahoma. It was a gentle story in pacing, plot and development. The scenes move along in a lazy manner that was a pleasant thing to experience though I will admit to wanting to pick up the pace sooner than it did. The small ranch town atmosphere and the glimpses at fun activities like the minor league ball game, the pet adoption fair and the weekend at the lake were so well drawn and engaging. There was a little mystery for Luke and Boomer to work on with the prescription drugs thief. The inclusion of time with family, friends, and those adorable dog pals was great too.

The romance was nice and by necessity slow developing even though it had a sultry build of tension as they fought and yielded to the attraction. Both of them got burned in the past. At first, there was this thing about laying off the opposite sex forever just because of one mistake for each and that is a way of thinking that drives me nuts, but I let it go discovering that it was more than that. Luke was abandoned by his mom and his wife after his wife showed her true colors and it had all been a lie before so he did have the sense that this is what women did once they hooked a man’s feelings. Emma only had one bad relationship experience, but it was a doozy. It was very abusive and not just physically. She was mentally abused as well which took the heftier toll on her psyche. So in the end, I was really rooting for these two to overcome their fears and believe what the facts and their own eyes were telling them about each other.

“And these fries are awesome.”

“Thanks. I never have anyone to fix them for, and they’re my favorites, so you actually did me a favor.”

“So what you’re saying is that you had an ulterior motive for inviting me to dinner.”

She waggled her brows. “Maybe.”

He shoved in another, chewed, and then cast a smile her way.

“I can accept that I was used to satisfy your lust for bacon cheese fries. I’m glad to help you out. You let me know whenever the urge strikes. I’ll help you satisfy your cravings.”

  1. 71 Emma and Luke from Hope Flames

All in all, I found this a nice cozy read and would recommend it to those who love small town settings, slightly spicy romance and a gently developing plot.

My thanks to Penguin Group for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Mt. TBR #78

Romance Roundabout #154 CR

New to Me #80 series

Cliché Klatch #77 ‘live in fear’

About Jaci Burton

Jaci Burton is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling, award-winning author of over 50 books. She lives in Oklahoma and when she isn’t on deadline (which is often), she can usually be found wrestling with her uncooperative garden, wrangling her dogs, watching an unhealthy amount of television, or completely losing track of time reading a great book. She’s a total romantic and longs for the happily ever after in every story, which you’ll find in all her books.. Visit her website at www.jaciburton.com for excerpts, her blog and contest information.

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I was born and raised near Sacramento, CA. I have read since I was four years old and developed tastes that run the gamut of literature. I went away to college and have a degree in education, a certificate in family history research, and a certificate in social work. I worked for a non-profit agency with low income families for 20 years which included being responsible for the children’s library and promoting/teaching adult literacy. I have lived in Southeast Michigan for the last 18 years and I am currently a book addicted homemaker with a cat and husband who keep me grounded. Recently, I made it a challenge to review each book that I have read as a favor to author friends who said reviews are important. I have done reviews for Good Reads, Amazon, eBay, and Smashwords, but mostly at Goodreads and Amazon.
  • Lindy Gomez

    This sounds like a sweet and gentle romance, but a bit to slow in pacing. However, I love the sultry build of tension! I enjoy small town romance!

    Lindy@ A Bookish Escape

    • Yes, the pacing is the downside to get the rest of the good stuff. I’m a sucker for character development, pet characters, and ranch town settings so I put up with the slow movement to get that. Not a hardship. 🙂

  • I have a thing for small town romance Sophia and I think it’s because you don’t have to focus on the busy life and bustling crowds, it’s just quiet and adds to the atmosphere. 🙂 I’m so glad you loved this one so much. The slow tension and the character development is a MUST for me. 🙂

    • Sounds like a match made in small town heaven because that is exactly what these are like.

  • oh Jaci Burton!! Those cozy reads are always so fun! Gotta try this author soon.

  • I like the occasional small town romance, but with only 3 and half stars I think I will hold out for a better one 🙂

    • Yeah, these are good, but definitely not the best small town roms I’ve read. Just some nice cozy stuff. 🙂

  • Trin Carl

    Small town novels remind me of Nicholas Spark’s novel, “The Choice.”