I know a lot of people are fans of Ms. Burton's. I, however, am not. The prose is passable. This story has been told a thousand different ways, and by golly, FFS, SHOW, DON'T TELL ME
And NOPE. The more I analyze, the worse it gets. - 1/2 star.
I have a two strikes and you’re done method when it comes to trying out authors that my fellow bloggers and readers love. I bought and read Taking a Shot last Christmas and wasn’t very impressed with it. But a lot of people I know love her books, so I decided to give it another go and requested Hope Flames.
After years of hard work, Dr. Emma Burnett has purchased her own veterinarian practice in her hometown of Hope, Oklahoma. She meets police officer Luke McCormack when he brings in his police dog, Boomer, after hours to be checked out after the dog hurt himself chasing after a suspect. I had to hold back a sigh when the monologue went on about her noticing his manly arms and hands. Luke is the footloose fancy free guy that prefers the revolving door method when it comes to his women.
Emma’s past is briefly hinted about at the beginning of the book, and because this novel held absolutely no surprises, I knew the ex would be making a return sooner or later. Luke knows he makes Emma uneasy so he offers to take her out, as his friend. Insulted, Emma believes he’s asking her out on a pity date (which isn’t too far from the truth) and rejects his offer outright. She’s moony over him after meeting him once. Why? I have no clue… in the text, he doesn’t exactly come out as a real prize.
Luke’s character isn’t anything I haven’t read a thousand times before. His ex-wife did him wrong and he’s strictly all about casual sex now. But he’s intrigued by Emma and Emma accepts his offer of a friendly date after he comes to her rescue when a break in at her clinic occurs. Everything is so spelled out in their interactions that it became almost downright painful to read. Emma is perceptive about guessing Luke doesn’t want to remarry because his ex was hell on wheels? Oh please. There is nothing resembling subtlety and nuance here, at all.
Emma and Luke move into casually dating/sleeping with one another, and more hints about Emma’s past are dropped along the way as you’re reading. Once they establish what they are to each other, or more precisely, what they’re not – the book settles into a fairly smooth groove. The romance is amicable, if unremarkable . The heat level is quite a bit lower than her Play by Play series, but the love scenes still manage to be fairly sensual.
Emma’s ex-boyfriend doesn’t make an appearance until the last 15% of Hope Flames and since Emma has long since spilled the beans to Luke, how this comes about is terribly predictable. There are a lot of animal bits which does make sense as Emma’s a vet, but I tended to skim or even skip those parts altogether. Unfortunately, the book did not work for me at all. It tended to be more boring than interesting, and I’m not remotely interested in reading her again.