By Jaci Burton
Mass Market Paperback, E-Book 320 pages
Berkley, a Penguin Group Imprint 07 Jan 2014
18 – AND UP
E-Galley provided by publisher via Net Galley. No remuneration was exchanged and except as noted all opinions presented herein are my own.
When it comes to love, they already know the rules…by heart.
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. www.us.penguingroup.com
Confession time: I don’t think I ever read anything by Jaci Burton before this book.
I’m not sure how that came to be, but her sports series gets raves so when I was invited to read this on Net Galley I decided to go for it.
I am so glad I did. This is just great contemporary romance. I couldn’t put it down. Luke and Emma make one hot couple and I didn’t feel a single line, moment or move was untrue. Even though Jaci has to apply some hyperbole to make a point it all works within the context of the book.
Characters: Emma is a very committed veterinarian. Like many of us, she put her dreams on hold because of a relationship. It turned out to be a bad relationship. We get a lot of hints about how bad it was but it’s murky until she decides to come clean with Luke. Emma has enough idiosyncrasies that make her a unique and likable character: loves baseball, is aware of her mother’s quirky personality and avoids conflict but is still open and loving with her mother and able to really hear when she makes a good suggestion.
Luke is one of the hot brothers the first two books are centered on. His issues with his mother were highlighted and oddly, I read another book this week where a male character had emotional issues due to maternal abandonment. Luke was raised on a ranch but became a cop — being a rancher just wasn’t for him When he and Emma first end up at the ranch to meet his brother, I thought “Oh, here we go with some kinky stuff.” But, nope. He was just showing her part of his life.
Sexy Times: There’s no shortage of hot, passionate hook ups. Neither character is inhibited; the sex is straight vanilla but occurs inside, and outside and in a lot of rooms. The relationship is fabulous to watch because of the dance the couple does around each other, but the hook-ups make the book extra yummy.
Location: Hope is a small town in Oklahoma (I’m pretty sure it’s OK). It’s one of those great Shangri-Las of a town, it probably doesn’t exist but, oh, if it did! I loved the feel of the town; Jaci gives it real, contemporary crime, so it’s not utopia, but it sounds lovely.
Plots and Story: It’s a contemporary romance with a thriller aspect. Except for a couple of surprises in how the story plays out, unless this is the first contemporary romance you’ve read, you’ll know where its heading. And, it’s okay to know that: the romance, heat and that baggage all make for an interesting story. The stasis is that both characters have a way they see their lives going and meeting each other throws those plans out of whack. Both have stuff to recuperate from. There’s also a couple of storylines that put each character in danger. As they expand and culminate the baggage from her past collides in a big way with the way they are conducting their relationship.
SEMI-SPOILERISH: use your mouse to highlight the text and make it visible: So her baggage is an abusive ex-boyfriend who, while she has recovered to be able to function and she she’s back on track with her goals but she is continuing to allow that relationship to color how she moves forward. She has filled her life to the point where she thinks having relationships will get in the way. This past comes back to haunt them more than metaphorically proving that she has allowed it to be the driving force in her life. In short, her ex is still controlling her.
He had a mom who didn’t want to live on a ranch and who didn’t want kids really. She abandoned them emotionally, before she even left. He also married a woman who was really similar to his mom. This is his baggage. He thinks no relationship with a woman could work out.
They’ve both built their lives with all this baggage pretty well; they function perfectly for the most part. Most of us have learned to function despite or because of our pasts. Well, sometimes you get on one flight and your luggage gets on another. You get to your destination and you have to start over with new clothes and toiletries. Wouldn’t it be great if we could just lose our emotional baggage in transit? It usually catches up to you but in the meantime, you have learned something. In recognizing that the baggage is just extra weight your carrying through life, you have the chance to pack lighter. What baggage are you carrying that slows you down and holds you back?
Jaci Burton has really mastered the contemporary romance. Hell, I wanted to move to Hope; it sounds like a great small town (I also wanted to shed 25 years and look much hotter)! If you like erotic romance with a great emotional component and a little danger, then this is a great new series to try! I HIGHLY RECOMMEND HOPE FLAMES!
Tomorrow I look at the next book in the series, HOPE IGNITES!