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I Belong

Review: Hope Burns by Jaci Burton

Hope BurnsTitle: Hope Burns

Author: Jaci Burton

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Series: Hope (Book #3)

Publication Date: September 30, 2014

Format: Paperback, 304 Pages

ISBN-10: 0425259781 (Jove/Penguin)

ISBN-13: 978-0425259788 (Jove/Penguin)

Reviewed by: Steph


A novel of small-town hearts and big dreams…

Molly Burnett dreads returning to her hometown of Hope for her sister’s wedding, especially knowing she’ll have to endure a weekend with the one man she never wants to see again. It’s only a couple of days, so Molly will try to forget her painful past with high school sweetheart Carter Richards. Because despite the bitter memories, she still can’t forget what they once meant to each other.

But when Molly is forced to extend her stay, Carter sees this as his second chance to do things right, to start over again with the only woman he’s ever loved. This time, he isn’t going to let Molly run. Together they’re going to confront the past and put it behind them, and hope for a future as bright as the flame that still burns hot between them.

Quick & Dirty: Molly fled her hometown at 18. Now, it’s 12 years later, and she has to return for her sister’s wedding and face a man she hoped never to see again. It’s only one weekend though, right?

Opening Sentence: This wedding was going to be a disaster.

Excerpt: Yes

The Review:

In high school, Carter and Molly were inseparable. By senior year, they were planning their future together. Then, something terrible happened, and Molly couldn’t stand the thought of being in the same town as Carter anymore. She left and never looked back. It’s now 12 years later. The thought of returning to Hope still makes Molly feel panicky and sick to her stomach, but her sister’s getting married. Molly knows she’ll have to face Carter because he’s also in the wedding; however, she’s hoping to avoid him as much as possible and leave town again once all the wedding festivities are done. Things never go as planned though, and Molly finds herself in Hope for an extended stay. Will this extended visit make issues between her and Carter worse, or will they finally be able to move on and possibly have a future together?

This book has me so torn. I really liked about 50 percent of it. The problem is, the parts I didn’t like were at the beginning and the end, so it left me feeling frustrated. The first 15 percent of the book has Molly constantly repeating that Carter did an awful thing, but never elaborates on what that awful thing was. By the time we finally find out, I was just tired of hearing about it. Now, let me say, what did happen was awful, and I hope never to be in that situation, but I couldn’t help thinking that Carter was a teenager when all of this went down, and I believe he acted accordingly. That doesn’t mean he acted correctly, but I think it needs to be taken into consideration, and it annoyed me that that point never seemed to be made.

I also just had a really hard time liking Molly in general. Up until the very end, it felt like she was just stringing Carter along. She thinks they’re just friends with benefits when they clearly act like a couple, and anytime Carter tries to do something that a boyfriend would do, she backs off and freaks out. Her actions just made it very hard for me to connect to her.

As it seems I’m just going on and on about what I didn’t like, I should reemphasize that I really did like the middle portion of the book. Despite my dislike of Molly, I really enjoyed seeing her and Carter rekindle their relationship. Carter is a great hero and any scene with him was just wonderful. The love scenes were hot and full of chemistry. It was really fun to read.

All in all, I just feel conflicted about this book. I can’t give it more than 3 stars because of the issues I had with it, but it doesn’t deserve a really low rating either. So, I’m going with the middle of the road 3. A lot of it didn’t work for me, but when everything was clicking, it was very good. I’ll be checking out more of Jaci Burton’s work to see if this one was just a fluke that didn’t work for me.

Notable Scene:

 Molly had been preparing a speech, but it was going to be hard. Still, she knew as the maid of honor it was her duty, so she took the mic next.

“I haven’t lived in Hope for a very long time, which means I wasn’t here to witness Luke and Emma’s love story. But I know love when I see it. It’s a palpable thing. Something you feel, like instinct. It’s just…there. And when it happens between two people, it can’t be denied.”

She felt Carter’s gaze on her, saw him out of the corner of her eye despite her attempt to focus only on the smiling bride and groom. She retrained her attention and concentrated on the simmering tears in her sister’s eyes.

“So, when Emma brought Luke to meet me, their love hit me instantly, and I knew he was the one for her. She had changed from this focused, driven individual, to someone who was part of a couple. She became a lot less ‘me’ and a lot more ‘us.’ And that’s what love is, when it becomes less about what’s best for the one, and more about what’s best for the whole. Because love is not a singular thing. It’s not about what’s best for me, but about what I can do to make you happy.”

Hope Series:

0.5 Hope Smolders

1. Hope Flames

2. Hope Ignites

3. Hope Burns

4. Love After All

5. Make Me Stay (December 1, 2015)


FTC Advisory: Jove/Penguin provided me with a copy of Hope Burns. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.

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