Carter Richards is a prominent member of Hope and an established businessman who owns a small chain of auto-body garages in the area. He grows envious as another friend marries, reminding him of the absence in his life, the void he has yet to fill. Fate helps him run across Molly on the street, and it brings back old memories and feelings of their teenage romance. Carter suspects his blunder is to blame for Molly's leaving twelve years ago. He wishes to make amends for his tactless behavior so he and Molly can finally have closure enough to move on and eventually settle down with someone. Carter decides to take a chance and rekindle their romance when Molly replaces her mother on the project of rebuilding of the town's fountain.
I had a rough time liking Molly or connecting with her. She does have a few qualities about her personality that helps redeem her. I did admire how selflessly she steps forward to handle her mother's care so her sister could have a stress-free, memorable honeymoon. Then there is how she starts to pick up on the differences between the teenage Carter and the adult one. I do realize each person deals with pain and heartache in their own way, however, I felt Molly's reaction went overboard. I admit I expected something far more sinister or darker to have prompted her to stay away from her parents and friends so long and was disappointed once I learned the truth.
Carter made the entire story enjoyable. I found his enthusiasm for Halloween adorable. He reminded me so much of my husband – who given the chance, would have decorated our home the same way Carter did his. I thought it showed much growth and maturity on his part that he freely admitted to the tactless way he behaved toward the situation he and Molly faced as teenagers and regretted it. He won me over when the opportunity to make amends presents itself because Carter did not shy away from the opening, but approached it with patience. He paid attention to the cues Molly unconsciously gave off and retreated when she got too skittish.
I squeed at the pet choice the author gave to Molly's parents. I may be a bit bias since I own three dachshunds with one being a miniature. Most authors tend to choose bigger breeds for stories. This is the second book I found a dachshund in. Another thing I liked about the story is the rapport between friends, how the community looks after each other.
HOPE BURNS is a light, yet sweet, story of second chances in a small town. HOPE BURNS is book three in Jaci Burton's Hope series. I am eager to find the two previous books in the series in order to understand the backstory. I did notice a difference in voice between this series and the author's PLAY BY PLAY series. There was sweetness in her writing that I prefer over her erotica ones.