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.
*Blurb taken from Goodreads*
Just like Molly’s sister Emma, there were a whole lot of times when I wanted to shake Molly until some sense crept into the cracks in her head. This installment in Burton’s Hope series just doesn’t quite live up to the promise set by Emma’s own story in Hope Flames.
We’ve met Molly before, but only on the other end of Emma’s telephone. Molly left home as soon as she graduated college and has never come back. Not in 12 years. It’s not about her family, either. She and Emma talk on the phone all the time, and both Emma and their parents have visited Molly often over the years, wherever she happens to be.
Molly is kind of an urban nomad; every six or twelve months, she packs up everything and moves to another city. She starts a new job, helps straighten out some company that needs help, and then in no more than a year she’s on the road to some other city.
She says it’s what she wants, but what she really wants is never to see Carter Richards again, preferably for the rest of their lives. Carter was her high school sweetheart. They had all sorts of plans for the future. And then Molly left, and no one knows why.
Molly has to come back to Hope for Emma’s wedding to Luke McCormack (see our review of Hope Flames for more deets on that relationship). But Molly comes back, and practically the first person she sees when she gets to town is Carter Richards. A meeting that proves to both Molly and Carter that the embers of whatever they had is still there. And Molly doesn’t want to do anything about it, but Carter definitely does.
Convincing Molly is the hard part.
So this second chance at love story has a lot of relationship hurdles to get over, the biggest one being that Molly intends to leave town the morning after the wedding. It hurts too much to be back home.
When her mother falls off a ladder and breaks both and arm and a leg (along with some ribs), Molly finds herself stuck in Hope, helping her dad take care of her mom, and trying her damndest not to build a life.
Instead, she reconnects with all her old friends and mostly good memories, and finds herself being sucked back into the life of a town she swore she’d never come back to. And since she can’t get away from Hope for a few months, she decides that the best way to deal with her wounds about Carter is to fall into bed with him again, but this time with no strings, no hopes and no dreams.
Or so she tells herself. It’s up to Carter to convince her otherwise before it’s too late.
As I said at the beginning, I wanted to shake Molly until her teeth rattled. It’s not that she doesn’t have good reasons for being hurt, it’s that her method of dealing with them was a bit extreme. Also that she exercises one hell of a lot of self-deception regarding her current feelings and behavior.
De-Nile is not just a river in Egypt. Apparently it has a tributary somewhere near Hope.
It was pretty easy to figure out what the big crisis was 12 years ago that drove Molly away. Molly was pregnant, and the child was absolutely Carter’s. No question.
They were still in the mad panic of figuring out what to do and how to adapt their future plans when Molly miscarried. Molly descended into grief, and Carter got shut out and started rebuilding his original plans for the future. His method of grieving was to distance himself. Molly never forgave him for seeming to be relieved that the baby was gone.
They were 18 and managed to never tell anyone. So they both suffered their grief in silence; and alone.
Molly never forgave Carter’s 18-year-old-self for seemingly not standing by her. Carter was just an 18 year old kid. He grieved, too, but he did start moving forward, and it was too fast for Molly. Molly, on the other hand, has spent the last 12 years burying her grief and her feelings. She keeps moving, but she doesn’t ever move forward. Her life is stalled.
Carter has no idea how Molly feels. She’s never told him that either. She’s never come back in order for them to find some kind of closure. When she does finally come back to Hope, he realizes that he still loves her. That he’s always loved her, and that no one else has quite measured up.
Carter wants her back, and Molly still thinks she wants to run away.She spends most of the book fooling herself that her temporary relationship with Carter has no-strings attached and is not even a relationship. The amount of self-deception on Molly’s part is almost mind-boggling.
So it was great to see the couples from the previous stories in Hope, and it was fun to see Molly rebuild her relationships with her friends, but she drove me bananas.
I give Hope Burns a C+