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Lori McAfee
Burning Hope
Lori McAfee, author
Burning Hope tells the love story of Gabby and Griffin, complete with all the twists and turns that threatened to take them away from each other and God. As their story shows, we all long for love. We can all feel abandoned, ashamed and full of despair. And we all can get entangled in worldly pleasures when walking between the twin flames of romance and faith. In the end, God teaches that facing our pain is the only way out. Then, through the gentle breeze of grace, we can be guided into unexpected encounters of redemption and hope - learning that love can heal invisible scars left by the blazing flames of our past. As the faithful romance at the heart of Burning Hope shows, it is never too late to find redemption, and to walk into the life we were created for.
Inspirational life coach and podcaster McAfee debuts with a warm, inspired, and polished Christian new-adult romance that overflows with grace as its heroine strives for perfection. Away from her small South Carolina hometown, UNC freshman Gabby falls hard for a bad-boy guitarist during her first week of nursing school. Her grades nosedive as the couple moves in together and marries, much against her loving sister’s wishes. Despite Adderall addiction, losing a coveted internship, and divorce, Gabby claws her way out of depression into the arms of firefighter Griffin Gerardi. But her toxic insecurities threaten to shatter their love as bumps in the road to becoming a nurse challenge her perfectionism.

Thoroughly realistic in its representation of new-college student challenges, this cautionary tale depicts the temptations of parties and romance, which distract Gabby from her academic goals. Luckily, her modern, laid-back faith strengthens her. Voices of reason come in the forms of rock-song lyrics and a radio DJ, as well as her sister, who steady Gabby when she most needs direction. The Christian element does not slow the pace or dominate the narrative, and it’s unlikely to deter secular readers, as many of the novel’s resonant gems of wisdom belong to no one tradition. Gabby embodies the classic picture of a college girl, sporting crop tops and drinking with the opposite sex. Love scenes remain implicit.

An action-packed prologue hooks the reader and offers a sneak peek at how Gabby and Griffin meet. First-person point-of-view in present tense lends an active voice to quieter passages and showcases Gabby’s diamond-in-the-rough, courageous character. Likewise, the conversational writing style promotes a sense of intimacy between protagonist and reader. Poetic prose matches swoon-worthy characters, like the bad boy with “a laugh that makes his whiskey-colored eyes bloom to sunburst.” Burning Hope’s satisfying narrative and characters will uplift fans of contemporary, sweet love stories.

Takeaway: Warm, realistic, uplifting romance with nuanced messages of faith.

Comparable Titles: Jessica Park’s Flat-Out Love, Jill Penrod’s Girls Aglow series.

Production grades
Cover: A-
Design and typography: A
Illustrations: N/A
Editing: A
Marketing copy: A

Barnes & Noble

A great read that grabs you into the real and rawness of life! You’ll be able to see the beauty in the story.