One of my favorite tropes is where the H/h have known each other for most of their lives but just never got around to hooking up. They always had some chemistry and a spark hidden beneath their every day encounters but neither one acted upon that heat. No Romance Required is just this type of book with Cory and Victoria.
Cory Santangelo is a bit of an alpha-man workaholic and he likes it that way. His family business is the most important thing to him and it has never been a big deal that he can’t keep a girlfriend. Work comes first and that has never been a thing that women have accepted. But now his brother has found the love of a good woman and his parents are focused on him alone. They are retiring and moving and give him the ultimatum that if he doesn’t find a stable relationship they will remove him from his position in the company.
After having the very frustrating conversation with his parents he runs across his life long sparring partner and ends up being photographed in a compromising position with her. He decides to propose they use the pictures to his advantage and asks Victoria to become his temporary girlfriend. At least that is what he thinks he wants until he is confronted with the major chemistry they have and the possibility that his sexual proclivities might be too much for her.
“Besides, it’s not as if you want to tie me up and drip hot wax all over me, right?” The laugh she let out was breathy and sexy. And just a little nervous.
That he could still unnerve her after all the years they’d known each other added another stack of kindling to his already blazing fire. That she’d inadvertently guesses exactly what he wanted to do to her was even better.
The fingers in his lap flexed, an unmistakable tell he couldn’t hide. He held her gaze for a moment. Two. Awareness built between them, throbbing like a heart.
Finally, she whispered, “Oh.”
Victoria has had a thing for Cory since the ninth grade but has kept it hidden. They do better sniping at each other than anything else so she has never tried to take it further. Now Cory has offered her the chance to be more and she is going to take it even if he is hesitant. When Cory’s takes the ruse too far with his family Victoria thinks she might be getting in over her head but she also thinks that she can be the one to convince Cory they can have something more than pretend.
For a while I was on the fence with how I felt about Cory. He waffles from hot to cold every other chapter and I never knew where he would stand. One minute he is emotionally distancing himself from Victoria and the next he is throwing all in with his family. It got to be sort of confusing but I think that was the point. Cory didn’t know how to feel; he knew how he wanted to feel but that was so opposite of what he was familiar with in his relationship with Victoria.
Victoria was also a bit of a contradiction. She is a very independent woman and was initially wary of what Cory was asking for. But then somewhere around the middle of the book she decided to just go with it. I would have liked more discussion between them that would have shown why she made her decision because as it was, I wasn’t sure what triggered her submitting to something she wasn’t 100% sure about several chapters before.
Even though I had those small issues, both characters were still likable and complex. They have issues that stem from family matters and those issues filter through the story as we see them fall for each other. There was a big miscommunication but it didn’t last very long and it gave Cory a chance to show a really sweet side of himself.
I really enjoyed No Romance Required. It had everything I look for in a book; likable main characters, some good angst, steamy sex scenes with a bit of kinky thrown in there. 😉 Plus there are some secondary characters that seem like they might have a story coming up. If the glimpse we got of their personalities was anything to go by, I can’t wait for the next book! Final grade- B
“Just call me Swashbuckling Manflesh and be done with it.”