BOOK REVIEW: No Flowers Required by Cari Quinn

He’ll give her everything she desires … except his identity.

Flower shop owner Alexa Conroy had it all before the recession hit and her customers fled to cheaper shopping grounds. Desperate to make ends meet, she sells her dream home and moves into the rundown apartments above her shop. When she spots six feet of sexy distraction – complete with muscles, piercings, and tattoos – ripping up flooring, Alexa knows the karmic windfall she’s due just landed on her doorstep.

And the attraction’s definitely not one-sided.

Dillon James, reluctant heir to the corporation about to foreclose on Alexa’s shop, is not about to jeopardize their scorching chemistry by admitting he’s not the building’s handyman. But with only weeks until her business goes under and his identity is revealed, Dillon must find a way to convince Alexa cooperation isn’t a dirty word, help her save the shop from his brother’s greed, and persuade her that he’s not the enemy … or risk losing the only woman who’s seen the real him.

review

When I pick up a book, I am first and foremost looking for an escape from reality. Not that reality is all that bad but sometimes my imagination needs an opportunity to take over the reins and for everything else to take a back seat. I also need a credible and intense romantic attachment between the characters, they don’t need to be taking each other’s clothes every five minutes but I need to feel the chemistry between them, I need sparks, I need possession, I need desperation. Finally, I need a solid plot. Events can’t be random, disjointed, difficult for me to justify and they can’t be out of character. Everything else is a bonus. I adore books that make my heart race, stutter, fall, break, ache, but I also very often look for quite the opposite.

Having said all that, I am somewhat deadlocked when it comes to this book.

The story is cute, enjoyable, maybe predictable but that is not always a bad thing. It let my mind flap around it, fed the escapist junkie in me and that satisfied me. The story had a solid plot, a premise it followed through and that satisfied me too. The attraction between Alexa and Dillon was palpable, deliciously out of control and very emotional. No need to tell you how satisfied that made me. Where I think it failed to get my full attention was in the characterisation of the main players. I won’t deny that there was good character development but there was not enough of a ‘journey travelled’ for them, in my opinion.

Alexa remains a mindboggling enigma for me. To say that her behaviour perplexed me at times would be an understatement. I did not quite understand her deep hate for her competitor and landlord – one does not usually detest so passionately a landlord that is only asking for rent to be paid on time. Even the competing business angle is not enough to justify the intensity of her feelings towards Value Hardware. Furthermore, Alexa was portrayed as controlled, determined, loyal, guarded with her own feelings and heart, but we never got to find out why she had such reservations about letting herself love. This was in stark contrast with her passionate personality, her devotion to her friends and family. All this made it very difficult for me to bond with her as a reader. She felt very foreign to me and I just couldn’t connect.

Dillon is a far more likeable character than Alexa. I really liked his interactions with his brother, his affection towards his mother, his caring nature towards everyone that meant something to him in his life. He was much nicer to Alexa than she ever was to him. While he was openly wearing his feelings for her on his sleeve, doing everything in his power to make her happy, she was mainly after the physical side of their relationship.

“His face might as well have been set on stun for its effect on her traitorous body.”

While he brought her flowers and bought her daisy rugs for her bathroom, she jumped him whenever she saw him. Even her progression into ‘feelings territory’ felt slightly unnatural in the end. It almost implied that she loved him only out of gratitude for all he had done for her. Dillon’s feelings for Alexa, on the other hand, were touching. His demonstrativeness and protectiveness towards her made my heart melt, not to mention how tender he was with her when she needed him the most and how much faith he had in her abilities. He definitely ticked all the boxes in my book.

This is a story about people falling in love with each other for all the right reasons, free from all the complications that usually cloud our minds when it comes to letting go. Alexa, in essence, did not fall in love with the façade of a man but rather with the core of the man itself – she felt in love with a man who she thought had very little in life, a hard-working handyman that she learned to trust with her heart for the very first time.

“You broke down every one of my walls … They were so strong that no one ever got through. No. One. … You were the only one I trusted.”

For Dillon this was a journey of acceptance of one’s roots and responsibilities. We got an insight into the man that he has been and the one he wanted to be. I did not feel that his ‘sin’ towards Alexa was a grave one and I believe that he gave her everything and took very little from her. I guess it wasn’t ultimately about the lies, but rather about the reasons behind those lies and whether deception is sometimes the only thing that can save us from our own prejudices.

I am very torn about this book because I find myself wishing to really really like it but at the same time I seem to be stuck in wanting to be somewhat overly critical of the characters. However, I did enjoy this book. It might have not blown my socks off or left any life-changing impressions but it was an easy, pleasant and angst-free read and sometimes that is exactly what the heart needs.

3stars

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