I generally don’t read category romances, but since the Letter from the Editor at the beginning of Non-Refundable Groom called it a celebration of sensuality and said it perfectly describes “those unique pleasures that gratify our senses”, I thought I’d give it a try. Unfortunately, while Salier’s book does celebrate the sensual, it does not celebrate well-written stories or believable characters.
Elena Martin and Garrett Sims both work for a large property-management firm in California. After meeting and feeling physically drawn to each other, they find themselves both competing for a spot as vice-president. Since Garrett was “conned” by his first wife (who ran off with all of his money), he is adamantly opposed to marriage/commitment. Elena falls irrevocably in love with Garrett, but hesitates to act on her feelings because she wants that promotion, along with a raise, in order to help her widowed sister raise two kids.
Meanwhile, Elena’s sister and Garrett’s aunt sign up Elena and Garrett for a dating service. Lo and behold, these two are matched and spend three romantic (and sensual!) dates together to fulfill the dating service contract. After a few kisses and caresses, they fall deeply and madly in love, despite the fact that they are competing for that promotion.
Salier seemed to follow a very predictable formula, and as a result, the whole story seemed quite contrived. Unrealistic coincidences caused me to lose faith in the credibility of the novel time and time again. For example, every time Garrett and Elena begin an intimate moment, a cellular phone rings, someone knocks at the door, etc . . . . By the third time, I was too busy anticipating the interruption to enjoy the intimacy! The list goes on and on (I don’t want to give away the entire book!) Additionally, Salier uses a very colloquial style of writing. I realize the book is a contemporary, and she’s trying to implement vernacular of the 1990’s, but when I read a sentence such as “. . . she began to feel like he was her man,” I just have to laugh!
My standards for romance are simple – believable characters, interesting plot-lines, and compassionate love scenes. This book simply didn’t achieve those standards, and didn’t do much in the bargain for my view of category romance.