Review: No Strings by Cara Lockwood

no stringsTitle: No Strings

Author: Cara Lockwood

Mills & Boon imprint: Dare

Year of publication: 2018

The heroine: Freelance writer Emma Allaire

The hero: App developer Xavier Pena

The blurb: A one-night stand is out of the question. Until good girl Emma Allaire meets tall, dark and drop-dead gorgeous Mr. X through an anonymous hook-up app and her sexiest fantasies come to life. Who is this enigmatic man in her posh hotel room bed? Mystery lover, man of her dreams or liar—will he save her heart or break it forever?

Standalone or series: Standalone

The review: Emma Allaire is approaching her thirtieth birthday and her love life hasn’t exactly been anything to write home about up to now, so when her best friend Sarah signs Emma up to a new app called Nost, Emma is reserved but intrigued. Nost is short for No Strings, and it’s similar to Tinder – you can see other users who are near you and can hook up with them for a one night stand (or two, if you like). However, after 48 hours, their profile is gone from view forever.

Emma pushes out of her comfort zone and agrees to meet a man at a bar. When he turns up, however, the man has obviously used a fake profile because he’s nothing like the photo. Emma tries to be nice but he gets nasty, so she’s grateful when a tall, dark, handsome stranger intervenes. Turns out he’s Mr. X, another user whose profile she’d viewed. They have a drink and talk, and Emma finds herself unable to refuse his invitation to go to a room at the hotel they’re in.

The next morning, Emma finds herself bereft to see Mr. X has gone, but he’s left her a note instructing her to meet him in the hotel lobby that night. What follows is a series of hookups in which Mr. X walks away after every encounter.

Mr. X is Xavier Pena, the man who developed Nost. After watching his bipolar mother cheat on his devoted father for years, and then having his own fiancee cheat on him with other men, Xavier has given up on the idea of true love. So he developed Nost with people like himself in mind – those who want sex with no strings attached. He’s made good use of the app, burning through women without a second thought, but that all changes when he meets Emma.

Emma wants to know more about Xavier, but he’s a closed book. She does eventually learn about the cheating ex, and he tells her about his mother. Emma understands why Xavier is so reticent to be in a long-term, committed relationship, but she realises she’s in love with him. However, when she realises he’s still messaging other women on Nost, she ends the relationship.

Xavier comes to realise that he doesn’t want anyone else but Emma, so he faces his demons and goes after her. When Emma has another run in with the creep from the first Nost date, Xavier gets to her just in time.

I enjoyed this book and the chemistry between the leads, but I found Xavier a little annoying at times. I understood his reasons for not wanting a serious relationship, but Emma was a great heroine, and his constant pushing her away became grating. But they got there in the end, and the epilogue provided a nice little insight into their relationship down the track.