Reviewed: March 6, 2011
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: N/A ~ (Non-Series / Stand-Alone)
Line: Harlequin Flipside
Rating: 3.5 Stars
Length: 224 Pages
Formats: Print, eBook
Despite her blond bombshell looks and family hotel dynasty, Kenna Mallory worked hard to get herself through college on her own dime after giving up her family's money to live life on her own terms. The last thing she wanted to do was step back into the ultraconservative family fold and take on the position of co-VP of her father's newest acquisition, but for the first time in her life, her father has asked her to accept the position for six months, not commanded. As the first and probably only chance Kenna will get to add a little personal color to her family's dour palette while finally gaining a little respect for her abilities, the offer is too good to pass up. She's even willing to put up with the sure-to-be-grim Mr. Weston Roth, a man with whom she will share position and power.
Wes is seriously put out and more than annoyed that the pampered princess daughter of the owner is being foisted off on him. He's been dedicated to the Mallory hotel chain for years and has worked his butt off to get to the position of VP for one of the new crown jewels, and the last thing he wants to do is vie for promotion with an airhead goddess flitting around on Daddy's dime. His first impression is quickly dashed, though, when Wes realizes that there is a keen brain and a dedicated workhorse behind the gorgeous face and colorful clothes, and Kenna's ideas for the hotel are both employee- and company-friendly as well as financially sound. Not to mention there's just something about her that gets Wes focused on all sorts of possible mergers and acquisitions.
What starts out in tense acrimony and false impression quickly grows into mutual respect and heated admiration, and a yearning beyond anything either Kenna or Wes expected.
I enjoy the light, fun romances of Jill Shalvis. She has a pleasant writing style that combines humor and romance, touches on serious themes to differing degrees, and provides solid entertainment. Natural Blond Instincts was no different. I thoroughly enjoyed Kenna's character, and appreciated that Shalvis stayed away from cliche and skirted stereotype with her blond bombshell, and didn't overly belabor her character's skill and financial acumen. It kept Kenna from being a joke. Yet there was just enough in Wes' reaction to her to touch on the very real stereotypes of money and beauty in corporate industry without being overdone.
There was a nice balance in the plot between Kenna's work at the hotel and the search for her joy, but I wish we'd seen a little more from Wes' point of view beyond his attraction to Kenna. He was slightly more one-note than I've seen in other Shalvis protagonists, and we didn't see much of him outside the job. I did appreciate that the arc of the romance didn't get bogged down in an overabundance of melodrama, however, and aspects of the journey to HEA were charming and endearing.
This was a shorter-length novel, and there were aspects of the plot and the flow of the story that were hampered by that shorter length, but it was a fun romance with many feel-good moments. It also provides readers unfamiliar with Shalvis' books a pleasant representation of her style and talent.
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