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Animal Instincts    by Gena Showalter order for
Animal Instincts
by Gena Showalter
Order:  USA  Can
Harlequin, 2006 (2006)
* *   Reviewed by Martina Bexte

Fast rising star Gena Showalter is best known for her paranormal romances - in Animal Instincts she's taken a bit of a detour from otherworldly love stories and shows that she also has a flair for light, comedic contemporaries.

After booting her no good cheating louse of an ex-husband out of her life once and for all, party planner Naomi Delecroix is all about reinventing herself from doormat to tigress. She's fully prepared to pursue her career - and large doses of self-gratification - rather than satisfying the wants and needs of a man. Any man. Her first order of business in her new tigress persona is to schedule a meeting with corporate bigwig Royce Powel. Getting past his barracuda of a personal secretary proves challenging, but the Tigress claws her way past the woman's intimidation tactics and finally gets the all-important audience with Powell. She's a tad annoyed that he's juggling her between business calls, but the fact that Royce hires her on the spot to organize his mother's birthday bash (and at three times her going rate no less) calms Naomi's raging beast before she snaps his head off.

Naomi is taken aback by Royce, who is everything she wants in a man - tall, dark, good looking and intelligent in a Brad Pitt manner. As attraction flares between them, she must work hard to keep up constant inner dialogues reminding herself that Royce is a Triple C - corporate, controlling, and commando. In other words, and according to her new Tigress doctrine, he's strictly hands-off. Working in close contact with Royce and trying to ignore his constant and overwhelming charisma is not easy though, and it doesn't help Naomi's situation when Royce admits that he had an ulterior motive for hiring her - he's been in love with her since seeing her at another party she planned for friend. Now all he wants to do is convince her that they were meant to be together - forever. Will Naomi sheath her claws long enough to give Royce a chance? Or has her new Tigress taken full control?

This story is told through Naomi's point of view which gives the author ample opportunity to explore all of Naomi's insecurities (and she's got plenty). While Showalter does a nice job of getting into Naomi's head, she takes a bit longer than is believable before allowing Naomi to let her guard down and trust Royce's sincerity, his commitment and his love for her. Overall though, Animal Instincts is a nicely written, lively, entertaining contemporary romance with all the right ingredients for a perfect summer beach read.

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