Review: Natural Beauty
What do I think… ?
First: I LOVE the cover art. It reminds me of something my dad used to have hanging on the wall back in the 70s. Truly is beautiful.
Second: I truly enjoyed the theme of the book — a young woman is forced to make a HUGE change in her life and journals it through her hair. I’m not sure how many of us are consciously aware of what we do to ourselves and how it correlates to the state of our heart. Mahogany Brown’s journey from rocking weaves to afro puffs was emotional (I’ve been transitioning for a few years and have yet to do a Big Chop despite a strong desire to). Although the moment of the BC wasn’t a surprise, and the appearance of the sagely, bohemian sister-in-law a bit trope (I have one of those, too), I found these women 100% relatable.
Third: Mahogany’s romantic situation was believable. I can see how she was with Vinny. How they managed to stay in a relationship as long as they had. It actually kind of made me scared for my daughter who is a college freshman (not that I’m trying to marry her off); I don’t want her to be with someone by default to look up in ten years and realize the truth about them. That’s what happened to Mahogany (ugh. That name grated on me until she explained the reasoning behind it towards the end of the book).
Fourth: This is what didn’t earn the book more stars for me. Trent. Mahogany goes through this huge break up, and rightfully, she’s worried about her cubicle-mate who has the reputation of being a bit of an a-hole. Maybe I nodded off or something, but aside from her internal narration about her struggle to keep it together in front of Trent, I felt nothing pass between them. Sure, he was aloof, but the whole tension between them felt forced. I understand it was the result of a misunderstanding, but it needed a little more finessing. When Trent’s actions reveal his feelings to the reader (a little too quickly, IMO), he’s more of a sad sack than hardened man.
Yes, Mahogany lets her defenses down with Trent a little bit, then he’s all in love, but she’s hung up on Vinny. And then Vinny’s sister shows up. Then Vinny shows up beating on his chest. Yeah… I could live without love triangles.
I wish there was more time getting to know Trent. He’s not a major player in the book–her hair is. The haircare tips are cool. I want to try some of the styles suggested, but I wanted a little more connection with Trent. His family was great, but all of that was so rushed. That’s saying something for me, the non-romantic romance reader.
Perhaps my issues with the book lie in that it is a first person POV and I prefer third. Trent is an interesting character. Mahogany is too, but out of them all, I’d rather spend more time with Trent and the sister-in-law.
Fifth: The author sets scenes nicely. There was minimal time wasted on clothing details, although I rolled my eyes at some brand name dropping. Ms. DuBois did an excellent job painting a clear picture of the people and places in Mahogany’s life.
All-in-all: I liked the book. It isn’t a bad use of time or three bucks. It is cleanly written with minimal grammatical errors. Above all, it’s a cute, fun read, but I only ‘liked it.’ I really wanted to ‘love it.’