The Accidental Beauty Queen
Charlotte Gorman is a bonafide bookworm, complete with a standing TBR and a job as a librarian. Her twin, Ginny, however, is a committed member of the pageant circuit and has one final shot to get the crown she’s been aiming for. When a freak allergic reaction threatens to derail that goal, Ginny talks Charlotte into swapping places in this charming, if off-center, contemporary tale.
The book is told in the first person from Charlotte’s PoV, so we get a sense of her character immediately. Accompanying her sister to Florida for various pageant hoopla, she plans on spending as much time as possible at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter while her sister poses and prances (or that’s Charlotte’s perspective, anyway). The language of Hogwarts and its surrounding worlds are central to this story as an aside. I found it all delightful because I am a proud Gryffindor with my own set of robes, but anyone who is a bit anti-Potter will mostly likely be turned off.
Ginny has been chasing the Miss American Treasure crown for most of her life and is bereft when an allergic reaction to something distorts her entire face the day before the preliminaries start. After some substantial begging, Charlotte agrees to take Ginny’s place and a Miss Congeniality style boot camp begins.
Over the following three days, Charlotte performs well, learns that the stereotypes she held about pageant girls were wrong, and falls in love with a billionaire who is serving as one of the judges. They have an adorable meet-cute, a hook up in a closet, and a handful of other rendezvous before they ride off into their HEA sunset. Here is where my ‘unbalanced’ comment from the opening comes in. I’m not entirely sure what story this book wants to tell.
It’s about self-discovery, and a mending of fences between sisters, and a love story, and a woman’s empowerment story and none of it is particularly well balanced. Our hero – Grey – is largely two-dimensional and beyond being a total swoon-bucket, all we learn about him is that his sister died of cancer and he’s a tech billionaire who reads as much as Charlotte does. So yes, this is a romance, but on a technicality.
There is a lot of fun in these pages – especially if you’re a Potterfan – but the ending is abrupt, the first person PoV means we get very little insight into the other two main protagonists, and I was pretty disappointed in the romance. So, if you’re interested in the premise, adjust your expectations to Frozen – a tale of two sisters with cute boys thrown in – instead of, say, Cinderella and I think you’ll be just grand.