THE ACCIDENTAL BEAUTY QUEEN
By Teri Wilson
Read by Joy Osmanski
Length: 7 hrs and 30 mins
Simon and Schuster Audio
Release date: 12-04-18
I voluntarily reviewed an advance readers copy of this book. No remuneration was exchanged and all opinions presented herein are my own except as noted.
In this charming romantic comedy perfect for fans of Meg Cabot and Sophie Kinsella, critically acclaimed author Teri Wilson shows us that sometimes being pushed out of your comfort zone leads you to the ultimate prize.
Charlotte Gorman loves her job as an elementary school librarian, and is content to experience life through the pages of her books. Which couldn’t be more opposite from her identical twin sister. Ginny, an Instagram-famous beauty pageant contestant, has been chasing a crown since she was old enough to enunciate the words world peace, and she’s not giving up until she gets the title of Miss American Treasure. And Ginny’s refusing to do it alone this time.
She drags Charlotte to the pageant as a good luck charm, but the winning plan quickly goes awry when Ginny has a terrible, face-altering allergic reaction the night before the pageant, and Charlotte suddenly finds herself in a switcheroo the twins haven’t successfully pulled off in decades.
Woefully unprepared for the glittery world of hair extensions, false eyelashes, and push-up bras, Charlotte is mortified at every unstable step in her sky-high stilettos. But as she discovers there’s more to her fellow contestants than just wanting a sparkly crown, Charlotte realizes she has a whole new motivation for winning. https://www.simonandschuster.com/books/The-Accidental-Beauty-Queen/Teri-Wilson/9781508283553
This story is about twin sisters, a pageant, and a dog so of course it’s a little fluffy but it’s as tightly choreographed as a pageant and the fluff/not fluff ratio is analogous to the beauty versus scholarship portions of a pageant. It’s also about twins and in fiction there are two kinds of identical twins: one is that they are alike in personality and the other is evil twin/good twin. I’m not sure that this story falls into either camp. These two women are not very alike, and while neither of them is seriously evil, although Ginny is a bit manipulative and self-centered, she’s probably not an evil mastermind. Charlotte is good; a children’s librarian who thinks about her kids and books. She has little interest in romance, and she’s bent on helping this twin from whom she knows she’s become distant.
Teri Wilson is great at character development and complexity. She does a great job setting up and providing a rationale for both characters’ personalities and drives. And, since it is the death of a parent, it is of enough gravity to merit their idiosyncrasies. With the number of rapidly written, under-edited. and rapidly released work, this is something I appreciate. It’s interesting that Ginny chose beauty and even her twin sees her as a bit of an airhead, while Charlotte focused on reading, with sensible shoes and a ponytail. Both learn a lot about how they see themselves and others. Charlotte learns there are real people behind the facade and Ginny learns about herself and Charlotte (she is stuck in a room for most of the story so it’s hard for her to learn about others during the course of the book). Bot women learn about being resourceful, even if they have to be sneaky to do so.
The narrator brings a real sense of character to the story. It’s told in the first-person and the present tense, but it doesn’t feel like a “go-pro” camera point of view though. I think this particular tense is particularly hard to pull-off or at least it is to my sensibility. I think it is because the author focuses on observation rather than her own present-tense feelings.
There’s also a real life-lesson for the characters, and maybe a little for the readers, on finding a way back to sisterhood, releasing blame, especially wrongful blame, and issues with honesty. I also came to respect pageants more as scholarship events and conduits to other not-for-profit groups with a focu s on children and image. There’s also a romance that hints at heat but without much steam, I think you could share it with a more conservative friend, but it is not a young adult book — I would say it’s an old-enough to drink, or at least, vote, book.
I really liked this story. Beyond being cute it had something to say, and it was well said, and nicely read to boot, so, give it a tiara and a bouquet.