Title: Seduction Diaries #1: Diary of an Accidental Wallflower
Author: Jennifer McQuiston
Release Date: February 24, 2015
Genre: Historical, Romance
ARC Received From: Edelweiss
Reviewed For: Tasty Book Tours
Pretty and popular, Miss Clare Westmore knows exactly what (or rather, who) she wants: the next Duke of Harrington. But when she twists her ankle on the eve of the Season’s most touted event, Clare is left standing in the wallflower line watching her best friend dance away with her duke.
Dr. Daniel Merial is tempted to deliver more than a diagnosis to London’s most unlikely wallflower, but he doesn’t have time for distractions, even one so delectable. Besides, she’s clearly got her sights on more promising prey. So why can’t he stop thinking about her?
All Clare wants to do is return to the dance floor. But as her former friends try to knock her permanently out of place, she realizes with horror she is falling for her doctor instead her duke. When her ankle finally heals and she faces her old life again, will she throw herself back into the game?
Or will her time in the wallflower line have given her a glimpse of who she was really meant to be?
Other books in this series
In a book world where Regency heroines are fiercely independent, sometimes a social outcast, and definitely bluestocking in their way of thinking, this book was a nice break. I don't mind independent heroines, especially during this time period, yet there is something so...relative about a woman struggling with fitting in while maintaining her own identity.
Why? Because it's something many women struggle with today.
I was somewhat amused at Clare's attempts to appease to Mr. Alban. Mind you, I didn't agree, not one bit, but I was amused. She dumbed herself down to appear like a woman Mr. Alban would want, a woman who would make a biddable wife, a pretty arm piece, and a graceful hostess. Clare could be all those things...except biddable. Marriage to the wrong man (Mr. Alban) would result in a lifetime of lukewarm happiness, of possibly questioning her choice of husband, of wondering if maybe she had missed out on something extraordinary.
Daniel was a doctor, a man beneath Clare's social class, yet he possessed more sense in his pinky than she did in her brain. For a woman who loved to learn and read, she certainly didn't show it as often as she should have. Daniel saw her for who she really was and he appreciated who she was. He didn't ask or expect her to be anything less than herself. Any man worth his salt would, I think, see Clare as a woman worth taking to wife for the adventure she'd turn their marriage into. Mr. Alban, for all his prestige and soon-to-be wealth, was not that man. But how do you help someone see their worth isn't defined by social standards?
I was frustrated with Clare. I wanted her to see herself through Daniel's eyes, to learn to appreciate her desire to read and learn even if it was frowned upon by society. Who cares if she was interested in bones and the editorial section instead of cloth swatches and the gossip column? Did what she wear really matter? Was an injury really worth trying to be fashionable?
Alone, Clare wouldn't have found the answer to any of those questions. With Daniel, she did. Her brother Geoffrey and sister Lucy helped her find them too. Age might bring maturity but it doesn't mean changing who you are completely. Clare did that to fit into society and gain the friends she thought she needed. Her injured ankle showed how wrong she was and how misplaced her value in herself was.
The romance between Clare and Daniel took time to develop. At times, I wondered what the hell he was doing with her. I found her forced shallowness too much to handle at times, and I wanted to reach through my Kindle and slap the crap out of her. The ending was worth all the frustration I felt with her because everything happened in its own time.
Ms. McQuiston wrote an intriguing historical romance between two very unlikely people who see society differently yet manage to find themselves, as individuals and as a couple, as they grow to love each other. The most important lesson I took from this story is one I hope to pass on to my own daughters: You'll never be happy in life if you let society (or others in it) define who you should be. You are fearfully and wonderfully made. Quirks and all, you are meant to be no one else but you.
“Pity to let him go by without saying anything. You could have shown him your overhanded throw, the one you use for Cook’s oldest biscuits.” Geoffrey pantomimed a great, arching throw out into the lake. “That would impress him, I’m sure.”
The horror of such a scene—and such a brother—made Clare’s heart thump in her chest. To be fair, feeding the ducks was something of a family tradition, a ritual born during a time when she hadn’t cared whether she was wearing least year’s frock. These days, with their house locked in a cold, stilted silence and their parents nearly estranged, they retreated here almost every day. And she could throw Cook’s biscuits farther than either Lucy or Geoffrey, who took after their father in both coloring and clumsiness. It was almost as if they had been cut from a different bolt of cloth, coarse wool to Clare’s smooth velvet.
But these were not facts one ought to share with a future duke—particularly when that future duke was the gentleman you hoped would offer a proposal tonight. No, better to wait and greet Mr. Alban properly this evening at Lady Austerley’s annual ball, when Lucy and Geoffrey were stashed safely at home and she would be dressed in tulle and diamonds.
“I don’t understand.” Lucy stretched out her hand, and this time Clare took it. “Why wouldn’t you wish to greet him? He came to call yesterday, after all, and I was given the impression you liked him very much.”
Clare pulled herself to standing and winced as a fresh bolt of pain snatched the breath from her lungs. “How do you know about that?” she panted. “I didn’t tell anyone.” In fact, she’d cajoled their butler, Wilson, to silence. It was imperative word of the visit be kept from their mother, who—if last Season’s experience with potential suitors was any indication—would have immediately launched a campaign to put Waterloo to shame.
“I know because I spied on you from the tree outside the picture window.” Lucy shrugged. “And didn’t you say that he asked you to dance last week?”
“Yes,” Clare agreed between gritted teeth. Mr. Alban had asked her to dance last week, a breathless waltz that had sent the room spinning and held all eyes upon them. It was the third waltz they had shared since the start of the Season—though not all on the same night, more’s the pity. But the glory of that dance paled in comparison to the dread exacted by Lucy’s confession.
Had her sister really hung ape-like from a limb and leered at the man through the window?
Except…hadn’t Alban sat with his back to the window?
She breathed a sigh of relief. Yes, she was almost sure of it.
He’d spent the entire quarter hour with his gaze firmly anchored on her face, their conversation easy. But despite the levity of their exchange, he’d seemed cautious, as though he were hovering on the edge of some question that never materialized but that she fervently wished he’d just hurry up and ask.
Given his unswerving focus, there was no way he would have seen her clumsy heathen of a sister swinging through the branches, though she shuddered to think that Lucy could have easily lost her balance and come crashing through the window in a shower of broken glass and curse words. But thankfully, nothing of the sort had happened. No awkward siblings had intruded on the flushed pleasure of the moment. Her mother had remained oblivious, distracted by her increasing irritation with their father and her shopping on Bond Street.
And to Clare’s mind, Mr. Alban had all but declared his intentions out loud.
Avon © 2015 Jennifer McQuiston
A veterinarian and infectious disease researcher by training, Jennifer McQuiston has always preferred reading romance to scientific textbooks. She resides in Atlanta, Georgia with her husband, their two girls, and an odd assortment of pets, including the pony she promised her children if mommy ever got a book deal.