Review: Diary of an Accidental Wallflower by Jennifer McQuiston
It is the start of the season and the popular Miss Clare Westmore has her sights set on a Duke. But after an encounter with a flock of geese leaves her with a twisted ankle, Clare suddenly finds herself in the wallflower line. And in need of a physician.
Enter Dr. Daniel Merial, a poor, but brilliant young doctor. He's intrigued by Miss Westmore, but knows their relationship cannot go beyond that of doctor and patient. And he can't afford distractions. But he also can't stop thinking about her.
And it is with this fated, twisted ankle that things start to change for both Clare and Daniel.
Alright, let's talk about our two love birds. Clare and Daniel seem to have a lot going against them from the start. Here is just a small list:
- They're from two different social classes
- Clare is pursuing a duke
- OMG! Can you even imagine the scandal
- Clare doesn't seem to like Daniel too much
But, as we all know in the romance world: love conquers all! After all, part of romance is getting our happily ever after.
Let's talk about Daniel real quick. I could throw a lot of adjectives out there about Daniel, steadfast, patient, caring, smart, self-assured, respectful, etc., etc., because he is all those things and more. Daniel is such a great example of a Beta Hero. I think in simplest terms, a Beta Hero is a nice guy (see all adjectives mentioned above). And I'm not talking about the self-proclaimed “nice” guy that turns out to be an actual jack-hole. I mean, genuinely, take-him-home-to-the-parents, will cook you breakfast in bed, nice guy. (See this post on Smart Bitches, Trashy Books: Alpha Beta Soup).
Daniel is kind, not just to her, but to her siblings, to Lady Austerley, and to Handsome Meg. And he's not just kind; he genuinely cares for them, going out of his way to support them. With Clare, he listens, he's candid, he likes her, “flaws” and all, right down to her crooked tooth. Which is more than Clare can say for her friend and her supposed duke. He quickly becomes the one person who Clare trusts the most. She's not afraid to throw verbal spars at him or show him how intelligent she is. And these are the qualities that Clare finds herself falling in love with.
"I came tonight because I needed to talk to someone who knows me. not the image I project to the world, but the person I am beneath." She leaned forward on the chair, searching for the truth she suspected was still somehow buried in these brimming emotions. "I came because out of everyone-those I once considered friends, even my family-you are the only one who does. I came because I wanted to, Daniel." She swallowed. "Because I want you."
The more she encounters Daniel, the more muddled her feelings become. Because Daniel derails her plans faster than she knows what to do with them.
Clare, on her part, is more than the other vapid, popular girls. She is smart, well educated and well read, and athletic. But more importantly, she is protective of her family, especially her siblings, Lucy and Geoffrey. In a world where words can make or break a person's reputation, Clare is very aware of how rumors can affect her and her family and she wants to protect them from that harsh world.
This is the Clare that Daniel comes to know and love. She doesn't hide the fact that she loves to read or that her siblings are a bit odd. Daniel doesn't judge her for that. In fact, he comes to love her even more for it and wants to protect her just as she protects her family.
“And all this talk of protection.” The fingers of his free hand reached out and brushed a strand of hair from her face. “Who protects you, Clare?”
Clare and Daniel's romance is simply adorable. Right from the start, McQuiston hits us with fantastic verbal sparring between the pair. In fact, their relationship is built on teasing banter, challenging each other, and socially appropriate touching (Because, let me tell you, when you're in Victorian England, when being alone with a man can get your thrown down the aisle faster than a freight train all the while everyone is slut-shaming you, touching in small ways, such as dancing, being helped into a carriage, or a doctor examining your foot, builds up the sexual tension like nobody's business!!!!).
There is such a push and pull with these two. There is the obvious attraction they feel for each other, but there is the obvious social difference between them as well. It is such a difference that should Clare marry Daniel she could:
- Be cut off from her dowry, leaving them penniless
- Start more rumors, providing Lucy with a ruined reputation as well
- Daniel's reputation being tarnished and no longer finding work as a personal physician for Mayfair families as he “ruined” Clare and the families no longer trust him with their wives or daughters.
But despite all this, and even while knowing all this, they still manage to fall in love. They still manage to make it work. They still get their happily ever after.
Other Things I Loved
- Lucy and Geoffrey are such fun, rambunctious siblings. They do get their own books (and are equally amazing).
- Lady Austerley. She reminds me a bit of Aunt Jo from Anne of Green Gables: an elderly woman who really doesn't care what society thinks anymore
- The fact that this book reminded me of a historical reinterpretation of the cult classic Mean Girls (sadly, without Glenn Coco).
- This whole conversation between Daniel and Geoffrey upon meeting for the first time:
“I bet you know the proper names for all sorts of things,” young Geoffrey went on. He grabbed Daniel's arm and pulled him to one side. “I've been hoping to probe the mind of a more educated man,” he whispered. “Not that I engage in such activities, but I am asking for a friend, you know.” He chanced a look behind them, no doubt checking for spies in their ranks. “Will you really go blind?” “Blind?” Daniel echoed. The boy's ears were turning a bit pink no. “You know. For doing…that.” “Er…what is that, exactly?” Geoffrey squirmed. His voice lowered to a whisper probably meant only for Daniel's ears but which still carried far too loudly “I know the common names for it, of course. Pulling the pudding. Tossing off. But maybe you've got something more polished? A phrase to impress my friends?”
Swoon Worthy Quotes
“Friendship is pale description of what lies between us,” he pointed out ominously. “And I think you know it well. You cannot convince me you do not feel this. That you do not want this every bit as much as I.” -Daniel
“I want you more than the air I breathe.” -Daniel
“I know these things about you, and still my heart is pointing me toward you. It is my choice.” She linked her hands behind his neck, pulling him down into her. “I want you, Daniel.” Her voice reached into his ear, darkly seductive. “The man you are.” -Clare
“Only you,” she whispered. No one else. -Clare