The Accidental Beauty Queen

The Accidental Beauty Queen

by Teri Wilson

Paperback

$14.40 $16.00 Save 10% Current price is $14.4, Original price is $16. You Save 10%.
View All Available Formats & Editions
Want it by Friday, December 14 Order now and choose Expedited Shipping during checkout.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781501197604
Publisher: Gallery Books
Publication date: 12/04/2018
Pages: 304
Sales rank: 120,502
Product dimensions: 5.31(w) x 8.25(h) x 0.80(d)

About the Author

Teri Wilson is the author/creator of the Hallmark Channel Original Movies Unleashing Mr. Darcy, Marrying Mr. Darcy, and The Art of Us, as well as a fourth Hallmark movie currently in development. Teri is a double finalist in the prestigious 2018 RWA RITA awards for her novels The Princess Problem and Royally Wed. Teri also writes an offbeat fashion column for the royal blog What Would Kate Do and is a frequent guest contributor for its sister site, Meghan’s Mirror. She’s been a contributor for both HelloGiggles and Teen Vogue, covering books, pop culture, beauty, and everything royal. In 2017, she served as a national judge for the Miss United States pageant in Orlando, Florida, and has since judged in the Miss America system. She has a major weakness for cute animals, pretty dresses, Audrey Hepburn films, and good books. Visit her at TeriWilson.net or on Twitter @TeriWilsonAuthr.

Read an Excerpt

The Accidental Beauty Queen 1
My sister has always been the pretty one. The Jane Bennet to my Elizabeth, the Meg March to my Jo.

It’s been this way for so long that I’ve never questioned it. It’s never even bothered me much. It just is.

Ginny is my sister, and I love her, no matter how different our lives are. And trust me, they’re about as opposite as you can imagine. But the chasm between our worlds has never been quite so glaringly obvious as it is now, because instead of restocking books on their respective shelves, I’m standing in an elevator at the posh Huntington Spa Resort in Orlando, Florida, on the first Monday afternoon of summer.

For starters, at five feet seven, I’m by far the shortest person of the half dozen or so on board. This is a rarity for me. As an elementary school librarian, I’m accustomed to towering over people for the majority of my waking hours. I’m also used to sitting in tiny chairs and using tiny, bluntedged scissors, but that’s beside the point. Five feet seven isn’t short. . . .

Unless you’re riding an elevator packed with beauty queens.

I don’t know what I expected when I signed on to spend a week cheering for my sister at the Miss American Treasure pageant, but it wasn’t this. The preliminary competition doesn’t start for another two days, so why are they all wearing crowns and sashes already? And what is going on with their shoes?

Beauty pageant contestants wear heels. I know this, obviously. I mean, I’ve seen Miss Congeniality at least twenty times over the years, thanks to Ginny. But these are beyond high heels. Gracie Lou Freebush wouldn’t have lasted a minute in them.

No offense to Sandra Bullock. I’m just saying.

I tighten my grip on the handle of my suitcase, suddenly extremely conscious of the state of my hair. Orlando is one of the most humid places on earth, and the half hour ride on the airport shuttle was not kind. For once, I actually feel sorry for Ginny. It’s one thing to be expected to look perfect onstage, but hotel elevators should be a safe space. I, for one, plan to be roaming the halls in a spa bathrobe and complimentary slippers en route to the vending machine for the majority of my stay.

But to each her own.

Besides, Ginny chose this life, just as surely as I chose mine. She also gets paid more for one sponsored Instagram post than I make in a week, and when I remember this, I keep my sympathy in check.

The elevator comes to a stop on the fifth floor, which has clearly been reserved for the pageant, because we all disembark in a glamorous, glittering herd.

Myself being the exception.

No one seems to notice my presence, though. The Hogwarts T-shirt I’m wearing might as well be an invisibility cloak. Fine. I’m not here to make friends. I’m here for the chance to stay in Ginny’s luxury hotel room for a week, for free, and completely nerd out at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

I’m also here for moral support, of course. I plan on being at every single pageant event, cheering like a maniac while inwardly cringing in horror at the very thought of prancing around in only a tiny swimsuit and a crown. But since the competition doesn’t start until 5:00 p.m., that leaves my mornings and afternoons free to hit up the theme park. I’ve emptied my paltry savings account and invested in a five-day unlimited pass. Bring on the butter beer.

But first, I must locate our room amid a sea of glitz and sparkle. According to the text Ginny sent when I landed, we’re in 511. All of my elevator pals are in rooms along the same stretch of corridor. Half the doors on the floor have hangtags on the knobs that read, Do not disturb! This Miss American Treasure contestant needs her beauty sleep!

I roll my eyes mightily.

Dangling from the knob of room 511 is one such tag, but I highly doubt Ginny is actually sleeping because I can hear the television booming through the door. I knock extra hard so she can hear me above the din of whatever reality show she’s probably watching.

Just please God don’t let it be the Kardashians.

An explosion of barks answers my knock. I take a deep breath. I’ve somehow forgotten all about my sister’s French bulldog mix, Buttercup. Ginny adopted her a month ago as part of her “platform.” I’m not sure exactly what that means. She’s a pageant queen, not a politician. But according to approximately five million posts on Ginny’s Instagram, she volunteers regularly at her local shelter in support of her animal rescue policy.

If memory serves, last year her platform was anti-bullying. But so many other contestants on the pageant circuit had already thrown themselves into the anti-bullying movement that she felt pressured to switch to something else. In other words, she got bullied into giving up her anti-bullying platform. Oh, the irony.

The door to the hotel room swings open, and Ginny is standing there in a white spa bathrobe with her hair piled on top of her head in a messy-yet-artful twist. She’s got one of those serum-soaked sheet masks stuck to her face—the kind that make regular people look like something straight out of a bad horror movie.

Except Ginny isn’t a regular person. So instead she looks like Gwyneth Paltrow enjoying a quiet day of self-care.

“Charlotte, you’re here!”

“Yep. My flight was right on time.” Thank God. I’m ready to make the most out of day one on my unlimited pass.

“Come on in.” She holds the door open wider.

The room is a double, with side-by-side queen beds and a balcony overlooking a pool flanked by umbrella-covered lounge chairs, a tiki bar, and two perfectly symmetrical rows of palm trees swaying in the balmy Florida breeze. Any spare moments I have this week that don’t include Harry Potter will be spent right there, with my feet up and a piña colada in hand. It’s been so long since I’ve taken an actual vacation that the mental picture I’ve just conjured nearly makes me weep.

“This is gorgeous. Ginny, thanks again for inviting me.”

“Are you kidding? I’m so glad you’re here. Dad and Susan aren’t coming until the finals.” Her smile falters. Behind the face mask, I can see her full lips tip into a frown.

I know exactly what she’s thinking. “You’ll make the finals. I know you will. You’re a shoo-in for the top twenty.”

Ginny always makes the finals. She’s up onstage every year alongside the winner and the runners-up. She’s just never managed to crack the top five.

“This year will be different,” I assure her.

She nods. “It has to be.”

As much as I hate to see my sister devoting her life to chasing a silly crown, and even though I positively loathe the pageant scene, my heart gives a little tug. Sometimes I forget why she got started in all of this. But every once in a while, when Ginny’s composure slips, I remember that this is her way of feeling connected to the mother we barely knew. The crushing sense of loss that inevitably follows always seems to catch me off guard. It’s in those moments—moments like this one—that I understand her dream.

I paste a smile on my face. “It will. I promise.”

I have no right to make that kind of promise. After all, I’m not judging this thing.

Truly, why would anyone want that job?

But it’s so rare to see my sister like this that I can’t stop myself. She’s always been the poster child for confidence. Which just goes to show how much this particular pageant means to her. More than all the others combined.

“You’re right.” She nods with renewed vigor. “Of course I’ll make the finals. This is my year.”

“Definitely.” Pep talk over for now, I head toward the bed on the far side of the room—the one that’s still neatly made and not covered in anything bedazzled.

Every item on Ginny’s bed shines like a disco ball, including her official Miss American Treasure tote bag. I’m beginning to understand why she uses one of those sleep-mask things like Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s. I might need to invest in one myself.

As I cross the room, Buttercup launches herself at my wheeled suitcase, growling and nipping at it as it drags behind me. By the time I’m within a foot of my bed, she’s fully attached herself to it and I’m hauling both luggage and bulldog.

“Is this normal behavior?” I ask. It can’t be, can it?

Ginny waves a dismissive hand.

I give Buttercup a little nudge with the toe of my Adidas sneaker. She backs away, peering up at me with her bulgy little eyes. They almost seem to point in two different directions. Like plastic googly eyes.

We stare each other down for a second, and then she resumes her attack on my luggage.

“Is she always so”—I pause, struggling for an appropriate adjective—“headstrong?”

Buttercup and I have never been properly introduced. I only know her via Ginny’s Instagram, where she’s usually doing something less destructive and far more adorable.

“Buttercup is shy,” Ginny says by way of explanation.

I look down at the snarling dog. “Sorry, I’m not getting shy here.”

“You’re stressing her out. She’s not used to strangers and new experiences. She’s a rescue dog, remember? The poor thing sat in the shelter for four months before I adopted her.”

Ginny checks the position of her sheet mask in the large mirror over the bathroom counter. It’s a double vanity, theoretically big enough for both of us. But Ginny’s massive amount of toiletries take up the entire space. “Did you know that seven million dogs and cats enter shelters every year, and half of them end up being euthanized?”

I did not know that, and it’s a horrible, horrible statistic. But her canned delivery prevents me from absorbing the news with the proper level of emotion.

She’s slipped into pageant mode. She’s rattling off more devastating facts and figures about homeless pets, all the while posing with her hand pressed to her heart and her head tilted just so.

I glance at Buttercup. Something tells me she’s heard the speech before.

“Maybe less euthanasia talk in front of the rescue dog?” I suggest. No wonder the poor thing is stressed.

“Oh my God.” Ginny blinks. “Do you think she understands?”

“I have no idea, but why take the chance?” Besides, I can’t handle Ginny’s platform-level intensity right now. I’ve been up since 4:00 a.m.

“I suppose you’re right.” Ginny scoops Buttercup into her arms.

I take advantage of the cease-fire, lift my suitcase onto the bed, and remove my things, paltry in comparison to the vast wardrobe Ginny has stuffed into the closet and all but one of the dresser drawers. Fortunately, I travel light.

Clotheswise, anyway. Beneath the layers of jeans and T-shirts, four hardback novels line the bottom of my bag. I remove all four and arrange them in a nice, neat stack atop the nightstand closest to my bed.

When I look up, Ginny’s shaking her head. “Are you sure you brought enough reading material?”

“Don’t judge. I’m on vacation, remember?”

“Exactly. You’re a librarian. Your vacation should be book-free.” Ginny makes a zero sign with one of her perfectly manicured hands.

“How are we even related?” It’s not the first time I’ve asked that question, and I know with every fiber of my being that Ginny wonders the same thing sometimes.

How could she not?

“Before you dive into one of those, can you take Buttercup for a quick walk?” She grabs a Barbie-pink leash from her nightstand. And—surprise!—it’s heavily bedazzled. “Pretty please.”

“What? Why me?” My gaze flits toward Buttercup, who’s now positioned on Ginny’s pillow with her plump rear facing me. “She doesn’t even like me. Stranger danger and all that.”

Ginny rolls her eyes. “Stranger danger? You spend too much time with little kids.”

True. She dragged me to yoga once, and I kept referring to easy pose as crisscross applesauce.

Still, Buttercup doesn’t seem any more thrilled by the idea than I am. Also, I’ve already begun typing the address of the theme park into the Uber app on my phone. I’m supposed to be dodging a fire-breathing dragon in Diagon Alley right now, not walking a petulant French bulldog.

“I was kind of hoping to head over to Harry Potter World so I could be back in time for us to have an early dinner. Don’t you have pageant stuff today?” I’m pretty sure she has a date with some spray tanner this afternoon. Her skin tone matches mine right now, and I know from experience that Ginny is usually at least four shades closer to orange when there’s a pageant on the horizon.

“Yes, and of course you can head right over there just as soon as you walk Buttercup. She hasn’t been out since early this morning. I can’t do it—I’m not allowed to leave the room without my sash on.”

I blink. “What?”

“Contestants can’t leave their hotel rooms unless they’re pageant-ready. Outside of this room, I have to wear my sash at all times.”

I don’t even know what to say, but suddenly the army of beauty queens from the elevator makes more sense. “That’s crazypants. It’s like you’re some kind of pageant hostage. Put your sash on, and take her out yourself.”

Ginny sighs. “Dramatic much? This isn’t some tiny regional pageant. Miss American Treasure is the big time. She’s a role model. You know that.”

I do. I probably know more about that than any of those chattering elevator girls.

“I can’t go out there like this,” she says.

“Fine.” I take the leash from her hands. She’s clearly in no condition to leave the room, although I would pay money to see an Instagram post of Ginny wearing the sash and her sheet mask at the same time.

“Thank you.” Her slender shoulders sag with relief. “I owe you one. We’ll have a great dinner tonight, I promise. It’ll be just like old times.”

Old times?

I don’t believe her for a minute. When we were kids, our favorite dinners included sloppy joes and macaroni and cheese. I can’t remember the last time I saw a carb cross Ginny’s lips.

“Come on, Buttercup,” I mutter.

The portly little dog growls the entire time I’m attaching her leash to her sparkly pink collar. This should be lovely.

“We’ll be right back.” I cast a glance over my shoulder as I lead Buttercup out the door, and Ginny catches my gaze in the mirror.

She gives me a little wave. I wave back, and for a moment, I go still. Rooted to the spot. Ginny’s sheet mask is gone, and her face is bare. Clean. It’s been a while since I’ve seen her makeup-free. Without the airbrushed foundation, the contouring and highlighting, the carefully lined lips and the double layers of false eyelashes, she looks a lot like me.

She looks exactly like me, actually. Same nose. Same eyes. Same heart-shaped face.

Same DNA.

Because even though my sister has always been the pretty one, the beauty queen—the Jane Bennet to my Elizabeth, the Meg March to my Jo—she’s also my twin.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See All Customer Reviews

The Accidental Beauty Queen 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 8 reviews.
gaele 5 days ago
Charlotte and Ginny are identical twins and are as different as chalk and cheese. Ginny is “the pretty one’ and plays off that moniker with her life spent running through the beauty pageant circuit and her Instagram following. Charlotte (and the reason I grabbed the title) is an elementary school librarian, reserved, quiet and very book-ish. My only complaint with her was her choice of ‘favorite read’ which, when one considers her workplace and her access to ALL the titles in the world – meh. But, this isn’t about her work (sadly) but of her overcoming preconceptions and labels attached since childhood as Charlotte, through an odd set of circumstances, finds herself passing as Ginny in a pageant. The twin switch is cute – although familiar in a Parent Trap sort of way, but Charlotte is overwhelmed by all of the elements of the pageant (and this story does carry a solid ‘pro-pageant’ message that seeks to break down preconceptions) and the fact that Ginny actually does have to do more than she ever thought possible to maintain and compete. Of course, Charlotte has angst in the switch, and the author makes a point of being a ‘woman friendly’ atmosphere behind the scenes, despite the outright sexism of pageants, the competitors are all nice and supportive of one another, without the expected ‘knife in the back’ moments that I’m sure we all have seen / expected. Cleverly, this camaraderie and support helps Charlotte as she finds a romantic connection to someone she shouldn’t be interested in – and he’s interested right back. Overall, the story did read a bit “young’ with the sisters nearing thirty, Charlotte was by far more naïve and innocent, feeling far younger than her age, while Ginny was self-centered and often selfish at first, needing that moment of redemption to bring her character around. These two are so different – and with a light flirtation the romance felt very teen and ‘first boyfriend’, even as it was clear that it was rather meant to be, even with the substitution of Charlotte for Ginny. Clever twists, some unexpected camaraderie and some light moments makes this fluffy read a perfect escape for a few hours of ‘pick you up”. I received an eArc copy of the title from the publisher via NetGalley for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.
Virginiaw 17 hours ago
This was probably my favorite romantic comedy book this year. I kept laughing and cried a bit. I did learn a little about how a beauty pageant is run. I agree with Charlotte at one point where she decides that the girls running in this contest are not the dumb blondes she thought they could be. I really enjoyed this story. I received a copy of this book from the publisher for a fair and honest opinion that I gave of my own free will.
bookaholique 5 days ago
3.5 Charlotte and Ginny are identical twins. Charlotte is a librarian in love with all things books. Ginny is chasing an elusive dream of being crowned Miss American Treasure. It's a good thing Charlotte attended the pageant in support of her sister because the night before the activities start, Ginny has a full blown allergic reaction and cannot participate. She convinces Charlotte to take her place in the preliminaries. Hilarity ensues. This was a fast and funny read. It would be easy to blow this off as fluff, but the story is actually very heart-warming. Both sisters discover thing about themselves - both good and bad. And while there was some romance involved, it was not the may point of the story. It was easy to like Charlotte right from the beginning. By the end, I was also a fan of Ginny. This is the first book I've read by Teri Wilson, but it won't be my last. My thanks to Gallery, Threshold Pocket Books and Netgalley.
Momma_Becky 6 days ago
The Accidental Beauty Queen is a great bit of escapism. It's silly, over the top, and completely predictable. It's also witty, often hilarious, loads of fun, and maybe even a little bit of a lesson about seeing things from both sides of the coin before passing judgment. There is romance - well, there's instalove, which I'm not usually a fan of, but it's not really the focus here. The story is about identical twins, Charlotte and Ginny. I'll admit, I wasn't crazy about Ginny for most of the story. She has a bad case of "It's all about me" syndrome and doesn't even consider how things affect others. However, she doesn't make excuses for it, and she is redeemable. Charlotte isn't exactly on this trip for entirely selfless reasons either, but her plans get derailed and she finds herself smack in the middle of interviews, swimsuit competitions, and finding a talent to wow the judges. All in all, the angst level is low and the fun is high for engaging and entertaining read.
Kristy_K 7 days ago
A cute fluffy book great for fans of romantic comedies, Miss Congeniality, and plots revolving around twins switching places. Charlotte's identical twin sister is competing in the Miss America Treasure pageant when she suffers an allergic reaction. She convinces her shier, more homebody twin, Charlotte, to take her place in the preliminaries. There is a romance the buds between Charlotte and a guy she meets at the hotel that adds to the story, but ultimately this felt more of a quirky, adult coming-of-age story. Near the beginning I did struggle with Charlotte a little as even though she is 29 she sometimes felt 21. I found her sister, Ginny, to be selfish and single-minded although she did redeem herself in the end. I liked that Wilson didn't make all of the contestants vapid and shallow, but instead gave them more faceted personalities. Although at times this felt a little childish (or maybe like a YA novel with adults), overall I enjoyed the story and characters.
marongm8 7 days ago
This book reminded me of the movie Model Behavior coping with the twin swap except for the fact in Accidental Beauty Queen the twin sisters knew eachother and grew up together. I also love the twist on beauty pageants and the plot-line that the one sister gets sick and her intelligent non-beauty pageant unfamiliar sister takes over and ends up being the one to beat. You knew going in that this was not going to be your typical beauty pageant stories and chaos was to occur at some point. This book is not only for young teenage women but for everyone in the fact that there is a strong theme associated with this book. . That is why we give this book 5 stars.
diane92345 7 days ago
Humor and digs fly when two sisters attempt to win a beauty pageant with an Accidental Beauty Queen. Charlotte is resigned to never being the pretty sister. Her sister, Ginny, has followed in their mother’s footsteps in the pageant world. Charlotte followed in their father’s footsteps by being a reader and a primary school librarian. There is no need for bedazzling, hair extensions or even makeup in Charlotte’s world. When Ginny invites Charlotte to share her hotel room during the Miss American Treasure contest in Orlando Florida, Charlotte is overjoyed for the chance to visit the Harry Potter theme park. However, the second evening, Ginny has an allergic reaction that swells her face threefold. Ginny convinces Charlotte to pretend to be her in the prelims because the two sisters are (wait for it...) identical twins. The author does a great job making light of the easy comparison to Miss Congeniality. The makeover scenes are hilarious. When an attractive man sees the real Charlotte under all the glam, things get all Pride and Prejudicey. It is a great mashup—both literary and chick lit at the same time. The Accidental Beauty Queen is highly recommended to anyone looking for a fun happy story. 5 stars! Thanks to Gallery Books and NetGalley for an advance copy in exchange for an honest review.
thereadingchick 7 days ago
Librarian Charlotte Gorman is on a much needed vacation with her sister Ginny. Well, her sister invited her to share her suite in Orlando while she is competing in the Miss American Treasure beauty pageant and Charlotte is planning on hitting all of the amusement parks while giving moral support to Ginny. At 29 this is the last year that Ginny will be able to compete, and she wants to win just like her mother did years ago. Unfortunately, Ginny comes down with an allergic reaction to something and her face swells up like a pumpkin and you guessed it, she guilts Charlotte, her TWIN sister, into taking her place….just until the swelling goes down. Even though Charlotte and Ginny are twin sisters and share the same face, they don’t share the same self image. Charlotte has always felt like Ginny was the pretty sister but when Ginny works her beauty pageant magic Charlotte is shocked she’s the spitting image of her sister, yet she is still just Charlotte on the inside. I loved how Charlotte’s journey in going through the first few levels of the pageant really helped her see herself differently. Mostly I liked how these two twin sisters grew closer through this process and honored the memory of their mother. Charlotte’s journey of self discovery was not just through the beauty pageant. There is also a love interest for Charlotte and he is her perfect match! Although the romance was downplayed a bit for the plot about the two sisters, I still enjoyed that tension and loved the secrecy of their flirtation. If I were partial to sighing while reading I probably would’ve fainted from lack of breath. That didn’t happen, but I did have a slight smile on my face through all of their scenes and even laughed out loud a few times. This was one funny book! Do you know when you start a novel and the words flow easily and you can feel yourself relaxing into the main character, not fighting against the words? That was how The Accidental Beauty Queen was for me. It was the perfect book for that perfect moment in time and I just loved it.