Mills & Boon, £4.99, ISBN 978-0-263-91726-0
Historical Romance, 2016
Awakening the Shy Miss is the second book in a series called Wallflowers to Wives. I would love to read the previous book Unbuttoning the Innocent Miss first, but both Amazon and Book Depository keep canceling my order three times due to the book apparently being not available, so I guess that isn’t meant to be. I can follow this one just fine, though, so it’s not too bad as a standalone story.
Evaine Milham is our heroine who leads a quiet and simple life in Little Westbury, helping her historian father and spending time with her female friends. Those friends are going their separate ways as they have their own stories to star in, so she is feeling a little bittersweet. Still, now that she is officially “out” as a lady of marriageable age, she hopes to catch the eye of her neighbor, the neighborhood hottie Andrew Adair. He is always traveling abroad, but now that he is back in town with much fanfare, it is her chance to show him that she and he would be perfect together.
As it is, Andrew brings a guest, Prince Dimitri Petrovich of Kuban. Dimitri is Andrew’s business partner in a local archeology dig, and oh my, that man is hot. Evie is determined to catch Andrew’s eye, however, no matter how interested Dimitri seems to be in her. Well, maybe making Andrew jealous by pretending to be attracted back to Dimitri may do the trick… although soon the pretense starts to feel very real indeed.
This one is a readable, but rather bewildering read at times. The author follows the tropes so faithfully to the point of turning them into clichés, but in the process ends up inserting some befuddling elements in the story. Dimitri’s pursuit of Evie, only to bleat about how he can’t give her the happiness he needs because he is a prince and thus needs to be in an arranged marriage for the greater good, et cetera, feels a lot like scumbaggery passed off as nobility. This is especially after he’s boinked her – no matter how much the author tries to justify this, Dimitri comes off like a user who uses his princely responsibilities to get out of having to lay on the bed he’s made.
Evie is a more familiar heroine – the scholarly bluestocking sort, blah blah blah – and she is not at all shy like the title of the book suggests. In fact, she’s gagging for it so much that I’m perplexed. You see, she has a pregnant friend and let’s just say that the folks around here are not coming together to plan the best baby shower ever. So, I’d think she would be a bit careful instead of wanting him to put it in her all day, all the time, or at least discuss with him the matter of ensuring that she’s not going to be the Camilla Parker-Bowles of Kuban nine months down the road, but no. It’s all “Yeah, baby, I love sex with my true day, yeah!” and then, the obligatory setting him free for his own good stunt towards the end.
Awakening the Shy Miss is similar to many stories that have come before it, just switch up the characters and the setting here and there. But the very premise of the story requires something a bit more than just follow the dots and summon the clichés. By doing so, the author ends up making this story a head-scratcher as much as a forgettable read.