All subtlety ever got me was a headache and more questions than answers!
^this. Absolutely. Exactly. It simply doesn't work.
Trust me, male minds aren't any better, men are only faster so they develop less problems on the way
FA, one way to maybe ease your shyness a bit would be to give her some signs before you ask, e.g. send her a mail with cute pictures of bunnies or puppets and write something like "This makes me think of someone special..." , add some heart icons. Basically, make tiny steps into her direction before going full power and asking her directly.
BUT do something. Or a less shy guy will ask her before you. Been there, done that.