REVIEW: Mr. Malcolm’s List by Suzanne Allain
Dear Ms Allain :
Thank you for sending me this book for review. I am a big fan of the traditional regency which is what I would categorize this novel as. The key to a successful traditional regency is the total immersion of the reader into the time period which is well done in Mr. Malcom’s List. Like other traditional regencies, the hero is not a lord, but a man of great means and the second son of an Earl which, during that time, was sufficient to make him a marital catch.
Selina was a paid companion who was left comfortably well off after her companion’s death. She does not want to return to her vicerage with her family and writes to her old school classmate, Julia, with a request to visit her in London. Julia is living the life of parties with other young people that Selina longs to enjoy. Julia ignores this request for months and then, out of the blue, Selina receives an invitation to visit.
Julia Thistlewaite had her sights set on marrying The Honorable Jeremy Malcolm, second son of the Earl of Kilbourne. He was the catch of the season and Julia was a beautiful, wealth, well connected member of the gentry. But Malcolm has a list of attributes he wants in a woman and Julia doesn’t measure up. (She fails item No. 4 which is “The ability to converse in a sensible fashion.”). Cassie, friend to Malcom and cousin to Julia reports back that she doesn’t meet all the requirements on the list. Julia decides she’ll use Selina to enact a revenge. Selina is to conform to all the list elements and make Malcolm fall in love with her (or at least to request her hand in marriage) whereupon Selina will crush his dreams.
Selina agrees to do this because she won’t get to stay and have fun in London unless she agrees to Julia’s schemes and because Malcolm sounds like a prig in need of being brought down to earth.
When Selina and Malcolm meet, they actually start to like each other quite a bit to the point that Malcolm does indeed think that Selina is the woman for him. When he finds out its all a ploy, he’s angered and hurt. Selina feels badly and tries to explain that she, too, has real feelings for him but he is definitely not interested in listening to her.
I actually thought the star of the book was Julia. I found her really entertaining. She was always scheming even when it went against her own interest and eventually she has to give up her vendetta against Malcolm to get her own matrimonial prize. Selina and Malcolm were a bit stiff to me, particularly juxtaposed against Julia.
Another highlight of the story is the dialogue. It’s snappy, entertaining and humorous. The plot was comedic but it felt a bit forced as the characters carried out setup after setup even until the end of the story. C
This book can be purchased at Amazon or in ebook format from Sony or other etailers.