From the desk of Melissa Makarewicz:
Late one evening I was mindlessly scrolling through Twitter, as one does, when a post caught my eye. “Have you seen “Mr. Malcolm’s List? It’s an Austenesque series with a diverse cast,” asked @ctrichmon. At the mention of Austen, my interest was piqued. I immediately watched the video of Mr. Malcolm’s List on YouTube. Ten minutes later, I was hooked. Suzanne Allain’s debut novel (soon to be a major motion picture) has the biting wit and satirical charm that Austen fans adore. With a hint of Pride and Prejudice undertones, this corset-busting satire sets the old standard for Regency romps spinning on its head.
Mr. Malcolm, a wealthy second son, has decided to guard his heart against all fortune-seeking females. To keep his focus, he has made a list of all the qualities he desires in his future wife. His list includes qualifications such as “amiable, handsome, graceful, educates herself by extensive reading.” Does such a woman even exist?! Taking his time courting women and then moving on to the next one when they do not meet his criteria, he has earned quite a reputation in society. Oblivious to his harsh, calculating behavior, his friend Cassie informs him that he has become known as a “Trifler, a breaker of hearts, a destroyer of young ladies’ dreams.” (2)
Selina is the twenty-two-year-old unmarried daughter of a vicar. Alone after her chaperone dies, she finds herself wishing she had better luck finding a husband. When she receives a letter from her former schoolmate, Julia, she jumps at the chance to go visit her in London in the hopes that it will bring adventure, and possibly love.
Once she reaches Town, Julia informs Selina of her recent romantic rejection by Mr. Malcolm and the injustice he has done to her.
“You see, there is a young gentleman, a Mr. Malcolm, who is widely known for his arrogance. He distinguished me by paying me very pointed attentions, but then humiliated me by withdrawing his suit.” (14)
Julia concludes that she has been wrongly dismissed by Mr. Malcolm. She devises a plan to put him in his place by making him regret his decision and proposes to Selina that she should make him fall in love with her and then coldly reject him. Selina is skeptical. She remembers her old schoolmates’ habit of stretching the truth to get her way and decides that to make the very temperamental Julia happy, and be able to stay in London, she must agree to play along.
Selina and Mr. Malcolm are soon coupled together with afternoons in the curricle driving around the park and evenings at dinner parties with friends. Mr. Malcolm is thoroughly enchanted by the delightful Selina. She effortlessly ticks off the requirements on his list as though she knew every detail he desired in a wife. It seems he has met the woman of his dreams.
Selina is equally enchanted by Mr. Malcolm and can see that her childhood friend had foolish intentions in trying to shame a man who had done no wrong. It should be smooth sailing to wedding bliss, or will misadventures of epic proportions call into doubt true love? Like Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet in Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, there are lessons to be learned on both sides of this love story.
Utterly and completely charming, Mr. Malcolm’s List is full of tongue in cheek humor. So often Regency romance can be a bit serious. This book lets you know from the beginning not to take things too seriously. Right now, I think we can all agree that lighthearted fun is very much appreciated.
Mr. Malcolm’s List has changed me forever. It has ruined me like a wallflower caught out on the balcony in a passionate embrace with a rake. Suzanne Allain’s debut novel is written with such cleverness and wit that it sets a new standard for historical romance, it will leave readers begging for more. Seriously, I’m on my knees begging… please.
I have been highly recommending Mr. Malcolm’s List to all my reader friends. My only complaint is that I am left waiting far too long for the motion picture. The casting of Sam Heughan and Constance Wu looks amazing and I’m so excited to see the book come to life on the big screen. I’ve watched the short film that has been made over and over. Each time it leaves me so excited to see the full version. I was very much looking forward to it this year, but it seems we will be left waiting a bit long for production to be able to resume.
5 out of 5 Regency Stars
Mr. Malcolm’s List, by Suzanne Allain
Berkley (July 28, 2020)
Trade paperback, eBook, & audiobook (256) pages
Cover image courtesy of Berkley © 2020; text Melissa Makarewicz © 2020, Austenprose.com