Mr. Malcolm's List - Suzanne Allain
Updated: Aug 21, 2020
Date Read: July 4, 2020
Review: This isn't a romance novel, it's a comedy of manners ala Oscar Wilde's The Importance of Being Ernest. If you realize that going in, you'll enjoy it more. That's why I'm giving it three stars as a romance. As a farce I'd give it 4. There's a romance aspect but not the traditional one where you're rooting for a couple to get and stay together. Does it have a HEA? Yes. But the characters aren't likeable. Julia is a selfish, vindictive, conniving woman who thinks very highly of herself. Mr. Malcolm, likewise, is too big for his britches due to his fortune - he's not titled but acts like he's more of a catch than a Duke. He's got a list of requirements for a woman in order to see her as wife-material. His friend Cassie/also Julia's cousin, is a complete buffoon who tends to ruin whatever he's involved in. Selina, is technically the innocent here. However, she's such a milquetoast heroine I didn't really care what happened. The lone rootable character was Henry. Who wanted to meet Selina, as she was a companion to his mother and also knew his mother wanted them to be a good match. He's supposed to be handsome and tends to always do the right, noble thing. Selina half-heartedly commits to helping Julia get revenge (she's to appear to be flawless, and then break off the relationship with Malcolm citing that he doesn't meet her list of requirements for a husband) until she meets Malcolm and becomes besotted deciding she wants him for herself. Hijinx ensue. Julia deduces that Selina isn't gonig along with the agreement anymore and she's ticked. Henry, initially wants Selina but recognizes that Malcolm and Selina are a good match so backs off and keeps Julia company. Cassie tries to keep his counsin from destroying everything. There's a masquerade ball, double costumes, kisses, misunderstandings (pig-headedness), Malcolm & Selina locked in a hot room and eventually a dunk in a fountain before the respective couples (yes, more than one) get things right with a HEA. I actually think the filmed version will be better, at least for my taste, than the book was. I can visually see the comedic parts happening in a way that would be funny in a film that fell a bit flat/tedious while reading.
Tropes: Masqerade, Revenge, Trapped together, Fake Engagement.
Premise: Julia uses her friend Selina as a method of revenge against Mr. Malcolm, with whom she didn't a second date, once she finds out he's got a list of requirements for a wife.
The Good: Lots of twists.
The Bad: This isn't a romance. It's more of a farce, a comedy of manners. But it's not that funny. Also, I found it hard to like any of the major characters, with the exception of Henry Ossory, who is a paragon.
Author Website: http://suzanneallain.com/
NB: This book is being made into a film. Constance Wu is playing Julia, Sope Dirisu is Mr. Malcolm, Oliver Jackson-Cohen is Cassie, Freida Pinto is Selina, and Sam Heughan is Henry. There is a teaser you can view here: https://youtu.be/5WIcqyHDuIg