Thursday, May 21, 2020

BOOK REVIEW: Mr. Malcolm's List by Suzanne Allain

I received this book for free from Netgalley. That did not influence this review.

After my banner reading month in January, I fizzled out. And then the pandemic hit. It’s left me apathetic about reading novels. (Odd, because I would have thought the escapism would be what I needed.) I’ve also been writing, so focused more on research than reading. But I finally decided that a light-hearted Regency Romance would be the distraction I’ve been looking for, so I picked Mr. Malcolm’s List by Suzanne Allain from my Netgalley queue.

Jeremy Malcolm, second son of an earl, is every ladies’ dream. Because he is wealthy and wickedly handsome, unmarried girls of the ton don’t seem to care much about the actual person. Tired of being considered nothing more than “a catch,” yet recognizing he has to marry eventually, Jeremy writes a list of ten qualities he needs in a wife. One of the ladies (Julia Thistlewaite), whom he escorts to the opera, fails almost at once. When, to her amazement, he doesn’t ask her out again, she complains to her cousin, who is one of Jeremy’s friends. She learns about the list.

Julia is a spoiled brat and a nasty schemer. Although she’s correct that a list of requirements is obnoxious and arrogant, she’s deluded to think he led her on. At any rate, she plans revenge. She invites a sweet (beautiful) ex-schoolmate to town and grooms her to attract Jeremy. The plan is, when he shows interest, to hit him with a list of her own.

The lovely friend is Selena Dalton. Selena would effortlessly meet every requirement. She doesn’t want to play Julia’s game, but is bullied into it. Plus, she meets Jeremy and it is pretty much love at first sight for them both. He begins a courtship. She is entranced. She wishes desperately for Julia to leave them alone and wants to come clean about the whole plot because she is inherently honest. But this is a Romance, so the game must play out.

The protagonists are good people and it’s enjoyable to read along as they get through their rough patch. The witty banter keeps everything fun. It fits into the category of “clean Romance.” And it is a charming distraction from the state of the world.