A retelling of the 18th-century French novel Les Liasons Dangereuses, set in 1940s Harlem.
After Mae Malveaux is denied the ability to pursue her romantic feelings for her first true love, another young woman, she blames the entire male race for establishing conventions that prevent her from engaging in a same-sex love affair. A decade later, Mae has been orphaned, married, widowed, and left with a substantial inheritance that allows her finally to implement her plans. She forms an alliance with a man by the name of Valiant “Val” Jackson, a handsome fat cat adored and revered by many of their shared acquaintances. Mae and Val use their accord to regularly pull puppet strings and toy with the emotions of those in the post-Depression Harlem high society they inhabit. When Mae discovers that a former lover of hers has proposed marriage to her own cousin, Cecily, she hatches a complicated plan meant to destroy the fledgling couple. Mae artfully orchestrates a scenario in which Cecily will fall in love with a young jazz singer (to the detriment of her pre-existing engagement), while also instructing Val to simultaneously seduce and hopefully impregnate the young woman. Val’s reward for the successful implementation of Mae’s plan will be a night in bed with Mae herself. Scott (All I Need to Get By, 2014, etc.) sets this fresh retelling of Pierre Choderlos de Laclos’ novel against an alluring backdrop of city nightclubs, country retreats, tightknit church communities, and the Brooklyn Dodgers. As Val implements Mae’s machinations, wreaking havoc throughout Harlem and Westchester, he unwittingly falls prey to pure, true love for another woman, the only force against which Mae Malveaux might falter.
A dazzlingly dark and engaging tale full of heartbreak, treachery, and surprise.