No Proper Lady by Isabel Cooper
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca/Sept. 2011
England, 1888. The trees are green, the birds are singing, and no one has any idea that in a few hundred years, demons will destroy it all. Joan plans to keep it that way. All she has to do is take out the dark magician responsible-before he summons the demons in the first place. But as a rough-around-the-edges assassin from that bleak future, she’ll have to learn how to fit into polite Victorian society to get close to her target.
imon Grenville has his own reasons for wanting to destroy Alex Reynell. The man used to be his best friend-until his practice of the dark arts almost killed Simon’s sister. The beautiful half-naked stranger Simon meets in the woods may be the perfect instrument for his revenge. It will just take a little time to teach her the necessary etiquette and assemble a proper wardrobe. But as each day passes, Simon is less sure he wants Joan anywhere near Reynell. Because no spell in the world will save his future if she isn’t in it.
When Joan travels back 200 years and lands in 1888 England, a la Terminator, she’s immediately greeted by snarling cerberi and an English Gentleman by the name of Simon Grenville. Joan is in search of the man that’s at fault for causing the fall of civilization, and the horrid world she lives in, and plans to destroy him, in hopes of saving mankind. Turns out that Simon has his own agenda involving the evil Alex Raynell, and he agrees to help Joan in her mission.
The opening scene, when Joan arrives in a dark, rain swept field and must fight numerous beasts to save herself and Simon, really got me excited for this book. Honestly, I expected lots of action, fighting, etc., but the reality was somewhat different than that. That wasn’t a bad thing though! In fact, I was surprised at just how much I enjoyed reading about the lengths Joan goes to in order to fit in to proper society and get close to the man that’s she’s after. On the back of the book, it says “It’s Terminator meets My Fair Lady”. Well, the beginning certainly was Terminatoresque, but we really don’t see any real action until the last quarter of the book, but like I said, that’s ok, because I really liked the characterizations, especially how Simon is drawn to Joan in spite of her rough exterior and less than delicate sensibilities. Joan is hard not to like, and Simon enlists his younger sister, Ellie, in helping Joan fit in, with hopes that it will bring her out of her shell, for it’s Ellie that Reynell had brutalized, bringing about Simon’s wrath and the end of what was a close relationship between Simon and Alex. Simon is a skilled magician, which is part of why he has no problem believing Joan’s story as to where and when she came. There are definitely some sexy bits, so No Proper Lady will definitely appeal to romance fans, but I believe it should appeal to anyone that enjoys a well written story, and the juxtaposition between Regency England and the not so distant future might appeal to fantasy/light sci-fi fans as well (if you don’t mind some serious sexy with your sci-fi.) I’ll definitely look forward to Ms. Cooper’s next novel, No Honest Woman, in April 2012!