Review: No Proper Lady by Isabel Cooper



Title: No Proper Lady

Author: Isabel Cooper

Publisher: Sourcebooks

ISBN: 978-1402259524


May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

It’s Terminator meets My Fair Lady in this fascinating debut of black magic and brilliant ball gowns, martial arts, and mysticism.

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.

Simon 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.


I was originally attracted to this book by the gorgeous cover.  A quick scan of the synopsis heightened my interest in No Proper Lady.  Terminator meets My Fair Lady?  Heck, yeah, I’ll take that bet!  I eagerly dove into the story, and I’m happy to say that I wasn’t disappointed.  The plot is unique, the setting is intriguing, and I liked both leads.  I can hardly wait for Isabel Cooper’s next book!

Joan is a fighter, and she is one tough chick.  In a last ditch effort to save humanity, she is sent back in time to assassinate the man responsible for the fall of the human race.  Leaving behind everything she has known, and more importantly, everyone that she loves, Joan’s ticket to the past is irrevocably one-way.  She can never go back to be with her family and her friends.  If she fails her mission, she dooms them to death and destruction.  Joan has survived the horrors of her world, and when she arrives in Simon’s, she is taken aback by the beauty and quiet of his world.  Of the future she and her people were robbed of.   The stakes are high in this game of hers, and Joan isn’t about to fail.  For her, failure is simply not an option.

Simon is having a troubling time himself.  His former best friend has betrayed him.  His sister was almost lost to him, a vessel for a demon.  He frets about how he will keep Eleanor safe, and he worries about how far Alex will let his dark arts sway him.  House parties and genteel manners no longer seem important to the English nobleman; everything that he holds dear is now at risk of being sucked into a darkness so evil there will be no escape for any of them.  When Joan’s time travel spell poofs her in front of Simon, he suddenly has an ally and someone who might just understand how urgently Alex needs to be stopped in his tracks.

I love time travel stories, and this one is a good one.  Joan makes a huge sacrifice to make her journey back in time, and Simon, though slightly skeptical of how awful the situation in the future truly is, readily makes enormous sacrifices as well.  There can be no happy ending for Joan’s family – she is separated from them forever.  I wonder if I could have made the same choice.  Could I have left my family behind me forever, in order to save all of my kind from the demons that preyed upon the few humans who remained?  There is little softness or tenderness in Joan, because her world doesn’t allow for that.  I loved the contrast between her and Simon.  Simon has been raised in the lap of luxury, he can’t possibly imagine how awful her world was, and next to Joan, he is soft.  Not weak, but he lacks the cutting hardness that is Joan’s primary trait.  She always expects terrible things to happen, because they always do.  Her whole life has been a struggle to live to see the dawn of another day.

I liked Isabel Cooper’s re-imagined Victorian England where things really do go bump in the night.  I was totally convinced that Simon and Joan would fall for each.  They have both seen some terrible things, and they both have so much fear for the future.  They also find renewed strength together, and the courage to face the horrors that threaten to swallow them whole.  Knowing what the future holds, they are both willing to give their lives to ensure that Alex doesn’t get away with his dabbling with the darkest and cruelest of the demon kind.  I am so glad that I don’t live in Joan’s world, though!l

Grade:  B+

Review copy provided by publisher

One thought on “Review: No Proper Lady by Isabel Cooper

  • September 30, 2011 at 2:13 pm

    Thanks for the review! This one was already on my wishlist & now I want it even more! 😀

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