No Proper Lady

No Proper Lady

by Isabel Cooper

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Publishers Weekly Best Book of the Year
Library Journal Best Book of the Year
RT Book Reviews Seal of Excellence and Finalist for Best Book of the Year

When a half-naked woman suddenly appears on his country estate, Simon Grenville doesn't have time to be shocked. Demonic beasts are hot on his heels until the beautiful stranger unsheathes several knives strapped to her skin-tight trousers and kills them. As he stares at her fierce, heart-stopping face, Simon knows he's in a hell of a lot of trouble...

Joan is from a time where demons run rampant and humanity is fighting for its existence. To prevent this terrible future, she is sent back to Victorian England to kill the magician responsible for unleashing the dark forces. But Joan is a soldier more used to sparring than dancing. To get close to her target, she'll need Simon to teach her how to fit into polite society. Joan doesn't mind practicing proper flirtation on Simon, but she can't allow herself to be distracted by his gentle hands or devilish smile—the very future depends on it.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781402259531
Publisher: Sourcebooks
Publication date: 09/01/2011
Series: Dark Powers , #1
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 352
Sales rank: 21,924
File size: 1 MB

About the Author

Isabel Cooper lives in Boston with her boyfriend and a houseplant she's kept alive for over a year now. She maintains her guise as a mild-mannered project manager working in legal publishing. She only travels through time the normal way and has never fought a demon, but she can waltz. For more visit

Isabel Cooper lives in Boston with two thriving houseplants. During the day, she maintains her guise as a mild-mannered project manager working in legal publishing. None of the houses she's lived in has been haunted, although one of her former roommates might have dated a zombie. For more visit

Read an Excerpt

Simon drew a breath through his teeth and then took the right-hand path. One was as good as another just now, and he suddenly felt that he should be moving. It wasn't just the darkening sky; the very air seemed thicker than it should be.
When he first saw movement to his left, Simon told himself that it was a bird or perhaps a squirrel. There were enough of them in the forest. Then, as he caught a glimpse of something gray and low to the ground, he tried to make himself think of badgers or perhaps a stray dog. No matter that his fingers were already moving in the beginnings of a warding spell. That was just nerves. This was his family's land. There was nothing dangerous on it.
Then Aladdin bolted.
Simon flattened himself against the horse's neck just as a tree branch snapped and fell through the air above him, scraping his back and sending down a shower of leaves and small twigs. He swore and yanked hard on the reins, but Aladdin ran on. Simon saw no trace of gray in the undergrowth now, no movement other than theirs, but the bloody horse seemed not to care.
Simon darted a glance behind himself just to be sure. The forest there looked empty too, but when he snapped his head back to the front, he saw a fallen tree looming ahead. He closed his eyes and hung on.
The landing was hard enough to bruise, but Simon sent up a quick prayer of thanksgiving just for being alive and still on the gelding's back. When he opened his eyes again, he saw a clearing ahead-and a ring of stones inside it. Time and neglect had covered most of the stones with vines and grass, but their shapes were unmistakable. They were square-cut dark stones, each only a little shorter than a man.
The ground at the center of the ring was glowing.
At first, the light was a blue dot, only about the size of his fist, but then it blazed like a newly lit gas lamp. Rings of the same glowing blue energy spread out from it, rippling across the mossy ground and out to the stones.
Some kind of energy was building here. Simon wasn't sure he wanted to be present when it peaked, and he knew he didn't want to be on the back of a panicking horse. He kicked free of his stirrups, tightened his fists in Aladdin's mane, and yanked backward with all his strength.
He was expecting to be thrown, which let him tuck his head and take most of the impact on his shoulder, but it still hurt spectacularly when he landed. Aladdin, damn his hide, bolted onward across the clearing and into the forest beyond.
The ground hummed with power. As Simon got to his knees, he saw the stones out of the corner of his eye-dark rock outlined in blue-white fire. His hair lifted, standing on end.
Instinctively, he turned away from the circle, closing his eyes and throwing one arm up to shield his face. A second later, the earth shook and a light flashed blindingly bright, even through Simon's closed eyelids. He had the momentary sense of some Power passing over him, of something great enough to terrify any mortal man.
Then the light was gone, leaving only a faint blue afterimage and the rapid hammering of Simon's heart. He opened his eyes.
There was a girl in the circle.
She was almost Simon's height and slat-thin, with lightly tanned skin and darkish hair that hung down her back in a lank braid. The leather trousers and vest she wore did little in the service of modesty, but moral outrage was not the first thing that came to mind upon seeing her. Caution was.
The woman had a knife strapped to each wrist, another at her waist, and an angular silver pistol holstered beside the knife. She might have had more weapons yet in the large pack on her back. Simon wouldn't have been at all surprised.
As he began getting to his feet, she heard and snapped her head around. Her eyes were narrow, her body tense. She reminded Simon of a wild animal poised to run or fight.
She'd clearly been doing the latter already. Looking more closely at her in that moment of stillness, Simon saw that the upper part of her right boot and the leg of her trousers above it hung in shreds. He glimpsed red beneath the tatters and more on her vest near her collarbone.
"You're bleeding," he said.
She relaxed, at the shock in his voice more than anything else, and felt at her face before looking down the length of her body. "Not mine," she finally said. Her accent was strange-not quite American but close to it-and her voice was low. "Not mostly. Some scratches on the leg."
"You should have them seen to," Simon said. "I'd-"
He stopped himself for a second, wondering if he really meant to take this half-wild creature back to the house. But she was a woman alone, however well armed, and wounded, with both night and rain coming on.
Simon sighed. "I'm Simon Grenville. And I'd be glad to show you back to the house."
If I can find it.
The woman stepped forward and offered a hand. Simon took it, unsure for a moment what she expected, but she evidently had no such doubts. She shook hands like a man. "Joan," she said. "Daughter of Arthur and Leia."
Simon wouldn't have been surprised to hear Sultana or Yen Xing-or Titania, for that matter, as unlikely a fairy as "Joan" would have made-but he'd expected nothing so ordinary. "A pleasure. I'm-"
"Down," Joan barked. Then she swept Simon's legs out from under him.
She followed him to the ground with more control, one hand darting to her belt. Her weight hit Simon's chest, and her hair fell into his face, blocking his vision.
Oh, good. She's mad. I'm going to die here.
There were three short, high-pitched noises. Three bursts of silvery light flew overhead. Then there were screams.
They weren't human screams. No human throat could make those noises. They had a shrillness and a buzzing quality around the edges that put Simon in mind of angry bees, only many times larger.
"Fuck," Joan snarled, and fired again.
Another scream stopped midway through, cut off by a quieter, much wetter noise. Then silence.
Joan was lying atop him, most of her body pressed firmly against his. Simon had imagined the general situation in his youth; it was not nearly as pleasurable in fact.
For one thing, he was getting quite tired of being knocked to the ground, especially now that he had a large rock pressing into his back. For another, Joan was all angles, and one of her elbows was practically stabbing him in the ribs. Up close, she also smelled: not dirty, but rather acrid and sharp, as if she'd washed her hair with lye. Her hair wasn't really dark at all, he realized then. It was simply covered with something viscous.
She got off him quickly. It wasn't a moment too soon.
Away from her, the smell was different and worse, rank-sweet like burnt honey. Two...creatures...lay in the grass near the stones.
Both were more than half Simon's size and doglike but with six legs each and horns. Hairless. Gray. Simon understood the wet noise now. One of the creatures no longer had a head, only a mass of bone and red meat. That was still less horrible than the twisted, eyeless flesh of the other and its gaping, razor-lined mouth.
Simon turned away toward Joan, and that was almost worse. She was looking thoughtfully at the bodies, the silver gun in one hand. Clear tubes ran out of the gun and into her arm just below her elbow, pulsing slowly. Simon could see her blood moving through them.
No oath could have expressed his shock, and none came close to encompassing his disgust. He made an inarticulate sound in his throat.
Joan looked up and absently tapped the top of the gun with her free hand. The tubes detached from her arm and began recoiling. Their ends were covered with tiny teeth. Simon watched them, hypnotized by his revulsion.
"You're in a hell of a lot of trouble here, Simon Grenville," Joan said.

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No Proper Lady 3.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 56 reviews.
GGW More than 1 year ago
All you can ask for in a good read. Action, romance, not too much gore, and Good Writing. Thank goodness it is totally lacking in pages of dithering internal dialog. Cooper gives her readers credit for having good sense and a reasonable memory. Looking forward to reading more from this author.
bookladygran More than 1 year ago
This book kept me interested from beginning to end - the unusual plot reminded me of Outlander with a bit of Star Wars and My Fair Lady mixed in. Highly recommend for fans of historical romance who don't mind some modern sensibility (and cursing) thrown in.
xo_treehugger_xo More than 1 year ago
While the idea for the plot was interesting, the writing was not good enough to flesh it out. Characters were rather flat.
Kris Hart More than 1 year ago
I found the combination of genres refreshingly well done. Most genre bending romances fail on one or the other. This one kept true too victorian society and gave me a paranormal twist that i could believe in. I often find myself disinterested in the paranormal "cause" of a lot of series but in this novel I actually cared about what the heroine was fighting for. The herione was written well but my only criticism was the relationship of the hero and the villan was never fleshed out fully. Its hard to understand how they both got involved in the paranormal and why the hero wanted to try to give the villan a chance to change his ways when you don't really understand their past frienship/history. Overall well worth the read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I didn't know what to expect. It had all the elements I love, sci-fi, time travel, paranormal, historical and romance. I will admit it took several page before I got into the story, but isn't that always the case with a new author. It was also great to have someone like Joan hook up with someone like Simon. I just know I liked it enough to pre-order the next installment.
LASR_Reviews More than 1 year ago
Hearing this book called The Terminator crossed with My Fair Lady got my attention. This book certainly lives up to that claim, making it quite interesting and unique. Joan is a great character, tragic, due to the hellish world she comes from and what she¹s gone through; still she lives to help others. So here we have this badass chick going back to Victorian England on a mission to save the future. Now, imagine what happens when she sees that world. I loved the scene when she is being dressed and fitted in heavy Victorian clothes. She thinks of how her reaction time in fighting will suffer. Had to smile at that one. Simon, a hunky Victorian man, proves to be heroic as well, and is quite a good match for Joan. But when he first sees her with her weapons and smeared with blood, he finds her strange, of course, and can't evaluate her level of beauty, as her appearance is so wildly foreign to him. It's interesting to watch as she discovers the Victorian world. She exposes the hypocrisy of the past. The spiritualist activities that occur add allure to this story, too. Intriguing questions are peppered throughout the story; things to think about. There are some great lines in this book. So much is at stake, more than normal. It's entertaining to read about her futuristic sensibilities set against his Victorian gentlemanly qualities. This creates a great chemistry between the characters and strange situations. She has depth, and he's impressed with this. Simon is a different kind of hero. He doesn't want the enemy dead and hopes for the villain's redemption. Sometimes though, I wondered how he was able to understand Joan's futuristic vocabulary so easily. No Proper Lady is a great read with caring, worthy characters. The mix of cultures (past and present) makes for a wonderful story. Originally posted at the Long and Short of It Romance Reviews
KatjaA More than 1 year ago
Although this book was slow at times, overall it held my interest through to the end and had an interesting premise. I'm generally not a reader of historical romance, but this had an interesting enough twist to keep me reading.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed this book. It was a slight twist of fantasy and science-fiction that I found entertaining. It was a quick read and a nice entertaining escape. I read a lot of various romance novels ranging in quality and genres and I enjoyed this one enough to keep it and read again later. The author has promise and I look forward to seeing other books by her.
grisaille More than 1 year ago
Cooper's debut romance weaves time travel, magic and the paranormal, and spirituality into a unique and fascinating blend. The characters are richly-drawn and sympathetic, the world itself well-constructed. My only complaint (aside from the completely misleading cover) is that the final confrontation with the villain felt abrupt; it could have been fleshed out. Still, I highly recommend "No Proper Lady", and I'm looking forward to the sequel.
wrench More than 1 year ago
to far out there
AAR More than 1 year ago
NO PROPER LADY by Isabel Cooper is a delightful historical paranormal with a touch of urban fantasy romance set in 1888 England. It is written with details,depths and has characters that will take your breath away. It has black magic,spells,sweet sensuality,romance,martial arts,mysticism,secrets, betrayal ,lost friendships,evil vs good,time travel,tragic glimpses into the future,danger,passion, and making things right. It is likely the story of a female version of Terminator meets a male version My Fair Lady. Simon Grenville,a Duke,sexy,knows some magic,handsome,and determined to destroy Alex Reynell.Joan,from a future world of England,a female Terminator,responsible to take out the dark magic that has nearly destroyed her world.Joan is a little rough around the edges,an assassin and has a bleak future. While,wants to destroy Alex,who was once his best friend until he used dark magic on Simon's little sister,he will need to join forces with Joan. Together,these two form a bond of not only passion,a need to stop the dark magice but also a love. This is a fast paced,action packed,story with some humor,danger,sensual tension and adventure. This is this author's debut into romance it weaves time travel,spirituality,and romance with a mix of historical,paranormal and fantasy.A unique blend that flowed easily with an abrupt end. I will be looking forward to others by this author. A great read which was a quick read and interesting characters. Can't wait to see what is next for this author,hope to see some of these characters revisited. This book was received for review from the publisher.Details can be found at Sourcebooks Casablancva,an imprint of Sourcebooks,Inc. and My Book Addiction Reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Ok but not great
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
While this book was confusing at times, I'm glad I kept reading until the end! It has an interesting blend of the past and the future, along with romance and action! It does have curse words and sexual scenes, so if that's something you don't like then reconsider, otherwise it's worth it!
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Only part way through the book but it is fast paced and interesting so far.
lizziefx More than 1 year ago
I wasn't sure it could be done, blending paranormal beings in with a post-apocalyptic heroine from the future into 1880's England....but I was wrong, it was done and it was also very enjoyable. Overall this was a nice breezy read....something I can recommend for a fast holiday read, or a day at the beach.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Enjoyed this book as a travel thru time. Fun to wonder how anyone can get along in another era by what we think of as history as written.
mjmOH More than 1 year ago
I normally do not like the paranormal but this story was good. Will not be your all time favorite book, but worth my time.