No Proper Lady is the hands down, weirdest historical romance I have read. If you take all perceived notions of historical romance and mix in a weird helping of Victorian occult, tentacle-wielding rulers of the universe, a manuscript that houses the mysteries of the “Dark Ones” bent on destroying life as we know it, and an unusual but kickass heroine whom literally wears weapons as body parts… well, I think you get the idea. No Proper Lady is not your average Victorian era smut. I can’t believe how entertained I was by it all - it is not a novel I could take very seriously, but I enjoyed it regardless of the few plot and character driven problems the novel revealed.
Joan was a phenomenal heroine, probably my favorite of every historical romance I've ever read. She’s a soldier with a take-no-shit attitude that is pretty impressive considering what she had to give up to travel back in time on a mission to save the her people – and more importantly, the world. I enjoyed that Joan is the obviously dominant personality in the relationship forming with Simon. I also liked how much Ellie (Simon’s broken sister recovering from Alex’s demonic attack) grew into a more confident young woman as she and Joan grew closer. Women were considered equals in Joan’s time and she doesn't hesitate to point out the obvious flaws in how much society values a “genteel” and air-headed woman. I had moments I wanted to break out in applause, but I refrained myself.
While Simon and Joan were very sexually compatible (they practically burn up the sheets!), I found Simon to agree with society’s views on women too much for my liking. For one, he is quick to become suspicious of Joan for agreeing with his pretty dangerous plan to try to reform his ex-bestie while also saving the world from said man at the same time. He becomes irrationally jealous when she is given the task to get close to Alex in search for his Manuscript of Doom (not the real name – as we weren’t actually given the name of the book... might have helped in the search,, don't you think??) when her idea was much easier and FAR LESS DANGEROUS FOR HER IN THE FIRST PLACE. He acts as an idiot for a good while, but he does eventually learn the error of his ways… after Joan has to knock him on the head with them, of course. *rolls eyes*
While Simon’s character flaws did annoy me to some extent, they weren’t nearly so distracting as the obvious plot holes in Cooper’s world building. Don’t get me wrong, she comes up with a crazy entertaining plot, but I was left with a few questions yet answered. How did Simon and Alex truly discover magic was real? Can all humans practice or are people born with supernatural ability? The author isn't clear on much of anything and I became frustrated with all the mysterious, evasive answers that left a lot desired. I am a curious reader and need to know everything I possibly can about the world the characters live in, but by the time I finished I I barely had any answers to my initial questions.
At the end of the day, I did enjoy reading this book. This was a new-to-me author and I will probably find myself reading the second book soon enough. I am keeping my fingers crossed that book two has more in-depth world building and less evasive answers. I recommend No Proper Lady to fantasy fans and those who enjoy a unique Victorian-era historical romance.
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This review was originally posted on One Curvy Blogger