Tuesday, September 6, 2011

GUEST LAUNCH PARTY + GIVEAWAY: No Proper Lady by Isabel Cooper

A BIG Casa welcome to debut author Isabel Cooper, whose debut novel, No Proper Lady hits stores this month. Let's celebrate!

First of all, thanks for the opportunity to ramble about my first Sourcebooks release: NO PROPER LADY. There’s nothing like getting published to make me jump around and squeal like an anime schoolgirl, so I’ve been doing that a fair amount for the past year--every new development is very exciting!

Over the years, I’ve discovered that I have the same approach to writing that I do to cocktails or desserts. One element is great and all, but I have the most fun when I’m putting different things together and seeing what happens. Maybe amaretto and milk do go with peach schnapps; maybe raspberries would taste great with maple syrup; maybe it’d be great fun to mix historical romance with vaguely Lovecraftian monsters. Why not give it a try, anyhow?

NO PROPER LADY came from one of those experiments. It was fun to write--and fun to tell friends about. Joan’s an assassin from a future where demons rule the Earth! Simon’s a gentleman occultist in Victorian England! They fight crime--or at least try to stop Simon’s ex-friend from writing the book that ends the world. To get to Alex Reynell, the evil magician in question, Joan has to pass as a Victorian lady, which is not an easy task for a post-apocalyptic warrior chick. Luckily, she has Simon to help her...as long as they can keep their minds on the mission and not each other.

Here’s an exchange from the beginning of the novel, when Simon and Joan work out just what their plan is going to involve--and Simon starts to realize how challenging working with Joan will be.


“Give me until we go to London. That should be time enough—it’ll take a month or two to get you ready.”

The look Joan gave him was so searching as to be, from another woman, entirely indecent. From her, though, it was just evaluation: Can you do what you say? Simon half expected her to look at his teeth.

“I’m in,” she said. “Where do we start?”

“With you.” Ideas began to fall into place like tumblers in a lock. “We’ll say you’re from America, one of the Western states. That’ll explain why nobody’s heard of you, and it’ll cover what we can’t fix.”

“Fix?” she asked, dryly amused.

“Fix. You’ll have to learn to act like a lady. At least in public.”

“Damn, I thought so. Lay it on me.”
“For one thing, ladies don’t curse. No profanity, no blasphemy, no vulgarity.”

“No shit?” she asked, quirking a grin. Simon had to laugh in response. “What if I’m, um, angry?”

“Ladies aren’t supposed to get angry most of the time,” he said, and wasn’t surprised to see the face she made. “If someone makes improper advances or swears around you, or so forth, then you should be very cold and correct. Or faint.”

“Faint. Yeah, I don’t think that’ll be happening. Not unless it gives me a major tactical advantage.”

“Oh, it does.”

Joan smiled again, impishly, and suddenly Simon didn’t think he’d have to worry about her being pretty enough. He shifted in his chair, trying to ignore his body’s response.

Her question didn’t help either: “Were you an innocent bystander or the one making the improper advances?”

“That,” he said, “depends on the occasion.”

“Mmm. Anything else?”

“Quite a bit. There are a number of rules you’ll have to follow…while implying that you’d be willing to break some of them for the right man.”


One of the most entertaining parts of this novel was the makeover plot. I’m a giant fan of makeovers--although not so much the one in The Breakfast Club--because they’re a chance to become someone new, because I like seeing people acquire new talents, and because they’re so often set to cool songs in movies. ;) They’re like the civilian version of the training montage, though Joan’s isn’t as civilian as all that, and I’ve loved the training montage since I was eight and saw Kristy Swanson flipping through a bunch of tires as Buffy.

Do you like to see characters going through training or otherwise “upgrading” themselves in your books? If so, what kind of training do you prefer?

Thank you so much for celebrating with us today, Isabel! For the giveaway: Please answer Isabel's question about training to be entered to win one of two copies of No Proper Lady. US and Canada addresses only, and please leave an email address so we can contact you directly. Good Luck!


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 in 200 years demons will destroy it all. Unless Joan, a rough-around-the-edges assassin from the future, can take out the dark magician responsible. But to get close to her target she’ll need help learning 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.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Debut author Isabel Cooper lives in Boston and 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. Her next book, No Honest Woman, will be in stores in April 2011. For more information, please visit http://isabelcooper.wordpress.com.


  1. Congrats on your release, Isobel! Your novel has all the elements I adore in a romance--fun with a bit of darkness, boundary-breaking, and historical. Great combination!

    How hard was it to slide back and forth from Victorian-speak to 21st century-speak?

  2. One definition of genius is an ability to constructively transcend multiple boundaries simultaneously. I believe you've hit it on the head! Best of luck to you, Simon and Joan (and of course, the fate of the known world too).

  3. Sounds great, Isobel! Welcome to the fold! Look forward to reading it.

  4. Thank you very much, Tracey!

    Switching speech styles was one of the toughest parts of writing. It's part of the reason that each of the early chapters has a single point of view--I still had to go back and forth with the external dialogue, but at least I could have the same internal patterns for a while. Later, as Joan adjusted to Victorian speech more, it got easier.

  5. Wow, Grace--thank you! That comment definitely lightens up a gray Tuesday morning.

  6. Thanks, Terry! I hope you enjoy the book!

  7. Loved the post. Congratulations on your new release. I can't imagine switching dialogue and even technology from worlds so diverse...you must be a genius! Love the lady on the cover with a Victorian dress and a tat...never thought I'd say those two words in the same sentence.

  8. I too love your cover. And I'm thrilled with all the mixed genres and new mixtures. I've always loved variety. I also love debut books. They can be books of the heart. And they can bring something new and exciting. As to your question, if it fits the character, upgrading in any field can be fun. Congrats!

  9. This sounds intriguing, Isabel! I loved the snippet you teased us with. Can't wait to read more!

    Congrats on your release!

  10. Welcome, Isabel. Your book sounds like a winner to me! Fabulous cover, too. Congratulations and good luck!

  11. How faulously fun! I LOVE this makeover concept!

  12. Congratulations on the new release! Love the cover. I do like to see characters go through training in a book, whether it's a makeover to fit in to a certain part of society, eductional in order to understand what's going on in society and the world, hand to hand for self defense if the character is trying to be a spy or even lesson's on spying snd subterfuge..what ever it takes to make the character believable in their new role. Thanks for the contest!

  13. A happy dance is definitely in order for you Isabel! Congratulations on your release. Wow, "No Proper Lady" has a lot going all and it all sounds so exciting. Am assassin woman from the future and a man who is very much a gentlemen.

    I do like to characters go through training and develop not just their abilities but their own character as well. It's part of their development that would make me more interested about their role in a story. I read the first book in the Night Huntress series (Halfway to the Grave) and Cat's training definitely made me like her more. I do like to see training where the character learn to control and use their powers.

  14. What a great concept! I love it. The heroine seems really fun. Congrats on the release.

  15. Congratulations on your release! I love genre-crossing stories and this looks like fun.

    Wishing you lots of success!

  16. It was My Fair Lady that made me fall in love with the training to be "better" idea in romance, but mostly so because even though the heroine reaches her goal, it comes out that the hero loves her for who she really is.

    Your books sounds like such grand fun and I must admit that the title led me to expect something completely different from the description of the story.

  17. This sounds great. I loved that opening. I enjoy the training aspect in books because many times characters are already in their prime, whereas when you read about how they begin their journey, in what ever genre, you get this extra look inside to who they were and what they are becoming. There is this wealth of growth and adaptation that created a new strong character that the reader can relate with.

    terilhack at gmail dot com

  18. Congrat on your release! Sounds like a wonderful read. And to answer your question I have seen them in training in books.


  19. CONGRATS on your release, Isabel! And a BIG Casa welcome to you too! Must add this to my wishlist... wonderful cover:)

    Good reference to Kristy Swanson as Buffy... that's one of my fav training montage's too. I enjoy the training to fight or learning new powers scenes the characters can go through in a story. Anything to make the character stronger in some way and gain more confidence sounds good to me.

    Thanks for the giveaway!

  20. Yay! Thank you to everyone who's responded: it's been really awesome to read your opinions, and I very much appreciate your good wishes. This has been terrific!

  21. I enjoy reading about the "training" but of both men and women. Training of how to approach women for instance or how to be a lady. I love how they backslide once in awhile but try so hard to use the training in winning a spouse. Then find the spouse prefers the "untrained" part of them

    macladie25 at Yahoo dot com

  22. I do not mind "upgrading" as long as the person isn't forced to become someone they're not. People are who they are, ya know? =D
    Going by what I've read so far, this book sounds like my kind of book


  23. Hi Isabel and a big Congratulations on your release. I too love the crossing of Genres. I love concept of your book and I also love the training in stories as long as it's for the character's best. :)I'm also looking forward to reading No Proper Lady.
    Carol L
    Lucky4750 (at) aol (dot) com

  24. I'm curling up with No Proper Lady for some quality escapism this weekend. So excited to read it, Isabel! Welcome to Sourcebooks!

  25. I'm a bit late, but wanted to be sure to give you my best wishes on your new release, Isabel! Cheers!

  26. Congrats to Julee J. Adams and Emily Tardy! I will send you both email shortly.