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Monday, September 19, 2011

Guest Blogger Isabel Cooper

Hi—it’s great to be posting here! Thank you very much for giving me this opportunity.

One of the things I like most about writing historical romance is that it gives me an excuse to do research. I love learning weird facts, particularly about the recreation and social customs of different eras—when I’m around cable, I’m one of those people who will spend hours watching programs about the history of popular music or pets or the cookie (no, seriously, I saw that once). Likewise, strange customs or beliefs will suck me in immediately: I don’t believe in conspiracy theories or alien abductions, but hearing about them is a good time.

Some remnant of a work ethic means that I’m happier when I can actually use this knowledge somehow, so writing No Proper Lady gave me a great opportunity, particularly when it comes to the weirder side of Victorian life.

Things got pretty weird back then, for sure. The 19th century world was going through a huge transition, with all sorts of scientific advances being made—and more being proposed, or speculated about, or otherwise dreamed up. This was the age of Nicolai Tesla, an electrical genius and one of the archetypical “mad scientists”; Freud and Jung were beginning to make their first studies of psychology; railways and then automobiles were transforming how people thought of distance and travel, just as telegraphs were changing their attitudes to communication.

Most relevantly to No Proper Lady, the metaphysical speculation kept pace with the science—and then some! People sought new understandings of reality—and new ways to communicate with loved ones. Spiritualism flourished, despite skepticism—in many cases, well-deserved—from all sides. Greater contact with other cultures, though often oppressive or exploitative, opened people’s minds to new perspectives on life, and gave rise to movements like Theosophy and New Thought.

In the late 19th century, Samuel Mathers and William Wynn Westcott were founding what would become the Order of the Golden Dawn. The Order’s mostly famous now for its association with Aleister Crowley (a man with some interesting ideas and a sinister reputation he did a lot to cultivate: had he been born a hundred years later, he probably would have been lead singer in a heavy metal band). At the time, though, it was also one of the few esoteric organizations where women participated in perfect equality with men.

In fact, some of the great crusaders for social equality came from or were connected to Victorian occult practices. Annie Besant, a Theosophist, was also an advocate for worker’s rights, home rule in India, and feminism—and was arrested for publishing one of the first books on birth control. Paschal Beverly Randolph, a spiritualist, was an African-American writer and physician in the mid-1800s, and a close friend of President Lincoln.

Occult leanings, of course, are no guarantee of egalitarianism—but the more I learned about the esoteric practices of the Victorian era, the more I found this background appropriate for Simon, a hero who has to accept and come to love a warrior woman from another time entirely.


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.

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 2012. For more information, please visit http://isabelcooper.wordpress.com/.

Two commenters will win a copy of Isabel's book No Proper Lady. (US and Canada only. Sorry.) Don't forget to leave your email address to be entered into the drawing.


  1. Isabel,

    Thanks so much for joining us today at Lady Scribes. Terminator meets My Fair Lady. Two of my favorite films! This sounds great. :)

    Hi, Readers. Please remember to include your email address to enter the drawing for a free copy of Isabel's book.

  2. I love kick-ass heroines. I'd love to see Arnold take etiquette lessons. Although they might be a bit late for him.

    Congrats on the release.

  3. Isabel ~ This sounds awesome! What a great mix! Good luck with the release. :)

  4. Wow, sounds awesome. I love a kick-ass heroine myself and a plot full of action. I'll have to check this out! Thanks for stopping by the Lady Scribes today, Isabel!

  5. Thank you very much for hosting me, Samantha! I really like this community--what an awesome concept!

    Beth, Lydia, and Suzie, your comments were exactly what my jet-lagged brain needed. Thank you so much for writing!

    And Beth, I absolutely hear you about Arnold. Man. ;)

  6. I really like the sound of this book. Please count me in for the giveaway!