Not Proper Enough by Carolyn Jewel

Grade: C+
passion rating: hot

Dear Ms. Jewel,

I was excited to read Not Proper Enough because two of your earlier books are on my list of favorite historical novels—my Ballin’ Bodice Rippers compilation—Lord Ruin (reviewed here by Jane) and Scandal (reviewed here by Janine.)  I haven’t read the first book in yourReforming the Scoundrels series, Not Wicked Enough (reviewed here by Janine), but I can’t say that impeded my (non)enjoyment of this book. Not Proper Enough is well-written, but dull. I never became invested in the leads and their conflict lacked depth.
Lady Eugenia Bryant is returning to Regency society four years after the death of the great love of her life, her husband Robert. Though it’s been four years since he suddenly died, Eugenia is still in love with Robert.  She sees life without him as something to simply be endured. Eugenia has come to London to help a younger friend of hers, the socially awkward Hester, find a proper husband. The very first night she and Hester are out in society, Eugenia is angered to encounter a man she hates, the Marquis of Fenris. Eugenia loathes Fenris because, years earlier, when she first met Robert, Fenris, who’d been Robert’s best friend, trashed Eugenia to the ton and to Robert, so sure was Fenris Eugenia wasn’t a lofty enough bride for Robert.
Fenris, however, is a changed man. He realized long ago he was wrong about Eugenia and is, in fact–and this is not a spoiler; it’s put out there in the book’s first chapter–madly and passionately in love with her. He is determined to win her heart but, since this is a Caroline Jewel book, he realizes he will most easily do so by winning her body. Fenris sets out to seduce Eugenia and to do everything in his power to help her–and Hester–succeed in society. He begins that very first night by defending Hester from a blowhard jerk–hilariously named Dinwitty Lane (I kept thinking of him as Dimwitted Lame.)–who is insulting her just for sport. Eugenia is shocked the evil–but oh so gorgeous–Fenris would do such a thing.  She’s again floored when, several days later, he comes to call upon her.
The man gazed at her with his ridiculously beautiful brown eyes, not a common brown but a lighter chestnut brown. Of course the Marquess of Fenris could never have common brown eyes. The world might end if his eyes were merely brown.
Could any man be as perfect as Fenris? It wasn’t fair for anyone to have the best of everything life offered. She looked him up and down, examining him for flaws, and found none.
“If you aren’t here for Hester, why are you here?”
“I should think that’s plain enough.”
“Well, it is not.”
“For you.”
Not Proper Enough has a similar romance plot as is in Scandal. In both books, a sexually confident man begins the book in love with a guarded widow and spends the rest of the book whittling away her resistance. This storyline worked better for me in Scandal. That book had a far more interesting back story and the reservations held by the heroine made sense. In this novel, the back story is easily dismissed–Fenris was a jerk, he lost his best friend, he came to regret it–and the reservations Eugenia has all pale in the face of her overwhelming desire for Fenris.
Not Proper Enough is a very long and drawn out tale of seduction. Fenris first begs Eugenia to bed him; then for her to forgive and fall for him.  Both their sexual encounters and subsequent angst-filled conversations bored me. In scene after scene the two have sex, Eugenia (Fenris calls her “Ginny”) says it means nothing, and then feels awful about all the banging orgasms Fenris ensured she had.
click here to read the rest of the review

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