Title: Improper English
Author: Katie MacAlister
Pub. Date: February, 2003
Summary: Sassy American Alexandra Freemar isn’t about to put up with any flak from the uptight – albeit gorgeous-Scotland Yard inspector who accuses her of breaking and entering. She doesn’t have time. She has two months in London to write the perfect romance novel – two months to prove that she can succeed as an author. Luckily, reserved Englishmen are not her cup of tea. Yet one kiss tells her Alexander Black might not be quite as proper as she thought. Unfortunately, the gentleman isn’t interested in a summer fling. And while Alix knows every imaginable euphemism for the male member, she soon realizes she has a lot to learn about love.
I had a nasty cold earlier in the week and wanted something fun and fluffy to keep me entertained. Improper English caught my eye and I couldn’t wait to dive right in! It seemed perfect: reviews (particularly from some Big Names) declared it hilarious and a ton of fun; it was just the right length for a few days on the couch (369 pages); Sexy Scottish Lead! What more needs to be said?
Unfortunately, this book just didn’t live up to expectations. The main character and the love interest have the same name… yeah. Alexandra “Alix” Freemar is from Seattle and for some reason her rich mother decided to pay for her to live in London for three months (I’m actually not sure how long she was there – the book at times said three months, yet other times it said two). There’s a catch, though: Alix must write a novel while she is in London.
Alix leaps at the opportunity and winds up with a flat and some very lovely neighbors (seriously, the neighbors were my favorite characters and this book’s saving grace). Isabella is the house…manager(??) type person (she wasn’t the landlord, but she seemed to be in charge of everyone there). In the beginning she seemed like she was going to be the token BFF and I immediately took a liking to her. Then, after about 20 pages, she just vanished and wasn’t mentioned again until toward the end of the book when she became one of the most irritating characters I’ve ever read.
Alexander “Alex” Black is another neighbor of Alix’s and there’s definitely instalove when they first meet. It’s actually pretty…ick as their relationship progresses. Alix’s constant descriptions of the ~fires~ Alex’s touch starts within her caused much eye rolling on my part.
Ray & Bert are the awesome lesbian couple and I absolutely adored them. I want a Ray & Bert in my life. Even though they irked me a tiiiiny bit in one scene – more to come on that – they were great and without a doubt the most level-headed characters of the novel.
So Alix has settled down in London to write a best-selling romance novel (at the beginning of each chapter there’s a little excerpt from her book and it’s hilarious). You’d think she’s actually, you know, work on writing a book. At first she does! But then Isabella decides to hook her up with someone (she actually says it’s her lover…). Alix isn’t looking for anything more than a casual hook-up every now and then. Alex, however, is all about serious relationships. Yet there’s something that keeps bringing these two together (of course).
The biggest issue for me was Isabella. She had dated Alex at one point, but their relationship has been over for years by the time Alix comes along. Yet Isabella still refers to Alex as her lover, her dear friend, she cares about him very deeply, etc etc. I don’t like that one bit. She’s always discussing ~secrets~ with him and it’s very odd. Isabella and Alex live on the same floor in the house and are neighbors. Just…no. I didn’t like the situation at all. Isabella, strangely enough, practically forces Alex & Alix to get together and I was so confused.
The biggest gripe I had with Alix was that she was a typical chick-lit heroine: oblivious to the point of moronic, utterly selfish, rude, irritating, everything I can’t stand about this type of character went into creating her. The scene that nearly caused me to fling the book across the room dealt with Alix. Her manuscript was rejected and she’s feeling down, so she calls Alex. Understandable and I know I’d definitely want my boyfriend to console me if I had the same thing happen. However. HOWEVER. Alex is Detective Inspector Black, head of a unit of Scotland Yard. At that moment, he and his men are conducting a raid after planning it out for months. When he tries to explain this to Alix, she goes berserk and accuses him of betraying her, states that not only does he not care for her anymore, but it’s painfully clear that she never meant anything to him in the first place. Is this woman for real?! I couldn’t wrap my mind around her logic at all and instead, felt nothing but fury for her.
Later on that night Alix stays in her flat and just wants to be left alone. Her dreams of becoming a writer were crushed, and I sympathized with her for once. I could see why she wanted to be left alone and I wanted that for her. Unfortunately, none of the other characters in the book could take a hint. They bang on her door multiple times, practically blow up her phone, and even go so far as to get random tenants in the building to call her as well. Leave the poor girl alone!
Obviously the book was going to have a happy ending, but I wasn’t left feeling very satisfied. I wish I could say otherwise, but Alex and Alix declaring love for one another (plus a random proposal???) didn’t feel natural. I didn’t buy their chemistry for a second. So many characters say they’re perfect for each other, but that didn’t come across in their actions at all. Sure, they’ve got great physical chemistry, but a long-term relationship? Eh.