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Willful Impropriety: 13 Tales of Society, Scandal and Romance

3.40  ·  Rating Details  ·  169 Ratings  ·  43 Reviews
The Season has finally arrived, filled with the magnificent balls, scandalous gossip, and clandestine romances that every lord and lady in good society has come to expect. But far within the walls of lavish estates and in the dark corners of the city lies a world that the aristocracy dares not touch, with rules and risks that glamour cannot overpower. Yet true love has no ...more
Paperback, 384 pages
Published September 4th 2012 by Running Press (first published June 1st 2012)
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Please note that one single shelf does not apply for every short story included in this anthology.
If a cross-dressing character is featured in one story, I shelved the book as cross-dressing-gender-bender, but it does not mean that there is a cross-dressing character in every story.

1.Story: At Will by Leanna Renee Hieber: 3/5 stars

2.Story: The Unladylike Education of Agatha Tremain by Stephanie Burgis: 3.5/5
(view spoiler)
Oct 13, 2014 Dani-girl rated it liked it
I give this book/ story collection a 3.5 out of 5 stars. I'm gonna list all the stories in order that i read and the rating i give each one with a few comments.

At Will by Leanna Hieber: 2/5 stars. Not very interesting or well written. Ending was decent though.

The Unladylike education of Agatha Tremain by Stephanie Burgis: 4/5 stars. Well written, loved the main character, and the ending was great.

Nussbaum's Golden Fortune by M.K. Hobson: 3.5/5 stars. Interesting but not great. Would LOVE a full
Nov 08, 2014 Batsheva rated it it was ok
The reason I like short fiction is that you get a variety of things for little time investment. Some of these stories were either so long and boring, or just plain boring, they kind of dragged down the little gems of stories that I actually enjoyed. On the upside, I did encounter some new-to-me young adult authors whose stories I enjoyed.
Aug 30, 2014 Melody rated it really liked it
This book is full of well written stories. I did not enjoy them all though. The first three stories are unexpected with definitely non-traditional but still "happy" endings. The third story was particularly bemusing and left me shaking my head for awhile after finishing. The next five stories are what I was expecting. These were short story versions of many romantic novels written today. They had plucky females who fought against confining British moral strictures and won their happy endings. So ...more
Mar 24, 2013 Cate rated it really liked it
Shelves: ordered
Don't let the title fool you--it and the subtitle were clearly marketing ploys by the publisher. However, the stories were absolutely wonderful--not erotic in genre, but convention and envelope stretching, without a doubt, most with romantic elements. A really delightful read. Don't rate on the misleading marketing, but on the merit of the stories themselves--you may find yourself surprised!
As with any anthology, some stories were better than others.
Jan 21, 2016 Ellie rated it really liked it
The title is pretty misleading - doesn't suit the stories.

Fantastic! I read it all in one afternoon :)

1. At Will by Leanna Renee Hieber: 4 stars

Really enthralling; kept me turning pages! Somehow, I just had to keep reading :D

2. The Unladylike Education of Agatha Tremain by Stephanie Burgis: 3 stars

Interesting magic, and I liked the plot. It did feel a bit rushed/ unconvincing in parts, but it is a short story so it's not overly important. (view spoiler)
I guess I just felt like this was kind of blah overall. So many stories felt cliche and super on the nose.

Some specific thoughts on each story below.

"At Will" by Leanna Renee Hieber - 4 stars - OH. I wasn't sure about this one at first--it seemed perhaps a bit too on the nose--but it ended up being a really great, fairly complete short story that left me wanting more, but wanting that "more" left to my imagination.

"The Unladylike Education of Agatha Tremain" by Stephanie Burgis - 2 stars - Yeah,
These thirteen tales take place in the changing society of the Victorian era. The world was still reeling from Darwin's shocking confessions and the Queen in mourning for her beloved Albert, social rules still mattered and one misstep was costly. The teenagers in this story openly defy convention and turn the rules upside down. Some of the teens fall in love with the wrong person for reasons of class or even gender. Some of the teens are awkward and some openly rebel against traditional gender n ...more
Thirteen tales set from the Regency to the Victorian Era.

1. 'At Will.' A young actress with the ability to play both men and women convincingly is brought to London to stymie society as they desperately try to figure out what she really is. I found this story disturbing, and not in a good way. The author seemed to want to show that freedom from gender expectations is freedom itself, but that isn't the message I got here. The young woman here is cisgender and heterosexual, and desperately wants a
Feb 14, 2013 Lizzy rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2012
Best Bits: It's kind of difficult to do an anthology in the best bits/nit picks format, but I'm going to attempt it. For those that love historical fiction with a bit of scandal thrown in, this is the anthology for you. As a fan of The Parasol Protectorate series, I found many of the stories within this book to be fabulous reads. My favorites included The Colonel's Daughter by Barbara Roden (a story of a companion who helps her charge hide a forbidden romance), Mrs. Beeton's Book of Magickal Man ...more
Jessica Bronder
Mar 18, 2013 Jessica Bronder rated it really liked it
Simply put, this is an anthology of 13 historical stories that include everything from society, scandal, and romance such as the following.

“At Will” by Leanna Renee Hieber – This story is about a young lady, Portia, that has been raised in theater. Because of her skill acting in both male and female roles she has become a prized character that is brought into society as a companion of one of societies more known males, Mr. Rothschild. It’s where she fits into the role that is the issue.

“The Unl
Miss Bookiverse
2-3 stars

Das einzige greifbare Überthema für diese Kurzgeschichtensammlung ist das viktorianische Zeitalter. Ansonsten schienen den 13 AutorenInnen keine Grenzen gesetzt worden zu sein. Von homosexueller Liebe (The Unladylike Education of Agatha Tremain) über Zauberei (Mrs. Beeton’s Book of Magickal Management) bis zu farbigen Bediensteten (The Garden of England) war alles vertreten und hat eine schöne bunte Mischung ergeben. Leider waren die meisten Geschichten nur “ganz nett”. Kaum eine war ri
Just A. Bean
Feb 20, 2013 Just A. Bean rated it really liked it
Excellent collection of reasonably diverse stories. As with all themed collections, a couple of the stories didn't do much for me, but mostly I found the highly enjoyable and interesting. It had a nice mix of steampunk, regular historical stories, and urban fantasy.

I was pleased at how many queer characters, men and women, were in this collection. Probably an over-abundance of white characters but not entirely, and a mix of social classes though it did tend to upper class. It also tend to "getti
Aug 13, 2012 Hallie added it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ya
I'm never any good at giving ratings to anthologies, and found this one harder than normal, as it didn't live up to expectations overall. There were a few good stories, a few I thought much less than good, but my favourite was Stephanie Burgis' story, "The Unladylike Education of Agatha Tremain". Not just because I expected to, given how much I've enjoyed everything else she's written. It was short and sweet, and it took a while for me to figure out what I thought was great about it. Part of it ...more
Jan 18, 2013 Amira rated it really liked it
This anthology was definitely a mixed bag, containing straightforward, conventional romances that have a very faint hue of "impropriety", as well as more unusual stories which go beyond Victorian boundaries and explore the truly "scandalous" (at least for that era), with LGBT themes or issues of race. Guess which ones are worth reading. No story is too "scandalous" to merit an adult rating.

I loved, loved, loved “At Will” by Leanna Renee Hieber (the first story), a gender-bending homage to Shakes
Oct 06, 2012 Miss rated it really liked it
Too lazy to review the stories individually right now! I liked the collection overall and it was pretty good on gender and sexuality. A little more Eurocentric than I would have liked – only one story had a protaganist spend time out of Britain and the vast majority were set entirely in London – but y'know. I'd still use it as a example for my 'Just Because It's Set in the Victorian Era is Not An Excuse for Espousing Victorian Attitudes, Let's Hear It For Progressive Historical YA' argument. :) ...more
I read about half the stories in this anthology, and though it is billed as romance, there was no romance in the stories. The subtitle "13 tales of Society, Scandal, and Romance" is misleading.
A few problems ran through every story I read: There was no romance, which I already stated. There was usually a romantic pairing, but the characters never met earlier than halfway through the story. When these tales are only about 40 pages, that's saying something. When they did meet, no one had any sign
May 30, 2014 Miriam marked it as to-read
Shelves: short-stories
Just read Burgis' story online, thanks to Martha Wells' recommendation, and will probably track this down eventually for a couple of the other authors.
Jennifer Heise
Jul 06, 2015 Jennifer Heise rated it it was ok
Bland. There are some sparkling moments, but just not enough. I'm not sure how much fantasy or steampunk this is supposed to be, and it certainly isn't steampunk horror. However, there's a fair amount of genderbending, which is good, though sometimes I felt like the genderbending was driving the plots.
i am REALLY enjoying this collection of victorian-era short stories, many of which include magic, gender-bending or twisty surprises, and all of which include romance.

my favorite so far is "false colors" by marie brennan, about a young navy lieutenant hiding a secret at sea!

also loved: "the garden of england" by mcdonald (retelling of 'the secret garden' from the ayah's perspective!!) and 'resurrection' by tiffany trent.

i'm sorry to say that i found seth cadin's prose in "outside the absolute" 1
Apr 13, 2016 Lauren marked it as to-read
Shelves: anthology
“The Dancing Master” by Genevieve Valentine

“The Unladylike Education Of Agatha Tremain” by Stephanie Burgis

“At Will” by Leanna Renee Hieber

“Steeped In Debt To The Chimney Pots” by Steve Berman

“Outside The Absolute” by Seth Cadin

“Resurrection” by Tiffany Trent

“Mrs Beeton’s Book Of Magickal Management” by Karen Healey

“The Garden Of England” by Sandra Mcdonald

“False Colours” by Marie Brennan

“Nussbaum’s Golden Fortune” by M. K. Hobson

“The Colonel’s Daughter” by Barbara Roden

“Mercury Retrograde” by M
Sigrid Ellis
Sep 18, 2012 Sigrid Ellis rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction-fantasy
My favorite stories:

“The Dancing Master” by Genevieve Valentine
“The Unladylike Education Of Agatha Tremain” by Stephanie Burgis
“At Will” by Leanna Renee Hieber
“Mrs Beeton’s Book Of Magickal Management” by Karen Healey
“The Garden Of England” by Sandra Mcdonald
“False Colours” by Marie Brennan
“The Colonel’s Daughter” by Barbara Roden
“Mercury Retrograde” by Mary Robinette Kowal
“The Language Of Flowers” by Caroline Stevermer

All *excellent*. I recommend the anthology -- if you like stories of mannered
Dec 12, 2012 Brittany rated it it was ok
I was really really looking forward to this book and it sadly disappointed me. While some stories were certainly better than others, the writing just didn't seem all that good to me overall. This was especially surprising considering the strength of the editor and the usual excellence of many of the writers included. I found myself willing to keep reading but just barely. There were definitely a couple stories I enjoyed - "Mrs. Beeton's Book of Magickal Management" was great and the first story, ...more
Catherine Siemann
Jan 11, 2013 Catherine Siemann rated it really liked it
This collection was a delightful surprise -- neoVictorian stories -- some involving magic or steampunk elements, some not -- in which impropriety is a theme in its many forms. With stories by Genevieve Valentine, Leanna Renee Hieber, and Mary Robinette Kowal contributing, it's already clear it's going to be above average. Most of the writers had a solid sense of the time period they were playing with -- I caught the word "deconstruct" used once, which took me out of the moment -- but overall the ...more
*currently reading*

"The Unladylike Education of Agatha Tremain" by Stephanie Burgis: 4/5. Is it just me or does Agatha seem like a budding sociopath? I liked her all the same. This world seems really interesting and spooky.

"Mrs.Beeton's Book of Magickal Management" by Karen Healey: 4/5
I loooooooooooved it. The romance was kinda sudden, but the characters were fabulous.

"The Dancing Master" by Genevieve Valentine: 5/5. Some really subtle great stuff in this story. How do you words, Genevieve? Real
Found this book a great time filler. I have only read the first 2 stories, then I was able to continue another series I have been reading. So far I think that the tales are quite well written. I especially liked the 1st one, not fair that she falls for someone when they fall for her alter ego & prefered her dressed as a boy. I'm so glad she found love in the end. I do love a happy ending & a good story that keeps me guessing. Well done, will keep reading but only one at a time, love this ...more
Jul 18, 2012 Tehani rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Not at all what I expected, in the very best of ways! Wonderful stories (only one I didn't particularly enjoy, and even that wasn't actually bad, just not to my taste) and all wonderfully subversive in terms of gender and sexuality. It reminded me a little of the Tamora Pierce edited anthology Young Warriors, except that what those stories did with race, these did with sexuality/gender. Clever, well written pieces that work very well in this collection. Marvellous stuff, highly recommended!
Snail in Danger (Sid) Nicolaides
Not bad. Until I got to the end (and note that the TOC on GR isn't the same as the in-publication order of works) I was generally enjoying about every other story, and still finishing the ones that weren't quite my thing. I was into this for Caroline Stevermer's short story. I liked it, but then it scratched one of my itches — an imaginary country and a Ruritanian-type plotline.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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