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Proper English

(England 0)

4.20  ·  Rating details ·  1,072 ratings  ·  294 reviews
A shooting party at the Earl of Witton’s remote country house is a high treat for champion shot Patricia Merton—until unexpected guests turn the social atmosphere dangerously sour.

That’s not Pat’s biggest problem. She’s visiting her old friend, the Earl’s heir Jimmy Yoxall—but she wants to spend a lot more time with Jimmy’s fiancée. The irrepressible Miss Fenella Carruth,
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Published October 8th 2019 by Audible Studios (first published May 8th 2019)
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Average rating 4.20  · 
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K.J. Charles
Mar 13, 2019 added it  ·  (Review from the author)  ·  review of another edition
Pat Merton and Fenella Carruth first appeared in my book Think of England and I have wanted to write their origin story ever since. Here it is.

It takes place two years before the events of Think of England (so, obviously, it's a standalone), and, as is only fitting for these ladies, it is a full-on Edwardian Country House Murder. I had total fun with it and I hope readers do too.

NB: As should be clear from the blurb, it's set at a shooting party (for partridge). Proceed accordingly!
Apr 08, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
“How many country house murders do you think we’re likely to encounter?” OH FEN, MY SWEET SUMMER CHILD.

I received an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review, and I can honestly say I love these gun-toting lesbians with my whole heart. (Also, going along with this whole “honesty” deal, I read the book and wrote this review on an 18-hour travel day so please forgive any delirium typos.)

This book is a prequel of sorts to Think of England, so anyone who enjoyed that particular brand of
This reminded me of an Agatha Christie style mystery with a sapphic twist. Many guests who've never met each other before are trapped in a castle-like estate in the middle of nowhere as adversarial tensions build between them that ultimately result in a murder.

The first 2/3 of the book focus on the relationships of the guests and the growing romance between our leads while seeds of mystery are dropped. The last 1/3 deals with the murder and resolving who did it.

Overall, the writing was well done
3.75 stars rounded up

Old-time readers / fans of K.J. Charles who have read Think of England might remember Patricia Merton and Fenella Carruth; two secondary characters from the book. Proper English is the prequel, set two years before the event in Think of England, that tells how Patricia and Fenella first met: Patricia attends a shooting party while visiting her old friend, Jimmy Yoxall, who is recently engaged with Fenella.

If I can use one word to describe this story, I will use DELIGHTFUL.
A gloriously fun Agatha-Christie-style historical country-house murder mystery, sparkling with wit and full of great characters, including a really lovely romance between two equally fabulous heroines. I started reading my ARC in post-surgery recovery, when I could have felt really grim, and the sheer joy of this book really saved me. A total delight!
Kaje Harper
I was looking forward to this prequel story with Pat and Fen from Think of England and I really enjoyed seeing these two women meet. Pat is intelligent, self-contained and practical, raised along with her brothers enough to have the expectation that a woman should be just as capable as a man. She's a champion shot, and is used to running a household, but with the marriage of her oldest brother she's suddenly at loose ends, no longer mistress of his home.

She decides a brief holiday with an old
This is getting really annoying, Goodreads. To say I finished a book before I actually have. I would never throw a book unrated and without a review into the world. Ugh!

So I will get back to this space as soon as I finish it. Which will be later today.

So this was simply fantastic and all things delightful even though we are talking about a murder mystery. KJ Charles normally writes m/m and therefore she was (to me at least) an unknown author. Apparently our two mains
4.5 stars/B+

K.J. Charles’ latest book is a companion piece to Think of England, in which readers were first introduced to Pat Morton and Fenella (Fen) Carruth, a pair of formidable ladies who seem already to be rather adept at solving mysteries. Proper English takes place a couple of years before those events, and is their origin story, if you will. It’s a witty, sharply observed, sweetly romantic and clever country house murder-mystery; in short, everything you’d expect from K.J. Charles
Linda ~ chock full of hoot, just a little bit of nanny ~
This book should have been shorter, because there was some redundancy that seemed to be there only to show us how truly horrible a certain character is, (view spoiler) and it mired down the story a bit. Also, I can't call this a mystery since that part didn't even kick in until the last third of the book, though once it did kick in it was fairly interesting - if also a bit too long. There was too much of everyone ...more
Joyfully Jay
May 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: jay
A Joyfully Jay review.

5 stars

Oh, this story was such a delight! I was completely captivated and could barely put it down. Proper English develops a wonderful relationship between Pat and Fen, and then adds to it the drama of a remote country house party filled with interesting (and abhorrent) characters, along with a murder mystery twist. K.J. Charles just excels at wonderful character development and excellent historical elements and both are showcased perfectly in this story.

Pat is our POV
Helen Kord
Apr 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Oh this was absolutely magnificent. The f/f histrom of my dreams!!!!!!!! I loved it so much. Full review to come later but OH MY GOD KJ DID IT AGAIN, BUT THIS TIME WITH LESBIANS

Edit: Okay usually I just delete the old gushy review and replace it with the actual review, but I find this one hilarious so I'm keeping it :D Here's my full review:

Proper English made me think of all the Hercule Poirot stories I grew up on. There’s a hunting party full of colourful snarky characters, hilarious banter,
May 16, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Freya Marske
May 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Literally everything I hoped for, this book provided. Murder! A house party full of awful people! Ladies bonding! Two of those ladies falling in love and having a lot of sex! The narrator being a thoroughly sensible person who is also a gay disaster! K.J. Charles just keeps getting better and better.
Thank you very much to KJ Charles for providing an advance reading copy of her novel.

I’ve been a fan of KJ Charles’ work since (checks Goodreads) 2014 when I read the first book in her A Charm of Magpies series, The Magpie Lord. I’ve read all of her books since that first one and have been patiently waiting for Charles to release a full-length f/f romance novel … and the book gods delivered!

Proper English is a wonderfully fun and still pretty violent Agatha-Christie-type murder mystery (because,
Sam (AMNReader)

Sometimes I don't like suspense plots with my romance. This was one of those times. And, unfortunately, it felt a bit like Think of England for me. I thought the characters were cute and sweet to each other...but the pacing was off. It was probably hard to go back and create this, I don't know, and make them who they were (scene-stealers) in ToE, but it is what it is. What it was for me was barely satisfying. Both pieces were sorely lacking the tension that can make KJC books so incredible.

May 09, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5 stars rounded up

It was really nice seeing how Fen and Pat from Think of England started. And to think they met at yet another house party that turns into a good old-fashioned country house party murder mystery. Well. Not that old-fashioned. It's K.J. Charles, after all.
Oct 10, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: dnf, fellow-fat-folk
Dang, I think I'm going to have to DNF this because I'm halfway through and there is nary a drop of tension, whether dramatic or romantic or sexual, even though tension is normally K.J. Charles' main wheelhouse.

I'm just so frustrated with how many f/f romances seem to act as though women are all nice and forgiving and placid all the time. Like too often they seem to be ruled by the need to avoid having their female characters do anything that will tip off the reader's internalized misogyny-
Lexxi Kitty
“Murder is ill-mannered”

The previous book I read I expected to be a murder mystery type of book - turned out to be a slice of life/legal thriller type book. Which I mention specifically because I entered this book here somewhat excited to read a lesbian fiction book that fell into the historical fiction genre. I like reading lesbian fiction; I like reading historical fiction; rarely do I find and read historical fiction starring lesbians. So, again, somewhat excited to read this book here
May 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
I don't think I can really review this book right now in any way that will be helpful to other readers, because I loved it so much. When it comes out in paperback, I'll probably buy a copy just so I can literally draw hearts in the margins.

I was in a major book slump before I started this. For the past few months, I've been rereading all my old favorites, while picking up a lot of new books, then eventually setting them aside. But I couldn't tear myself away from this. It's just what I needed.
Apr 10, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: queer-romance
Yeah, I was pretty much guaranteed to enjoy this - I love KJ Charles's writing and I already had crushes on Pat and Fen from their appearances in Think of England. Getting a chance to see the beginning of their relationship was just wonderfully fun. I'm pretty indifferent to murder mystery plots, but I do love the cozy/creepy closed house mystery atmosphere.
K.J. Charles writes wonderful queer historical romance.
Lovely. Edwardian house party murder mysteries are indeed the best ones. Review to come.

OK, here goes:

This is both a delightful romance and a country house, body in the library type murder mystery (but without the pesky racism you often find in Christie *and* with more lesbians). There is a nice wink to Murder on the Orient Express, an exotic dagger and a Bad Person who gets what's coming to them. It's also written in true KJ Charles style, with a great sense of detail and wonderful
Talia Hibbert
I have screamed about this book so constantly that I actually thought I'd reviewed it weeks ago. But no - all my reviews have been verbal, in the form of friendly harassment, i.e. "READ THIS F***KING BOOK OR ELSE". Yes, I am a fun person to know.

Before I get into exactly why this historical f/f murder mystery romance is so great (if you need more than that description, I mean), it seems only fair to mention that this book is dedicated to me. I don't think I am biased because I read this book
A group of friends got together for a Partridges shooting party and one of them was our lead, Patricia 'Pat' Merton. Pat attended the gathering as a Gun. Yup, as a Gun, thanks to her All-England Ladies’ Champion title + knowledge/reputation with weapons/ammo. So everyone was excited to show off their skills but the news of some unwelcome guests dampened their spirits a bit. However, when Pat met the one of a kind Ms.Carruth, she was intrigued by her personality and her rather large bosom. All ...more
Received an ARC from the author in exchange for an honest review.
So there is a trend in fiction that features a strong female protagonist to have her shun femininity in favor of more mannish pursuits (the tomboy who was raised by brothers), all while undergoing an unnecessary makeover scene at some point, to prove to the reader that, no, she's actually very conventionally attractive and desirable. When I started Proper English, I figured yep, I'm in for one of those.

Pat is described as being
˗ˏˋ eg ˎˊ˗
Jan 02, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: lgbt, audiobook, read-2020
A book featuring a murder, a dramatic country party and two ladies falling in love... I’m starting my 2020 off right
I really liked this, but I should have taken the mystery element into consideration and made a point to read it when I could read it more or less straight through.
Original review: Oh well, gee... I loved this. A proper review at a later time.

Positives: Well written with two enjoyable main characters, Pat and Fen involved in romance and then a murder mystery. The mystery was in the last third of the book and was the sort where one could make wild, baseless guesses but really would have no idea as to whom the murderer was.

Most of the book was a back and forth with really uncomfortable, a dysfunctional family and other poor company at the dining table or
Wooooo! Nothing like a witty, Clue-like, atmospheric, fun, steamy f/f Edwardian murder mystery (by someone you already know can pull off both the Edwardian murder mystery and the f/f part) to pull you out of a super-shitty week and remind you that there's good stuff in the world. I adored Pat and Fen in Think of England, and I have been waiting for KJ Charles to do a full-length f/f story for several thousand years (only a tiiiiny exaggeration), so when word came out that not only was that ...more
May 09, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Much more of a mystery than a romance, but absolutely delightful on both fronts. It's a "happily for now" rather than a "happily ever after" but I am given to understand this is an origin story for the main characters, who show up in other books as a happy couple.

What I liked the most about this is kind of meta, but it was that this was a lesbian romance that did not have the male gaze at all, which is pretty hard to find, and I enjoyed it so much.
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I'm a writer of romance, mostly m/m, often historical or fantasy or both.

I'm also a freelance editor, and I blog about writing and editing at

I live in London, UK, with husband, two kids, and a cat of absolute night.

Follow me on Twitter @kj_charles or friend me on Facebook at

Other books in the series

England (1 books)
  • Think of England
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“Sorry, sorry,” Bill said. “He told Miss Carruth what?” “Oh, a lot of romantic stuff about how he hadn’t realised he was dreadfully in love with this other girl until it was too late. You must surely know about her? Or is he keeping this a deep dark secret from everyone?” Bill cleared his throat. “I’d an idea, yes.” 0 likes
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