Tuesday, February 12, 2013

ARC Review: Whip Smart

Synopsis: It is 1842, London, and the gorgeous, ever-capricious twenty-two-year-old Eliza Gilbert, (a.k.a. Lola Montez) is in deep trouble and seeks escape from a divorce trial. Desperate, Lola accepts an alluring offer of a paid trip to Spain, provided she fulfill a few clandestine tasks for Juan de Grimaldi—a Spanish theatre impresario who is also a government agent and spy for the exiled Spanish queen.

Lola soon finds herself in Madrid, undercover as a performer in a musical play. But when she falls dangerously in love with the target, General Diego de Léon—the “perfect Spanish soldier, lover and horseman”—Lola becomes a double agent and the two hatch a plot of their own. Disaster strikes when the plot is exposed and Lola is forced to flee on horseback to France, with a dangerous group of Loyalists in hot pursuit. Will Lola’s reckless daring, feminine wiles, and signature whip be enough to save her life, her lover and her cause?  She will have to be more whip smart than ever before.

Written with zest and a passionate, fiery fervor by debut author Kit Brennan, Whip Smart irresistibly whisks readers into a vivid journey through 19th Century France, England and Spain, riding sidesaddle with Eliza Gilbert, the young, hot-headed Irish girl destined to transform into Dona Maria Dolores de Porris y Montez—a.k.a. Lola Montez, The Sensation of Europe!

Astor + Blue Editions is proud to present, Whip Smart: Lola Montez Conquers the Spaniards (ISBN: 978-1-938231-47-6; Trade Paperback; Romance, Historical, Women’s Fiction; US $14.95 CAN $14.95; February, 2013), the rollicking first installment of a new series by debut author, Kit Brennan.  The Whip Smart series begins during the historic week that marks the actual birthdate of Lola Montez. (February 17)

Kit Brennan is a nationally produced, award-winning playwright, and teaches writing and storytelling at Concordia University in Montreal, Quebec.

The Victorian era and its personalities have always been of major interest to Brennan. Her play Tiger’s Heart explores the life of Dr. James Barry, who was actually a woman living a double life disguised as a man in order to practice medicine, which was not an option open to women at the time.

Kit divides her time between the vibrant city of Montreal and the quiet lake wilderness of Ontario alongside her husband, Andrew, and a variety of animal friends.  Whip Smart: Lola Montez Conquers the Spaniards is her debut novel.

Visit her online at www.kitbrennan.com.

My Take:  This is an interesting premise.  Kit Brennan bases her novel on the real life of Eliza Gilbert alias Lola Montez).  It takes a year of Eliza's life that isn't really covered in the biographies or materials she left behind and imagines what the lovely, adventurous young woman might have been up to.  I found the historical period and the descriptions of Spanish royalty very interesting.  I can't say that I ever really warmed up to Eliza.  I didn't find her to be as "whip smart" as advertised.  I do think this will appeal to those who like a bit of the bodice ripper meets historical novel with a bit of adventure and danger thrown in.  Three stars for a decent read. 

[Disclaimer: This book was made available to me as an advanced reader copy. My review policy is posted on my blog, but just to reiterate...The review copy was offered to me for impartial review and I have received no payment of any kind. All comments are entirely my own honest opinion.]


J F Norris said...

Lola Montez also appears in ROYAL FLASH (excellent book and a very funny movie version with Malcolm McDowell exists that you should check out some day) in which I learned that she had an affair with Otto von Bismarck. Does he appear at all in Whip Smart? Just my associational way of thinking... Reminds me I need to read more of the Flashman books.

Bev Hankins said...

I didn't notice Otto van Bismarck in this outing....but there is a sequel coming, so maybe he'll put in an appearance.