Author: Kit Brennan
Genre: Historical Fiction
First Published: 2013
Page Count: 247
Film/ TV Adaptation: No
Rating: 4/5 Stars
Note: Book 1 of the Whip Smart series
Political intrigue, seduction, and espionage are all in a days work for the heroine of this spicy debut novel.
*Main character is, at times, annoying
“I have a quick mind and a certain wit. I’m young, I’m strong. Like a cat, thrown from a fourth-story building, I can twist and turn and land on my legs. That’s my luck and my talent; it’s what I’m good at.” Eliza Gilbert was nothing but a wishful dreamer with hopes of becoming a famous performer, until her irresistible looks and charm land her in hot water. Threatened into spying on Spanish royalty, Eliza transforms into Lola Montez, a beautiful and mysterious Spanish dancer. Her dalliance with the political head honchos of Spain leads to a risky kidnapping plot against the Spanish princesses, a foray with a handsome general, and a very real threat on her life.
When I read this book was based on a real person, but with a fictional re-imagining of how she became who history knows her to be, I got really excited. It seemed so Philippa Gregory, what with the enticing cover (which is the best, in-your-face book cover I’ve seen in a while), romantic old world time period, clash with major historical events and people, and the promise of some steamy scenes here and there; I was definitely in for this read. The story is constantly on the move, which makes this a quick and easy read. Some of the revelations within the book are not that impressive, but they are interesting enough to keep you reading and they do keep the pace moving. I really enjoyed this book because the main character is not some Spanish princess or exiled Spanish princess or member of nobility like so many historical romance books are from this time period. It’s great to see a female character with attitude who makes her own way in the world as a spy and performer or any other mask she wears to make her way up in the world.
Unfortunately, the character of Lola Montez is not completely irresistible. In the beginning and end of the book she comes off as a spoiled child who can’t understand why she can’t instantly rise to fame and fortune. The character is a young woman and this could be the author playing off of youth’s sometimes prideful innocence, but I just found it annoying. In the thick of the story, Lola does get bolder and more in tune with herself and how the world sees her. However, she never becomes the completely strong, independent woman I wanted her to be after going through all of her trials and tribulations. She still irks her responsibilities and relies on tricks and charms as her bread and butter in the end.
When I pick up a book with such a saucy cover as this one, the story usually fails to match the excitement I felt when seeing the book for the first time. However, there is a good story here about an interesting woman in history who I had no idea existed until this read. I can’t wait to learn more about her and see what this author does with the character’s story compared to Lola’s real history. Hopefully by book two, the character will have grown up enough to deserve the title of this first book: whip smart.
*Grab your copy of Whip Smart here:
*I received a free copy of this book for this review from the author.