Book Review – WHIP SMART Lola Montez and the Poisoned Nom de Plume by Kit Brennan

Whip Smart 2 by Kit BrennanWHIP SMART Lola Montez and the Poisoned Nom de Plume Synopsis: 

The frothy sexy second book in the Whip Smart series opens with the gorgeous, ever-headstrong Lola Montez careening around Europe, on the run from the haunting memories of Spain and the wild adventure that nearly cost her life.

It is 1844. Lola encounters celebrated pianist and composer Franz Liszt at a concert near Dresden, and he encourages her to set her sights on Paris to establish her dancing career. This she does with further assistance from the famed writer, George Sand. The night that Lola performs her racy Spider Dance at the Paris Opéra, she meets quite possibly the man of her dreams: Henri Dujarier, co-owner of La Presse newspaper and best friend of novelist and playwright Alexandre Dumas, whose recent novels about three musketeers and a certain count of Monte Cristo are running concurrently in newspaper serialization.

Lola seems on the verge of breaking Victorian tradition and actually having it all, but forces are at work to keep Lola and Henri apart. Deadly threats and rumors turn into reality, as shadowy figures stop at nothing to sabotage Lola’s new endeavor (unheard of for a woman): to pen an adventure novel, using a nom de plume, about a feisty female character. (Astor+Blue Editions)


Lola Montez and the Poisoned Nom de Plume is the second title in Kit Brennan’s Whip Smart Series. Last year I was enthralled by her first title Whip Smart: Lola Montez Conquers the Spaniards, one of the most spirited and colourful historical novels I’d read, and so was eager to see what Lola got up to next.

Yes, this novel is as saucy as the cover art suggests. Leading lady Lola has a voracious appetite for all life has to offer. She’s not afraid to use her feminine wiles to get ahead in the world and Brennan does not shy away from describing the specifics of such encounters.

But Brennan’s wonderful prose is deployed on much more than just bedroom encounters. Lola is a mercurial creature and Brennan conveys her outlook with aplomb.

Much of what I’d earned dancing in Berlin and Warsaw was now gone, and no new theatrical engagements lay ahead. But no use throwing good money after bad, I’d berated myself in an angry huff. So here I was, sitting again, like impatience on a monument, repeating the journey in reverse.

And Lola’s views on societal conventions hampering women’s physical pursuits,

‘perched upon him (a horse) like a meringue on a cake’s edge thanks to the wretched side-saddle’

In this second outing, Lola has much life experience and trauma behind her and her most likeable qualities, that of defender of innocents and a fighter against injustice and small-mindedness drive her forward. Brennan has a real talent for bringing to life sinister and loathsome characters for Lola to tangle with.

Dark black eyes glittering in that hateful head, teeth small and sharp in his vile mouth, with its lips like a tiny letterbox into which nothing hopeful would ever be dropped.

What I like most about this series is that it is fiction based on actual events, and this episode in particular features some very well known names in the European art and literary scene at the time – Sand, Dumas, Liszt, Chopin and many more. As Brennan herself describes it in the Afterword,

“while based on truth — Whip Smart: Lola Montez and the Poisoned Nom de Plume pours the factual meetings, love affairs, animosities and dangers into an overflowing champagne fountain of adventure and intrigue. It’s a tall tale, with the kind of excess that Lola might have adored — and adored toppling too, if she’d felt so inclined.”

I look forward to the third novel in this entertaining series, Whip Smart: Lola Montez Starts a Revolution! being released in October 2014.

BOOK RATING: The Story 4 / 5 ; The Writing 4 / 5

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Genre: Action-Adventure, Thriller, Drama, Romance, Historical

About the Author, Kit Brennan

Kit Brennan was born in Vancouver and grew up in Kingston, Ontario, Canada. She is a nationally produced award-winning playwright, and teaches playwriting and storytelling at Concordia University in Montreal, Quebec. The Victorian era and its personalities have always been a big interest for Kit. Her play Tiger’s Heart explores the life of Dr. James Barry, who was a woman who lived her 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 wilds and beautiful lakes of Ontario with her husband Andrew and a variety of animal friends.

– Check out Kit Brennan’s website

Other reviews of WHIP SMART Lola Montez and the Poisoned Nom de Plume

Goodreads, VVB32Reads 

* My receiving a paperback copy of this title from Astor+Blue Editions for review purposes in no way hindered the expression of my honest opinions in the above.