Posted in excerpt, Historical, Spotlight, women on July 13, 2014

whip smart

Whip Smart: The Bodice-Ripper for the Literary Mind

Audacious Historical Figure Cracks Victorian Molds


The much-anticipated sequel to Whip Smart: Lola Montez Conquers the Spaniards, Kit Brennan’s Whip Smart: Lola Montez and the Poisoned Nom de Plume is finally released by Astor + Blue Editions.

Brennan’s Whip Smart series is a wild and sexy romp through 19th Century Europe, based on the real-life adventures of the audacious Lola Montez (aka: Eliza Gilbert) as she shreds The Continent, dancing her way into the hearts and bedrooms of brutes and barons. With the brilliance, romance, wit, and humor that Brennan displays in Spaniards, this frothy second in the series picks up again, and the dangerous mystery continues apace.

Whip Smart: Lola Montez and the Poisoned Nom de Plume opens in 1844 with the unstoppable, unquenchable, gorgeous, ever-headstrong Lola Montez on the run from haunting memories of Spain and the wild adventure that nearly stole her life.

The excitement heats up near Dresden, where Lola encounters celebrated composer Franz Liszt at his concert, and the attraction is instant as he tickles the ivories. However, when their passionate affair must end, Liszt encourages Lola to set her sights on Paris and establish her dancing career. Assisted by famed writer George Sand, Lola does so with a vengeance.  The very night the alluring Lola performs her racy Spider Dance at the Paris Opera, she meets the man of her dreams: the co-owner of La Presse newspaper, and best friend of novelist and playwright Alexandre Dumas (The Three Musketeers and The Count of Monte Cristo).

Lola seems on the verge of breaking Victorian tradition and actually having it all, but forces are at work to suppress the dangerous female upstart.  Deadly threats turn into reality, as shadowy figures stop at nothing to sabotage Lola’s new endeavor — to pen an adventure novel about a smoldering hot female character, cloaked behind a nom de plume.

Incandescent Paris nights abound with frenemies in the shape of writers, artists, and courtesans – the risky backdrop to Lola’squest for true love. Can the career of her dreams survive or is Lola simply too whip smart for her own good?   With Victorian sparkle and witty repartee, whip-crackingLola and her newest adventure will surely bringextra excitement to Whip Smart readers, and new fans.


The first book in the series,Whip Smart: Lola Montez Conquers the Spaniards, is also available on all devices and e-book store platforms and the third installment, Whip Smart: Lola Montez Starts a Revolution will be published October, 2014.


AstorBlueamazon buybn buykobo



What the Critics are saying about Whip Smart and Lola Montez:

“…a sharp, tight plot that rarely stops surprising, this little novel rises above its category of ‘historical romance’ by dint of masterful writing and a sympathetic, many layered cast.”

 ForeWord Reviews

 “Brennan’s novel shows a woman’s transformation from the lost and regretful Eliza Rosana Gilbert to the courageous and reckless Lola Montez. This page-turner, full of mysterious attacks and assassinations, will keep you guessing until the very end.”

Nathalie Laflamme, The Concordian, Montreal

“Okay, I’m addicted to this series. Like its predecessor, The Poisoned Nom de Plume delivers the same kind of headlong narrative rush I remember from stories I loved as a kid, but with a distinctly adult sensibility and humor. And what a relief to find a modern novel that presents sex as something enjoyable, even affectionate!

After causing scandals all over Europe, our heroine arrives in Paris to conquer the capital and ends up settling into domestic bliss instead – for a time. But for Lola, ‘settling down’ still involves intrigue, chases on horseback, assassination attempts, literary jealousies, a duel at sunrise and some unforgettable sex. Lola is an engaging and endearingly flawed young heroine, full of bluster and vulnerability; as a Spanish noblewoman she’s a fraud, but she’s worked so hard to make the identity her own that I found I was rooting for her all the way. Lola can shoot, duel with swords, and by the end of the book is also a card sharp and high stakes gambler – the literary salons of Paris seem too small to hold her. With supporting roles for figures like George Sand, Franz Liszt and Alexandre Dumas, this is a historical novel that reads like a serial adventure and romance. Normally when I read historical fiction part of me is restless, wondering how close it is to the truth. But I think I’d prefer this version over the straight facts any day.”

Janet Cameron, Author of Cinnamon Toast and the End of the World

“…smart dialogue and superb action sequences.”

John MacLachlan Gray, Author of The Fiend in Human and Billy Bishop Goes to War


“Why don’t the two of you have a contest?” one of the wags said, proud of himself for such an audacious suggestion, and looking around at his chums like a large water spaniel that’s just dropped a duck at its master’s feet.

Oh, my, this wasn’t what I’d expected — I’d simply wanted to come, be alone, and blast several dozen bullets at something inert that, in my mind’s eye, had acquired an unnecessary monocle and a high, giggly laugh. The other sportsmen, however, were very excited by this new idea and clapped Beauvallon (whose dark face began looking decidedly stormy) on the back several times.

“I will not fight a woman,” he said finally, “and that’s an end to it.”

“I will fight you, if you like,” I rejoined, before I even knew that the words were forming. The others hurrahed, and one of them dashed off to find a fresh target.

“This is absurd, gentlemen,” growled Beauvallon, before turning to me. “Forgive them their crassness, mademoiselle. I am the best shot in Paris, everyone knows this. They are simply setting you up for laughter later.”

“Is that so?” I wondered whether this might be true — and perhaps they’d all been there the night before, at the Opéra? Perhaps, too, they’d all read and snickered at the reviews that cut me to ribbons, that insulted my very soul. I tossed my hair away from my shoulders, then straightened them. “Let us put it to the test.”

“I can’t advise it,” said another man, stepping up. “Do you remember me, Mademoiselle Lola? At the Jockey Club that night? We spoke for a little bit — you were with Eugène Sue.”

“Of course,” I said, recalling that the red lips and the mustache belonged to the Italian, Pier-Angelo.

“Fiorentino,” he nodded, with a shy smile. “I enjoyed your performance last night. Never mind what they say, it’s just to sell papers.”

My brain fizzed suddenly. He meant well, I’m sure, but I could feel it coming, that rising surge that occasionally overtakes me. I never know when it will happen. It’s been the same ever since I was a little girl. A surfeit of restlessness? — a lack of familial care or reprimand when young? I have no idea. I fight against it, but most often to no avail. It is an uncontrollable phenomenon borne out of a concatenation of conflicting emotions: a volcanic eruption of molten fire, and I must follow where it leads me or I will burst. I bent my head and reloaded, swiftly. To my left, I could feel Beauvallon’s indignation mounting. Bueno.

Ready, I raised my head and my arm. “I like a challenge. Do you?”

And I fired into the target, just as the weedy sportsman who’d retrieved the new one was setting it in place. The bullet went true, straight to a bull’s-eye; the man leaped to safety, tumbling as he went.

Parbleu,” Beauvallon muttered under his breath. I looked over in time to see him reload at speed, aim and fire again. The weedy fellow stood up, dusting off his knees, and raised his hands in the air.

“Shall I check, Beauvallon? For God’s sake, don’t either of you shoot me.” He loped across to the target, peered at the centre, then turned and cried, “Yours followed hers! No second hole!”

Incredulous whistles and murmurs from all the others, who raced over to examine the thing for themselves. Beauvallon gave me a smile from his very brown face; his teeth sparkled white, his tongue very red, where I could see the tip of it sticking out between those teeth. “Satisfied?”

“Not quite,” I answered, then called, “A fresh one, if you please.” The weedy chap and another dashed around, searching. I could see someone else joining us at this point; it was Grisier, the master marksman and instructor, the one who’d given the nod to my membership.

“What’s this then, Beauvallon? Is the lady giving you a run for the money?” And then there were new hoots and hollers, as everyone else realized they could be betting on this, and the wagers began flying around the room at top speed.

“A change of pistols, I think,” Beauvallon said.

“Do you agree?” Grisier asked me.

“Very well.”

“I shall bring two,” Grisier promised, “and they shall be fine ones. Duelling pistols.”

This gave me pause. I hadn’t often handled large ones such as those the duelists used, and didn’t think this fresh test was terribly fair. I hadn’t counted on the gentlemanly nature of Master Grisier, however. He did indeed bring duelling pistols, but they were smaller and lighter than I’d expected. “Choose the one you want, Mademoiselle Montez,” as he held them out for me, in their case. I indicated the one on the left. “I shall load the two, and you shall see me do so,” Grisier told us. “Of course,” he added with a twinkle in his eye and a glance at us both, “you are firing at the target, not at each other.”

During the loading, Beauvallon and I regarded one another. Beneath the dark colour of his skin, I could sense that he was blushing — with anger, I assumed. No matter. I squared my shoulders again; everyone was watching me with great attention, and I drank that in. They didn’t believe I could do this and were wishing me well — but I believed I could, and then they’d see. Grisier handed me the pistol I’d chosen, and gave the second one to my opponent.

Then I said, “Monsieur Beauvallon goes first, if you please.”

Absolute silence, absolute shock!

Fast as a striking snake, his arm shot out and the target was despoiled.

“Bull’s-eye!” the weedy one chirped with glee.

I raised my arm, took aim. Beside me, Beauvallon cleared his throat loudly. I dropped my arm, glared at him coldly. “Do you mind?”

“Yes, I do.” Very softly, under his breath.

I took aim swiftly then, and shot. Weedy one dashed forth and peered, searching in and around the centre, then — unbelievably! The cheek of him! — his head dipped and darted, checking the outer rings, and finally the sawdust-covered floor and paneled walls. Some of the others began to titter and mutter behind their hands. Fiorentino called, “What are you doing, man?”

“I’m just making absolutely certain,” El Weedo reported, then turned to face us with face ablaze. “That shot followed Beauvallon’s, as well. The lady aced Beauvallon’s bull’s-eye, if you can credit it!”

Men rushed in from all directions, and I found myself lifted into the air and galloped around the shooting gallery upon their shoulders, Fiorentino following and yelling at me, “Never fear, all of Paris shall soon hear of this! I’ll sell the story to the highest bidder, and make us all happy!”

By the time the jolly sportsmen had set me down, apologizing and patting my crumpled skirts, my chestnut-haired opponent had vanished.

About the Author

kit brennanKit Brennan is the author of Whip Smart: The Lola Montez Series — adventure novels based on the real-life story of Lola Montez, a top-notch, notorious bad girl of the Victorian world. Kit’s keen interest in history (especially Victorian) drew her to Lola, one of the most widely-traveled women of her time: Lola Montez Conquers the Spaniards (book one) is set in England and Spain, Lola Montez and the Poisoned Nom de Plume (book two) in France, the upcoming Lola Montez Starts a Revolution (book three) in Germany and Switzerland and Lola Montez Seduces America (book four) in New York, Nicaragua and California.

Brennan is an award-winning playwright, and teaches writing and storytelling at Concordia University in Montreal, Quebec. She divides her time between that vibrant city and the quiet lake wilderness of Ontario, alongside her husband, Andrew.

Website * Facebook * Goodreads