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March 2, 2019

Bad Blood by Robyn Bachar ~ a Review

by MK French

After getting book 5 in the Bad Witch series from Netgalley, I went back and bought book 1 (it's free right now) so I've included my review of Blood, Smoke and Mirrors as well.

Amazon affiliate links are used on this site. A free book was provided for an honest review.

Blood, Smoke and Mirrors (book one) by Robyn Bachar

Blood, Smoke and Mirrors
January 2018; 978-0996349024
ebook, print (338 pages); paranormal romance
Catherine Baker had used harmful magic in self-defense, which led to her getting thrown out of the magical community four years ago. Alexander Duquesne had turned her in, which still causes him to feel guilt. When Cat's former mentor is killed and she seems to be the next target for a killer in the community, he's determined to keep her alive and hopefully win her back.

The book takes place in Chicago, and there are quite a number of supernatural creatures hiding in plain sight within the city. While Cat had simply defended herself from being attacked by a man, the community of witches take "harm none" seriously and preferred to cast her out for not being killed like a martyr. Just knowing that she was tossed aside for something like that makes me feel for her from the start, and I understand her reactions to stress and why she hasn't managed to quit smoking cigarettes. She does have a great support network, and I really enjoyed what I saw of her friends and faerie cousins.

Because the story starts in the middle of the action, we get a bit of background into the magical community and the politics of the different factions. Cat (and by extension the reader as well) is constantly being thrown new information that would be unsettling. It definitely gives the sense of a lived-in world, and lots of history hinted at but never explained. The tropes of having to work together with an ex and still being physically attracted to each other works here, and is a plot point that is remarked upon by other characters as well.

There are a lot of attempts on Cat's life, even outside of the trials to be the next Titania, the liaison between humans and faerie. There are a lot of other tropes that come into play, especially with some of the myths that surround vampires and necromancers. I don't like how some of the interactions are portrayed in the tower (trying hard not to spoil this plot point, sorry to be so vague), but Cat's ongoing commentary on consent is actually a really hilarious response to it. I really enjoyed Cat as a character and cheered her on. While this is the start of a series, the next book doesn't feature her at all. It's more than the series takes place in this same universe and world building. I'd love to see more of Cat and see why she has some special abilities that are remarked upon.

Buy Blood, Smoke and Mirrors at Amazon

Bad Blood by Robyn Bachar

Bad Blood
February 2019; 978-1733576116
ebook, print (212 pages); paranormal romance
As the location scout for the ghost hunting show Spirit Seekers, Natividad Houlihan is a skeptic and interested more in the history and beauty of the locations. In Spain, she finds a double whammy: one of her ancestors had been murdered on her wedding day, and the estate is still standing and in the possession of a distant relative. There are tales of the estate, so her team convinces her to be the investigator into its location. She'll be there alone for two except for Cris, the caretaker for the property that is only there during the day. As much as Nati doesn't believe in magic or ghosts, odd things happen that make her start to believe.

While this is book five of the Bad Witch series, it is completely independent of the other novels. (Which is good, because I only got the first one prior to reading this!) The characters mentioned at the very end are probably in other books, and the types of magical beings mentioned are in keeping with the rest of the world building in the series.

Nati is a fun character to read about, and I love her interest in history and genealogy, as well as her desire to someday earn her Ph.D. The official summary for the novel reveals that Cris is the reason for her erotic dreams at night, but that's not actually made clear in the novel until about two-thirds of the way through it. Of course, the two of them get along like a house on fire, with an instant sexual attraction and a tendency toward very physical sex. It doesn't feel contrived, though. Nati does have her fantasies before actually talking to him about his ties to the estate, learning about gardening and the other duties to keep it running. They have an easy camaraderie that translates to the fling that they start.

The Big Bad, so to speak, is introduced in the final third of the novel, after the creepy ghostly figures and spooky goings on overnight occur and freak out Nati. Being in the center of something like that is bound to make anyone afraid, and she deals with it realistically and fairly well. That these go on around her is ultimately explained as distant magical heritage, which is why this is part of the Bad Witch series. I would've liked some hint of the magical mentioned as happening in her life earlier, and she could have simply explained it away as part of her skepticism. Instead, it feels out of the blue and a way to tie what could have been a stand-alone paranormal romance into the larger series.

Buy Bad Blood at Amazon

Born and raised in New York City, M.K. French started writing stories when very young, dreaming of different worlds and places to visit. She always had an interest in folklore, fairy tales, and the macabre, which has definitely influenced her work. She currently lives in the Midwest with her husband, three young children, and golden retriever.

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