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Blood, Smoke and Mirrors

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Robyn Bachar’s Bad Witch series blends urban fantasy and romance in a Chicago filled with magic, vampires, shapeshifters and troublemaking Shakespearean fairies. Even a bad witch deserves a second chance. Catherine Baker stopped caring about magician politics after the witches threw her out four years ago, convicted of the “crime” of using harmful magic in self-defense. Robyn Bachar’s Bad Witch series blends urban fantasy and romance in a Chicago filled with magic, vampires, shapeshifters and troublemaking Shakespearean fairies. Even a bad witch deserves a second chance. Catherine Baker stopped caring about magician politics after the witches threw her out four years ago, convicted of the “crime” of using harmful magic in self-defense. Life as an outcast was nothing new, thanks to her father’s wicked reputation, but the injustice left her heart scarred. Especially since she’d been turned in by the man she loved. Alexander Duquesne has never faltered in his duties as a guardian—until now. He still suffers lingering guilt over his role in Cat’s exile, and when the old Titania is murdered, Cat is in line to be the next victim. Lex will do anything to keep Cat alive, even if she hates him for it. Hunted by a powerful stranger intent on drawing her into an evil web, Cat reluctantly accepts Lex’s protection and the resurrected desire that comes along with it. Lex faces the fight of his life to keep her safe…and win her back. If they both survive. What reviewers are saying about Blood, Smoke and Mirrors: “For a debut book, this story has an incredibly strong and funny main character ... and a strange and interesting world of characters. ... If I had to grab one word to describe this book, it would be refreshing. Not like a diet Coke or something that’s saccharine and only satisfying in the short term, but refreshing like thinking to yourself, ‘Oh, that’s new, that’s different’ while reading a plot that could have turned on a dime into well-trod cliché-land. Bachar keeps the story firmly in the present with a quick and witty narrator, and I kept reading.” –Sarah Wendell, Smart Bitches, Trashy Books “Blood, Smoke and Mirrors was a compelling read. Catherine ‘Cat’ Baker was an authentic and endearing heroine – big butt and all. ...overall, I was impressed and glad that I had the opportunity to discover Robyn Bachar. I’ll be looking forward to what she does next. But first I have to get something to eat. I have this insatiable craving for chocolate chip pancakes…” –Paul Goat Allen, Explorations: The Barnes & Noble SciFi and Fantasy Blog


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Robyn Bachar’s Bad Witch series blends urban fantasy and romance in a Chicago filled with magic, vampires, shapeshifters and troublemaking Shakespearean fairies. Even a bad witch deserves a second chance. Catherine Baker stopped caring about magician politics after the witches threw her out four years ago, convicted of the “crime” of using harmful magic in self-defense. Robyn Bachar’s Bad Witch series blends urban fantasy and romance in a Chicago filled with magic, vampires, shapeshifters and troublemaking Shakespearean fairies. Even a bad witch deserves a second chance. Catherine Baker stopped caring about magician politics after the witches threw her out four years ago, convicted of the “crime” of using harmful magic in self-defense. Life as an outcast was nothing new, thanks to her father’s wicked reputation, but the injustice left her heart scarred. Especially since she’d been turned in by the man she loved. Alexander Duquesne has never faltered in his duties as a guardian—until now. He still suffers lingering guilt over his role in Cat’s exile, and when the old Titania is murdered, Cat is in line to be the next victim. Lex will do anything to keep Cat alive, even if she hates him for it. Hunted by a powerful stranger intent on drawing her into an evil web, Cat reluctantly accepts Lex’s protection and the resurrected desire that comes along with it. Lex faces the fight of his life to keep her safe…and win her back. If they both survive. What reviewers are saying about Blood, Smoke and Mirrors: “For a debut book, this story has an incredibly strong and funny main character ... and a strange and interesting world of characters. ... If I had to grab one word to describe this book, it would be refreshing. Not like a diet Coke or something that’s saccharine and only satisfying in the short term, but refreshing like thinking to yourself, ‘Oh, that’s new, that’s different’ while reading a plot that could have turned on a dime into well-trod cliché-land. Bachar keeps the story firmly in the present with a quick and witty narrator, and I kept reading.” –Sarah Wendell, Smart Bitches, Trashy Books “Blood, Smoke and Mirrors was a compelling read. Catherine ‘Cat’ Baker was an authentic and endearing heroine – big butt and all. ...overall, I was impressed and glad that I had the opportunity to discover Robyn Bachar. I’ll be looking forward to what she does next. But first I have to get something to eat. I have this insatiable craving for chocolate chip pancakes…” –Paul Goat Allen, Explorations: The Barnes & Noble SciFi and Fantasy Blog

30 review for Blood, Smoke and Mirrors

  1. 4 out of 5

    Mlpmom (Book Reviewer)

    3.5 to 4 stars! This was an interesting read and definitely one I wouldn't mind picking up book two for. Definitely different and filled with all the things I like in a good fantasy read. 3.5 to 4 stars! This was an interesting read and definitely one I wouldn't mind picking up book two for. Definitely different and filled with all the things I like in a good fantasy read.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Kelly

    I can't remember the last time I was so irritated by a main character. Seriously, if a Too Stupid To Live award was in the cards, Cat would get my nomination HANDS DOWN. The lady did some relentlessly idiotic things that put her in a bad situation time and time again. I probably should have admitted defeat and quietly walked away from this book but I am WAY to stubborn for my own good sometimes. The book started out well enough - outcast witch finds out that the previous Titania (this is politica I can't remember the last time I was so irritated by a main character. Seriously, if a Too Stupid To Live award was in the cards, Cat would get my nomination HANDS DOWN. The lady did some relentlessly idiotic things that put her in a bad situation time and time again. I probably should have admitted defeat and quietly walked away from this book but I am WAY to stubborn for my own good sometimes. The book started out well enough - outcast witch finds out that the previous Titania (this is political title, mind you, for a magical being who acts as ambassador of sorts between the faerie realm and the ...err, mortal realm. Or something like that.) has been murdered and is told that she would be perfect for the job. She points out that she's an outcast and doesn't want to get involved. Suddenly SUDDENLY, she's on her way to the trials because she mysteriously changed her mind even though she still doesn't want the job and she's pissed that her former flame is back in her life and... and and and... What the hell? Cat went from "Oh, hell no" to "what should I wear to the trials?" so fast my head was spinning. Things just went downhill from there, culminating in her getting kidnapped by a powerful vampire -- Oh, vampires are, like, her sworn enemy or something because they're "abominations" and a group of vampires viciously murdered her mother on her father's orders -- and making out with him. Dude. I get the first kiss. He kinda sprung it on her and she wasn't expecting things to go in that direction but OMFG! STOP HAVING INTIMATE DINNERS WITH HIM, FOR THE LOVE OF SMALL FURRY ANIMALS! Then there was this whole thing where she would jump to conclusions about her dude and NOT let him explain that drove me batty. I'll be honest, I checked out after the second vampire kiss. Bonus, though, Cat did get beaten nearly to death by an angry ex-girlfriend. So, there's that. The sex was good between her and Lex but, honestly, it couldn't save this story for me. Too bad because the world building was decent and the power struggle between supernaturals and mortals was intriguing. -Kelly @ Reading the Paranormal

  3. 5 out of 5

    glitrbug

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Dim-witted waitress with some magical ability and paranormal boyfriend who prefers his job to her runs afoul of rich, good looking vampire who likes the way she tastes. They exchange blood before she bothers to find out the consequences. She has two fairy cousins, one of which is named Portia. Is any of this starting to sound familiar? It does if you have read the Sookie Stackhouse books and if you haven't, I'd suggest you read those instead, as Charlaine Harris is a much better story teller. Dim-witted waitress with some magical ability and paranormal boyfriend who prefers his job to her runs afoul of rich, good looking vampire who likes the way she tastes. They exchange blood before she bothers to find out the consequences. She has two fairy cousins, one of which is named Portia. Is any of this starting to sound familiar? It does if you have read the Sookie Stackhouse books and if you haven't, I'd suggest you read those instead, as Charlaine Harris is a much better story teller. I bought the book mostly because I love the cover and enjoy a good sword fight. Unfortunately, the waitress lets other people fight for her.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Chani

    This book was disappointing. I really enjoyed the writer's style, but as the story progressed, everything just became a muddle mess of cliches or ideas used by other authors (but not used nearly as well). Then, I realized while the main character is 'portrayed' as strong, she is always thinking negatively about herself in relation to the hot man lead. I'm sick of reading about women who 'don't know what the hot lead sees in them or why he would want to be with them.' The more I read, the more pa This book was disappointing. I really enjoyed the writer's style, but as the story progressed, everything just became a muddle mess of cliches or ideas used by other authors (but not used nearly as well). Then, I realized while the main character is 'portrayed' as strong, she is always thinking negatively about herself in relation to the hot man lead. I'm sick of reading about women who 'don't know what the hot lead sees in them or why he would want to be with them.' The more I read, the more pathetic I found the main character to be. Why would she want to get back with the guy who betrayed her? This is not the kind of romance I want to read about. Too many things also seemed to spell 'feel sorry for me.' Not my cup of tea.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Coco.V

    🎁 FREE on iBooks today (2/5/2019)! 🎁 Blurb: Even a bad witch deserves a second chance. Catherine Baker stopped caring about magician politics after the witches threw her out four years ago, convicted of the “crime” of using harmful magic in self-defense. Life as an outcast was nothing new, thanks to her father’s wicked reputation, but the injustice left her heart scarred. Especially since she’d been turned in by the man she loved. Alexander Duquesne has never faltered in his duties as a guardian— 🎁 FREE on iBooks today (2/5/2019)! 🎁 Blurb: Even a bad witch deserves a second chance. Catherine Baker stopped caring about magician politics after the witches threw her out four years ago, convicted of the “crime” of using harmful magic in self-defense. Life as an outcast was nothing new, thanks to her father’s wicked reputation, but the injustice left her heart scarred. Especially since she’d been turned in by the man she loved. Alexander Duquesne has never faltered in his duties as a guardian—until now. He still suffers lingering guilt over his role in Cat’s exile, and when the old Titania is murdered, Cat is in line to be the next victim. Lex will do anything to keep Cat alive, even if she hates him for it. Hunted by a powerful stranger intent on drawing her into an evil web, Cat reluctantly accepts Lex’s protection and the resurrected desire that comes along with it. Lex faces the fight of his life to keep her safe…and win her back. If they both survive.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Angela

    Robyn Bachar's Blood, Smoke and Mirrors was favorable reviewed on Smart Bitches, and that's always a fine thing, so I took it upon myself to check this book out. It was my first from Samhain Press, who certainly did make an impression upon me with the gorgeous cover for this thing. Yeah, sure, it's yet another Headless Paranormal Romance/Urban Fantasy heroine, but I will at least give this one points for not having a tramp stamp! Points off, though, for how the girl on this cover is significantly Robyn Bachar's Blood, Smoke and Mirrors was favorable reviewed on Smart Bitches, and that's always a fine thing, so I took it upon myself to check this book out. It was my first from Samhain Press, who certainly did make an impression upon me with the gorgeous cover for this thing. Yeah, sure, it's yet another Headless Paranormal Romance/Urban Fantasy heroine, but I will at least give this one points for not having a tramp stamp! Points off, though, for how the girl on this cover is significantly thinner than I think the heroine's actually supposed to be. That's one of the things that stood out for me reading through this: i.e., that the heroine frequently describes herself as overweight if not outright fat. So I'm thinking that a bit more realism of cover portrayal might have been nice here, even as I acknowledge that yeah, that probably wouldn't have sold as well. C'est la vie. Anyway, the core concept of the book was the other thing that grabbed me: i.e., that our heroine is a witch who's been banished by her brethren for violation of the Do No Harm rede--in self-defense against a would-be rapist. Naturally, Cat's pretty bitter about this, and it doesn't help much either that the one who turned her in was her own lover, Alexander Duquesne. But: Cat's also in line to become the Titania, the mortal representative to Faerie in her neck of the woods. And cranky as she is at Lex, she'll have to team up with him to find out who doesn't want her anywhere near the Titania position. All well and good. I waffled though about whether I liked the worldbuilding or not; it was certainly clearly laid out and pretty detailed. Some aspects of it were definitely unusual, such as "witches only do this kind of magic and necromancers only do this kind and guardians only do this kind", not to mention an apparent progression of necromancers eventually becoming vampires. I'll give due credit for that. I must note though that some of that also made me go "wait, what?", a bit too much for my liking. Same deal with Cat and Lex. What kicked this over into paranormal romance land for me, rather than urban fantasy, was three things: 1) their relationship was one of the biggest conflict drivers of the book, 2) there was quite a bit of emphasis about the sexual attraction between them, and 3) the Big Misunderstanding trope showed up. And while paranormal romance land is not a bad place to be in the slightest--witness the number of paranormal romances I've read and have on my to read queue--I found myself wishing there was a little less relationship angst and a little more plot. Cat herself was another thing I waffled about. I liked that she came across a lot as a truly everyday woman, not only because of her weight, but because of her tastes in clothes and food. But at the same time, she was very much in the mold of Smartass Heroine, often to her own detriment, and that's something I'd really like to see a bit less of in my heroines these days. (Less smartass, more smart.) Last but not least, I found most of the antagonists a bit too much "evil because that's their function in this plot" rather than "evil because they have actual motive". Cat's father didn't work for me as a character, and neither did "Lovely Laura Barrenheart", just because I had a very hard time imagining how any vampire who expected to be taken seriously would actually saddle herself with a name like that. But that said? Zachary Harrison did work, and was deliciously ambiguous. All in all I liked it well enough, and can definitely see how the parts that didn't necessarily work for me might work a lot better for others. I think for me this was just a question of taste and style preferences in my reading rather than any real fault of the book. Three stars.

  7. 4 out of 5

    UniquelyMoi ~ BlithelyBookish

    is free at Samhain! 11/6 http://store.samhainpublishing.com/bl... is free at Samhain! 11/6 http://store.samhainpublishing.com/bl...

  8. 4 out of 5

    Jessica

    Kitty is recruited by her former lover, Lex, and her current boss, Mac, to pursue the position of Titania (ambassador between Earth magicals and Faerie) after the previous Titania dies of "natural causes" (massive blood loss). As she holds Lex responsible for being an outcast from witch society and believes herself too young to hold that much responsibility, she is understandably reluctant. However, after her frost faerie cousin, Portia, insists, Kitty throws her hat in the ring -- and learns wh Kitty is recruited by her former lover, Lex, and her current boss, Mac, to pursue the position of Titania (ambassador between Earth magicals and Faerie) after the previous Titania dies of "natural causes" (massive blood loss). As she holds Lex responsible for being an outcast from witch society and believes herself too young to hold that much responsibility, she is understandably reluctant. However, after her frost faerie cousin, Portia, insists, Kitty throws her hat in the ring -- and learns who her competition will be.[return][return]Through the competition for the title of Titania, I thought this book was interesting and fun and tragic in turns. Unfortunately, after the competition was resolved, it really started to fall apart for me. Kitty is loyal, powerful, and has impulse control issues. Maybe I've read too many characters with that description lately, maybe the author relies too much on Kitty's poor judgment to move the plot along, maybe I was just never able to relate very well to Kitty, but by the end of the book I had Kitty planted firmly in the "too stupid to live" category of heroines.[return][return]At the end, I'm not sure how to rate this. Has a lot of promise and potential at the beginning, interesting secondary characters that will probably get more fleshed out over time, but at the end it's mostly about Kitty, and I didn't really like Kitty. If Cassie Palmer bugs you, I think you'll have the same reaction to Kitty (and the other parts of Kitty's triangle aren't as interesting as Pritkin or Mircea). However, if you really like the Cassie Palmer or Dresden series, it might be worth your time to at least check out an excerpt.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Kara Skinner (Lover's Quarrel Reviews)

    Genre: Urban Fantasy Average Goodreads Rating: 3.45 out of 5 stars My rating: 4 out of 5 stars Catherine Baker hasn’t been very attached to the magic world for years, aside from her witch friend Morgan, her fairy cousins, and her boss who’s a librarian AKA magic historian. But who needs the magic world after what it did to her? Her boyfriend, Alexander, outted her to the witch community for using forbidden magic to defend herself. And the martyr-loving jerks outcasted her for it. And needless to say Genre: Urban Fantasy Average Goodreads Rating: 3.45 out of 5 stars My rating: 4 out of 5 stars Catherine Baker hasn’t been very attached to the magic world for years, aside from her witch friend Morgan, her fairy cousins, and her boss who’s a librarian AKA magic historian. But who needs the magic world after what it did to her? Her boyfriend, Alexander, outted her to the witch community for using forbidden magic to defend herself. And the martyr-loving jerks outcasted her for it. And needless to say, her relationship ended. But she’s fine with that. She’s scraping by with her waitressing job and has two cats that she loves. If only she can quit smoking so her bank account would be a bit fuller. But when Morgan dies, Alexander shows up in her life yet again to urge her to run for Morgan’s job as Titania– the ambassador between the fairy world and the magician community on Earth. Catherine would have just told him to go to hell if her boss and cousins also didn’t want to her to become the next Titania. She eventually agrees. But complications ensue when her estranged father runs against her, sponsored by necromancers who put a price on her head. As she fights to become Titania, Alexander is appointed as her bodyguard to keep her safe. Catherine has convinced herself that things with Alexander are completely over, but slowly it becomes very clear that things are just getting started. I liked this book a lot. The protagonist is a great character, full of strength and wit, even if she’s got an anger problem. I really didn’t like how she could be a damsel sometimes, though. Granted, she’s a damsel because she’s a witch and not a woman. Witches frown upon self-defense, which is why she’s bad at protecting herself. But when she needs to be protected from necromancers, it’s her cousin Tybalt and Alexander protecting her. If it was Portia instead of Tybalt, I would feel a lot better at it. Portia is a fairy, like Tybalt, which means she’s a secret badass who doesn’t see killing in self-defense wrong (because it’s not). However, cute is the best way to describe her. Yeah, she dresses in ripped jeans and sweatshirts, but she gets so excited watching The Price is Right, she flutters her wings and sprinkles frost on Catherine’s couch. She’s adorable and I love her for it. But I would have liked it if we saw even more of her badass side than we did, especially when Catherine is ultimately a sly, hot-headed damsel. As for Tybalt… he’s all right. There isn’t much to say about him honestly. He’s a good guy but his character didn’t feel that fleshed out. The character I was deeply unsatisfied with, however, was Catherine’s father. He’s so one-dimensional, he’s practically a cartoon villain. He made a comment about how he wasn’t responsible for Catherine’s mother’s death, but that was apparently forgotten about because it was never really brought up again. The father is as developed as Queen Grimhilde from Snow White. If you didn’t know she even had a name, that’s kinda my point. As for Alexander, I have mixed feelings, but mostly my feelings are negative. He’s too protective and a tad misogynistic. When they needed information from a Chronicler (vampire historian) to help Catherine, he was more than willing to pay in blood. But when Catherine realized what the price was and volunteered to pay it instead, he got absurdly angry at her. In fact, he wouldn’t even talk to her until she apologized, even though she didn’t do anything wrong. The double standard is justified because the Chronicler made her orgasm while taking her blood and he wouldn’t have done that with Alexander. But that’s blaming the victim, pure and simple. And even if the consent hadn’t been so iffy, Alexander and Catherine weren’t dating at the time. He has no say whatsoever with who she gets off with. However, I’m totally on Alexander’s side about giving up his Guardianship to be with Catherine. There’s no law that says he can’t be a Guardian and be in a relationship with Catherine. His family has been Guardians for generations. He loves being a Guardian and believes in following his duty. So naturally, when it’s suggested that he gives that up to be with her, he needs to fucking think about it. But Catherine gets angry and offended about how he’s apparently choosing his job over her again, even though, again, nothing says he can’t be in a relationship with her while being a Guardian. Now, granted, his obligation as a Guardian is what caused him to turn her to the witches, which made her an outcast. So I can see why she doesn’t like his job. But if it was the man telling the woman to give up her career to be with him, it would be completely unacceptable. I almost like Harrison, sexy vampire billionaire, better than Alexander, because at least no one’s pretending he’s a paragon of morality. He does a lot of questionable things and fucks around with the rules of consent even though I really do believe he cares about Catherine. But at least everyone’s calling him out on that bullshit. In general, though, I found this book really entertaining and I’ll probably read the rest of the series sometime. It’s a good book that’s definitely worth reading and it’s free on Smashwords. (So there’s no reason not to read it.) If you want more free books I’ve rated 4 stars or higher, subscribe to my newslettert and get The Lover’s Quarrel Reading List, a list of all free, full-length romance novels I’ve rated 4 stars or higher.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Kathy (Kindle-aholic)

    2.5 stars This book felt like 2 novellas mashed together into one book. The problem/action in part 1 was a lot of fun and I liked it. The second half fell apart for me. The author has an engaging style. I do wish that there was a bit less of the "he's so perfect, I'm not" bits. Cat seems inconsistent with how she views her & Lex's relationship. 2.5 stars This book felt like 2 novellas mashed together into one book. The problem/action in part 1 was a lot of fun and I liked it. The second half fell apart for me. The author has an engaging style. I do wish that there was a bit less of the "he's so perfect, I'm not" bits. Cat seems inconsistent with how she views her & Lex's relationship.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Tracy

    Catherine Baker was harshly sentenced by the witch's council after defending herself from a vicious attack by turning the attacker's evil back on him. It broke his mind. Her actions offended the witch's "An harm it none" creed. She was ostracized from the witches, cast out, and she's still bitter about it. The fact that her boyfriend at the time, the Guardian Lex, was the one that turned her in after she'd confided in him in confidence not only put the kibosh on their relationship, but it shatte Catherine Baker was harshly sentenced by the witch's council after defending herself from a vicious attack by turning the attacker's evil back on him. It broke his mind. Her actions offended the witch's "An harm it none" creed. She was ostracized from the witches, cast out, and she's still bitter about it. The fact that her boyfriend at the time, the Guardian Lex, was the one that turned her in after she'd confided in him in confidence not only put the kibosh on their relationship, but it shattered all of Cat's dreams of a future with love and family. Needless to say, when Lex shows up years later at the coffee shop where she works, telling her she's going to have to try to become the new Titania (sort of the arcane's answer to a one-witch united nations for the Midwestern US region), Cat quite succinctly tells Lex exactly where to stick his suggestion. Various powers and magical races have a vested interest, however, and soon it becomes clear that refusal is not an option. Especially when Cat finds out that her murderous father Dorian is the only other potential candidate, for the male title of Oberon, left alive and as he's the necromancer responsible for her mother's brutal slaying, Cat's motivations become very pointed. With a smattering of vampire politics and witchcraft, faerie fashion makeovers, and a life-or-death battle or ten, Robyn Bachar's book, Blood, Smoke and Mirrors is a fun, easy read with a heroine in Cat Baker (true name Morrow, but it's rude to mention that in mixed company) that has enough wit and self deprecating charm to provide some solid tongue-in-cheek humor. Not to mention she slings insults even better than she wields sun spells. For me, Cat was the highlight of the book. There were a few other characters that I enjoyed, Cat's faerie cousins Portia and Tybalt and the very powerful and obscenely rich vampire Zachary Harrison. I can't say, though, that I was overly fond of Lex, who seemed very two dimensional and lacked a lot in charm. The "romance" between him and Cat never worked for me because I just flat out didn't like him, and there were scenes and issues all the way through to the last page of the book that made me wonder how successful a romance those two characters could really have, despite them being "soul-mates." Cat hasn't ever, and still doesn't feel comfortable in his home, for goodness sake...and she's going to live there? That's not usually a good indicator of snugglebunny love, and I found it so odd (especially considering where that information is given in the book storyline) that I had to reread that passage to make sure I'd read it right. And actually, that point segues right into those caveats I mentioned. For all that I enjoyed the characters (most of them) and thought Bachar's narrative was smooth and enjoyable, I had some major issues with the actual story part of the...well...story. I thought the world building was very thin and sketchy and the mythos and explanation of different races bare boned to the extreme. I'm still not sure what the difference is between a necromancer and a vampire in Bachar's world, as everyone seemed to differentiate the two but Harrison indicated that vampires find that term offensive and prefer to be called master necromancers. I thought there were several odd transitions in the book, and the first half, centered around Cat's trials for the Titania position was almost a different story altogether from the later half, where she's being coerced into staying with Harrison, and those two parts seemed so disparate that the overall arc of the book didn't totally gel for me. There were also a few too-quick resolutions and several cases where character action and/or reaction didn't seem organic to the situation, or were too quickly glossed over, and in those cases there was a serious lack of emotional impact. Some of those scenes could've yielded the author a significant payoff in reader emotional response and the opportunity was passed by more than once. I thought the "trial" was surprisingly lacking in challenge and substance considering the position the trial was for, and I have no clearer an grasp on what Harrison's motivations were for doing what he did to and with Cat beyond those he stated, but even that he seemed willing, at one point, to negotiate. Above and beyond all that, however, the paramount issue is that the idea of Cat as Titania bugs the hell out of me. I have a serious peeve with stories that offer up the least learned, least powerful, least able to defend his/herself person for a sacred position of ultimate value and power. I've read it before in other books, an it annoys me every time, because not only does it call that person's abilities into question, it makes everyone around the poor shlub seem ridiculous, ineffectual, and stupid to want that person in power to begin with, and from a reader's perspective it does a serious number on my ability to suspend disbelief. Despite all that, though, I do still like Cat and think her story is far from over. At least, I hope it's far from over, because there were sure a lot of unanswered questions and unresolved issues in Cat's life by the end. I'd read a sequel if there's one published, though it'll be the characters more than the plot that draws me back if there's another. I would like to caution potential readers on one thing: this book has been tagged as a paranormal romance, but while there is a romance involved in the story, it's by no means a central part, and I'd place the genre far closer to urban fantasy. Hardcore paranormal romance fans may be disappointed. ~*~*~*~ If you liked this review, check out others on my book review blog One Good Book Deserves Another.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Rissa

    Blood smoke and mirrors ⭐️ “Familiar sensation of a cat biting my toes woke me it’s almost as reliable as an alarm clock with the bonus of being far more annoying” We follow a witch that just wants to live a normal life but the rest of the world needs her to be the savior and fix everything, save everyone. The editing could have been better. There were alot of run-on sentences that I notice in others works now that im writing my own book but the story made up for the editing. I had the pleasure of Blood smoke and mirrors ⭐️ “Familiar sensation of a cat biting my toes woke me it’s almost as reliable as an alarm clock with the bonus of being far more annoying” We follow a witch that just wants to live a normal life but the rest of the world needs her to be the savior and fix everything, save everyone. The editing could have been better. There were alot of run-on sentences that I notice in others works now that im writing my own book but the story made up for the editing. I had the pleasure of meeting the author and she was really nice and she also gave me a little unicorn 🦄 so that just made me like her more.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Sadie Forsythe

    Blood, Smoke and Mirrors wasn't what I expected. To be fair it was exactly what the description said it would be, but somehow I expected a completely different feel than it had. I think it was more fairytale than PNR, despite the vamps and werewolves. But different than expected isn't necessarily all bad. I enjoyed it. Cat is a likeable heroine, though the ever present cigarette annoyed me...a lot. I get that it gave her a personality quirk, but I didn't enjoy it. It bothered me in the same way Blood, Smoke and Mirrors wasn't what I expected. To be fair it was exactly what the description said it would be, but somehow I expected a completely different feel than it had. I think it was more fairytale than PNR, despite the vamps and werewolves. But different than expected isn't necessarily all bad. I enjoyed it. Cat is a likeable heroine, though the ever present cigarette annoyed me...a lot. I get that it gave her a personality quirk, but I didn't enjoy it. It bothered me in the same way that smelling smoke irks the nonsmokers in a restaurant. I wanted to waft it away. Lex, or Alexander Duquesne (how do you pronounce that?) was smexy, yum. Though I felt like he was missing for half the book, giving Zach room to grow on the reader. I felt disloyal rooting for him since (view spoiler)[Cat was obviously going to be with her soul mate, Lex, in the end and not Zach (hide spoiler)] . Honestly, I bought book two almost solely to see what happens to/with Zach. I want him to have a happy ending. The fairy siblings were a hoot (poor Tybalt) and though Mac faded out about half way through the book I liked him too. The book did feel a little bit lopsided. Cat overcame one major challenge only to step right into a second one, either of which could have been expanded to a full book. What's more, there didn't seem to be enough importance attached to the first one. (view spoiler)[I mean come on, that was her father! But he might as well have been a stranger for all the difference it made to her. (hide spoiler)] The second dilemma was of lesser overall significance, but given more attention than the first. I was still left with questions though. (view spoiler)[What was Zach's intended purpose in holding her hostage for a month? Was something happening outside of Harrison Tower that he wanted to keep her distracted from? Was he planning to fall in love with her from the beginning? I doubt it. Did her really expect to convince her to be part of his plans? (hide spoiler)] What was the point? I get what the outcome was, but that is only relevant after the fact. All-in-all, despite being written in first person present tense (which almost always drives me up the wall) I enjoyed the read. It was fun, didn't take itself too seriously and passed the hours easily. I'm off to start Bewitched, Blooded and Bewildered now.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Ellen

    If you read the Kindle sample of this, you will think it is going to be a good read- it isn't. I'm so glad that I got it free from amazon, I would of been upset if I had payed money for it. I normally don't give reviews like this but this book bugged me. The premise behind this book is well done. The main character being shunned by her own kind unfairly, a colorful and eclectic world of magic users, the struggle for power and the need for a new leader for the witch community. This had all the i If you read the Kindle sample of this, you will think it is going to be a good read- it isn't. I'm so glad that I got it free from amazon, I would of been upset if I had payed money for it. I normally don't give reviews like this but this book bugged me. The premise behind this book is well done. The main character being shunned by her own kind unfairly, a colorful and eclectic world of magic users, the struggle for power and the need for a new leader for the witch community. This had all the ingredients of being an entertaining read. The writing is light and accessible, though there is quite a bit of politics and set up for the intricate nature of the magic community, which was ok. But the Characters are two dimensional and shallow. Not a single one I liked enough to be interested in.There was simply zero character development. I couldn't get connect to any of them especially the H/h. I felt that Cat's actions demonstrate that she was foolish, cowardly and fickle, she has no sense of self and is incredibly self-centered. Cat refuses to apply to be the Titania because of how she was treated- a justifiable position and one that seems central to who this character is. But then, within the course of a COUPLE OF LINES OF TEXT, just like that she changes her mind. There is no reason provided, no compelling argument given. Then she hates her ex-lover Lex on sight due to his betrayal, but then she doesn't object AT ALL to his being her guardian. Again, after 4 YEARS of distrust and resentment for his betrayal, she somehow not only forgives Lex, but falls in love with him again simply because he kissed her and said- "I'm sorry. I didn't mean for that to happen..." I would like to know WHY exactly is Cat qualified to be the Titania? How is it that there seem to be no other viable candidates- who, I dunno, haven't been thrown out of witchdom, who can defend herself and can think on her own two feet...? Plus I felt there's was really two different stories going on in this book - the first storyline comes to a logical conclusion with her killing her vampire dad and then there is Harrison who step in and starts taking a major role in trying to control Cat, and taking over.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Gail

    I liked this book a lot. The heroine is a witch who got kicked out of the coven/witch society for killing someone with her magic in self-defense. And her boyfriend is the one who turned her in. Most everyone's shunned her since then, except for her boss at the diner and the local Titania (a title, not a name)--the liaison between human magicians and the fae. When the Titania dies, the ex-boyfriend-traitor shows up to ask the heroine to apply for the job. There's a tryout/test phase to go with th I liked this book a lot. The heroine is a witch who got kicked out of the coven/witch society for killing someone with her magic in self-defense. And her boyfriend is the one who turned her in. Most everyone's shunned her since then, except for her boss at the diner and the local Titania (a title, not a name)--the liaison between human magicians and the fae. When the Titania dies, the ex-boyfriend-traitor shows up to ask the heroine to apply for the job. There's a tryout/test phase to go with the application, and she discovers her father--who abandoned her and her mother, and who she hates for being a necromancer, besides the family stuff--is the other competitor for the job. The necromancers and vampires (who are just dead necromancers) are up to something, but the heroine isn't sure what. There's lots of fighting, sneakiness, betrayal, hurt, loving, making up, and other stuff in this story, and I just really enjoyed it. I read mostly ebooks these days, so I didn't realize that it's from an ebook publisher until I got around to doing this little reviewlet. Samhain is doing a really good job with its books. Don't be afraid to pick one up.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Rachel- Goodbye Borders

    There were some things I liked and didn't. What I liked: Cat. She's strong and witty, but most definitely not perfect. I liked that she clearly communicated her issues with Lex. "Is it really so much to ask that just once I be worth sacrificing something for?" I thought it was funny that Portia was addicted to "The Price Is Right" and couldn't figure out how to use the remote. What I didn't: I disliked how Cat would question why Lex was into her, "but to be honest I'd never understood what he saw There were some things I liked and didn't. What I liked: Cat. She's strong and witty, but most definitely not perfect. I liked that she clearly communicated her issues with Lex. "Is it really so much to ask that just once I be worth sacrificing something for?" I thought it was funny that Portia was addicted to "The Price Is Right" and couldn't figure out how to use the remote. What I didn't: I disliked how Cat would question why Lex was into her, "but to be honest I'd never understood what he saw in me in the first place." I wasn't crazy about Lex. They were dating when Cat used her magic in self-defense and Lex TURNED HER IN. He comes back into her life and they get back together way too quickly. The excessive use of sugar, girl, and girly. "No sugar" "Thanks, sugar" "You'll be okay sugar" "girly glass perfume bottles" "city girl" "screamed like a scared little girl" Then there was this: "Boise? Who wants to go to Boise?" "Nobody, that's why they had seats open!" *shakes fist* Don't knock my city!

  17. 5 out of 5

    SoBeA

    Might come back later to do a whole review but for now: Started as a 4 star read,but ended as a 3... Maybe even 2.5...felt like two different books combined into one super long one...and the heroine irritated me, she kept making decisions with little to no thought behind them...there was quite a bit more i either didn't like or just got irritated by. But I'll just end with this for now: I don't thnk I'll be reading anything by this author again. Might come back later to do a whole review but for now: Started as a 4 star read,but ended as a 3... Maybe even 2.5...felt like two different books combined into one super long one...and the heroine irritated me, she kept making decisions with little to no thought behind them...there was quite a bit more i either didn't like or just got irritated by. But I'll just end with this for now: I don't thnk I'll be reading anything by this author again.

  18. 5 out of 5

    SheLove2Read

    Since goodreads ate my original stellar review...dammit...I will be brief. Loved the heroine. The dialog was for the most part good. The hero left quite a bit to be desired however and I never felt like he was fully committed to Cat. He was very milktoast and lackluster which seemed at odds with his role as a Guardian to the Faerie. This was a story that had a tremendous amount of potential but never quite achieved it's goal. 2.75 stars Since goodreads ate my original stellar review...dammit...I will be brief. Loved the heroine. The dialog was for the most part good. The hero left quite a bit to be desired however and I never felt like he was fully committed to Cat. He was very milktoast and lackluster which seemed at odds with his role as a Guardian to the Faerie. This was a story that had a tremendous amount of potential but never quite achieved it's goal. 2.75 stars

  19. 5 out of 5

    Cyliena

    Blood, Smoke and Mirrors is the first book in the Bad Witch series. I’m currently reading the upcoming book #6 for Netgalley, and the author’s note suggested to grab book #1 first if you’re new to the series. Since it was a freebie, I happily took that advice, and I am so glad that I did—book #6 would’ve been fairly confusing without it. In Blood, Smoke and Mirrors, we meet Catherine Baker, who is a witch, and Alexander “Lex” Duquesne, who is a guardian. Catherine and Lex have a romantic past, bu Blood, Smoke and Mirrors is the first book in the Bad Witch series. I’m currently reading the upcoming book #6 for Netgalley, and the author’s note suggested to grab book #1 first if you’re new to the series. Since it was a freebie, I happily took that advice, and I am so glad that I did—book #6 would’ve been fairly confusing without it. In Blood, Smoke and Mirrors, we meet Catherine Baker, who is a witch, and Alexander “Lex” Duquesne, who is a guardian. Catherine and Lex have a romantic past, but their relationship ended several years prior when Lex did his guardian duty and turned in Catherine for causing harm (which isn’t allowed for a witch) when someone attacked her. Self-defense or not, she was exiled; rightfully so, she felt betrayed. Lex comes to Catherine when their region’s Titania—an ambassador of sorts between the human and faerie realms—is murdered. Not only does Lex believe that she should try to become the next Titania, but he also has a warning: her death might be next. Like it or not, he’s there to protect her. Of course, chaos ensues. This book had a lot of magical action going on. At times, and especially after Catherine becomes a guest to a vampire, I teetered on the brink of thinking that there was more happening than my brain can believe is possible. Catherine goes through the good and the bad—mostly the bad—on her path to reclaiming her role in magical society. While the many events acted as a fantastic introduction to the hierarchy of magicians and the world Bachar is building, it neared overwhelming. Despite, or because, of that, there was also never a dull moment. Catherine and Lex rebuild their shattered relationship and show the magical world what a power couple they are. This is also where I think the book didn’t do itself any favors by only being narrated in Catherine’s first person point of view. I wanted to see inside Lex’s head and understand more than what he chose to say to Catherine about why he turned her in and how he felt afterward. Because we’re missing his point of view, he doesn’t seem to develop as much as a character as Catherine does until near the end of the book. (We’re also subjected to the “Big Misunderstanding” romance trope because we have no insight to his thoughts.) The secondary characters are quite interesting as well (and I was thrilled to discover that one of them is the male lead in book #6). They offer more insight into this world of magicians and give opportunities for levity in an action-laden environment. They’re dynamic and offer this world further potential to expand. One of the biggest complaints I see in other reviews is that Catherine is a weak character. I have to agree with that—she’s quite pessimistic about herself, her family, her past with Lex, and her limitations as a witch for much of the book. I’m willing to accept that if she’s bound by a “do no harm” tenant (which there should be a self-defense exception for, but I digress), that she’s unwilling or untrained to use her magic offensively. What makes Catherine appear weak is her mental state, and unfortunately that lasts longer than it should. She does progress, but also regresses; it’s not until we’re nearly at the sudden finale that she hits her stride. While this series opener has some rough spots, it’s still a fun read and holds a lot of promise for the series. I would have liked to spend more time with these two in the final chapter instead of being rushed through the ending, especially since it was such an ordeal to get to that point. There are details that aren’t wrapped up (related to the overall series plot), but the main story of Catherine and Lex does reach a satisfying conclusion. The couple does have a second book (Bewitched, Blooded and Bewildered; #3 in the series) that wraps up one Catherine-related event left unresolved in Blood, Smoke and Mirrors. I have yet to read it, but the reviews are complementary.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Anne Monteith

    This first book is not the best, Cat makes so many stupid mistakes that you wish you could slap her. She is a lone witch who was cast out of their community for hurting a man who tried to harm her (witches have a strict “do no harm” rule, which is kind of stupid in itself). Since being cast our she has been working as a waitress when her ex, Lex, who is also the one that turned her in to the council shows up, turn up to tell her that the Tatiana is dead and she needs to run for Tatiana so other This first book is not the best, Cat makes so many stupid mistakes that you wish you could slap her. She is a lone witch who was cast out of their community for hurting a man who tried to harm her (witches have a strict “do no harm” rule, which is kind of stupid in itself). Since being cast our she has been working as a waitress when her ex, Lex, who is also the one that turned her in to the council shows up, turn up to tell her that the Tatiana is dead and she needs to run for Tatiana so other unsuitable characters won’t gain the position. After practically being forced to agree she finds herself in many difficult and dangerous positions many which could have been avoided is she had better judgement and impulse control. Although the first book is somewhat disappointing, there series does get better in the subsequent books. I didn’t start the series until there I had the first three books so all the characters and plotlines have remained fresh in my mind. I’m glad that these are being released a quickly as they are because if Ms. Bachar was waiting a year or longer, I don’t think I would be following the series. There are typos, run on sentences misspelled and missing words but it’s not so bad that it distracts the reader, although some readers set a bigger store by this that I do. If I can read the book and enjoy it without having to analyze it to understand it then it doesn’t bother me and I don’t deduct points from the review. 3.5/5 STARS: **This is an honest, unbiased review. I would like to thank the author and/or/publisher for providing an ARC through Netgalley, all opinions are mine.**

  21. 4 out of 5

    Carrie

    This book ranks somewhere around 3.5 stars for me. As a first book, I'm curious enough to read on, and am especially happy that the next book is not in Cat's head. We join Cat, magical outcast, waitress, and generally bad witch. She's carved out her own unique spot in the world and surrounded herself with people who will tolerate a "bad witch." One of her closest friends (apparently, we join the show already in progress) is the current liaison between the midwest and the fae. This is, I guess, so This book ranks somewhere around 3.5 stars for me. As a first book, I'm curious enough to read on, and am especially happy that the next book is not in Cat's head. We join Cat, magical outcast, waitress, and generally bad witch. She's carved out her own unique spot in the world and surrounded herself with people who will tolerate a "bad witch." One of her closest friends (apparently, we join the show already in progress) is the current liaison between the midwest and the fae. This is, I guess, some sort of high ranking spot, but when we find out that this person has been murdered, Cat is one of very few people who can for some reason take her place. OK. There's more drama rolled into this, though, because her ex, who happens to be the magic police (there's a better name), is the one to inform her of her friend's death and her need to fill this spot. Oh, and I forgot to mention that he's the reason she's got the "bad witch" designation. Well, stress, the trials, hearing she's lost her other best friend, and all sorts of fae drama ends up pushing her back into his arms (have you no self respect, Cat?!?). Just when I was starting to sway on to team Lex (the ex) and Cat, there's more twists. One of these twists puts Cat agreeing to stay with a big bad vampire, attending fancy dinner with him, and ultimately falling under his spell. There's soul mates, vampire magic, fae trials, and weddings thrown all in to what was a seemingly quick ending. I have zero understanding of where we could go from here, but apparently there are more books! Sign me up!

  22. 4 out of 5

    Tara

    It was a little hard to get into this book, the writing is a little clumsy. Took a few chapters to really understand most of what was going on and figure out the relationships between characters. The author relies heavily on the use of nicknames, which can be cumbersome and somewhat confusing. The ground rules for magic isn't laid out, so it was hard to understand the consequences of actions, especially in the beginning of the book. I generally like the trickle in method of teaching the reader a It was a little hard to get into this book, the writing is a little clumsy. Took a few chapters to really understand most of what was going on and figure out the relationships between characters. The author relies heavily on the use of nicknames, which can be cumbersome and somewhat confusing. The ground rules for magic isn't laid out, so it was hard to understand the consequences of actions, especially in the beginning of the book. I generally like the trickle in method of teaching the reader about the world the book exists in (no one likes a whole bunch of exposition right off the bat) - but it takes away some of the threat when the world is still mostly unknown. Once I got into the groove and was able to focus on the plot, I enjoyed the book much more. It's hard to be stuck in the head of an unreliable narrator the entire book, and I do believe she is an unreliable narrator. I am still unsure of many other character motivations because of her stubborn insistence that she is correct all the time and her opinion is law. I wish we had more than one POV. Especially with the heavy use of 'fade to black' to change scenes. In all, an enjoyable story with a nice sprinkling of smut. I like the storyline they've laid out, but am confused that the next book in the series is not about Cat and Lex - I suppose we will see inside someone else's head in the next book and maybe flesh out the rules of this world and the hierarchy a bit more.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Dallass

    Two stories in one - with some spoilery elements So, this took a turn. After reading the synopsis I thought the story would be about Cat and Lex getting back together again - after all, this is a paranormal romance- and set against the backdrop of a magical murder mystery... And we got that, sort of. This book started out with that intriguing premise, but by the halfway mark we were done with the trials for the newest leader. The murder of the old Titania wasn’t even investigated, and for the res Two stories in one - with some spoilery elements So, this took a turn. After reading the synopsis I thought the story would be about Cat and Lex getting back together again - after all, this is a paranormal romance- and set against the backdrop of a magical murder mystery... And we got that, sort of. This book started out with that intriguing premise, but by the halfway mark we were done with the trials for the newest leader. The murder of the old Titania wasn’t even investigated, and for the rest of the book it was all about Cat and Lex’s relationship, and their not wanting the same things. Oh, and that douchecanoe, Zach, played a big part with his sneaky plans for Cat. But that’s another story. But for all the whatthefuckery that happened with the plot, I found the characters frustrating, funny, and at times endearing with a whole lot of sass thrown in for good measure. The world building was pretty good, and I hope to see more of Underhill, and the faerie realm, in future books. 3.5 stars ⭐️

  24. 5 out of 5

    Barbara ★

    I wanted to like this book but it was just mediocre. I enjoyed the beginning but about halfway through a completely new and different plot came out of the blue confusing the hell out of me. Things with Zachary just got more bizarre as pages turned and I lost interest quickly. (view spoiler)[ I couldn't understand why Cat even considered anything Zach wanted after he uses his vampire powers to screw with her mind. This simply didn't ring true to this reader. (hide spoiler)] I also couldn't underst I wanted to like this book but it was just mediocre. I enjoyed the beginning but about halfway through a completely new and different plot came out of the blue confusing the hell out of me. Things with Zachary just got more bizarre as pages turned and I lost interest quickly. (view spoiler)[ I couldn't understand why Cat even considered anything Zach wanted after he uses his vampire powers to screw with her mind. This simply didn't ring true to this reader. (hide spoiler)] I also couldn't understand the relationship between Cat and Lex. After he betrayed her so brutally, why in the world was she still interested in him. All in all, not a bad book, but not a series I will be continuing.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Jess

    Overall great book, enjoyed the writing style and descriptions. Would rate 3.7 stars. Cons: book cover and character poor choices that where cringe worthy. (view spoiler)[ The cover didn't have an honest portray of an overweight character or the terrible clothing choices described in the book.. Honestly, i love jeans and shirts but top hats all the time even in battle? The imagery didn't really work for me but I just imagined whatever i wanted in order to like the character more. (hide spoiler)] Overall great book, enjoyed the writing style and descriptions. Would rate 3.7 stars. Cons: book cover and character poor choices that where cringe worthy. (view spoiler)[ The cover didn't have an honest portray of an overweight character or the terrible clothing choices described in the book.. Honestly, i love jeans and shirts but top hats all the time even in battle? The imagery didn't really work for me but I just imagined whatever i wanted in order to like the character more. (hide spoiler)]

  26. 4 out of 5

    Gail

    Hmmm As much as I liked the book, I really did, I found myself longing for a feisty female character to stand up and best the snot out of the Vamps. She didn't arrive! Cat REALLY needs a pair of big girl panties! Yes she passed tests thrown at her. But she never saw the big nasty roaming her dreams or upon waking realise something bad this way come. I want her character to now flourish and become the Titania I hope she will be. Hmmm As much as I liked the book, I really did, I found myself longing for a feisty female character to stand up and best the snot out of the Vamps. She didn't arrive! Cat REALLY needs a pair of big girl panties! Yes she passed tests thrown at her. But she never saw the big nasty roaming her dreams or upon waking realise something bad this way come. I want her character to now flourish and become the Titania I hope she will be.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Elle

    Disappointed Started out promising, but then took a turn for the stupid. The heroine spend the last third of the book acting so idiotic and counter to her character from the first chunk I almost did not finish. But I hate leaving a story incomplete and was hoping that based on the first part the book would get better. It didn’t. There are plot holes, the pacing is sloppy and the characterization is inconsistent.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Natalie

    So many loveable characters and some you just want to punch in the face. It was a five all the way to the half way point. One choice and it’s like banging your head against a wall at Cat’s stupidity. As a main character she’s strong and feisty but her judgment...is lacking and slightly on the cliche side. Overall I did really enjoy this book and look forward to reading more.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Monique

    An enjoyable read An interesting concept for a story, and enjoyable enough though it lacked a certain something for me that would have made this fantastic. Not hating on the book though! Decent characters, nice writing style.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Dana

    Oh for the love of...... I was enthralled. Sadly or maybe not so sadly it's part 1, where Bewitched, Blooded and Bewildered is part 2. Can't wait too see what happens in book 2 But I have to say....Cat is a bleeding idiot! 🤦🏽‍♂️ Read it and you'll see what I mean. Oh for the love of...... I was enthralled. Sadly or maybe not so sadly it's part 1, where Bewitched, Blooded and Bewildered is part 2. Can't wait too see what happens in book 2 But I have to say....Cat is a bleeding idiot! 🤦🏽‍♂️ Read it and you'll see what I mean.

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