Edie Cay went and did it again. I’ve been anticipating her last novel, The Boxer and the Blacksmith, since the very moment I closed A Lady’s Revenge: would the second installment of When the Blood Is Up live up to the hype? Would I love the main characters as much as I loved Lydia and Arthur? Would it be a book able to stand on its figurative legs?
All those questions kept circling in the back of my mind, the third one prominent at the helm. I appreciate series, but when the books are inextricable from each other and you don’t understand anything if you make a mistake and pick the fifth book first, then we’re going to have a problem.
The Boxer and the Blacksmith doesn’t fall into that category, a detail that put me in a good mood right from the start.
Can London’s lady champion fight for love?
As London’s undefeated women’s boxer, Bess Abbott has the scars—both inside and out—to prove it. But when one of her boxing students, Violet, needs protection, Bess Abbott’s rock hard heart cracks open. And when a handsome blacksmith comes along, giving her compliments and treating her, well, like a woman, Bess doesn’t know what to do. She’s on the ropes in the face of his affections.
Os Worley was a child when he became an accidental stow-away. He grew up not knowing the family or the island that inflected his accent. His only memory of his mother is a head bent, hands working a stitch, a voice humming a melody. Now that he has his own foundry, and his own apprentice, he’s come to London to find the woman attached to this impression. His heart is already tempered and quenched, focused on his goal—but a lady boxer threatens to recast his love in her own image.
As Os and Bess face off, will they toe the line or retreat to their corners?
Cover: Less flashy than the previous one, but I think it suits the story just fine. I’d like to tip my hat to the artist here – you interpreted the general feeling of The Boxer and the Blacksmith in a great way.
- The Boxer and the Blacksmith is Cay’s second novel, the new installment of her series centered on women pugilists. One of the main characters, Bess Abbott, was already present in the previous book; the other, a blacksmith named Os Worley, is a new entry instead. He’s crafted with care and his backstory plays a big role, just like it happens with Bess. I’m a huge fan of backstories, you know; it’s like, think of a house. What you see, the walls, the roof, the pretty furniture–they’re all good. Without the foundations though, it’s bound to crash. Same goes with stories.
- Still speaking of main characters, I’m glad to see how Cay didn’t take the easy way out and capitalized on Lydia and Arthur. They’re present, of course, but they’re not the focus anymore, a detail I liked a lot.
- Character growth my beloved. I’m not just citing memes here, I’m making a statement: there’s nothing more interesting than character growth, and here everyone just *handwaves* does it.
- The story itself is vivid, interesting, and with some poignant moments. You see, I’m not one who gets emotional over books. I can love something without feelings getting involved–that’s just not me. Here, I experienced a little shift, like my axis tilted a couple degrees while reading before setting back to normal. Some events I was expecting; I wasn’t expecting their intensity.
- Cay’s style, which was already impressive to begin with, improved and reached top quality. In A Lady’s Revenge I lamented the presence of epithets, and in this book they’re gone for the most part (yay!). Cay’s prose is captivating and the story is engaging enough to make you keep swiping even when you should be doing something else. Like, I need to unload the washing machine, but let me read a paragraph more. A few sentences. Just until the end of the page. You feel me, right?
- There are a couple missteps, yes, but they’re very small.
5 stars on GR. I’m eager to read the next book!