Several years ago I had the wonderful opportunity to spend one morning a week with some fabulously talented women writers. One was already published, several times over and has quite a nice following, me included. One had a book ready to go, complete with an agent. Another was a published writer, mostly of travel books who was in the process of switching genres and finally there was one who was very talented, working on finding an agent for her well polished novels. Oh, and then there was me. These talented women were willing to have me as part of their group, they would critique my work which was very less polished than theirs, and made me feel accepted and like I had talent.
Fast forward to now, and it’s such a joy to know that the publishing world has come around to agreeing with me. Not only is she published, she has won several awards for both her first and her second book, with a third one ready to be released. Although she no longer lives in Savannah, I’m delighted to have the opportunity to stay in touch. It’s always a joy to watch friends succeed, and especially in the arts where it often seems to be an uphill battle.
One of my favorite characters of hers is Bess, a Regency era boxer. Bess’s story is told in the second novel of the “When Blood Is Up” trilogy. I had a chance to read an early copy of the first book, A Lady’s Revenge during our critique group, and it was terrific. Then I read the precursor to The Boxer and The Blacksmith, the now published version of Bess’s story. I loved it then, and enjoyed the final copy, which I’ve reviewed here, even more if that’s possible. It’s a fun fact to know about one of the struggles regarding a plot point and to learn how she solved it in the published work. No, I’m not going to tell you what it was, I’m simply going to tell you to read it for yourself. I do think you will enjoy it more if you read all three books in the series and read them in order, they will make more sense.
In case you’re wondering, here is the review I wrote for this second book, which I just finished; The Boxer and the Blacksmith by Edie Cay. It’s well worth the time, and just might change your mind about Romance novels, especially if you just think of them as pieces of fluff.
Think all Regency Romance books are filled with Lords and Ladies dressed in their finery, sipping champagne at balls? Well, think again. Edie Cay has a unique take on both the genre and the period that makes for an intriguing book.
In The Boxer and the Blacksmith, Cay gives us a chance to see the poor side of the Regency period, with people who have to work hard to get enough money to find food, who experience life in places where rats are prevalent, where they might be attacked on the street walking home at dusk, and where finery might come closer to meaning a dress that isn’t so thin you can think of it.
Bess is an unusual heroine, she boxes for her money. There aren’t many female boxers, and Bess is a dedicated one who works hard at the craft. She is also large for the era, and by no means a beauty. She’s accustomed to having insults about her looks thrown at her, including the fact she has “cauliflower” ears as a result of injuries in the boxing ring, and being considered an ugly woman deserving of rejection.
Then there’s Os, the blacksmith, who thinks Bess is the most beautiful woman he’s ever seen. Os is also unusual for the time, being much larger than most men with dark black skin and well developed muscles from spending hours at the forge all day. He, too, is used to criticism and rejection but he lets it roll off his rather powerful shoulders.
The love affair that develops between these two is difficult, as both are new at tender words and gestures. Still, that they care for one another is clear and the reader will be hoping they put aside both the awkwardness each has in expressing thoughts of love as well as find success in their individual challenges in this book. Bess is working hard to provide shelter for a young girl while she prepares for a huge fight with an opponent about whom she knows little. Os is determined to find his mother and his search takes her back to the home of his childhood friend, now the “Lord of Manor”, who believes she may have been a slave and if so will need to be purchased if and when Os finds her. To him, she’s no more than another “asset” to the plantation.
There are other characters who are equally well developed and serve to round out the story. This is the second book in a series of three, and readers will benefit from reading all of the books, in order, if they want to fully understand the relationship among these characters as well as how they relate to Bess and Os.
So, hats off to my friend, now a successful author in her own right. While I no longer write novels, I do still dabble in the occasional short story, have one published submission in a 50 words or less section in an on-line publication from Vine Leaves Press, and regularly write reviews of books that are due for publication in the next few months. These shortened writing tasks suit me more than writing a full-length novel, but I certainly appreciate those who write the long form. After all, without books I would be missing a huge part of what I do to amuse myself. Yes, I read for entertainment and often prefer it to other forms of entertainment like television and movies. Try it, you might like it. Happy Reading.