Inspired by the real-life Boxing Baroness, acclaimed author Minerva Spencer sparkles with this brilliantly imagined story of her romance with an infuriating duke in the first of a witty, Regency-set, feminist series exploring the role of women in a rigidly patriarchal society. A new generation of readers and Bridgerton fans will delight in the rapier sharp wit, sexual fireworks, and thought-provoking entertainment of The Boxing Baroness.
Title: The Boxing Baroness
Series: The Wild Women Of Whitechapel
Author: Minerva Spencer
Publisher: Kensington Books
Genre: Romance, Historical Fiction
Release Date: 25th October 2022
BLURB from Goodreads
Magnetic and educated, Marianne Simpson has the manner of a lady and the looks of a lover, not a fighter. Neither of which explains her occupation as a boxer in her uncle’s circus, Farnham’s Fantastical Female Fayre. Nonetheless, when St. John Powell, the exquisitely handsome Duke of Staunton, begins turning up at her shows, she finds herself dangerously distracted by the powerful peer’s mysterious presence. With her safety at stake, Marianne’s days in the ring are numbered. But how long can she fight her attraction to the man the ton calls Lord Flawless?
St. John Powell doesn’t just want Marianne Simpson, he needs her … to rescue his brother, who is being held for ransom by a treasonous English baron—the man all of Britain knows as the Rake of Rakes.
No matter how little Marianne wants to see her duplicitous ex-lover, the man responsible for the humiliating nickname the Boxing Baroness, St. John must convince her. Even if it means climbing into the ring with the beautiful boxer and taking everything she’s got . . .
I read a sample/excerpt of this book which initially caught my attention and piqued my interest and made me want to read more.
There are two central characters in the book, first of all theres Marianne Simpson, 'generously' taken in by her Uncle Baranabus when she was very young. Despite being a performer and showman of little means and wealth her Uncle sent her to a posh finishing school Miss Nolans Academy for young ladies in an attempt to give her a good start in life. Sadly when Marianne becomes emotionally involved with Baron Dominic Strickland and marries him he does the dirty on her when it turns out he is already married! Marianne returns to her Uncle and his show. He runs a group of female acts collectively called Farnhams Fantastical Female Fayre. Marianne ends up training to be a female boxer or pugilist as it is called in the book.
Marianne is really good at boxing too though her notoriety thanks to Baron Strickland is a constant shadow over her, people don't forget quickly, and when she can't shake it off Marianne works with her nickname of the Boxing Baroness. Marianne is kick butt, straight forward, honest and isn't afraid to voice her opinion. She doesn't take well to the unwanted and persistent attention she is getting from Lord Flawless the other central character. His correct title the Duke of Staunton, but whose nicknames are Flawless, Lord of Flawless and Duke of Flawless. The Duke starts showing an interest in Marianne, turning up to watch her box, sending notes to Marianne. Determined to ignore the Duke's notes she just throws away without even opening them. What on earth could he want with her that she is willing to go along with? She doesn't want to be his Mistress, she wants to be left alone.
Things change when they get together to deal with their common enemy Baron Dominic Strickland. Strickland has sent word he knows where the Duke's missing brother Benjamin is but he will only meet to discuss/divulge this information to the Duke is if Marianne is present.
This ends up with the Duke and two of his friends going undercover at Farnhams Fayre. Initially making these posh men do manual labour amuses Marianne, then she starts having feelings for the Duke, whom she cannot avoid as he is masquerading as her trainer.
Theres lots of detail, mystery and intrigue in this book. The plot certainly keeps you on your toes. Theres the mystery of why Baron Strickland wants to see Marianne, then theres the conundrum of who Mariannes biological parents are. Of course theres some romance between the undercover toffs and some of the women of Farnhams Fayre. The most sizzling moments being between Marianne and the Duke of Staunton, or Sin as his inner circle call him. He certainly turns into a sin that Marianne has great difficulty resisting even when she knows when they inevitably part ways she will be the one with the shattered heart.
Theres lots of preconceptions in the book, Sin, and his friends Guy and Elliot think they can easily do the manual labour required of them whilst they are undercover, it turns out to be harder than they think. They may begin looking down and pitying these women but as they work alongside them they come to respect how hard these women trade and work.
Theres quite a few surprises for Marianne to discover about her heritage. I did kind of guess her mother's identity just before it was revealed and then the grand surprise/shock/reveal of her biological father. Theres plenty of action, plot intrigue, mystery, and some betrayal to be revealed along the way too.
Although some things are wrapped up in this book I have discovered it is just the first book in a series called The Wild Women of Whitechapel. The Boxing Baroness is described as a 'witty Regency historical romance' and to be totally honest no where in the region of my usual genre book style but i really did enjoy it and it honestly made me want to read more by Minerva Spencer especially this series. I already feel intrigued by the sample excerpt I read at the end of this book about the Duelling Duchess Cecile Tremblays story......