ARC Review: The Prizefighter’s Hart by Emily Royal

About the Book:

Title: The Prizefighter’s Hart

Author: Emily Royal

Series: Headstrong Harts

Page Length: 308

Publication Date: Aug. 26, 2021

Publisher: Dragonblade Publishing

Synopsis: A spinster. A prizefighter. A marriage of convenience. This bout can’t end well.

Plain, prim, and beyond marriageable age, Dorothea Hart is resigned to the life of a spinster aunt. But she yearns for a family of her own, and is hopelessly attracted to the ‘Mighty Oak’—a prizefighter renowned for his prowess—who stirs previously unknown passions in her.

Widower Griffin Oake made his fortune in the ring—but he can’t buy respectability, or a footing in society for his daughter. After a disastrous first marriage, he has no wish to wed again, but is looking to employ a genteel woman to chaperone the rebellious teenager—preferably the plainest, dullest woman in London.

When Dorothea is publicly compromised, she’s pushed into a marriage of convenience with the object of her infatuation. Exiled to the country, with a husband who avoids her, and a stepdaughter determined to defy her, Dorothea’s dream of a loving family seems further away than ever… and she begins to suspect that Griffin’s first wife’s death was not an accident. 

LINKS:     Goodreads    |      Amazon   

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My Review:

The Prizefighter’s Hart is the fourth book in the Headstrong Harts series and focuses on Dorothea Hart, a thirty-year-old spinster who finds herself in a compromising situation with widower and prizefighter Griffin Oake. Griffin knows he will never be accepted into polite society, but he agrees to marry Dorothea in the hopes that she will help his daughter become a proper lady. Theirs is not a love match, but Dorothea hopes that their marriage of convenience will develop into something more. However, with a hellion step-daughter, a husband who avoids her, and suspicious circumstances behind the death of Griffin’s first wife, Dorothea’s path to happiness is unclear.

Dorothea is a dynamic character, as is Rowena. A spinster who is beloved by her family and gifted with children, Dorothea longs to have a family of her own. She also longs for Griffin ever since she saw him boxing. She is so smart, strong, and capable, and she has a way of making everyone around her feel comfortable, accepted, and respected. She’s also super patient, which is invaluable when dealing with Rowena.

I loved the relationship that Dorothea forged with Rowena. From their first meeting, Rowena proves difficult, but Dorothea sees past Rowena’s poor behavior and appreciates the strong-willed young woman. Dorothea becomes Rowena’s staunchest supporter, and as she envelops Rowena and Griffin into the Hart family, she shows them both what it means to be loved and accepted.

I also like how much Griffin loves Rowena. He wants more than anything for Rowena to have a good future, and he knows that she needs to curb her hellion ways and become a proper lady. As the story progresses, the relationship between Rowena and Griffin changes, and he realizes that what he wants for his daughter isn’t exactly what she wants. I like how they grow closer and learn to communicate and show their love more. They both learn a lot about love, family, and relationships from Dorothea, who changes their lives for the better.

The relationship between Dorothea and Griffin is unconventional and slow-building. Griffin is so closed off emotionally that he doesn’t know how to handle himself as Dorothea slowly breaks down his walls. He is the kind of person who sometimes speaks without thinking about how his word will affect other people, which is to his detriment. He says and does several things to Dorothea that contradict his growing feelings for her, and he has to work even harder to prove his love for her is true. Much of his attitude stems from trauma in his past as well as feelings of unworthiness.

At times, Griffin felt a little too boorish, and I didn’t like that he threatened bodily harm on Dorothea and Rowena more than once in the story, especially considering he is a boxer known for decimating his opponents and Rowena has been abused by someone else. Though it’s pretty obvious that he doesn’t really mean it, it still feels so intimidating, and it doesn’t endear his character to the reader. I think Griffin is so undone by his feelings for Dorothea, and he doesn’t always know how to deal with them. His attitude and words also show how different he is from the polite society Dorothea is accustomed to. Luckily for Griffin, Dorothea likes that he is not proper and is more savage than the men she knows.

There is also a mystery surrounding the life and death of Griffin’s first wife, which is intriguing. I don’t want to give too much away, but as her story is revealed, you learn why Griffin is so guarded and emotionally closed off. The past, unfortunately, comes back to haunt Griffin, and it threatens to destroy everything he’s worked so hard to protect.

Finally, if you’ve read the other books in the series, you’ll be happy to know that most have roles in this book. I love that we are able to find out how the couples are doing and what has happened in their lives. However, as much as I liked Dexter in Queen of my Hart, I hated him in this book. He treats Dorothea so poorly, and some of the things he says to her are unforgivable. And he doesn’t even try to gain her forgiveness, which I thought was terrible. Dorothea gave so much to Dexter, and he treated her more like a servant than a family member, acted dismissively toward her, and so callously believed certain unsavory things about her lessened his likability in my eyes. He has some major groveling to do, in my opinion.

Overall, this is an enjoyable read with well-developed characters, and it’s a great addition to the Headstrong Harts series. It’s an emotional, intriguing, and engrossing story that will appeal to lovers of historical romance, and I’m so thankful to NetGalley, Emily Royal, and Dragonblade Publishing for a copy of the book in exchange for my honest review.


Favorite Parts:

  • The romance!
  • The relationship between Dorothea and Rowena.

Favorite Lines:

There’s more honesty in a man who uses his fists – rather than his wits-to best his opponents.

The quality of friendship does not always depend on the duration of the acquaintance.

The truth has a way of revealing itself, often when we’re least prepared for it.


Want to learn more about the series? Check out my favorite quotes from the first three books!

6 thoughts on “ARC Review: The Prizefighter’s Hart by Emily Royal

  1. It’s a weird (but good!) coincidence that I’m reading another historical romance involving a boxer (Edie Cay’s When The Blood Is Up ).

    There’s a very customizable computer game called Title Bout Championship Boxing where one user made boxers in it from pretty much every work of fiction that featured them, from Rocky to obscure story collections from the 1910s. So that’s what got me into “prizefighting fiction”.

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