Cover Image: Shadowboxer


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Member Reviews

Intense, realistic story about two lost loves who find each other during a fight for justice. The many sheeps fight against the wolves both in and out of the ring.
I would recommend this to those who enjoy lesbian fiction with drama filled plot.
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I work in this field and was curious to see how the author would portray this demographic. I enjoyed her take immensely and cant wait to see what she comes up with next.
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I’m a sucker for great characters, and Jessica Webb never disappoints. The protagonists and side characters are well drawn and I was invested in their histories from page one. The only negative thing I can say is that I’ve read all her other books, and will have to wait for her next story. Patience isn’t a virtue I’ve mastered! Well done!
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Thank you very much to Bold Strokes Books for providing me with a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review. 

I can honestly say I was quite concerned when I first requested this book, thinking what if this book is all about boxing? I'm not the biggest fan of boxing and can safely say I know nothing about it. However, this book is so much more than just boxing. This book simultaneously looks at bigger issues about kids on the street and the child protection system, whilst also having a lighter read in regards to Jordan and Ali.

I absolutely loved both Jordan and Madi, but also the combination of Jordan and Ali and their relationship. I find Jordan and Madi to be such strong characters. I love their friendship and how Jordan is struggling to go from a professional relationship to a friendship. Throughout the book, I felt Jordan's anxiety when it came to Madi and the other kids at the gym. Madi's defiance and stubbornness and want to keep Jordan away from the mess on the streets. I loved how Webb showed depth to Madi's character with her poetry writing and seeing a more vulnerable side to the character. 

I loved the pacing of the relationship between Jordan and Ali. From them re-hashing the past to a potential current relationship. I absolutely loved reading Jordan's anxiety filled thoughts in regards to whether to let Ali in again or to run again. 

I loved the few chapters that were flashbacks to Jordan's past. I just wish there were more, or a full chapter each and went into more depth of Jordan's past. I just wanted to learn more about how she become her present self.
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This was an interesting read. I've been feeling kind of slumpy when it comes to reading lesbian romances and this did not cure it. It was well written but still kind of blah. I liked the main characters and i generally enjoy the contemporary settings, however, this time the world building could have been better as i got confused if it was set in the US or UK. It was only when "mom" was used that i realised it was US based. The element of mystery felt underdeveloped and like it was tacked on at the end to add excitement to the story..
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This was my 5th book by Webb and I have enjoyed every single one of them. This one is a bit different than her previous books. This one doesn't keep you on the edge of your seat like her others, but it is still a really good read. Jordan is such a sweet character. Rarely do you find these rare souls that really do good all the time, just because they genuinely want to help. Webb has created such a character in Jordan. However, Jordan is written in such a way it feels realistic and you can believe someone like her exists. If you have worked in social work, or child protective services you know these people are indeed out there. I have met several Jordans in my life so the character often made me smile a little. 

This is so much more than a romance. If you loved Webb's other books I see no reason why you haven't already picked this one up. If those fast paced, heart racing the entire time you are reading books weren't your style, you may find this one just perfect for you. While not my favorite by this author it is still a solid 5 stars for me.
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An honest review thanks to NetGalley.  This was a great read; I loved hearing about Madi and the gym that Jordan created for the homeless youths of her town.  The mystery of the movement kept me interested and guessing who was involved.  The heartache Jordan experienced as Madi distanced herself from her and the rekindling of Jordan's relationship with Ali keep me turning page after page.  This was a fantastic read!
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I am a huge Jessica Webb fan, so I was thrilled when I was approved for an ARC copy! This book is unlike Webb's others.
It is darker, grittier, a little more hesitant and complex. And she can write complex and twisty wonderfully! These characters are unlike her others in a few ways. These folks are full of secrets, agendas and past baggage so deep you need to call the bellboy! It was a great read, trying to figure out who the "bad guy" was, and then being shocked at the end, 'cause I didn't see that coming! It took me a little while to get into it, because boxing holds no interest for me. But once I stopped dwelling on that, I enjoyed the story quite a bit.
Once again, Webb is at the top of her game with complex characters, hidden motivations and more twists than a map would help with.
I would absolutely recommend this to anyone who likes their fiction multi-layered.
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Webb takes a hard look at the life of social workers and the youth they try to protect in Shadowboxer. Jordan’s past forms the person she is today. Her gym is a haven for street kids she hopes to help by providing a safe space where they can learn some life skills and catch a break from the dangers they face in their homes and on the street. Ali represents the corporate do-gooders who help fund programs for youth but rarely understand the challenges faced by these kids who know that once they age out of the system these same corporations will turn a blind eye to their struggles. 

This is a dark and gritty read. Sure there is a rekindled romance between first loves Jordan and Ali but romance takes a back seat to the realities of the kids they are trying to protect. I didn’t feel the chemistry between the two thanks to the dark place Jordan dwells in for most of the novel. 
She is the Shadowboxer. Not merely because of her boxing past, but because of her insecurities and lack of confidence that she is good enough to be tasked with protecting these at-risk kids. She fears she is punching the air at a foe she can never defeat. Her biggest opponent is herself. Is she doing the right thing? Can she make a difference in their lives? Will anything she tries to do make a difference? The author throws a political situation outside Jordan’s control into the mix and hints at these uncertainties for all social workers in society today. It makes for a dramatic ending and a thought provoking read. 

Kudos to the author for stretching her writing skills and proving she is capable of reaching a mainstream audience every time she puts pen to paper. 

ARC received with thanks from publisher via NetGalley for review.
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Always on the lookout for new lesbian fiction authors, I was intrigued by the cover and the storyline of this book. Set in Halifax, USA, this is the story of Jordan an ex boxer who is doing her best to reach out to kids in need, she runs a boxing gym which helps to give the kids focus whilst also providing food. Then her ex girlfriend comes back to town looking to have one of Jordan's kids be her mentor, not long after some strange symbols appear across town and acts of mischief begin to draw in the kids, leaving Jordan to wonder how she can keep her kids safe. 
I enjoyed the way the book was written, particularly the compassion shown to young people struggling to find their way in an uncaring world. The book balances the romance and thriller aspects of the story delicately and the characters are believable as is the story which builds up to a gripping and exciting ending. Definitely recommended! 
Thanks to for a copy of this book in exchange for a review.
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I picked up this book on the strength of the author's name alone, not being a fan of boxing.  And for those wondering, despite the cover and the blurb, boxing isn't what the book is about.  Not really.  Yes the main character was a one-time boxer, and yes, she still owns and runs a boxing gym.  But you won't read about matches, or winning, or losing or getting beaten up while trying to.  This book is all about social workers, the work they do, and the vulnerable people they help.  The major characters in the book are a cross-section of what one might encounter in social work:  Jordan, the social worker and main POV character who uses her boxing gym as an outlet for vulnerable kids;  Ali - the rich girl representing big business trying to play good corporate citizen and rebuild their brand after a major PR fiasco,  Rachel - the benevolent cop who often has to strike a delicate balance between the duties of her job and helping out the kids who fall through the cracks of society;  the fierce Helen Cavio - a hardcore, militant social worker who resents outsiders, fake do-gooders and social workers who squander scarce resources;  and most interesting of all, the beautiful and amazing Madi, a survivor and graduate of the whole vicious system who's struggling to find herself and her place in life.   The author deftly intertwines their stories with a lovely, understated romance, and mysterious happenings that gradually build up to a shocking and unexpected  finale.   The author writes in her usual very personal and very intimate style that lets you literally inhabit her main character's psyche. The negative flipside of this is that the rest of the characters are viewed only from this POV, and we don't really get to see the inside of what makes them tick or understand the pivotal choices they make in the book.  We see glimpses....basically whatever the lead character Jordan gets...out of her interactions with these people, but that's it.  The thing is, Jordan isn't a very interesting character because she is solid, dependable and very predictable.  Her story is livened up by her past but I found myself looking for the other characters in almost every chapter. More Ali, more Madi and even more Helen Cavio.  

4.05 stars

ARC from Netgalley
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Shadowboxer is another great read from Jessica L. Webb. Jordan draws on her troubled background and owns and runs a boxing gym for youths, while training as a social worker. Her first true love Ali is a privileged lawyer who has lost her way in life and reconnects with Jordan.
This contemporary story combines drama with a little suspense and romance. There is some very good social commentary wrapped into the story. In the name of full disclosure, Halifax in Nova Scotia is currently my city, and it is a place I really like a lot. This book captured a lot of the feel and character of the city and I could easily follow the characters around. I am predisposed to love it just on that fact.
The romance here is very low key. The relationship between Jordan and Ali becomes very important to the story but it is not the focus. As expected, the story is well-crafted, the writing is excellent, and the book is very easy to read.
In short I love it, partly because of the city it is set in, and this is another highly recommended book.
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Loved, loved, loved this book! I just wanted it to go on and on wishing that maybe she could somehow make it into a series. Jordan and Ali were so very cute from the beginning. They were very sweet to read about and I loved every aspect of the relationship as they slowly came back to each other.

Jordan was a beautiful character that you can't help but feel like she is perfect and loved seeing how much her kids mean to her. Ali was strong but calm and caring which added a perfect balance to the interactions. 

Webb has always produce such fantastic stories with amazing characters, this book was no different. I look forward to her next book!
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Great book. 

Webb perfectly blends interestingly curated characters with novel plots to deliver another top read.

What I liked - Jordan's character has a good amount of depth and the reader gets to see a bit of the backstory as well. To be honest, Jordan's backstory also sounds fascinating so it could be a good option for a prequel or some sort of spin off which I never usually suggest.

Ali's character is less developed but a great pairing for Jordan. Likeable and challenging.

The plot has edges to it. Good edges that keeps you enchanted.
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Jordan McAddie’s a former boxer but now makes her living as a social worker doing what she loves, helping kids living on the street. One of those ways is working with them in a youth boxing program run by the gym she owns. But someone is targeting her kids, leading them to a underground political group whose protests are becoming much more dangerous. When Jordan’s first love, Ali Clarke comes back into her life as a liaison for the company she works for, she  quickly becomes involved with the youth boxing program run by Jordan. Now Jordan not only has to figure out what’s happening with her kids but also deal with her first love Ali. The same woman who was responsible for Jordan’s first broken heart. I really enjoyed reading this book. A great way to spend some time. 
ARC via NetGalley
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The author is what drew me to this read and I was not disappointed. Though the read did not have the scientific focus that her other reads had, it was a nice change with a well written story and interesting characters. What captivated me the most was the self-reflection and pause of the characters to take a look at their lives. If you do not like what you see, are you going to continue on or make a change? Jordan McAddie is focused on making a difference in the lives of young people. She wants to be there for them even when times are tough and they misbehave. Jordan calls them "my kids".  Alison Clarke is successful but she questions where she is going from here professionally and personally. There is history between Jordan and Alison that causes them to be cautious with each other and the romance is rocky because communication is hit and miss. As the story unfolds, the reader learns much about Jordan but not so much about Alison which did not bother me too much. It was interesting to read about people that dedicate their lives to helping others, especially young people.
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Using the lessons she learnt & money she earned from her brief boxing career, Jordan McAddie has set up a boxing gym to help kids on the street.  Whilst mentoring the children, she holds down a full time job and is studying to become a social worker.  With no warning, her first lover comes back into her life and Jordan has to cope with her feelings for this woman as well as dealing with an extremist group who is targeting her kids.  I haven’t read a book by Jessica L. Webb I didn’t like and whilst this one is certainly darker than her previous books, it is balanced by lightness of the friendships and support the charcters give each other.
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Webb is one of those authors that I am just coming to expect quality from. I have yet to come across a book by this author that I didn't enjoy.

What I can say about this book, and I think this goes for all of this authors books, is that she writes fantastic suspense and action packed stories which could honestly stand by themselves but I think what makes her a really good lesbian fiction author is the way she seamlessly weaves in the love story.

I love boxing so this book was up my alley and I really loved the characters; not just the main characters but also the supporting characters. The author also did a fantastic job of describing her scenes to the point that I had a constant movie reel in my mind.

*4.4 Stars
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4 stars.


➤ First Jessica L. Webb book I could actually enjoy
➤ Relevant social criticism
➤ Overall good characters, especially the secondary ones
➤ A little bit of mystery that keeps you guessing until the end


➤ Jordan is a bit too flat for my taste
➤ Lack of chemistry between the leads
➤ Some minor and not so minor plot points felt a bit forced, not thought out enough

Overall an enjoyable read. What I tried to read of Jessica L. Webb previously I didn't like because all the tech side of things were just too silly. It's like watching the TV show Scorpion - none of it makes any sense. 

But this is a different beast altogether, she should write more contemporary novels because, for the most part, this is a truly good read. While there is a romance component, it lacks chemistry but that's alright because the meat of the book is in the main plot line and in secondary characters. Unfortunately, writing further about it would spoil the little mystery so I'll leave that for you to discover yourself. It's definitely worth it and socially relevant.
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This book's story felt like it progressed a bit different than the blurb implied. There is a lot of dialog about the kids generally, the old relationship between..... and Ali, and random incidents surrounding a strange symbol. These things are implied or described in the blurb, but it felt like it took forever to get to the dramatic part of the mystery. The blurb reads like a classic Webb mystery thriller, but this book feels more like a relationship postmortem with some interest in rekindling for a large portionof the book. This book definitely has action and climax, no doubt, but I'd call this more of a slow burn than her other books. Still, all in all, this is still a great book.
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