Two worlds collide when the circus comes to Victorian-era Virginia.
Raised amid the fame and mystique of the Big Top, Charlie Lionheart holds the audience in the palm of his hand. But while his act captivates thousands, it’s away from the spotlight where his true heart lies. Here he humbly cares for his pride of lions as if they were his brothers, a skill of bravery and strength that has prepared him for his most challenging feat yet—freeing an orphaned infant from the dark bondage of a sideshow. A trade so costly, it requires his life in exchange for hers, leaving him tarnished by the price of that choice.
As the circus tents are raised on the outskirts of Roanoke, nurse Ella Beckley arrives to tend to this Gypsy girl. All under the watchful eye of a guardian who not only bears a striking resemblance to the child, but who protects the baby with a love that wraps around Ella’s own tragic past, awakening a hope that goodness may yet reign. When their forbidden friendship deepens, Charlie dares to ask for her heart, bringing her behind the curtain of his secret world to reveal the sacrifice that gave hope to one little girl—boldly showing Ella that while her tattered faith is deeply scarred, the only marks that need be permanent are his own.
~ My Review ~
I. Am. Speechless.
It is not often that I give a book five stars. Yet every word within these pages makes it worth such a rating. Upon finishing I closed my kindle and simply sat for a while, with my head in my hands, tears in my eyes, and a sweet ache in my heart. It isn’t your typical light-and-fluffy romance novel. This book is powerful, with a depth that makes it stand out vibrantly among the many, many stories that cross my path. I laughed and cried, groaned in frustration and cheered with joy, through each obstacle Charlie and Ella faced.
One of the greatest things about this book (as with her others) is that it is an emotional roller coaster ride–without a fast-paced, action-packed story line. Each character simply reached out and wrapped themselves around my heart. I couldn’t help but be moved by the ups and downs of Charlie, Ella, Holland, and all the other dear characters I’ve grown to love.
It’s not just about the circus life, lions, nursing, or even a love story. It’s about the healing, redemption, and grace that can only come through God. L&L was compelling, leaving me wanting more every time I finished a chapter. I lost quite a bit of sleep in my eagerness to find out what would happen next. And then that epilogue…oh, be still my heart. Joanne Bischof KNOWS how to end a book.
If I had to describe Joanne’s writing in one word, it would be cadence. Because everything she writes has a gentle, natural ebb-and-flow of emotional conflict. The stories roll along in a way that invites you to pull up a chair, settle in with a mason jar of lemonade, and just visit with delightful, albeit fictitious, friends. Joanne doesn’t just write down heart-warming stories; she pours her heart out for us to read on ink and paper–especially with this, her latest and finest work thus far.
So five stars for The Lady and the Lionheart. And a hearty Brava to you, Joanne. *doffs top hat*
~ About the Author ~
Married to her first sweetheart, Joanne Bischof lives in the mountains of Southern California where she keeps busy making messes with their homeschooled children. When she’s not weaving Appalachian romance, she’s blogging about faith, writing, and the adventures of country living that bring her stories to life.
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