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.
A Carol Award and three-time Christy Award-finalist, Joanne Bischof writes deeply layered fiction that tugs at the reader’s heartstrings. She lives in the mountains of Southern California with her husband and their three children.
FACEBOOK Author, Joanne Bischof
I have to admit that I didn’t know what to expect from The Lady And The Lionheart. Despite glowing reviews from fellow bloggers for this and other of her books, I had not read anything by Joanne Bischof before. The setting seemed interesting and frankly the buzz had me intrigued. So I jumped in and found that I would never look back! The Lady And The Lionheart is one of those books . . . the kind where the characters get under your skin and into your heart, the kind where the message of Christ is subtly told in a unique way you will never forget, the kind of book you can honestly say is a very highly recommended read!
Ella wants to be a nurse, to heal people even though her heart bears scars that remain sore and easily opened. When Charlie Lionheart, a gypsy circus performer shows up at the doctor’s office with a very sick child, Ella is drawn to the child’s plight as much as she is drawn to the intriguing man who seems to love the child with an unrestrained love. As she continues to treat Holland, her heart is drawn more and more to Charlie. Charlie in turn starts to believe in an unhoped for future, one where Ella can look past the scars he bears to find his heart.
The Lady And The Lionheart has a great setting. Who doesn’t love the circus? Joanne’s meticulous research is evident as she creates a magical world under the bigtop as well as the gritty and realistic life of the back lot. I could almost hear the cheers of the crowd, taste the popcorn and feel the nervous energy and anticipation of the circus acts. The story develops slowly with the plot unfolding with just the right timing. Main characters Ella and Charlie are complex and only reluctantly reveal their secrets. But when all comes to light, it is well worth the wait! Supporting characters add a depth to the story and the lives of both Ella and Charlie. Of course The Lady And The Lionheart is an historical romance, and fans of that genre will love every bit of it. But the spiritual themes were what touched my heart. The love and sacrifice of Christ is front and center and is depicted in a uniquely powerful way. I can’t tell you any more, because that would spoil the story. Let me just say that I was moved and awed by the way truth was portrayed. And I found myself shedding tears at the sweet finale.
The Lady And The Lionheart was a deeply challenging read for me. It expanded my view of not only the visible, but hidden scars that people bear. It also made me think of the insults and scourging Christ bore in a whole new way. Is your book club looking for a thought-provoking read, then this one is for you!
Very Highly Recommended.
Audience: older teens to adults.
Great for Book Clubs.
To purchase this book, click HERE.
(Thanks to the publisher for a review copy. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)