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.
No question about it, this book deserves all the stars! I didn’t just read this story, I lived it. Joanne Bischof created a vivid masterpiece, a world that I didn’t want to leave. This story lingered in my imagination and heart days after I finished the last page.
I fell in love with the characters. Even the secondary characters, and yes, even the lions! Each had a special role and each held a piece of my heart. You couldn’t convince me that it wasn’t real, so don’t even try, my heart wouldn’t believe you!
If you haven’t yet picked up this book, you need to run to your nearest library or bookstore and settle in for a delightful story that will hold you captive long past the final chapter! If you fall into the category of “I read it a year or so ago” then it may be time to dust it off and read it again! You can be sure that this story holds a place of honor on my keeper shelf and will be pulled out again for future enjoyment.
(I purchased a copy of this book for my own collection. I am not required to write positive reviews. The opinions I have expressed are my own.)
About the Author:
A Christy and Carol Award-winning author, Joanne Bischof writes deeply layered fiction that tugs at the reader’s heartstrings. She was honored to receive the SDCWG Novel of the Year Award in 2014 and in 2015 was named Author of the Year by the Mount Hermon Writer’s conference. Her 2014 novella This Quiet Sky broke precedent as the first self-released title to final for the Christy Awards. To Get to You, her 2015 release, was the second. Joanne’s 2016 novel, The Lady and the Lionheart, received an extraordinary 5 Star TOP PICK! from Romantic Times Book Reviews among other critical acclaim. She lives in the mountains of Southern California with her three children and is currently working on a new 2-book series for Thomas Nelson/HarperCollins Christian (releasing 2018).