The Lady and the Lionheart - Joanne Bischof

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

My Rating
★★★★★★ - Heaven help me, you taste like Christmas! (More Info)

About the Book
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, country nurse Ella Beckley arrives to tend to this ill 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 Thoughts
Is it too early to start compiling my favorite books of 2017? Because this book will definitely be on that list! I TRIED not to rush through it, I really did. I wanted to savor it. Let the story surround me and captivate me. Let it permeate my soul. Even now, hours after reading the final words, the message is reverberating through my heart.

Charlie officially one of my favorite heroes of all time(don't worry Dr. Ross, you are still a favorite too). His bravery, his sacrifice, his love for those he cares about is not just something to admire, but to learn from. Ella Beckley is a woman that I want to be best friends with! Her compassion and curious spirit makes her stand out. Yet, she has a past that haunts her. Will she learn that her freedom must come from God and not man? 

This is a story of healing, of salvation, of freedom...of pain. Being damaged, unclean, scarred, can be a heavy burden to carry. But the Lord says to come to Him and He will give us rest, "For My yoke is easy and My burden is light." (Matthew 11:28-30) In Him, is our freedom and in Him, we will find wholeness. The parallels of this story to Christ and His sacrifice for us is breathtakingly beautiful. You will find threads of The Beauty and the Beast within these pages as well. I believe THAT combination is one of the reasons this book is so unique. The setting and characters are vividly  painted for your imagination to explore, and makes it so very easy to fall in love with it all.

This is the first book of Joanne's that I have read. And I can't believe it took me SO long to get to it.  This is easily one of the BEST books I have ever read. Very rarely has a book pulled on my heart and soul so strongly. (The Thorn Keeper and Newton & Polly are the only others.) Be prepared for an exciting adventure filled with the wonders of the circus and the tender love that Christ bestows upon us. Love, true love, is a common thread throughout this book. The love of a father, the love between a man and woman, the love of friends and family. The pureness and wholeness of this love is beautiful to behold. 

Joanne Bischof captures the essence of the circus and the era in words that are so captivating you will struggle to put this book down. I was forewarned by the brilliant Rachel McMillan, "Warning: as soon as you finish, you'll want to go back to the beginning and start over again!" And she wasn't wrong. THIS, is one of those books that deserves multiple readings! Bottom line, if you haven't read it, read it! Beg, borrow, or steal ummm..,buy, I mean BUY...this book and get it into your hands. I pray that it touches your heart and that if you are seeking freedom and wholeness, that you will find it in our Lord, Jesus Christ.

I received a copy of The Lady and the Lionheart as a gift from a dear friend. I was not required to write a review. All opinions expressed are mine alone.


About the Author
A Carol Award and two-time Christy Award-finalist, 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. She lives in the mountains of Southern California with her husband and their three children.

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