I usually try to summarize books in my own words rather than use the back of the book cover so readers can get another peak at the plot from a different perspective. However, in this case, I think the back cover is the perfect summary of this amazing novel.
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 words! There really are no words to describe how truly wonderful this novel is. After I finished the last page, I sat there and let the poignant and breathtakingly beautiful story sink into my soul, part of me wishing it never had to end. I have read a lot of (really, quite a few) books and I have never connected with and fallen in love with characters so quickly and so deeply as I did with this story. Ella has had a difficult past, but her courage and her ability to let God change her heart are remarkable and her spiritual struggle has something with which every reader can connect. And Charlie (oh, Charlie!) has the biggest heart; he is gentle with his lions but he is honorable and passionate about his family and will fight for anyone he loves with an ardor that will grab you instantly. The author does a phenomenal job describing the scenes and the characters. Some authors can write novels, but Joanne Bischof can paint pictures and create stories that go deeper and last longer in your mind. It is truly a gift. She made me cry and she helped me connect with the characters in such a unique and precious way. I loved the scenes she describes of the circus; I could almost taste the buttery popcorn and see the colorful banners. The growth of the characters is such a joy to read. I cannot say enough good things about this story and suggest everyone run to their nearest store to purchase a copy. (And of course the cover is absolutely gorgeous!) It has easily slipped into its rightful spot as one of my favorite books of all time.