The Esther Paradigm by Sarah Monzon

Sometimes writers can highlight truth through the avenue of story that others cannot. Sarah Monzon accomplishes this in her beautiful novel, The Esther Paradigm. Here’s a little about the story:


Genre:  Christian, Contemporary, Romance
Publisher: Radiant Publications
Publication date: November 2, 2017

The daughter of missionaries, Hannah Pratt dreams of starting a school for the Bedouin clan with whom she spent her childhood. After completing her education in the United States, she returns to the desert to pursue that dream—only to learn her parents have been receiving threats from within the community they serve. As the danger escalates, Hannah must decide how far she’ll go to stay faithful to a calling that could cost her everything.


As sheikh, Karim Al-Amir feels the weight of responsibility as the leader of his people. When a mysterious illness ravages the clan’s flocks and threatens to destroy their centuries-old way of life, some of his people believe the American doctors and their daughter, his childhood friend, are to blame. Karim must do something to keep Hannah and her parents safe—even if the only solution is to be found within marriage vows.

In a society where the line is drawn between us and them, where Christianity is outlawed and foreigners suspect, will Karim and Hannah’s union heal wounds . . . or inflict a final, fatal blow?


Old Testament history meets Twenty-first Century tensions in this compassionate, tender inspirational romance. 

Interesting premise, right?

The Esther Paradigm 2.jpg

And impressive story concept – to step into two worlds that appear very different and show how there are many things that are the same, one being the heart’s search for love.

Monzon creates a captivating tale by painting an almost fairy tale like world of colorful tents blowing in a heated wind, sandstorms, forbidden romance; it even has a prince 😊 (okay, he’s a sheikh, but you get my point 😉) Add a commoner to win his heart (who isn’t really that common, by the way) and you have a beautiful tale that resembles the ancient Biblical story of Esther.

Hannah cares deeply for the Gospel and for the people in the Bedouin community she’d grown up in as a child. Her missionary parents, and her love for Jesus, have nurtured a beautiful compassion in her “adopted” people. Karim is the Muslim leader of the community, determined to bring honor to his father’s memory and Allah, and he includes Hannah’s family in that community.

When a disease attacks their livelihood and Hannah’s family is blamed for the blight (due to their Christian faith), Karim’s only way of protecting her in his own strength, is to marry her.

The Esther Paradigm.jpg
Designed by Marylin Furumasu

The beauty of their friendship-turned-romance, Hannah’s innocence and trust, and Karim’s protectiveness is sweet. Karim is strong, serious, and bound by a generations’-old duty and Hannah…well, she brings color into his life. Karim doesn’t see it as her faith at first, but as the story moves forward, and as dangers threaten to destroy the tenderness of their newfound love, Hannah’s faith is tried, Karim’s authority is challenged, and their lives are put to the test.

Monzon’s brave pen-dip into the Muslim-Christian dynamics results in a beautiful story of romance, not only of two human hearts, but also the romance of a loving Father for His people. The Esther Paradigm is a stand-off-the-bookshelf kind of story that you’ll want to discover.


About the Author

Sarah Monzon.jpgSarah Monzon is a Navy chaplain’s wife and a stay at home mom to the two cutest littles in the world. Playing pretend all day with them isn’t enough, she spends the evenings after their heads hit the pillow to create her own imaginary characters. When she isn’t in the world of make believe, she can be found in the pine forests of western Washington taking care of her family, fostering friendships, and enjoying all the adventures each day brings. Her debut novel, The Isaac Project, skyrocketed to Amazon bestseller status while her Sophomore book, Finders Keepers, won the 2017 SELAH award for contemporary romance.



Peace, Peril, and Teapots

Here is a wonderful quote/prayer by Robert Louis Stevenson, the 19th century author who penned the books: Treasure Island, The Strange Case of Doctor Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and Kidnapped (and so many more).

Robert Louis Stevenson at Vailima, Samoa not long before his untimely death in 1894
Robert Louis Stevenson – Pinterest
“Give us courage and gaiety and the quiet mind.
Spare to us our friends, soften to us our enemies.
Bless us, if it may be, in all our innocent endeavors.
If it may not, give us the strength to encounter that which is to come,
that we be brave in peril,
constant in tribulation,
temperate in wrath,
and in all changes of fortune and down to the gates of death,
loyal and loving one to another.”
WOW! What a powerful quote.
tea-2090190_1920 (1).jpgInteresting that he doesn’t assume that all of his endeavors, even his ‘innocent’ ones will be rewarded with peace and prosperity. In all truth, the measure of our faith shows in trial, not in fortune. What comes out of our ‘teapots’ when we are put under pressure by life’s difficulties, heartaches, or disappointments proves how much we really believe what we say we believe. Oooh, that’s a humbling thought.
Lots of times what comes out is an overflow of what we’ve been putting in. That’s very convicting for me.

Am I willing to be….

Brave in Peril – Ready to take the next step despite the dark and uncertainty because I know God is with me.
Constant in Tribulation – Trusting God even when I’m hurting.
Temperate in Wrath – Not letting my anger control me.
And above all….Loyal and Loving



This is a high standard, but not an unreachable one. God is big and gives us the power to do what He’s called us to do. As we switch our perspectives and renew our minds with His Word and Truth, we become more of what he’s calling us to be. May we fill our minds and with Him, so that when the pressures of life come (and they will), we show how much we trust His control and love.

The Greatest Showman – Review



If you’re looking for a movie with  thought provoking depth, The Greatest Showman isn’t for you, but if you want to watch a movie that is optimistic, fun, exciting, and plays upon the trope of rags-to-riches…with panache, then you will enjoy this story based on the life of entrepreneur and showman, P.T. Barnum.

This movie does exactly what it advertises. Entertains.  I think it tries to capture the bigness of PT Barnum’s imagination by bringing that creativity,  charisma, and larger than life character, into the 21st-century.

It’s a magical adventure sprinkled with more fairy dust than reality, but oh, what a treat! The music, to my surprise, was more modern than historical, but I found myself enjoying most of the songs. They really set the stage (no pun intended) for the emotional power of the story.

The choreography? WOW! There were so many beautiful moments in the blending of song and movement that told their own stories I wanted to watch it again!

Hugh Jackman’s excitement about this movie comes through in every scene. The sweetness of a childhood romance that blooms to adulthood, the strength of family, the power of imagination, And the bonds of finding community are all elements that bring this musical to life.


With a stellar cast, a heart-warming storyline, a message about family, acceptance, and the love for what’s important, and the show-stopper tunes, this movie is a delightful step into the world of entertainment.


Is it predictable? Yes. Are their deeply developed characters? No. Are we left with a heart-stirring truth to ponder for the rest of eternity? Definitely not. But it was never touted as such a movie.

Show business entertains – and The Greatest Showman does just that. It’s a family friendly, energy-packed, sing-along adventure that will be worth another watch or two.

A 2017 Thank You

The older I get the more21762093_1656474161084250_1278632755604947540_n I appreciate priceless gifts.

No, I don’t mean the grand English estate of my dreams

The perfect dress size despite the food intake (though this one continues to vie for top on my Christmas wishlist every year)…

or the one publishing contract to rule them all 😉22089935_10214336915037441_6920393314400122921_n

I mean the sweeter, longer lasting, more eternal type things, like…people, kindness, laughter, memories…time.

There are SOOOOO many precious people who’ve joined the journey of my life with me.

My family is awesome – and I’ve really had the opportunity to watch my kids bloom this year after recovering from a really hard move in 2014 – yeah…it took this long to recover!!


I’ve watched hubs blossom in his calling as a music minister. He truly has a gift to not only create beautiful music, but also encourage the hearts of the people he ministers to.

I’ve seen God save my brother’s life from a horrible car accident – and though there’s been a long recovery, God’s grown my brother’s faith and his family’s closeness in the process.

I’ve experienced another year of awesome sisterhood with the Alleycats, who have added more books to the world, but (more i20770420_1443221062425014_986107590090278444_nmportantly) more sweetness to my heart.

I’ve developed some of the most wonderful friendships through the writing journey – with amazing people like Carrie, Beth, Rachel, Marisa, Meghan, and Rachael…and got an amazing virtual assistant in the process.

I’ve met new inspirations – like Kim Duffy, Hope Welbourn, Denise Hershberger, Erica Hogan, Amanda Wen, Jennifer Rodewald, Becky Hrivnak and so many more… and been inspired by faithful inspirations like Rebecca Maney, Ane Mulligan, Deb Rainey, Mikal Hermanns, Laura Frantz, Beth Vogt, Rachel Hauck, Caryl Kane, Lindsey Brackett, Rachel McMillan, Sarah Monzon, and tons of others (too many to name).

I’ve been able to bathe in the beauty of long-time friendships july2016walkfrom sweet friends like Teresa, Marie, Lindsay, and Jessica.

I’ve enjoyed finding ways to ignite my day job with creativity for my kiddos who have social communication disorders (and work with a few of the BEST spec-ed teachers on the planet)

I’ve been boosted, encouraged, and loved by an AMAZING street team of AMAZING ladies 🙂 (You ARE AMAZING!!!!!!) They’ve celebrated two novel releases and a novella release with me this year – and they’ve put up with my craziness like the champs they are!

20799280_1443220985758355_4275977119238547206_nI’ve gotten to celebrate a big contract with my super-encouraging agent, Julie Gwinn (and have hopes for more exciting stuff in 2018)

And my extended family from the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia have just wrapped their love around me with encouragement, sweetness, and loads of prayers.

None of these things are tangibly measurable, but they’re more precious.

17523595_10100184002765259_5459739672877700907_nI suppose Dr. Seuss says it best:

It came without ribbons. It came without tags. It came without packages, boxes or bags.

And he puzzled and puzzled ’till his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before.

What if Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store. What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more.19424472_10154721941581453_3098481778719198287_n

Thank you so much for being a part of this journey with me in 2017 – whether through emails, conversations, hugs, notes of encouragement, a listening ear, talking me off ledges (Carrie, Rachel, and Krista), guidance, reviews, prayers, or a varied number of other ways. Presence (through your kindness) trumps presents any day!!


I’m looking forward to journeying into 2018 with you all!!


Pepper Basham 


Book Journeys – Ransom

Creating fictional worlds is one of my favorite things. My 19-year-old, who is also a writer, says that his favorite part of writing is world building and BOY does he love world building. He has documents upon documents about his fantasy worlds, along with languages, cultures, histories, etc.

Now, I’m not too sure I go as in-detail as my son, but I sure do like to know about my fictional places. So instead of taking you on a book journey of a ‘real’ place, today I’d like to introduce you to the town of Ransom from my Mitchell’s Crossroads series.


Ransom is a small town in the southwestern part of Virginia. Surrounded by the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains, it’s located about 2 hours (give or take) any direction from a sizeable ‘city’. Ransom boasts somewhere between 7500-9000 people, depending on which old-timer you ask in the General Store.

Moses Cone House - BR Parkway. Must see to appreciate. Bring your walking shoes for a stroll around the lake. Plus, they have a really nice gift shop with many local products that support this beauty!

Originally a lumber town, because of the Tali River, the town housed mostly hardy Scot-Irish immigrants and a few Cherokee until about the Civil War when wealthy southerners wanted to get away from their war torn lands and disappear. Businessman, Anthony Everett discovered Ransom when his northbound train broke down halfway to Richmond. With the benefits of the river, the somewhat temperate climate, and the abundance of natural resources and lumber, Everett bought property and built his country home he called Windermere House. The house was sold in the 1930s to the Adderly family, who soon turned it into an inn with a fantastic view of Canopy Falls and the Tali River.


these old movie theaters were so fun to go to...

Another famous person moved into Ransom’s vicinity. Timothy Crescent, an Englishman from a wealthy family, discovered Ransom when he was passing through on a hunting expedition with some of his friends. He immediately fell in love with the location surrounding Ransom and purchased one hundred acres of land from the surrounding Appalachian people to build The Havens, a sprawling estate passed down for generations. Now a tourist’s dream, the late 1900s Gothic Revivalist manor showcases a bygone age with beautiful gardens and a country house as lovely as any in Europe. Owned and operated by family, The Havens provides continued revenue for the town of Ransom and a historical experience for guests around the world.

Keep it simple and thay will come.  Learn what's important in starting your shop at

The township of Ransom sits on a level property surrounded by mountains, with the Tali River wrapping around it on two sides. Houses are scattered throughout the mountains and forests surrounding the town, which is where you’ll find Mitchell’s Crossroads. Just take a left at the movie theater and follow the road out through the countryside. 😊

Wytheville, VA
Wytheville – Pinterest


In my imagination, Ransom became a combination of two of my favorite towns near where I grew up. Wytheville, VA and Mt. Airy, NC (Mayberry). Ransom has all the modern conveniences, but Main Street keeps a sense of a “place out of time”. You’ll probably find a Wal-Mart back off the main road. A hospital tucked away from the town closer to the highway, and several schools in various locations outside of the downtown, but Main Street keeps its timeless appeal with a movie theater, ice cream shop, bookstore, etc. Tree lined streets and a fountain in the middle of the town make it almost iconic 😉 Hey, I’m the author, I can make it that way, right?

Mount Airy, North Carolina - Wikipedia
Mt. Airy – Pinterest

What do YOU think are some buildings that MUST be on Main Street in a small town?

CharmingtheTroublemaker 500x750
Charming the Troublemaker is available now!
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

Check out Ransom in Minecraft! It is hard having only blocks to build with, but this will give you a visual!

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Upcoming: The Man Who Invented Christmas

Christmas is just around the corner, right?

Chestnuts and ornaments and fire’s glow.

Stockings and wisemen and fresh snow.

It also means… MOVIES!

sounf-of-musicAny of you who know me, realize that I’m a big fan of movies, and Christmas movies? Oh YEAH!

There are SO many options and Hallmark usually kicks off the season with a whole host of fun, sweet, magical, and sentimental options. Then, of course, there are the all-time favs, The Holiday, It’s a Wonderful Life, and my brother would add Elf to the list 😉

But there’s one that I’ve watched around Christmas ever since I was a little girl. Music, family, Austria, a few of my favorite things… yep, you guessed it! The Sound of Music.

Julie Andrews, a class act and beautiful lady, paired with the devilishly handsome and charming, Christopher Plummer, bring to life a story of opposites attracting, conflict, hope, finding your dream, and embracing plan Bs.

This holiday season Christopher Plummer is teaming up with another talented (and quite handsome) actor to bring us a new Christmas favorite about one of the most well-known authors of history. Charles Dickens.

Although Mr. Dickens doesn’t have the most glowing personal history, his stories have become classics and one of his classics really brings about the beauty of second chances…and throws a few ‘spirits’ into the mix. A Christmas Carol

christmasBut this year, we get a chance to look behind the scenes of this iconic Christmas film in the movie, The Man Who Invented Christmas.

Here’s a little about the film:

The Man Who Invented Christmas tells the magical journey that led to the creation of Ebenezer Scrooge (Christopher Plummer), Tiny Tim and other classic characters from A Christmas Carol. Directed by Bharat Nalluri (Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day), the film shows how Charles Dickens (Dan Stevens) mixed real life inspirations with his vivid imagination to conjure up unforgettable characters and a timeless tale, forever changing the holiday season into the celebration we know today.

THE MAN WHO INVENTED CHRISTMAS releases in theaters on November 22.

 Want a sneak peek? Check out a film featurette here.

LEAVE a comment and you’ll be entered to win 3 Christmas DVDs – The Sound of Music, A Christmas Carol, and Beauty and the Beast (2016)

So…as we start into this holiday season, what is one of your favorite Christmas movies?

A “Charming” Release Day

CharmingtheTroublemaker 500x750It’s release day for my sixth full-length novel, Charming the Troublemaker, and I’m so excited to share this story with you! As the second book in the Mitchell’s Crossroads series, we get to step back into the world of Ransom, Virginia, and watch how the Mitchell family help lost and lonely folks find a place to call home.

To learn more about the book – check it out here!

According to, ‘charming’ means ‘engaging’, ‘winsome’, ‘pleasing’ or ‘delightful’. I like this one “a power of pleasing or attracting, as through personality or beauty.’ So, as one of my characters attempts to charm the other, I hope you’ll find this story a pleasing or delightful addition to your reading time.

At the heart of Charming the Troublemaker is finding where you belong, just as you are.

PreciousmemeAlex struggles with seeing himself as a ‘hero’ because of his messed-up past. He sees himself as a failure and broken.

Rainey struggles with seeing herself as beautiful and confident because of being wounded in the past. She questions her choices and has forgotten how God sees her.

So…what does the Bible say for these two hearts?

They are more valuable than the sparrows. (Matt 10:31)

You are fearfully and wonderfully made. (Ps 139:14)

You are previous in my eyes…and I love you. (Isaiah 43:4a)

See what manner of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are! (1John 3:1a)

And there are SO many more! Will they learn to see themselves through God’s eyes?

Have you? 🙂

Then There Was You by Kara Isaac

When Rebecca Maney told me I HAD to read Kara Isaac’s newest release, Then There Was You, two things happened:

  1. I knew I needed to listen because I ALWAYS listen to Rebecca Maney 😉
  2. Kara has been on my TBR list for a whole year because I’d heard her writing style was similar to mine (which I take as a BIG compliment), so I looked forward to finding out if that was true.

So, on a recent flight from Texas, I pulled out my purchased copy of Then There Was You and spent the entire flight time reading…and finishing…this fun, poignant, and sweet romance.

A little about the book:

Then There Was You.jpg

Paige McAllister needs to do something drastic. Her boyfriend can’t even commit to living in the same country, her promised promotion is dead on arrival and the simultaneous loss of her brother and her dream of being a concert violinist has kept her playing life safe and predictable for six years.

Things need to change.

A moment of temporary insanity finds her leaving her life in Chicago to move to Sydney, Australia. There she finds herself, against many of her convictions, as a logistics planner for one of Australia’s biggest churches, and on a collision course with her boss’s son. Josh Tyler fronts a top-selling worship band and is in demand all over the world. But, in the past, his failed romantic relationships almost destroyed both his reputation and his family. He’s determined to never risk it happening again. The last thing he needs is some American girl tipping his ordered life upside down. Especially one who despises everything he’s ever worked for and manages to push every button he has.

When Josh and Paige are thrown together to organize his band’s next tour, the sparks fly. But can they find a way to bridge the differences that pull them apart? Or will they choose the safety and security of what they know over taking a chance on something that will require them to risk everything?

My take:

I love to travel, but with a big family and two middle-class salaries, travel isn’t always an option. Thankfully, Kara provides a wonderful journey to a place I’d LOVE to see some day. Australia. (Which we will be visiting on Thursday on our Book Journeys.)

I’ve seen the movie, Australia, but the place? Not yet. There are loads of people I’d love to visit over there. 😊

But – back to the book!

Kara Isaac writes my kind of story!!!

Then there was you.pngHer characters are such fun. They remind me of the novels I love to write, so, of course, I love to READ them!! Paige is completely adorkable – in her clumsy, bumbling, victory-dancing sort of way, she stumbles right into musician, Josh Tyler’s life. Their personalities are opposite in some ways, but perfectly fitted where it matters most. Kara keeps the faith theme organic, but a strong thread in the midst of two people trying to understanding how to move forward when deep, life-altering wounds redirect their futures.

Kara does a beautiful thing we don’t always see in contemporary fiction. She tricks us! By setting this book in a light-hearted tone, she sneaks in some deep-set spiritual truths in a beautifully, digestible way (kind of like trying to feed kids something they don’t’ like by sneaking it into something they do 😉)


And we learn. And grieve. And celebrate along with the characters.

Then There Was You 3.pngFilled with heart, humor, hope, and swoony romance, we join in an adventure of love, loss, and second chances. Josh and Paige are two people who’ve been impacted by some deep traumas, both inside the church and out. By placing them together on the page, Kara forces both of them to confront their own hearts and the desires they each hope to find in the other.

Plus…it all takes place in AUSTRALIA! (Wait, did I say that already?)

And both Josh and Paige are muscicians!!!

My music-loving, travel-happy, romance-saturated heart is SOOOOO happy.

If you’re looking for a funny, sweet story with a perfectly-fitted ending (oh my goodness! too much FUN!), then this book is for you!

Amazon| Goodreads

About the Author

Kara Isaac is an award-winning writer who lives in Wellington, New Zealand, where her career highlights include working in tourism as Private Secretary for the Prime Minister. She loves great books almost as much as she loves her husband and two Hobbit-sized children.

More Books by Kara Isaac 


Swoony Saturdays – Charlie Lionheart

Welcome! Welcome!

Swoony Saturdays are your opportunity to be introduced to a book hero who fits high quality hero characteristics. (okay, so he just makes us weak in the knees for all kinds of reasons, but you get the point)

The photos involved are chosen as the most representative of the heroes featured, so IF they look like someone you’ve seen before, that’s almost entirely accidental.

Charlie Lionheart

In May, my lovely assistant, Rachel Dixon, posted a Swoony Saturday about Charlie Lionheart, because she LOVED him and because…well…I hadn’t read Joanne Bischof’s book, The Lady and the Lionheart, yet.

Now, with the story fresh in my mind since I finished the book last weekend (much to Rachel Dixon and Carrie Schmidt’s ‘finally’ stares), I’m going to SWOON over Charlie afresh with you guys today 😊

Joanne’s novel has garnered RAVE reviews, awards, and excited fandom-status, including a line of women who often use the hashtag – #mycharlie (you know who you are).  Rt Reviews even named it “Inspirational Romance of 2016”.

From here on out, my comments will be in italics 😉

So….Let’s talk about this tamer of lions and soother of hearts.

Charlie Lionheart: Who? Charlie Lionheart

Where can we find this dreamboat? The Lady and the Lionheart by Joanne Bischof

Personality summary:

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. (From the back of the book.)

Charlie is a protector – as fierce as his brotherhood of lions. Yet, amidst the world of the demands, unpredictability, and sometimes horrors of circus life, he breathes a gentleness and uncertainty which is endearing. A bit quirky (in the most adorable of ways), first necessity and then curiosity draw him toward the heroine in a timid dance of two worlds drawing back the curtains on each other. As his protectiveness merges with a sweet love for Ella, a most exquisite and tender romance blooms to outshine any show on the Big Top

LATL 4 : What makes us swoon?

He TAMES LIONS (of course, this would be considered swoony. Seriously??? How many heroes do you know who tame lions??)

He’s a tender daddy
His sacrificial love/Self sacrifice

Strength (works with lions!)I’d add here – his reigned in strength. It’s one thing to be strong (which is swoony, but it’s even more beautiful to curb the power into fierce tenderness and loyalty. That adds a depth that is breathtaking.

His bravery (Not just regarding the lions)
His love for those he cares about is not just something to admire, but to learn from.

Another aspect of Charlie that is wonderful is his ability to look beyond external and take a person at face value.

I love his innocence.

And he’s quirky!! Bring on the ADORKABLE!!!

Kissing level of such swooniness: Charlie is definitely a 5 on this scale. I was left in an incoherent puddle for DAYS after reading this book. Make sure you read close to the kitchen, you WILL need your freezer!

THIS IS A KISSING BOOK, if nothing else for ONE kiss alone. Great googley moogley!

The Lady and the LionheartBasic hero type: Charlie is a Darcy. His brooding disposition and assumptions made about the heroine make him out to be harsh and cold. But he is a softy underneath.

Agreed, an unlearned observer might see him as fierce (much like the lions he tames), but closer observation reveals a loyalty, strength of character, and gentleness to remove any doubt of the dedication and swooniness of his character.

How can I meet this swoony mister? 

The Lady and the Lionheart can be found on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Christian Book Distributors.Christian Book Distributors. Don’t forget to add it on Goodreads!

You can find my review HERE.

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. Website

Kissing Levels & Hero Types


The Lady and the Lionheart by Joanne Bischof

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

LATL 4So…I’d heard nothing but praise, praise and more praise for Joanne Bischof’s novel, The Lady and the Lionheart, which meant I HAD to read it, of course. Well, the hype is certainly well-founded and I’ll tell you why I thought so in just a minute.

First, about the book:

From the first paragraph, this story drew me in with its eloquent writing. Vivid detail, word pictures, and beautiful phrasing enticed me further…and then I met Charlie. I love quirky, and Joanne performed the task of creating a lovable and realistic character raised in a very different world. But…more about Charlie in a little bit.

Spiritual truths in fiction can be a tricky balance beam to tread for an author, but Joanne does it beautifully in both of the main characters’ lives. Both are scarred. One by a ruthless act of a selfish man and the other by a forced choice to save the lives of another. These ‘scars’ seamlessly display a beautiful reminder that even in our brokenness we are remarkably beloved.

Aviary Photo_131303863941749795.pngBetween Joanne’s descriptive writing style, the intricate historical detail of a lesser known ‘world’, and the curious and uncertain introduction to romance between Charlie and Ella, this book called for just ONE. MORE. PAGE. There’s something indefinably sweet about it. Maybe it’s because we all want to know we’re loved despite our internal or external scars. Maybe’s it’s because we see two kind and tenderhearted people trying to navigate the unexpected and hurtful wounds of the world to uncover true love. Or Maybe it’s because Charlie Lionheart.

Now I understand why Carrie Schmidt has a book crush on Charlie. He is 1/3 brooding, 1/3 adorkable, and 1/3 exquisitely tender, which makes him 100% top book crush material.

In short, this story was a magical journey of two broken people learning how God mends our shattered lives in sometimes the most unexpected of ways…and about how we are loved far beyond our brokenness.

A beautiful and endearing romance from a beautiful and talented writer.

Find The Lady and the Lionheart on….
Barnes & Noble
Christian Book
Google Books

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.