Thursday, 8 November 2018

Book Review - A Lion Is Not Just For Christmas by Henriette Gyland

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Title: A Lion Is Not Just For Christmas
Author: Henriette Gyland
Format reviewed: Ebook
Source: Author supplied review copy
Publisher: Self Published
Publication Date: 9th December 2017
Rating: 5 Stars

Is there life after the circus has left town?

Circus performer Justine Belmont works with big cats, but when the circus is disbanded and the old lion is sold to a private menagerie at a stately home in Norfolk, she is asked to spend a few weeks settling him into his new environment. When she arrives at the estate, however, she receives a mixed welcome.
The groundsman Tom Yates resents her presence as he doesn’t feel he needs her help with the lion. He revises his opinion when he sees the bond between her and the big cat, and she and Tom grow closer, although Justine remains torn about her feelings for him. The lady of the house, Priscilla - who is married to the reclusive owner, Lord Brooks’s, grandson - is not so easily convinced. She perceives Justine as a threat for the male attention and her plans for the manor. And her two young daughters are a little too curious about the lion for their own good.

When unsettling events occur, Justine begins to wonder if there is more to Priscilla’s animosity than meets the eye. Can Justine keep herself and everyone else safe until it’s time for her to leave again and start a new life elsewhere?

I think I may have been a child the last time I read a book featuring a traditional circus performer and a hint of all the old circus tricks and travelling lifestyle.  And I don't think I've ever read a book featuring both Christmas and a Lion in the same book, or in fact many books with lions at all!  

So I was naturally eager and intrigued by this book once it was on my radar and I have to say my curiosity has been incredibly well satisfied. 

There was a hint of a mystery in this book too, and although I had an inkling as to where the story was going, the full revelation was far more shocking than anticipated.  In fact everything about this book was a pleasant surprise. 

I'm not sure I would have been drawn to the book on the cover alone, although I can now see just how fitting it is, and what a fabulous lion Rexus is (which as I'm just typing this I realise is a very clever name for a lion).  He is a rather clever lion, and I loved how we are introduced to him, the tigers he performs with and the circus as a whole. 

Initially I thought there were a lot of names to learn, but once Justine and Rexus go to Stoneybrook, to Rexus' new home, and there is another set of characters to learn, you realise who is going to be key quickly, and what a mixed set of people live at the stately home. 

For a quick and easy to read novella, there is a huge amount packed in, and although the book is set in winter, and Christmas does feature - I would say that its a book that could be read year around, as its not supposed to be a book that makes you feel overly festive, rather its a lovely mystery with a hint of a romance, that is just an all around good story.  

I'm so glad I read this and I would love to see either another book with these characters, or about others from the circus.  

Thank you to Henriette Gyland for this copy which I have reviewed honestly and voluntarily. 


  1. Thank you so much for this wonderful review. You've truly made my day!

  2. This looks really different, Henriette. I shall have a read!!


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