I’m delighted to be joining the blog tour for A Lion Is Not Just for Christmas, courtesy of Rachel’s Random Resources
I was intrigued by the title (Christmas and a lion don’t usually go together) and, although it’s the second book in a series, it can definitely be read as a standalone.
Reading the synopsis for book one at the end, it seems each story has different characters. And Christmas doesn’t overpower the story at all.
Justine has known no other life than that of travelling and working with the family circus, but now Circus Belmont was in financial trouble. They could no longer afford to keep going, competing as they were with larger, more extravagant shows and the laws concerning animals in captivity were being revised. Justine’s father feels he’s getting too old to handle the big cats and has made arrangements for all the animals, even the old lion, Rexus, Justine’s favourite. He was to retire to a private estate in Norfolk and Justine would stay for a few weeks to get him settled in, then she must decide what she wants to do.
Justine is delighted when she sees Rexus’ new enclosure at Lord Brooks’ estate, Stonybrook. It’s perfect—a large outdoor area with a pool and rocks to climb on as well as an indoor area. Tom Yates, cousin to Lord Brooks’ grandson Henry, is groundsman and gamekeeper on the estate and will eventually be Rexus’ keeper. However, not everyone welcomes Justine. Tom doesn’t believe he needs help with Rexus and Henry’s wife Priscilla makes her feelings plain from the start.
Oh yes, they understood each other just fine; Justine was being kept out of the way in a cinderella-like existence because Priscilla didn’t want any competition for the male attention, or for the position as first lady, but it puzzled Justine that Priscilla should think she had any plans in that direction.
It didn’t matter. She’d settle Rexus, and then she was out of here, handsome, red-haired groundsmen notwithstanding.
There’s quite a lot going on in this intriguing story, however nothing feels rushed. The characters are defined well, giving an excellent grasp of their personalities. Justine is a strong protagonist and can stand up for herself. Despite their initial reservations about each other, Justine’s obvious affection for Rexus and her handling of the old lion earns Tom’s respect and a rapport develops between them which leads to stronger feelings.
Priscilla on the other hand is extremely unpleasant and rude, setting a bad example to her and her long suffering husband’s two girls. Lord Brooks seems aloof but he’s suffered terrible losses and is carrying a dreadful secret.
Reading about life in the circus was intriguing and I like the fact that there are references to the welfare, respect for and correct treatment of all animals, wild and domesticated. And with a lion in the story there’s bound to be danger, and there’s also a mystery which, when revealed, ties everything together nicely. A very well written and enjoyable read.
I chose to read and review A Lion Is Not Just For Christmas based a copy of the book supplied by Rachel’s Random Resources.
About the Book
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?
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About the Author
Henriette Gyland grew up in Northern Denmark but moved to England after she graduated from the University of Copenhagen. She wrote her first book when she was ten, a tale of two orphan sisters running away to Egypt, fortunately to be adopted by a perfect family they meet on the Orient Express.
Between that first literary exploit and now, she has worked in the Danish civil service, for a travel agent, a consultancy company, in banking, hospital administration, and for a county court before setting herself up as a freelance translator and linguist. Henriette recently began to pursue her writing in earnest winning the New Talent Award in 2011 from the Festival of Romance and a Commended from the Yeovil Literary Prize.
Henriette lives in London.