Wednesday, 20 December 2017

A Lion is not Just for Christmas
Series: 2nd in the Sweet Romance Mysteries set in Norfolk
Release Date: 20th December 2017
Genres:  Romance Mystery

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?
Scene when Justine and Tom meet, in reality, for the second time.
I remember you.
Not many men had red hair like that and wore it so unashamedly loose like a rose gold crown. This groundsman – Tom – was the reason Justine had nearly missed a step during the last performance of the season. As far as she was aware ginger men preferred to keep their hair cropped short or even shaved off, fearing that it would make them look effeminate. Or something like that.
There was nothing effeminate about this guy. On the contrary, Justine thought, drinking in his broad shoulders, strong hands and sturdy workman’s clothes. He was every bit a man.”

This is the first book by Henriette Gyland that I have read will be reading more of her work. Her writing style flows so well with the story perfectly paced. A Lion is Not Just for Christmas is a fairly short read so perfect for cosying up on the sofa with a glass of wine. The book opens with Justine performing in the circus ring with her father. Their routine with the lion Rexus and two tigers wows the audience but Justine is slightly distracted by a man in the audience. Not long afterwards Justine learns that the circus is to be disbanded and her beautiful friend Rexus is to be sent to a private collector on his estate. Justine is to go with him to help settle him into his new home. Afterwards, she is to try to build a new life. 

 Justine's arrival is not welcome by everyone, particularly Priscilla who is married to Henry who hopes one day to inherit the estate although that is not a given and his wife knows this. She is almost threatened by Justine's very existence and goes out of her way to make her feel unwelcome to the point of being obnoxious and rude. And then there are her children. Slowly being molded by their mother into carbon copies of her, Justine fears for their safety around Rexus as the children appear to ignore rules, boundaries and authority of any sort. Their snobbish manner mirroring that of their mother.

Justine finds it hard to ignore her attraction to Tom the groundsman and his initial reluctance to have her at Stonybrook soon gives way to different sort of feelings for her. Upon initial meeting, Justine is shocked to discover that Tom is the man in the audience who distracted her with his good looks and mop of unruly hair. Tom finds her fascinating and her impressive handling of Rexus gives way to feelings of respect. Justine is beginning to pull at his heart strings but he's been hurt in the past and needs to protect himself. 

A Lion Is Not Just For Christmas was a fascinating read. While I don't like the use of animals in circus acts, the author definitely got a great message about animal welfare across and the need to respect and care for all animals. Justine's family's love for their animals could not be denied but it was nice to see Rexus get a good home. The main theme of the book for me was one of new beginnings. Justine almost has to reinvent herself again after the only way of life she'd ever known is suddenly coming to an abrupt end. The sense of family and belonging that went hand in hand with being a circus family has been the one constant in her life and now she feels a little cast adrift. Tom himself needs to move on with his life too.

Among all the drama going on there is also an element of mystery and intrigue too which really added a great dimension to the whole story. A Lion is Not Just for Christmas is the perfect package.................romance, secrets, drama and mystery. Its up there as one of my recommended reads. 


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.

Twitter:  @henrigyland

One Response so far.

  1. Henriette says:

    Thank you so much for this fabulous review of my novella "A Lion Is Not Just For Christmas". It really made my day!
    Best wishes

- Copyright © 2013-2014 Brook Cottage Books - Powered by Blogger - Graphics & Blog Customization by JellydogDesign