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The Lion Tamer Who Lost

4.40  ·  Rating details ·  518 ratings  ·  158 reviews

A heartbreaking, breathtakingly beautiful love story with a tragedy at its heart, from the critically acclaimed author of Maria in the Moon

‘Beech eloquently conveys their feelings and longings and sets atmospheric, vividly drawn scenes that transport the reader from grey and damp England to the searing heat of the lion reserve …The Lion Tamer Who Lost will touch the most h

Kindle Edition, 300 pages
Published July 15th 2018 by ORENDA BOOKS
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Louise Beech Yes, this is a male gay relationship. You should try it anyway, you may be surprised and enjoy!
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Average rating 4.40  · 
Rating details
 ·  518 ratings  ·  158 reviews

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Sep 22, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018, blog-tour
A beautiful and poignant love story... A real and raw tale filled with heartbreak, hope, secrets, and truth... A book that seamlessly travels between past and present, Africa and the UK....

This is the story of Ben and Andrew, a love story fraught with prejudice and secrets.... I have to admit I had a bit of a soft spot for Andrew, there was something about him that just was so sweet (for lack of a better word).... you absolutely could feel the connection between these two and really wanted nothi
The Book Review Café
Sometimes as a reader a book comes along that blows me away, it doesn’t happen very often I must say. There are books I love and books I will treasure forever and The Lion Tamer Who Lost by the superbly talented Louise Beech falls into the latter. As far as I’m concerned Louise Beech is the “queen” of story telling, this novel was such a compelling and emotive read, and so beautifully written I’m not convinced anything I write will convey how truly wonderful this book was. When Andrew and Ben me ...more
Sep 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One thing I love about Louise’s books, apart from the beautiful writing of course, is that that they are all so different. Who would have thought that a book about two men falling in love and a lion sanctuary would have worked but in Louise’s hands it turns into a poignant and emotional love story.

The story starts in Zimbabwe with 23 year old Ben. He is volunteering at The Liberty Lion Rehabilitation Project and fulfilling his lifelong wish of being with lions. Despite living his dream, he is no
May 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I'm hoping that I can find words to convey just how good this book is!

The Lion tamer Who Lost is a story about Ben and Andrew and a wish that Andrew once wrote down and kept in a silver box ... Ben lost his mum to cancer and has a difficult relationship with his 'playboy', prejudiced, old-school father, Andrew never knew his father. Many coincidences bring them together resulting in passionate love, tragic hurt, self-sacrifice and the ultimate relationship taboo .

For the fourth time in success
Jul 13, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: arcs-tysm
3.5 stars

You can also find this review on my book blog.

I have seen this book on Twitter and saw that it’s LGBTQ+ so I immediately had to get a copy of it and read it! I found the synopsis of the book to sound very interesting because of different settings the story takes place in.

The Lion Tamer Who Lost is a book about two people, Ben and Andrew, who seem to meet each other in unusual circumstances and quite often. From the moment Ben sets eyes of Andrew [in a library] he falls for him and s
Cathy Ryan
May 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Ben is fulfilling a long held dream, and a promise he made years ago, although he never could have envisaged the circumstances that finally brought the dream to reality. Nevertheless here he is, a volunteer at the Liberty Lion Rehabilitation Project in Zimbabwe and it seems he isn’t the only one escaping from love and life.

Fate, destiny, call it what you will, brought Andrew and Ben together with a series of meetings—some by design, some by chance. The connection they felt was immediate. Andrew
S.E. Lynes
Jun 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Louise Beech does it again. The setting for this book alone makes it worth a read - the lion sanctuary in Kenya is a visual treat and, as ever, the lightly handled background metaphor of a place where damaged beings go to recover provides a sumptuous backdrop which does its work on the reader's subconscious while they enjoy the action of the story. Love, complicated families and the hurtful things people say and do to one another out of fear, love and ignorance feature here, as well as messy rel ...more
Tracy Fenton
Jul 15, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
There is absolutely no doubt that Louise Beech is an incredible storyteller. Each of her books are filled with beautiful and poignant messages.
The settings are always so descriptive and atmospheric and it’s easy to get utterly engrossed in her books.

The Lion Tamer Who Lost is her latest novel and it’s difficult to review without containing spoilers.

This book is a love story, a tale of secrets, guilt, confusion, bigotry and shame, beautifully woven together through the narration of Ben and Andrew
Jack Jordan
Oct 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It’s official: Louise Beech could warm the coldest of hearts.

Every so often I come across a book where the characters are so well drawn and so beautifully flawed and real that I have to remind myself that they aren’t real once the book is over. Ben is definitely one of those characters for me. His frustration with life and love is so evident that it’s impossible not to feel it with him.

Heartbreaking and so profoundly moving.
Joanne Robertson
I left it quite late to read this new masterpiece from the wonderfully gifted author Louise Beech so when something happened in my family recently I realised that Louise’s book possibly wasn’t the best one to read at that particular time. The reason being that Louise Beech has an exceptionally rare gift of being able to evoke such strong emotions in her readers that I knew it would affect me deeply. And that if I started crying I probably wouldn’t be able to stop. But I LOVE Louise’s writing so ...more
Louisa Treger
Jul 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I am a huge admirer of Louise Beech’s writing and have loved her previous three novels. She is a wonderfully diverse author – all her books are completely different from one another – and she is a born storyteller, with the power to draw you into the world she creates and to make you emotionally invested in her characters. THE LION TAMER WHO LOST is every bit as compelling as its predecessors. There’s much exquisite writing and a great sense of place, transporting the reader to the vast open pla ...more
Laura Rash
Jun 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I’m gutted. Darn you Louise!
As with all of her books, LB has a way of sucking you into the story from the first page & wraps you into the characters so much you feel their every emotion. I lost count of how many quotes I wrote down to try and remember. I lost count of how many times I put the book down and sat in stunned silence & a few times in tears. Raw, emotional yet somehow hopeful this book is incredibly beautiful.
Thanks to Orenda for this early copy:)
Stephen Donovan
Feb 20, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4.5 stars

This is a book that has the ability to whisk you away on an utterly captivating journey, from both a literary and an emotional perspective. Beautifully written throughout and with a profoundly bittersweet plot that contains numerous layers, it explores sensitive themes with style along the way and leaves you in no doubt that Louise Beech is one of the most versatile authors around.

The depth of the story is such that it can fit into one of several genres. The romance element is right at
Feb 18, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4.5 - beautifully written
Kathy - Books & Munches
When I first heard of this book, I was intrigued immediately. It sounded like something I would pick up but.. on the other hand, it also sounded like something I wouldn't pick up - if you get what I mean. The LGBTQIA+ part of this novel immediately spoke to me, but I wasn't really sure about the homophobic impression I got from the blurb. I'm glad I ended up reading it anyway because.. I don't regret it one bit!

Of course, I'm starting with the thing I already mentioned. Both our main characters
A novel about a gay love affair and a lion sanctuary - you wouldn't think these two things would work together in a novel but they do. And the meaning of the title in particular when you realise what it really means is a nice touch and brings everything together.

It was fascinating to read the scenes set in a lion sanctuary especially when I discovered the author had never been to one. You'd never think it at all! Shows you the power of good research and the emotions you can evoke on the page wit
Yvonne (It's All About Books)

Finished reading: October 19th 2019

"He had nothing again. Nothing he knew, understood well, was familiar with.
But nothing is so much harder after you've briefly had something."

(view spoiler)
Mairead Hearne (
‘Be careful what you wish for….Be careful who you love…’

The Lion Tamer Who Lost is the fourth novel from Louise Beech. Published by the fabulous Orenda Books, it is described as ‘a devastatingly beautiful love story with a dark and tragic heart’. A novel exploring LGBTQ themes, it tells the fateful tale of a beautiful love that is tarnished by secrets of the past.

This is a book that you might need the Kleenex for folks…you have been warned!!

Ben is a troubled soul. Now on a lion reserve in Zi
Feb 18, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Time taken to read - in and out over 2 days

Pages - 350

Publisher - Orenda

Source - Bought

Blurb from Goodreads

Long ago Andrew made a childhood wish. One he has always kept in a silver box with a too-big lid that falls off. When it finally comes true, he wishes it hadn't...

Long ago Ben dreamed of going to Africa to volunteer at a lion reserve. When he finally goes there, it isn't for the reasons he imagined...

Ben and Andrew keep meeting where they least expect. Some collisions are by design, but
Sep 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Good grief. I need a minute. Or a lie-down. Or maybe a few stiff drinks to get past this huge lump in my throat.

I don’t really consider myself a particularly emotional person (although I did once cry at a diaper commercial but that’s another story), yet somehow Louise Beech always manages to rip out my heart, stomp all over it and leave me a big, unattractive, blubbering mess.

We first meet Ben in the magnificent surroundings of Zimbabwe, where he’s volunteering at a lion sanctuary. It’s rather o
Jo Furniss
Sep 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
The latest novel from Louise Beech tells the story of Ben and his older lover, an author called Andrew. After running away to volunteer at a wildlife sanctuary, Ben recalls the events that drove him to fulfil a childhood wish to work with lions. What takes him home again, is a wish of another kind. For all its cinematic beauty and erotic charge, Louise Beech creates a melancholy air of doom. The romance feels precarious from the start, founded as it is on chance meetings, coincidences and even a ...more
Doug Reyes
Nov 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2020
Who is Louise Beech? And how, after 25 years of selling books have I never heard of her? And who is she to write a story that broke me down to tears?
I gasped out loud at the central critical reveal of this book, and the punches to my gut just kept coming.

I am forever grateful that I live a life in which I can still be surprised, even thrilled to discover a new author, a new beautiful work of fiction. This novel is gorgeous and devastating, a tender and brutal love story, a harsh and honest portr
Dec 03, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sad, lgbt
Probably one of saddest love stories I have ever read. Beautifully written but oh so so heartbreaking and sad.
Dec 31, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Sep 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wishes and dreams are part of life, but what happens when the things you wish and dream for are not as you imagined they would be. Dreams are great, but if you follow your dream for an alternative motive then in reality it isn’t what the dream was meant to be. Andrew the wish-maker and Ben with the dream are meant to be together, but why…

This is a story that I just found myself being captivated with from the very start as I met Ben in Zimbabwe at a lion sanctuary. This is his dream and also a fu
Jan 01, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A novel of betrayal, redemption and love, set in Zimbabwe and Yorkshire

Love goes with us – it is light and has easy-to-grip handles and needs no passport

The Lion Tamer Who Lost is almost a book within a book. Andrew is writing a children’s book with the same title and by chance with a character who happens to be called Ben (book Ben) – and Ben in real life becomes his lover.

Andrew also has a wish box but although some ambitions may be realised, things can also turn out very differently than anti
Susan Hampson
Sep 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I didn’t think that anything could possibly compete with the beautiful scenes in this story, of Ben’s lifetime dream of going to Africa to work with lions, especially his connection with Lucy but wow was I wrong. That story itself would have made a cracking book in its own right but author Louise Beech takes destiny and fate to a climax that no other book has. This is one very special read that will not go away when you turn out the lights.
Fate had an uncanny way of throwing together Ben and And
Jan 02, 2019 rated it really liked it
So I had purchased this book on my kindle a long time ago and finally got around to reading it. It was hard to get into with family around noisy playing board games (if you’ve played Avocado Smash you’ll know what I mean!) But once I did I was sneaking off to read all the time. I was interested to uncover Ben’s story as it played out, and to understand his and Andrew’s relationship. I’m not sure about Ben, he’s a bit of a strange cat. There’s a bombshell, and it really threw me! I felt quite ick ...more
Oct 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018
First of all this book needs more than 5 ⭐️s! I am a reader not a writer, and throughout this book I kept thinking, “Nothing I can write will do it justice.”

This is the beautiful love story of Ben and Andrew. It takes place between England and Zimbabwe and yes, fantastically, there are lions! This is also the story of coming back to family despite incredible harm done.

About 100 pages in, I knew this book would destroy me. Toward the end, I repeatedly put it down, overwhelmed with emotion and sim
Bri (bloodydamn_taveren)
“The lioness let her cub go. She didn’t want to. She knew what danger lurked in the shadows. But she also knew that a lifetime without fight was a lifetime without purpose.”

How is a book allowed to be so breathtakingly beautiful and tragically hopeful? How is something made up of mis-words and wishes and human mistakes so profound?

I smiled quietly like a boy who could tame lions because he had already lost. I soared across the colors of the savanna. I was a sobbing mess on the floor of a bleak E
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Louise's debut novel, How to be Brave, was a Guardian Readers' pick in 2015 and a top ten bestseller on Amazon. The Mountain in my Shoe longlisted for the Guardian's Not The Booker Prize 2016. The Sunday Mirror called Maria in the Moon 'quirky, darkly comic, original and heartfelt'. It was also a Must Read in the Sunday Express and a Book of the Year at LoveReadingUK. The Lion Tamer Who Lost was d ...more

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