Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Bees in the Butterfly Garden - Maureen Lang

I recently read "Whisper on the Wind," the second novel in the Great War series by Maureen Lang.  When I saw the opportunity to read "Bees in the Butterfly Garden," I leapt at the chance.  Since the plot and setting is completely different, I was interested to compare this book to the first one I read.
"Whisper on the Wind" was a somber, slow-moving book set in the middle of the World War.  There was a transparent plot with a very limited amount of romance.  "Bees in the Butterfly Garden" was as far from that as possible.
The book is about Meg Davenport, a lifelong student at Madame Marisse's ladies school.  As such a student, she is welcomed into the inner circles of New York's elite.  When she discovers her father has died, she journeys to his funeral and meets his surrogate son, Ian Maguire, who seems to have taken her place as rightful child.  Not understanding why her father would send her away for her lifetime, and then nearly adopt Ian as his own, she has some issues initially to work through.  Once she arrives, she learns that her father -- highly esteemed by Madame Marisse -- was a professional thief and swindler.  
Ian was her father's partner in crime, and Meg decides that she will show her deceased father what a mistake he made in replacing her with Ian by partnering with Ian in a heist to rob a prominent 5th Avenue family.  She successfully garners an invitation to visit the Pemberton home for the summer, and works with Ian to formulate a plan to burglarize the home for the famous Pemberton gold.
Within a few pages the author hooked my attention.  The plot for "Bees in the Butterfly Garden" is compelling and fast-moving.  This book was interesting and enjoyable to read from start to finish.  I loved the plot.  I commend the author for creating fallible, believable characters.  The twist at the end was genius.  All around, this was a much more enjoyable book to read than "Whisper on the Wind."  
My critique is aimed at the romance in the book.  I would have been more excited to see a romantic dilemma.  I was disappointed in the end, because I felt that the main character, Meg, chose the wrong man.  The plot could have been enhanced by giving one of the other characters (George or Nelson) more of a spotlight starting about midway through the book, then gradually building to a point at the end at which she must decide which man holds her heart.  It is common in romance to introduce the winning man right at the start, so my expectation was that Ian would win her heart.  However, about 75% into the book I began to question whether the author was playing with me, and a more worthy opponent would win Meg (namely George, given his role in the book from the beginning, but I was silently hoping the author would write Nelson in at the end as the final romantic interest).  If memory serves, this was well done by Julie Klassen in her novel, "The Apothecary's Daughter."
Maureen Lang is an author unafraid to take risks.  I again commend her on the plot.  Involving the main character in an illegal heist was one of the most fun, exciting, and risky plots I've seen in Christian fiction so far.
To the author... please keep writing risky plots.  If you will, I will be among your most loyal readers.
This book was a complimentary copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an objective review.

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