John Davenport couldn't give his daughter the life she deserved. Without a mother to teach her the ways of a lady, he decided to have her raised by the finest of boarding schools. So, Meg Davenport grew up in the best, most exclusive boarding school, destined to shape her into a perfect lady. She turns into Madame Marisse’s most gifted student, but only by ruthlessly supressing the rebel inside. Meg grew up without family, without love and without happiness. She might outwardly be the perfect lady, but the only thing Meg truly wants is to break free, to follow her own path, to live an adventure. After several failed escape attempts over the years, a dejected Meg finally resolves herself to her fate, but when her absentee father dies, she finally learns the truth – he was a very talented thief! Suddenly so many things make sense; Meg finally begins to understand the rebel side of herself, and in an attempt to understand the man everybody claims loved her more than life itself, Meg is determined to follow in his footsteps. The only problem is she needs the help of a man she can’t help but resent; Ian Maguire, her father’s substitute son – the boy he loved who grew to be his protégé, the boy who took her place in her father’s heart (or so she believes). Loyal to the father figure who rescued him from the streets, Ian knows that John’s greatest hope in life was that his daughter become a perfect lady, marry a wealthy gentleman and live a life of luxury. The last thing John would have tolerated was his precious daughter following in his footsteps, but when the shadier members of John’s crew learns of Meg’s connection to one of New York’s wealthiest families that could help them pull off the biggest heist of their careers, they’re all too eager to welcome her into their gang. With Meg desperate to prove herself her father’s daughter, desperate to prove he was wrong in shutting her out of his life, and men Ian doesn’t trust willing to help her, how can he not protect her by rather helping her himself? And if he can somehow get his hands on the famous Pemberton gold, it’s a win-win situation… right?
Ian is not on speaking terms with God – his father was a missionary, and on a ship from Ireland, moving to America where he would spread the Gospel, Ian’s father died along with his mother and siblings, leaving only Ian. Ian can’t believe God is a loving Heavenly Father when God stripped him of love and security at a young age. Meg also believes God exists, she just doesn’t believe He has much interest in her life. If He had, surely He would have answered her prayers and she would have been raised by a loving father; At the very least, He would have helped just one of her escape attempts succeed, granting her a life of freedom from the suffocating rules and regulations that held her prisoner. While adopting this life of deception and thievery, she ruthlessly suppresses her conscience, just as she once supressed her rebellion. Surely God doesn’t care what Meg does or does not do?
As Meg and Ian work together to pull of the heist of all heists, the unthinkable happens. Meg gets too attached to the family she is setting up to be burglarised, and Ian grows a conscience. With Ian suspecting he has finally come to love a person more than he loves money (how can he risk Meg’s freedom?), Meg suspecting she doesn’t have the heart to live her father’s life after all (How can she steal from people she has come to love?), and a God who does seem to care about their plans very much (why else would things start going wrong?), can Meg and Ian find a way towards love and happiness instead of prison? Will they get over their guilt and doubt and give their hearts to each other, and more importantly, will they finally give their hearts to God?
I thoroughly enjoyed Maureen Lang’s Bees in the butterfly garden, though at first I couldn’t imagine how Christian lit could centre around thieves – surely, at the end of the day you can’t justify stealing professionally. But that is exactly what is so striking about this book. The reader shares Meg and Ian’s guilt. I was quite uncomfortable being witness to their deception of the lovely Claire and Nelson Pemberton; I could never share their excitement when their plans seemed set to succeed, and several times I wished I could just sit these two down for a good, long chat. The constant use of the painting depicting Jesus’ crucifixion between two thieves was a very clever tool Lang used to keep reminding Ian and Meg of their wrongdoing and what they were truly risking. The painting became a central character in the novel, so strong was its presence.
I particularly liked the characters in the novel. Lang did a great job in creating diverse characters, each with their own motivations. I especially enjoyed Meg and Ian's internal struggles. On one hand I would have liked a more pronounced conversion for each of them, but then again, the gentle subtlety with which they both ultimately give their hearts to God suggests that they have been wanting and waiting to do it all along.
Bees in the butterfly garden is a lovely story about the importance of justice, mercy and grace (the Pemberton family has a beautiful tradition which also explains the difference between the three), which is communicated through a story of thievery and deceit - An interesting and effective approach that captivates the reader.
Maureen Lang has always had a passion for writing, particularly stories that combine romance and history. Her debut inspirational novel, Pieces of Silver, was a Christy Award finalist in the historical category. She has since written seven novels, including a recent trilogy of romances set against the dramatic backdrop of WWI—Look to the East, Whisper on the Wind, and Springtime of the Spirit. She turns to more peaceful (though no less dramatic) times in Bees in the Butterfly Garden, her upcoming release set among Fifth Avenue's finest during the Gilded Age of New York. In addition to critical acclaim, Maureen's writing has garnered numerous industry honors. She has won the Romance Writers of America Golden Heart award, the Inspirational Reader's Choice Contest, and a Holt Medallion, and has been a finalist for Romance Writers of America's Rita, the American Christian Fiction Writers' Carol awards, and the Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence ~ Tyndale.
Title: Bees In The Butterfly Garden
Author: Maureen Lang
Number of pages: 432
Publisher: Tyndale House
Tyndale House Publishers has kindly provided me with a complimentary copy of this book for my review. I did not receive any monetary compensation for this review, nor did this review lead to any personal gain other than the joy of being part of the Tyndale Blog Network.