Lily Donaldson never expected to see the face of her once-beloved fiance , Andy Hawkins, ever again; especially posing as a fine gentleman around the grand dinner table at the famed Butterfly Palace. "Drew Hawkes", as he has introduced himself, is just as shocked; to see his beautiful Lily serving as a house maid in the Marshall's home; their reintroduction resurrecting pleasant memories of their past and torturous reminders of his abrupt abandonment following the murder of their fathers.
As Lily and Drew find themselves crossing each other's paths in the elegant, but strange-at-times mansion, it becomes clear that many people within their acquaintance are not at all who they present themselves to be. And when young blond servant girls in the Austin area continue to fall prey to a heinous serial killer, Drew is forced to reveal his true identity to Lily and pray that he can protect her as they dig deeper into a tangled web of crime.
This vintage mystery has a nice pace and leaves many questions unanswered until the story comes to a fitting conclusion.
I won't summarize the story, as many have already done so. Butterfly Palace is a pleasant enough read, but could hardly be called Christian fiction. Certainly not what I expect from this author and publisher. God is mentioned a handful of times, one character reads his Bible, but that is the extent. It's almost as if God is referenced several times simply to have the book published as Christian fiction. Terribly disappointed on more than one front!
Colleen Coble in her new book "Butterfly Palace" Book One in the Butterfly Palace series published by Thomas Nelson takes us into the life of Lily Donaldson.
From the back cover: Elegance and wealth. Privilege and politics. The extravagance of the Butterfly Palace overwhelmed Lily's senses and nearly smothered her painful memories. She pushed away her misgivings . . . She was perfectly safe in this huge house.
Austin, Texasâ€”1904: Abandoned by the love of her life and still mourning the loss of her mother, Lily Donaldson has turned her back on the pain and come to Austin for a fresh start, working for the Marshall family as a kitchen maid in their luxurious mansion, the Butterfly Palace. The tasks before her are legion, and her mistress less than pleasant, but at least Lily's new life will be, if nothing else, distracting.
But one night, while serving at a dinner party, Lily recognizes the man who abandoned her, Andy, her liaison from the livery stable, the blacksmith's son . . . sitting among the distinguished guests. Though he recognizes her, Andy does not acknowledge her aloud, and Lily is left reeling, flabbergasted, and irate.
But before she can get an explanation, the path of the Servant Girl Killer swerves very close to the Butterfly Palace, sowing terror among the maids. Having come to Austin to start anew, Lily suddenly feels trapped in a spider web. How can she know who to trust in a house where lies come dressed in fine suits and deceit in silk gowns the colors of butterfly wings?
Things are bigger in Texas. Butterfly Palace is a luxurious mansion in Austin, Texas in 1904. Lily has come there to escape and be a maid. So the set-up is the upper-class elite contrasted with the lower-class servants. Into all this luxury comes murder, counterfeiting, political deceit and broken hearts. "Butterfly Palace" is a thriller in that characters lives are in danger. Then there is the romance. Ms. Coble knows how to write characters that come alive off the page. This is a fast-paced read that will keep you guessing as to what is really going on.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."
Butterfly Palace was a good book. Nothing spectacular or extraordinary, but a good book. I wouldn't buy it, but I enjoyed reading it.
I've read a few different Colleen Coble books in the past, and I always seem to have the same problem... I feel disconnected to the book. I've given her many opportunities to enthrall me, but I've now determined that I'm not a fan of her writing. The story was good and it kept me interested, but some of the scenes felt rushed and the characters weren't real to me. They felt wooden. I had to read things over again just to see what happened.
If you're a fan of Colleen Coble, (as many people seem to be) then I'd highly recommend this story. It's got suspense, romance and a few unexpected twists. However, it's just not a favorite of mine, and not one I'd read again.
I really cannot get enough of this author. Colleen Coble knows how to write a great story that captivates the reader from beginning to end. I was trapped from the first chapter of the book to the very end. Most of the time, I can kind of figure out what's going to happen or who the villain is in a mystery/suspense story. However, there were so many twists and turns to this story, I didn't figure anything out until the characters did! I loved that about it!
The characters, main and secondary, were very well developed. Lily Donaldson knows heartache and pain. In spite of all she's been through, she still cares deeply for others and has a strong sense of self (even when she doesn't realize it). She has her faults and she's not perfect, so that makes her more real. She is definitely a character one could look up to. Andrew Hawkins (Drew Hawkes) is not your typical self-assured male lead. He questions himself, especially where Lily is concerned, and he has his doubts like any human being does. Even the secondary characters of Emily and Belle were essential to the development of Lily and Drew as people and romantically. I hope to hear more of Belle's story in a later novel!
The message of the book was subtle, but none-the-less important. As Colleen says in her note to her readers, "Struggle and pain aren't something to fear. We all face trials while here on earth. What matters is how we're dealing with the challenges that come our way." God is continually molding us under the refiner's fire. Do we let these challenges make us stronger or do we give the devil the satisfaction of breaking us? Overall, I can't say enough great things about this book. Get your copy today!!