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, Texas—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?
There’s a dedication before chapter one. Take a moment to read it. Colleen Coble wrote it to her friend, Diann Hunt, who sadly lost her battle with cancer at the end of last year. This dedication was evidently written when Hunt was still alive, and it made me pause and think briefly about life before I moved on to the book.
Butterfly Mansion is a meaty read of twists and turns, suspicion and murder. Lily hadn’t seen her former fiancé since the night their fathers were killed in a fire. She was stunned to see him hobnobbing with Austin’s elite, and the explanation he gave her was almost unbelievable. Had their fathers been murdered because of a counterfeiting operation? Was it possible her new employer was involved? What was the connection between a prized butterfly collection and a spate of murders in the city?
I find something about butterfly collecting vaguely disquieting, and so I read the sections about the hobby quickly. Thankfully, there aren’t many where the dead insects were described in all their morbid glory. There are many characters to keep track of in this book, and that makes for plenty of red herrings. Any one of them could’ve been the main villain and I only began to narrow the possibilities near the end. To be honest, I felt some scenes could’ve been cut without causing problems in term of plot progression and perhaps some of the characters also. The plot was interesting enough to keep me reading to the end, even though I was sick at the time, but I was disappointed that a couple of threads were left undone.
Have you read Butterfly Palace? Do you plan to read it? Let me know your thoughts.
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Publication Date: 21 January 2014
Page Count: 336