Bees in the Butterfly Garden

Bees in the Butterfly Garden

4.2 53
by Maureen Lang

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Raised in an exclusive boarding school among Fifth Avenue’s finest, Meg Davenport has all she’s ever needed . . . but none of the things she’s wanted most, like family or dreams of a future that include anything other than finding a suitable match. So when her distant father dies, she seizes the chance to throw etiquette aside and do as she

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Raised in an exclusive boarding school among Fifth Avenue’s finest, Meg Davenport has all she’s ever needed . . . but none of the things she’s wanted most, like family or dreams of a future that include anything other than finding a suitable match. So when her distant father dies, she seizes the chance to throw etiquette aside and do as she pleases. Especially when she learns that John Davenport wasn’t the wealthy businessman she thought, but one of the Gilded Age’s most talented thieves.Poised to lead those loyal to Meg’s father, Ian Maguire knows the last thing his mentor would have wanted is for his beloved daughter to follow in his footsteps. Yet Meg is determined, and her connections to one of New York’s wealthiest families could help Ian pull off his biggest heist yet. But are they both in over their heads? And in trying to gain everything, will they end up losing it all?

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
The sheltered life Meg Davenport has known at a prestigious school is shattered when her estranged father, Skipjack, dies and the 18-year-old girl discovers that the riches he used to keep her in a life of luxury were illegally gotten. Meg scorns the traditional options—teaching or marrying—available to her in late-19th-century New York and inexplicably decides to follow in her con-artist father’s footsteps. In her attempts to bilk the family of two school friends out of their rumored fortune in hidden gold, she finds herself caught in a power struggle between Skipjack’s attractive protégé and surrogate son, Ian, and Brewster, another member of her father’s gang of thieves. Ian also is at odds with Skipjack’s religious fiancée, Kate, whose unwelcome morals had started to influence his mentor to go straight. In the middle of a growing romance between Meg and Ian, the author (the Great War series) uses a slow-moving, unlikely plot to touch on issues of abandonment, loyalty, faith, and life not always going the way you plan. Agent: Rachelle Gardner. (July)
From the Publisher
Meg Davenport grew up at an exclusive New York boarding school. Surrounded by the educated elite, she had everything most girls could dream of—except her family. But when her father dies, she seizes the opportunity to build her own future. Discovering secrets about the father she thought she knew puts her in contact with the man her father mentored and could involve her in a dangerous plot. VERDICT: This character-driven historical set in the American Gilded Age represents Lang (Look to the East; Whisper on the Wind) at her best. Though her many fans will surely enjoy it, consider giving this title also to patrons who like Amanda Harte and Tamara Alexander. Library Journal
Library Journal
Meg Davenport grew up at an exclusive New York boarding school. Surrounded by the educated elite, she had everything most girls could dream of—except her family. But when her father dies, she seizes the opportunity to build her own future. Discovering secrets about the father she thought she knew puts her in contact with the man her father mentored and could involve her in a dangerous plot. VERDICT This character-driven historical set in the American Gilded Age represents Lang (Look to the East; Whisper on the Wind) at her best. Though her many fans will surely enjoy it, consider giving this title also to patrons who like Amanda Harte and Tamara Alexander.

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Tyndale House Publishers
Publication date:
The Gilded Legacy
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Bees in the Butterfly Garden


Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.

Copyright © 2012 Maureen Lang
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-1-4143-6446-9

Chapter One

A young lady who attains the grace of self-discipline rightfully earns the admiration of others. Indeed, her place in genteel society will not be won without it. Madame Marisse's Handbook for Young Ladies


Meg DaVenport stood barefoot on the warm, loose garden soil. she watched a butterfly hover on a breeze above the garden as if it danced before a banquet, contemplating which nectar to sample first. Yellow celandines, purple coneflowers, or red verbena? not far off, the sweet briar rose beckoned, trimmed with a skirt of pinks and zinnias. All planted under Meg's direction to attract butterflies of every sort.

She knew this butterfly. As a caterpillar he had, along with so many of his butterfly siblings and moth cousins, undoubtedly been hosted among the clover beds or colorful sweet peas that festooned the white columns of the gazebo where Meg often sat. But while many of the moths and butterflies boasted shades of black and white and gold and orange, this one lit a delicate shade of blue as the sun blended its sheer wings with the summer sky. How she wished she could fly like him, beyond the walls of the school, and see what the world looked like from a butterfly's view. It had been so long since she'd let herself dream of such things that she'd nearly forgotten how.

Perhaps it was as silly a whim for herself as for this pretty blue butterfly. He wasn't as adventurous as the others. She'd seen him before and knew he rarely floated beyond the edges of the garden.

She bent to remove another weed, although if Madame Marisse were still alive, she'd have quietly but firmly directed Meg back to the gazebo to merely enjoy what even she had called "Meg's garden." even with the school nearly empty for the off-season, there were others employed to do such menial tasks as pulling weeds. But Meg enjoyed the satisfaction to be found in keeping the garden pure of anything but what she'd intended for it to present. Besides, the earth was softer than any carpet beneath her toes.


Hazel Hibbit beckoned, but beside the stout school matron bustled her sister, Beatrice. Meg smiled, far from alarmed. The Hibbit sisters were forever distressed about something, perhaps more often now that Hazel had become the matron. Meg added the weed to the others she'd collected and set to the side for the gardener to remove, then stepped back onto the grass.

"A message!" Hazel called.

"Yes!" Beatrice added. "for you!"

Curiosity stirred, Meg held the puffed flounces that trimmed the bottom of her silk day dress out of the way to wipe her feet on the downy lawn. Obviously it wasn't a letter from a former schoolmate, an invitation to a soiree, or even a note from some prospective beau. Such things wouldn't have warranted any more attention than to be left with the others upon her silver card holder by the door.

Only a message from one person would hasten Hazel's step and add a bloom to Beatrice's cheeks. It must be from Meg's father.

"Open it, child! Look, it's bordered in black."

Meg reached for the sealed envelope. Indeed, the stationery was outlined in black, though her name was written neatly in the center where the paper had been left white. She tore it open, seeing it was dated that very day.

June 7, 1883

Dearest Meggie,

I write to you today with a heavy heart and unsteady hand. Your beloved father passed on to his reward this very day. I will, of course, see to all the arrangements of his burial.

Please be assured he did not suffer but breathed his last in the peacefulness of sleep.

Respectfully, Ian Maguire

"He's dead." Meg's words, like her heart, were untouched by the news. So it was over. Her hope that he would one day arrive knowing how to be a father to her, or to share with her anything of the family to which she was bound by blood.

"Your father?" Beatrice's voice was usually high-pitched, but just now piercingly so. "He's—he's gone?"

Meg nodded, folding the note and slipping it back into the envelope. She walked past the sisters, back to the three-story house that had once ranked among the finest federal estates on the hills between Boston and New York. For the past twenty-five years, this home had been one of the most expensive, exclusive schools in New England. One that taught European grace and manners to the next generation of accomplished wives and mothers, all under the far-reaching umbrella of Christian love. Even after Madame Marisse died two years ago, the staff had carried on in her absence so that it was still regarded as one of the finest schools along the East Coast.

Beatrice fluttered behind Meg, taking one of her arms. "oh, dear, we're so very sorry for the news!"

"Yes, of course we are," Hazel added, reaching for Meg's other arm. "How sad the world has lost such a gentleman."


Meg stepped up to the porch that served as the entrance to the back of the school, walked past the sunroom, where she and countless others had learned not only the art of watercolor and charcoal drawing, but the art of conversation and genteel manners. Here they had been taught how to be demure yet confident, all the while reminded of the delicacy of a woman's constitution and the greater delicacy of a woman's reputation. She passed the music room, where she'd learned not only to sing and dance and play piano, but the history of musical elements as well, because Madame Marisse had believed in the depth as well as the breadth of knowledge—at least as it pertained to becoming an asset to a husband. And she continued past the sitting room, where she had rested after lawn tennis or horseback riding or long afternoon walks. Or had spent time with the mundane to the profound, from idle embroidery to discussing the greatest literature known to man. Where she'd prayed with other students and the staff alike in english as well as French. Because Madame Marisse had believed in educating the whole person, physically, intellectually, and spiritually.

Meg passed all the rooms in which she had been a student, a friend, a protégé. But never a daughter.

In the front hall, at the foot of the stairs, she turned back to the sisters. "Thank you for your concern, but I wish to be alone for now."

"Oh yes, of course," Beatrice said.

Meg put a foot on one stair, then another, realizing for the first time that she'd left her shoes in the garden. But they didn't matter now.

"But ..."

One hand on the polished walnut handrail, Meg turned back.

Hazel looked up at Meg with the oddest expression, one of uncertainty rather than sympathy.

The look disappeared as Hazel turned away. "It's too soon, my dear. Never mind. Go upstairs, and we'll talk when you're ready."

"Pertaining to what?"

Hazel faced Meg again. "Pertaining to your father, dear."

"There is nothing to be said."

"You'll want to go to his funeral, of course," Beatrice said.

Meg shook her head. "even if I did, I wouldn't know how. That boy—" she amended her thought of him; the last time she'd seen Ian Maguire, he had been a boy, but surely he was as grown as she by now. "a Mr. Maguire will be attending to all of the details."

Hazel pulled at the bottom of her cuirass bodice, which shifted despite the finest of corsets beneath. It would fit even tighter by the end of summer, during which time Hazel annually added a few pounds, eating quantities she would never permit herself—or others—to consume while school was in session. "Yes, well, that isn't exactly what I meant, but we needn't discuss anything right now."

Meg descended the two stairs she'd mounted. The school was newly quiet with only her and the sisters there, besides the reduced year-round household staff.

"if there is anything to be said regarding my father's death, Miss Hibbit, you might as well tell me now. Has it something to do with my place here?"

"Oh no, of course not!" Beatrice spoke before Hazel could, shaking her head and taking one of Meg's hands, patting it. She was as wont to be thin as her sister was to be plump. When the students returned in the fall, one sister would eat with those whose diets were curbed, while the other ate with those whose diets were embellished. At the end of every summer they were able to provide guidance and personal example for those girls who had to work at becoming the ideally sized debutante.

"Your position is secure as long as you like," Beatrice added. "Madame Marisse made that so very clear, you know, before ... well, before she passed on."

Meg turned her eyes back to Hazel, and as so often happened when Meg leveled a gaze at anyone, man or woman, Hazel let her own stare linger. It happened because of the color of Meg's eyes; she knew that. The eyes she'd inherited from her father. Eyes that people simply wanted to peer into.

Hazel took Meg's other hand, leading her from the hall and back toward the wide, curved threshold into the parlor. It was a large room appointed in the finest fashion: furniture designed by such famous people as Phyfe, Lannuier, and roux; side chairs and sofas and a pair of French ladies' desks trimmed with inlaid mahogany; and nearby, a rococo center table of marble and rosewood offering an inviting surface for a silver tea set imported from London.

Hazel headed to one of the desks. "i wonder if you might think this a bit sudden, considering the news has had but a moment to make an impression."

Meg stared at Hazel, wondering if the older woman truly believed her own words. Did she think Meg's lack of emotion was simply because her father's death hadn't sunk in yet? Did she expect Meg to mourn a man she barely knew? other women might not have been immune to the charms of John Davenport, but unlike them Meg had never once wanted to simply stare at his handsome face.

"What is it you'd like to say about the matter, Miss Hibbit?"

Hazel looked from Meg to the desk beside her, the one used only by the staff. Meg expected, one day, that she would use that desk. Knowing there were few other options for her future, Meg had decided to transform this school from a luxurious factory of wives and mothers to an institution that could offer women more choices: to be instructors or lecturers, doctors or lawyers, or anything else they wished. It wasn't the kind of future she'd envisioned as a child—one in which she made others' dreams come true as she ignored her own—but with so little choice left open to her, it would have to suffice.

Hazel withdrew a key from her pocket. "Please, make yourself comfortable. Perhaps Beatrice could summon some tea."

Meg could hardly sit, let alone drink tea. "What is it you want to share with me?"

"I have a letter for you." she opened the desk as she spoke. Meg had seen the interior a thousand times or more: little compartments neatly holding bills and records, a small inkwell, pens and tips, stationery and envelopes. Nothing unusual. It was, in fact, the perfect model for students to reproduce while studying household management.

But then, after Hazel withdrew a small stack of envelopes, she pushed the edge of the corner compartment. In one surprising instant the rear wood piece dropped down. A shadow appeared, from which Hazel drew another lone envelope.

Holding it in her thick fingers, Hazel turned back to Meg. "it's from Madame Marisse regarding your father. We were instructed to look at it if you were ever at death's door. Otherwise it was to be given to you upon the day you left our school or the day your father died. Whichever came first."

How silly of Meg not to have had some kind of premonition of this. But she hadn't; Meg was completely, utterly stunned that Hazel knew something concerning her father that she did not.

"A letter from Madame to me, about my father. Do you know what it says?" Hazel shook her head.

Meg took the envelope, instantly disappointed in its weight-or rather, the lack of it. Surely it was a short letter.

She didn't open it right away. Instead, she stared down at the familiar script. So precise, so feminine. The perfect handwriting, as perfect as everything Madame Marisse had done. As controlled as Meg had learned to be.

Meg broke into the envelope, withdrawing the paper inside. she recognized at once the school stationery, upon which was written a few meager lines and a new York address.

The address below is to be used to contact John Davenport, should anything happen to Meg. If there has been any change, the proprietor of this business will know where Mr. Davenport can be reached. Only to be used in the most dire of circumstance.

Meg allowed the sisters to read the words over her shoulders.

"Well, then, there is no reason for you not to attend his funeral," Beatrice said. "You have means to contact his estate now."

Hazel nodded. "We'll accompany you, of course."

Meg shook her head. "No. I'll not be going."

She folded the letter, slipped it back into the envelope, and crumpled it with the other one, the one from Ian Maguire that had revealed her father's death. Then she walked from the room.

It wasn't until she was up the stairs, down the hall, through the very last bedroom door, and inside the perfectly decorated room that she fell to her knees, pressing those letters to her breast. And then she burst into tears.


Excerpted from Bees in the Butterfly Garden by MAUREEN LANG Copyright © 2012 by Maureen Lang. Excerpted by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Bees in the Butterfly Garden 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 53 reviews.
JlynnW More than 1 year ago
What a great novel. Packed with suspense and romance and friendship. While I began thinking Meg was selfish in her ambition, I saw that she truly desired to be like her father. And when she realizes she should be more like her Heavenly Father than her earthly father, that's when her selfish appearance turned around. I loved this book and would recomend it to everyone.
Thursday4 More than 1 year ago
Meg Davenport has been raised to live the life of the upperclass. Placed in an exclusive boarding school for most her life, she has been taught all the intricacies of etiquette and introduced to the best families in New York society. Then her father dies, a man who Meg barely saw while growing up, and whom she resents for abandoning her in a school with more rules than parental affection. So Meg decides to leave the sheltered life she's always known on a journey of self discovery into her father's world. On the way, she discovers more than she bargained for, meets people she hadn't realized existed, and comes to a new understanding of love, forgiveness, mercy, and grace. Unfortunately, this book fell short in several areas for me. Character development for one. Yes, its okay for our heroine to protest that she feels no grief over her father's death, but that just isn't how the human heart works. Children who deal with abandonment generally have more grief and anger to work through than their normal counterparts, not less. Meg just skims the surface of her emotions before becoming engrossed in her new life, and what should have colored the whole book and added a new layer of depth to her growing understanding of love, forgiveness, and all that comes across shallow. Also, the love of her life often comes across effeminate. Men just don't think/behave like sheltered eighteen year old girls think they will, and Meg's boyfriend meets every young girl's expectations - right down to the occasional chin stubble. Another place this fell short was in plot. The whole thing can be summed up like this: Sheltered girl turns to underworld for entertainment and after initial foray decides she'd rather be a Christian. If that sentence counts as a spoiler, then I'm sorry, but there really isn't much more to chew on. Sub plots were underdeveloped, so I never really did understand all that was going on with Meg's friends or the rest of the underworld characters she was rubbing shoulders with. Some parts were down right confusing, as in "Now whose side is he on?", and others were just unbelievable. My credulity has limits, and this book pushed them just a little too far. The writing itself was tolerable, and I guess typical for this genre. Sorry, I don't recommend this book. The two stars are for being spectacularly tame and un-controversial. *Note: I received this book free from Tyndale for my unbiased review
Virginia76 More than 1 year ago
When Meg's father dies, she finds out that he wasn't an upstanding citizen, but a thief. Some of his friends, including Ian, are also thieves. This news changes how Meg feels about life and she wants to join in since that was her father's occupation. The story was good, but slow for the first half. I was glad to see that several characters had feelings of guilt over what they were doing. I also liked how the painting of Christ and the two thieves on the cross factored into the story.
MitziAB More than 1 year ago
I was attracted to this novel mostly be the title, Bees in the Butterfly Garden. I have read a few novels by Maureen Lang, so I knew I was in for a treat. The main subject matter in this novel, did not, in fact, involve a lot about butterflies as we think of those pretty flowers with wings, or flower gardens, though these subjects were in the background of this novel. Instead, the bees seems to refer to the lifestyle of Ian, who was a protege of Meghan's dad in his occupation, and the garden is where he pursued his occupation. It is definitely a novel or unique plot, and I enjoyed the twists and turns as well as the superb word paintings. While reading this, and also as I think about the novel now, I am more appreciative of the heritage my parents handed down to me. Although it probably was because of the message the novel brought out, I would have loved to learn more about Meg's mothers heritage, and why or how Meg ended up in the circumstances she originally found herself. All in all, this was a very enjoyable, light-hearted read with deeper thoughts interspersed. This book was read and reviewed for Tyndale's Summer Reading Program. This is an honest, unpaid for review, and the opinions are my own. This book is available where ever great novels are sold.
The_Psychotic_Housewife More than 1 year ago
Spattered with very entertaining quotes from Madame Marisse's Handbook For Young Ladies, this book provides a little glimpse into the life of a young lady back in the 1800's and how she was supposed to behave. No kissing before she was married, no embarrassing others, and certainly, no swooning just to get attention. ;) While Madame Marisse didn't really exist - the standards did. The storyline at times made me giggle, and it was an enjoyable read. Note that Tyndale House sent me a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for sharing my opinion.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Bees in the Butterfly Garden was and OUTSTANDING BOOK!!!!  I loved the characters and how the author brought them to life in the historical period of high society New York. Mixing mystery, suspense, and forgiveness with God's mercy and grace and the romance it produced a great novel that I could not put down!!!
CharityU-Austenite More than 1 year ago
I’ll have to admit, first off, that this one had been on my to-read list for quite some time, ever since it came out, actually. But I hadn’t made any priority out of it…always thought it looked like a good read, but between the cover and title, I surmised that it was probably just a rather light and fluffy ultra-girly story, without anything in the way of real adventure between its covers. And then…I found it for free for my Kindle app. And boy was I ever wrong about the story! It was fast-moving, complex, had some drama, and was absolutely packed with all manner of adventures – it even included a dash of mystery to round it all out! All around, it was a good book that quite impressed me; I certainly look forward to reading the next book in the series. The title is actually quite accurate, as I figured out when it was worked smoothly into the story. :) I certainly recommend this book!
Lori2013 More than 1 year ago
Good book - light reading, interesting storyline, light romance without all the sex that other books have. Also has a thread of forgiveness woven throughout.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Really enjoyed this book. I could relate to the conflict between feelings of rebellion and choosing what is morally right. Bees in the Butterfly Garden has action, intrigue, romance, and some great surprises. A fun, clen story - appropriate for all teens and adults.
kristen4mk More than 1 year ago
Set in the Gilded Age, Meg Davenport is a young woman about to come of age who finds out - after his passing - that her father was not the rich businessman who had no time for her as she had long believed - but is, in fact, a thief. A very good one, but a thief nonetheless. His protege, Ian Maguire, about the same age as Meg, intends to take over as leader of the "family" business he left behind, and so does Brewster (a thief with no scruples and a bent towards violence); and a power play begins. To establish her right to be her father's daughter, Meg offers up the Pemberton family (extremely wealthy, and former classmates at Madame Marisse's, from whom she has an invitation to spend the summer and design their garden) and therefore potential access to their rumored gold. She proposes that she summer with them and discover what she can about the gold and then pass that information along. Will Meg be able to live successfully in both worlds? Will she and Ian find love? Will anyone do the right thing? I loved the quotes from both Madame Marisse's Handbook for Young Ladies as well as from thieves that begin each chapter. I loved the Pemberton family dynamic and their love and respect for each other (grace, mercy, or justice?) as well as their staff and friends. I enjoyed this book and definitely recommend it!
ThriftyTori 6 months ago
This was a very interesting book. I loved the plot of the this young girl finding her own path while struggling with the father she thought she had and her father's real way of life. The book is very well written bringing the characters to life. There were sections of the book that I felt was a little slow in developing, but in the end I really enjoyed the storyline. I give this book 4 out of 5 stars! * I received this book free in exchange for a honest review.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was absolutely amazing! I loved how meg had a rebellious side to her but also a polite side. The characters in the book were fabulously stunning in their roles. Please read thus book! It is worth the money!
CathyRN More than 1 year ago
I have read some other books by this author that I really enjoyed. The description of the story line sounded interesting but I was disappointed. I had to make myself finish the book as it just did not capture my interest. It was too long in my opinion. I will try other books by this author but this one just was not as good as her Great War series
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was different from what I usually read. I loved it. Will read more of hers.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I just finished reading this book and love it! The characters were interesting, I enjoyed the characters and reading about the culture during that time period. It was a great read full of substance, suspense, and characters you care about. The plot had me guessing at times but I especially loved how mercy and grace were talked about and explained. A wonderful uplifting book!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Was here
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. Once introduced, I knew that Meg and Ian were going to end up together but for a little while in there I was beginning to wonder if I had been mistaken. I loved how God worked on all of their hearts and slowly changed each person.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
good story and plot. a little slow of a read. would have enjoyed more of a storyline between Meg and Ian, rather than on how they wanted to be thieves.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I miss u ....
Anonymous More than 1 year ago