Cover Image: The Elusive Truth of Lily Temple

The Elusive Truth of Lily Temple

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Oh Lily Temple, if that’s your real name wink wink, you are such a great character. I just adored her character and thought she was so funny at times. She is an actress but also a great story teller. She is in a constant battle between reality and storytelling. To her it is easier to be in a story than face reality. Peter Driscoll is an investigator who is trying to locate a sapphire necklace which leads him to Lily. She happens to have said necklace in her possession. This leads to a partnership of sorts between the two as they help each other. And soon Lily realizes her need for God in her life and that He is the author of her story. I really enjoyed this story, there is so much happening that it’s hard to put into words but it’s just great. I did have a minor issue with the gypsy fortune teller, especially since this is a Christian book but felt that she was more shown to be someone who paid close attention to others than making actual predictions so that was a little better. Overall though I thought it was a great story.

I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book which I received from netgalley and the author. All views expressed are only my honest opinion.

Content: gypsy fortune teller

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This is a good story even though it rambles a bit. Would have been a great story if the God twaddle had been left out. Ambiguous ending didn’t help either. After all the discussion of 'justice must be done' it wasn’t clearly shown. Your supposed to have faith that it happened.

I don't mind books with characters being people of faith, But I find those marketed as Christian Fiction are too simplistic. The underlying message of 'just have faith in God and everything will fine', is easy out for an author.

When I originally requested ARC from Austenprose, I thought this was Historical Fiction. When I received the ARC through Netgalley, I realized it's Christian Fiction. I then Googled the Author and found her website with the heading "Hey, I’m Joanna, and I love Jesus.", in bold print. I almost immediately marked it DNF. But I read the first chapter, was intrigued and continued on. I did enjoy the mystery of the story. It had potential for more. Hence the 3 stars.

Glad I didn't spend money on this I would have been disappointed. I would read this author in the future if she wrote Historical Fiction without the proselytizing.

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Elusive? I’ll say. My mind has been roaming through this story trying to decipher this elusive truth of Lily Temple. Joanna Davidson Politano brilliantly gives us her thoughts in first person while the rest of the story is in third person. An amazing perspective combination that a lot of authors could not achieve.

I have to say that I love this story! The character of Lily Temple is built on the very definition of elusive for around 10 chapters while placing the reader on the edge of magical realism, wrapped in an ethereal fairytale and, then, whisked up in the throws of several mysteries. I actually gasped at a twist I didn’t see coming! Brilliant! I must also add that Peter Driscoll is an endearing hero that you just want to hug throughout the book.

Beyond the exceptional writing and skillful storylines, I can always count on Politano’s books being grounded in faith. This one explores the love of the Father…the true Gardner of our lives.

This book is suitable for teens and older with no inappropriate intimate scenes and no bad language. I received this book from the author/publisher free of charge, with no expectation of a positive review.

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“Can’t you feel him calling out to you from every story that wraps itself around your heart?”

I went into The Elusive Truth of Lily Temple by Joanna Davidson Politano, drawn by the premise of a secret private investigator, a mysterious silent film star, and a legendary missing sapphire. But what I actually experienced in the reading of this story was infinitely more beautiful and soul stirring. Oh, the plot was as delightful as I expected it to be and I couldn’t tear myself away from Lily and Peter and their sweet romance or the intriguing stories and cases told between them. Or the fascinating aspects of early silent film and the genius that was George Albert Smith’s contribution to the industry. But that’s not what I will remember most about this novel years from now. What will draw me back time and again is how Politano exquisitely demonstrates the power of stories and how they point us to THE Story.

"Because there was a great deal of truth in fiction – the sort too important to just be spoken outright. What heroism looked like. What it meant to love authentically. And more than anything, who the rescuer of our souls was. That was the truest story. The largest… He has written eternity in our hearts, and in every story we tell."

Fairy tales. Romance. Adventure. Missing treasure. Shipwrecks. Illusions. The Elusive Truth of Lily Temple has it all. And every bit of it acts as the most beautiful of arrows to the Gardener, the one who pursues us even through death itself so that we may have abundant life here and eternal life there. There was more than one occasion when I felt tears misting my eyes and a lump in my throat at how tenderly Politano expresses these parallels. And my own passion for how stories (some, in spite of themselves) ultimately reflect THE Story welled up in my heart until I very nearly hugged my kindle in a fit of dramatics that would have made Lily proud.

Bottom Line: Fiction fans, this is our book! The Elusive Truth of Lily Temple by Joanna Davidson Politano is a gorgeously-written love letter to the way fiction shapes our hearts and expresses truth like nothing else can. One which gently reminds us that “the hero on a quest, the hardship, the crisis and rescue… They’re all just a reflection” of the greatest Story ever written – and it uses each of those elements to make the point. I adored Lily in all her quirky endearingness (yes I made up that word) and her brokenness, Peter in his quiet steadiness and his unsung heroism, and the banter between them. And I alternated between grinning through their story and holding my breath as they climbed vines and dangled from chandeliers and ran for their lives. Needless to say, I was fully entertained by this delightful tale but I was also touched by the fact that, in trying to discover the elusive truth of Lily Temple, we discover some truth about ourselves too. This one will linger with me for quite some time to come, and I couldn’t be happier about it!

(I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book)

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If you love stories and storytelling (think fairy tales, Alice in Wonderland, Peter Pan, A Tale of Two Cities), this is the book for you. Essentially the book is comprised of Lily Temple telling her story, with smaller stories within the story--a bit Arabian Nights-esque (but not quite as convoluted). There's her past, which she doles out in the form of stories (so that one can't be certain which parts are true, until near the end). There's the movie she stars in, which we get installments of throughout the book. And there are other people's stories that she and Peter help complete in his job as an inquiry agent. At the same time, there are also moments that are very allegorical, with pretty unmistakable metaphors of God's love.

The author's writing is as lovely as ever, and its very literary quality enhances the story theme of the book. I wasn't surprised by the twists, but the author did, through Lily's stories, set them up for if one caught onto the right details. My main complaint is that the ending felt a little incomplete--I could have done with an epilogue ensuring that justice was served, rather than what seemed to me a rather ambiguous ending. And the cover looks 2-3 decades in the future, not that it actually impacts the story at all.

Thank you Revell and NetGalley for the complimentary e-book. I was not required to write a positive review, and all opinions are my own.

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This was such an incredible story woven together and it reads like a tribute to the power of stories. As patient Peter listened, the storyteller Lily learned to be vulnerable as piece by piece she revealed her life to him. Together these compassionate characters took risks to help others discover truth. In doing so, they discovered truths about themselves, their faith in God and about each other. I absolutely loved all the little references to famous tales within this big story. The author not only talked about the impact of wrapping truth within fiction, she demonstrated it! This romantic adventure makes you want to believe that even when hearts are broken, it is worth the risk to love and be loved. I received a copy of this book from the publisher. All opinions are my own.

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I really enjoy Joanna Davidson Politano’s writing style. Her latest, The Elusive Truth of Lily Temple, is Politano’s hallmark mix of intrigue, complexity, and surprising twists. Set in Edwardian England, readers embark on a journey to discover truth amid a whirlwind of fantastical stories. Amid corrupt legal systems, missing people, and a stolen jewel, Politano’s plot thickens as her characters discover a romance quite unexpected.

This book was truly a joy to read. With twists and turns that kept me guessing to the end, The Elusive Truth of Lily Temple delighted me from start to finish.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Netgalley. I was not required to provide a positive review. All opinions expressed are mine alone.

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“I accept your challenge, my dear flower. Change your story, your clothing, your name . . . but you’re still you, and I’ll find you.” Whimsical, enchanting, romantic, mysterious, inspiring! I adored figuring out the mystery of Lily Temple. Actress, storyteller, thief? This beautiful homage to fairytales and great storytelling captivated my imagination and didn’t let go. It’s a lyrical, gorgeously written story of redemption, seeking faith, finding love, and facing the realities of life. I loved the story within the story and the way these utterly endearing characters drew me in. I found myself missing them and can’t wait to reread the story knowing the full truth.

Lily Temple’s an enigma as she weaves her spell over audiences in the silent films she stars in and the stories she tells. When she’s accused of stealing a valuable sapphire known as the Briarwood Teardrop, Peter Driscoll, the man sent to retrieve it, finds himself enchanted not only by the beautiful supposed thief, but with the stories she tells. As he involves her in his investigations, he vows to discover who she really is.

I loved the journey this story took me on and the allusions to some of my absolute favorite stories of Alice in Wonderland, Peter Pan, A Tale of Two Cities, and fairytales by Hans Christian Anderson. I loved the way Lily is both Wendy and Peter Pan, the gifted storyteller who doesn’t want to grow up. I loved the lovely romance between Lily and Peter. Peter while firmly rooted in reality is besotted with Lily who’s his complete opposite. His desire to find the truth about her not only mends his broken heart, but helps her finally reconcile her past and find her connection back to the Master Gardener.

The setting is magical and I was thrilled to find that the gardens, legends, locations, and some of the people mentioned were real. The mystery definitely kept me guessing. I loved the way all the pieces came together leading to a stunning conclusion.

All the stars for this book! It’s easily one of my favorites by this author and I highly recommend it to inspirational, historical romance, fairytale, and classic literature fans. I received an advanced complimentary copy from the author and publisher. All opinions are my own and voluntarily provided.

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An intriguing mystery wrapped up in a fairy tale, where nothing is quite what it seems.

Lily Temple is a silent film star, knowing for spinning tales on the silver screen, but who is she really? Peter Discroll is a detective bent on solving the mystery of Lily Temple and the Briarwood Teardrop Sapphire that she keeps close to her.

The story unfolds in nonlinear fashion, that added to the mystery. Well told and complex, with stories within the stories. With truth hidden in fairy tales. I liked that Peter served as a solid reference point, strong in his faith and seeking justice throughout.

It took a while for me to appreciate the intricacy of the plot, with the interwoven stories and pathways that all make sense if you bide your time. Artfully written, with a solid core of faith, and a plot that keeps you guessing!

I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

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4.5 stars for this latest novel by Joanna Davidson Politano. Politano has a varied talent for writing, ranging from gothic to fantastical. This one is on the fantastical side of her writing and really pulled on the importance of story. Particularly THE Story - the greatest story ever told. I enjoyed how the author used written stories - referencing my favorite Dickens novel, verbal stories such as Lily learned from a valued friend, and stories told in the movies - all to harken back to the Love story that God tells in His Word about how He created us and woos us back to Him when we look to lesser things for fulfillment. Through this focus on story, I enjoyed learning some of the history of modern motion pictures and was thrilled to see in the author's note how much of that was factual.

This book had a wonderful overarching message, using wonderful characters, a great mystery and a sweet romance. Though the larger story was filled with the Biblical narrative, the faith thread throughout this one was more subtle in the details of the story itself. I think this book would have greater appeal to people who are naturally creative as there were some elements that felt a bit over my head, but it's a great read for anyone who enjoys stories, which let's face it, is all of us! Special thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for an advance e-copy of this novel. I was under no obligation to provide a review and the thoughts contained herein are my own.

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The Elusive Truth of Lily Temple by Joanna Davidson Politano is a gorgeous blend of beguiling Historical Fiction (do read the author's notes to learn about her inspiration), enchanting whimsy with slivers of fairy tales, mystery and romance. The thread of faith in God is a constant.

Peter Driscoll is in prison and cine-star Lily Temple, his beloved, is desperate to get him out. But how can she prove his innocence? Can they fully trust one another? Peter's clever detection and Lily's particular skillset complemented the case and partnership. One must sometimes become a chameleon for the greater good.

Hidden/stolen jewels in books pull me in, so the sapphire mystery was up my alley. I enjoyed the faith-based story, always refreshing. Lily is spunky yet not over the top and Peter is wonderful, creating an ideal backdrop for sweet romance. The garden descriptions are stunning! But what gripped me more than anything was the captivating writing, full of vitality and emotion. The quotes from Classics books at the beginning of the chapters added thoughtful detail. Very cliché but the writing really swept me away into another world!

My sincere thank you to Revell and NetGalley for providing me with a digital copy of this captivating novel which made my heart smile.

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3.5 stars
Lily Temple is a master storyteller. And as such, readers are never sure what in fact is the truth and what is a cleverly woven story with yards of fiction. Joanna Davidson Politano creates a whimsical narrative through Lily’s story. The prose is elegant and different from what readers are used to, as Lily immerses herself in a world of fairy tales.

Solicitor and inspector agent, Peter Driscoll is out to discover Lily’s connection to a famous sapphire that went missing years ago. As Peter pursues his case, Lily continues to spin stories though Peter – somehow – is able to deduce fact from fiction. And when readers are finally exposed to fact, a surprising connection is revealed – in true Politano form.

I admit that Lily’s character is difficult to like. She resists telling the truth for what it is, instead choosing to tell stories to make her point. Even when we discover why she is the way she is, it was still difficult to want to see a positive outcome for her. I never did connect with her – even when she did the noble thing at the very end of the story.

However, Peter Driscoll is the kind of hero that makes historical romance so engaging to read. He’s noble, honest, a hard-worker, kind, and everything good. He’s had a rough go of life and the friends he chooses are loyal to a fault, testifying to Peter’s solid character. Yet, he’s enchanted by Lily’s stories…

Beautiful prose, detailed setting, and delightful twists make this story a literary treat.

I received a copy from the publisher through NetGalley. All opinions expressed are my own

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Politano writes beautiful stories and I adored The Elusive Truth of Lily Temple.

The pacing is layered, thoughtful and a little bit slow, while being packed with depth and mystery.

Lily has many identities and a hidden past, but you can’t help but like her. She weave tales on screen as rich as the ones that have brought her comfort and hope in her own life. She teaches and explains life through the medium of story and she has a lot worth saying.

Peter is also an infinitely likable character. He has a rare gift of listening to people and hearing what they don’t say. He is a rescuer, a restorer and his role as private investigator is tied to his belief in God and his hope to help others. He sees beyond the surface and though he is initially resistant to Lily’s fairy stories he listens and he begins to unravel a story that needs to be told.

I loved the complexity of the book. Lily’s story, Peter’s story, the story of the Briarwood Sapphire and the tales of so many other characters come together in adventure, mystery, loss, hope, beauty and restoration. While I read and enjoy many novels that I’d describe as an afternoon snack, this tale is a rich meal that will stay with you long after you turn the last page.

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Oh - this book! These characters. This plot. The redemption! Deep struggles AND delights. Twists and turns. Absolutely gorgeous language and imagery and setting. I was THERE - in the garden, the prison, the mansion, on the screen, in the hearts of Lily and Peter, and more. This one will grab you from the first page, keep you engaged every page thereafter, and stick with you long after you close it.

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Trope: mystery
Steam level: 1

This author is new to me, and while I found her turns of phrase creative and the world-building and imagery well done, I was expecting more of a straight-ahead HR/mystery and was a bit lost here as the plot seemed to meander and stretch out over a few chapters too many. There are numerous references/homages to classic fiction such as Alice in Wonderland, as well as biblical and film analogies, some of which are effective, others seemingly meant just to distract (literary sleights of hand, so to speak). The ending is cute, but after reading the book for several days I guess I was hoping for something a bit more dramatic or deeper emotionally. Maybe I missed something?

Overall: this wasn't really my taste, but might appeal to those who are familiar with the author's writing and have read her previous books.

This is set to be released April 9. Thanks to the author, publisher, and Net Galley for this opportunity.

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I struggled with this book. I kept opening and closing it, but I did finish. As grateful as I am for the work put i to this book, I’m just not sure it was for me.

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I love Joanna Davidson Politano’s writing. She’s very talented and creative and weaves such beautiful stories that whisk the reader away to other lands and times. The Elusive Truth of Lily Temple is set in Edwardian England in 1903 and features Lily Temple, actress and spinner of fairy tales, and Peter Driscoll, an investigator who is tasked with finding the Briarwood Teardrop, currently in Lily’s possession.

This story is a cross between a fairy tale and a realistic story, and at times I couldn’t tell which was which. The characters were engaging and entertaining. I loved the way Peter interacted with Lily and came to understand her. I always enjoy Politano’s deep thoughts and meaning that she embeds in her stories. I recommend this author to those who enjoy creative historical fiction with hidden depths.

I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy from Revell through NetGalley. All opinions are my own.

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“Life itself is the most wonderful fairytale.” Hans Christian Anderson
Charming tale about Lily Temple, fairy like but human, whose identity changes as often as the roles she plays in silent films. Her past is shadowed in mystery and is connected to a blue sapphire gem that its owner wants found and returned. She tells her story as a parallel to my favorite Dickens: A Tale Of Two Cities. And her story is so like ours and the search for the Creator and Master Gardener, God. Profoundly stirring and full of allegory- the story of ultimate life changing truth. “There is a great deal of truth in fiction and more than anything, who the rescuer of our souls was.” “ God has placed eternity in the hearts of mam.”
Mysterious and intriguing with an admirable hero in Peter Driscoll as well as notable supporting characters. It was remarkable to find the setting and legend of St. Anne’s Well Gardens and some of the characters were real.
Exquisitely told story of love, loss, redemption and setting things right. This is easily beyond 5 stars for me.
* I received a complimentary copy of the book from Revell on behalf of the author and via NetGalley. I was not required

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I had a feeling I was going to love this book and I am so happy to say that was the case! I’m not surprised because Joanna Davidson Politano is one of my absolute favorite authors and I always love her books. This one was no exception. It was beautifully whimsical and original, filled with themes of restoration and hope. I was swept away to 1903 England to a world of fairytales, secrets, and romance by Joanna’s poetic writing. I loved every minute reading it!

I absolutely loved how Lily’s story slowly unfolds. At first her story is a complete mystery that is only hinted at, but chapter by chapter, it’s slowly revealed in all its complexity. And so is her character. At first, Lily is as elusive to you as the reader as she is to investigator Peter Driscoll. She is full of secrets and mystery but as the story progresses, she reveals her story a little at the time. The way the story is told made the book that much more suspenseful and compelling. I loved that Lily’s POV is written in first person! It made me feel really connected to her character.

Peter Driscoll was such a lovable hero with his steadiness, integrity, and intelligence. I loved his desire to help restore broken stories and bring truth to light. He’s the calm-to-the-storm kind of hero and I truly love those type of heroes! He was the perfect match for Lily!

The romance was beautiful! It made me feel the way the romance in a good classic movie does and I loved it. I loved their banter, their adventures, their friendship-to-more. They were such a fun couple to read about!

This book had the kind of dreamy setting that made me want to spend a day in a beautiful garden or cozy cottage with a cup of tea. It was wonderful!
It was also so neat to learn a little about silent films, something I’ve never read about.

The highlight of this novel for me was without a doubt the faith content. It was woven into this story so beautifully! The message touched my soul. It left me feeling so hopeful and inspired as I was reminded of a beautiful truth. For me, that is the best feeling I can have after finishing a book.

In conclusion, I absolutely loved this book! It did more than entertain me— it made me think about why I love stories so much and left me inspired.
If you love books that include elements of fairytales, faith, and secret identities, I think you’ll love this book!

*Thank you to the publisher for sending me a complimentary copy! All opinions are my own.

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"It's a remarkable moment, seeing a story come full circle, and they eventually do, it seemed. That's when you know they are complete. Romances end on a series of repeated notes from the beginning of the melody, terrified heroes face down the dragons that once defeated them. Broken people return to the rocks that broke them...and find healing. Those final moments, the way the circle closed, made a story what it was --tragedy, irony , or happily ever after."

What a story this is!! The Elusive Truth of Lily Temple, by Joanna Davidson Politano is a captivating tale of mystery, romance, and the complexities of unraveling the truth. Set against the backdrop of Edwardian England, this novel transports readers into a world of silent films, and hidden secrets.

Lily Temple is a story with a story, where fact and fiction are so deeply entwined it took me a couple chapters to deliniate between the story telling and the story itself. Lily herself is an enimga with a deeply guarded and secret past. She believes in the power of a well told story and somewhere buried within her stories lies the truth of her past.

Joanna Davidson Politano is one of my most favorite authors. I can count on her books to be deeply layered with interesting characters and an intriguing storyline. This book met and exceeded all my expectations! I loved the patience of our inquiry agent Peter, who listened and understood Lily. The nods to Alice in Wonderland that were woven throughout. The intricacies of film making and secrets behind the movie magic were interesting and fun to read. Like "ah-ha" moments.

The Elusive Truth of Lily Temple continually points the reader to the Gardener. The One who cares for us in our own story. The One who lovingly prunes and waters. The One who is the source of life.

I can hardly wait to read whatever Joanna writes next!

Read if you like:
Fairy Tales
Faith Thread

Thank you, Joanna Davidson Politano, Revell Fiction and Net Galley for the complimentary copy of this book. The opinions express here are my own.

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