Butterfly Hunter

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Title: Butterfly Hunter
Author: Julie Bozza
Publisher: Manifold Press
Cover Art: Instinia Photography/ Dreamstime.com
Length: Novel (57 k words)
Genre: Contemporary m/m romance
Rating: 5+ stars, DIK

A Guest Review by Feliz

Summary Review: What a beautiful story.

 

The Blurb: It started as a simple assignment for Aussie bush guide Dave Taylor – escort a lone Englishman in quest of an unknown species of butterfly. However Nicholas Goring is no ordinary tourist, his search is far from straightforward, and it’s starting to look as if the butterflies don’t want to be found. As Dave teaches Nicholas everything he needs to survive in the Outback he discovers that he too has quite a bit to learn – and that very often the best way to locate something really important is just not to want to find it…

The Review:
This  story bypassed my conscious brain and went straight to my heart, just the same way a new puppy eases into your bed despite your best intentions, and one morning you wake up to a velvety little snout nestled into the crook of your neck and you wonder how it came to be there, but at the same time you won’t even think about doing something about it because you’re much too blissfully happy to have it right there. Just the same way the love for Nicholas sneaked up to Dave, and when he finally recognized it for what it was, he didn’t think about fighting it anymore. He just let himself sink into it and be lead by it much the same way he’d let himself be led for most of his life by his friend Denise.

For, you see, most of his life Dave thought he was straight. Actually, he didn’t give that particular aspect of himself that much thought; all he knew he was one half of Denny and Davey from their first day in kindergarden. He always assumed that, in good time, he’d settle down and make babies with her. So when the book starts, more than a year after Denise left him, Dave is holding the baby she made with another man and still wondering the hell out of what happened and why this delicate little thing isn’t his.

It’s the same day on which he meets Nicholas, or rather the day on which Nicholas blunders into his life–literally, as when Dave sees him for the first time, Nicholas is smiling at him upside down from an airport floor where he ended up after tripping over his own feet.

What brought them together in the first place is the fact that Dave is a tour guide to the Australian outback and Nicholas hired him to go hunting for a mysterious blue butterfly–mysterious insofar as nobody’s really sure if this butterfly exists at all. Nicholas is English, an earl’s son (which has Denise name him an earling), he’s a quarter French and, in his own words, “incorrigibly gay”. And from the very first moment, starting with that upside-down smile at the airport, he’s as plain as can be about being attracted to Dave.

And now it’s Dave’s world that gets turned on its head, because he finds himself responding to the signals Nicholas sends his way, and how can that be? He’s a woman’s man, a one-woman-man to be precise, everybody knows that, so why is he cataloguing the one-thousand-and-one different ways in which Nicholas smiles, why did he match the color of the Akubra hat he bought for Nicholas to the man’s eyes, and why would he break his firmest rules for him?

As they slowly approach Nicholas’s improbable goal, their relationship changes, shifts, evolves as naturally and inevitably as a caterpillar becomes pupa becomes butterfly. But a butterfly’s lifespan is short. What will happen when Nicholas returns to England?

This book was enchanting, with finely drawn, adorable characters and a delicate, tender love story that was to die for. Even the slightly sappy ending had a beauty of its own; it was a secretly shameful pleasure to read, like a brush of Bob Ross on a  Leonardo, and I just savored it, whipped cream, candied cherry and all.

The characters are the backbone to this story. Both Dave and Nicholas were lonely souls (though otherwise fully capable of looking after themselves). The increasingly intense emotions between them never took away from their dignity or their masculinity. The supporting cast,  Denise and Charlie and the other people they encountered during their quest were sometimes only sketched with a few strokes of the pen, but recognizable personalities in their own right.

However, it’s in equal parts the setting that makes this tale so special.  As I said above, this is a quiet read, unspectacular and timeless, though nothing less than boring,  just like the landscape in which it is set. In fact, it is almost as if the land was a character in and of itself, and it lends this book a solid reality as well as a hint of magic with the mystery that is the Dreamtime, interwoven strong and palpable with the storyline in a respectful and unobtrusive way.

But the greatest lure of this book lay in the writing itself, which was exquisite. There was easy, smooth narrative and sparkling, lively dialogue, both laced with just the right dose of  humor and tongue-in-cheek, and then, without warning, we stumble upon little gems of prose like this:

“… [Nicholas] sat there, offering a dazed smile to Dave, and said,”I just looked up.”
“Oh yes.The sky.”
“It’s rather larger than the one we have at home.”
Dave put his head back and looked up. There wasn’t a cloud to interrupt the enormous arc of pure blue, which if you didn’t –scarily–let into your soul, would indeed make anyone feel insignificant. Dave huffed a breath.
“You matter to me. If not to the sky.”

Passages like this made me sigh in contentment and longing, and, to quote the friend who recommended this to me, I went to bed hugging my reader, dreaming of acacia scrub and falling up into endless skies, and of adorably shy Australian outback guides and English earlings.

I’ve read this book in one go, I’ve reread it, and I’m likely to read it many times over. But in the end, what it comes down to it is what most anybody I know contented themselves with saying after reading it, as trite as it is, since just no other words seem appropriate:

What a beautiful story.

32 thoughts on “Butterfly Hunter

  1. Gaycrow

    What a lovely review, Feliz!

    I loved this story, too, and was left wanting more of Dave and his earling. *fingers crossed* I think the author may have a sequel in mind. :smile:

    1. Feliz Post author

      Thanks, gaycrow, and yes, as far as I know, she’s planning more for Dave and Nicholas (according to her homepage)
      On a different note, it’s been eleven years since I last visited with my friend in Quilpie, but this book had me right back there, to the bush, and I could hear and smell it once again. I want to go back so badly!

  2. Wave

    Lovely review Feliz. Now I have to read this story so that I can meet Dave and Nicolas and savour their romance. :biglove:

  3. Cosmonaut

    Wow, this is a wonderful review. You make me want to buy it now and read it this second (everything’s closed as Issac finishes it pass by South Fl.). I’ll definitely be checking this one out. Thanks

      1. Cosmonaut

        Thanks, all is well. I’m on the southeast side of Florida, so we just got a lot of rain (started Fri. evening) and a little bit of wind.

    1. Feliz Post author

      As far as I know, this is quite different from the Albert J Sterne, but terrific? You bet. ;-) At least I thought so… :grin:

  4. Anja B.

    Wonderful review, Feliz! It instantly made me buy this book. But what a dissapointment that the publisher takes your money and then makes you wait 48-72 hours (at least that is stated in the delivery conditions) until they email you the book. Unbelievable!

    1. Feliz Post author

      No worries, Anja, most of the time it doesn’t take them this long. I had this in my email inbox about two hours after ordering it, and that was on a sunday! At Manifold, books are still hand-delivered in a way, as there’s a real life person filling your order. I actually like this publisher, I think they are very thorough in everything they do, so for me, the wait was a small price to pay for a high-quality product ;-)

    1. Feliz Post author

      You’re welcome Mercedes! And you’re right, it’s only available from Manifold directly. If you click on the title in the body of the review, right next to the cover picture, this is the buy link. It’ll take you directly to the publisher (the publisher’s name is a link, too)

  5. pea

    What a recommendation! I have to admit, I’ve been so impressed with Manifold’s releases – I don’t think I’ve read a book from that press that I haven’t liked. Off to order this one…

  6. rdafan7

    I also ordered this based on your review, and it doesn’t bother me that it is not delivered right away, really only takes a few hours…can’t wait to read it!

    1. Feliz Post author

      Hi Pea and Rdafan,

      it’s really not that often that I’m like 5+stars impressed with a book. But when it happens, I tend to get carried away… :grin:

      Enjoy!

  7. Treasure

    I really wanted to buy this book after reading the review, but the publisher does not make it easy. As of last night it was not available on Amazon, All Romance, Fictionwise. It does look like it’s only available from the publisher. Price listed is in pounds not dollars. I couldn’t find a conversion button on their website. so I don’t know what the price is in in my currency. Publisher only has one way to pay and that’s through paypal. I don’t have and don’t want a paypal account. Added to the hassle of having to get the book on my kindle I ended up passing. Maybe it will be available one day when I can know the price in my currency, can easily download it and pay for it as I want. it’s a shame it sounds like a great book

    1. Feliz Post author

      Hi Treasure,

      what you experienced is a quirk of Manifold’s that initially bothered me, too. Of course, IF you have a paypal account, currency is not a problem ’cause paypal does the conversion for you, but without paypal…well. Furthermmore, none of their books is, to my knowledge, available on amazon or any other site for that matter. Remains to be seen if they’ll change this or not in the future.

    2. Enny

      I loved this books as much as Felix did and I very much recommend it! I sometimes think that after having read so many mm books, I’m easily bored since all the plots seems to get recycled. The blurb doesn’t sound like a typical gay-for-you story but I was utterly charmed by it. It shows that the difference on how good a book is all in the writing.

      I took a quick look and in the past Manifold made their books available at ARe after approximately one month. I guess that’s because the authors and the publisher earn more that way (Amazon and ARe take a hefty cut for their services) and I think that’s only fair. For some publishers the waiting period is even longer (for instance 3 months for Total-E-Bound books) so hopefully you’ll be able to read it soon.

      I had no problems with my order at all. It took them 2 hours to send the book to me. You don’t have to have an account in order to pay through PayPal, just a credit card and I like the added security. I once bought a book from another publisher but there was no download link. 5 days and four emails later I still hadn’t heard from them so I complained to PayPal and 15 minutes later, I had my money back.

    3. riga

      Treasure, I’m in the same boat as you. I refuse to ever use Paypal again due to their lovely policies, especially their habit of using their power to censor what we can read online.

      This book sounds great, and if I could buy it any other way, I would. If my first opportunity to do so will be in THREE MONTHS, practically, I have no idea if my book budget will even have room for it. There will be other books coming out that I might want more than this one by that time. Who knows.

      I realize this is a small outfit, but having only one way for people to buy when the book is getting a (relative) flood of favorable publicity NOW just seems foolish and short-sighted.

  8. Pea

    Manifold Press does publish some books through All Romance eBooks, including the author’s Definitive Albert J. Sterne. As I understand it, the Press is very, very small, so it may take a little while for other titles to be uploaded at ARe or Rainbow eBooks (through which they also sell their books). Perhaps you should email them and ask that the book be made available through these sites?

  9. Wave

    This is what Manifold told me about their process yesterday:

    Manifold releases two titles only four times a year – February, May, August and November. When the new books come out, the previous month’s books join their stable-companions at All Romance eBooks and Rainbow eBooks.

    I hope this helps.

  10. Aunt Lynn

    Oh. My. God. Loved it!! What a great, unusual story. So wonderful, one of the best books I’ve read in a long while. I haven’t read a story by this author that I haven’t liked. Thanks Feliz.

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