Size: 6.00 x 9.00 in
Size: 13.80 x 21.40 cm
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…
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Publisher: Manifold Press
Heat Level: 4
Romantic Content: 4
Ending: Click here to reveal
Character Identities: Bisexual, Gay
Protagonist 1 Age: 26-35
Protagonist 2 Age: 26-35
Tropes: Friends to Lovers
Word Count: 57000
Languages Available: English, French
Series Type: Continuous / Same Characters
The plane was due in just after seven in the morning. Dave made sure he was there in plenty of time, even though the Englishman would need to go through passport control, collect his luggage, and then get through quarantine. All of which would take an hour, probably – but it would be just Dave’s luck if he turned up at eight to find that the earl’s son had been processed as a VIP or some such thing, and had been waiting on him ever since.READ MORE
Dave found a place to lean on the waist-high barriers with the drivers and others carrying signs. His own read GORING. That was the guy’s name. Nicholas Goring. Which perhaps made his father Earl Goring, or was it the Earl of Goring … ? When Dave wasn’t chatting in an early morning haze to his current companions, he spent the time trying to remember whether he’d had any clue about whether Nicholas was the eldest son or not – and if he was, whether that meant Dave should address him as ‘my lord’ or as ‘sir’. He’d looked it up on Wikipedia, realised he’d need to email the butler for more information, and then promptly let it all slip his mind.
He was kicking himself, metaphorically at least. He was always more professional than this. Always. And all right, maybe titles didn’t matter very much – though he was sure they’d matter more to an Englishman than an Australian – but no one could afford to be this slapdash in the Outback. Why would Goring trust Dave with his life, if he couldn’t even get this detail right?
Dave sighed, and watched in a desultory way as the passengers from other flights straggled through. No one looked their best after a 24-hour flight. No one. This pair now, for instance – a father and a young daughter, Dave assumed – appeared beyond tired, irritable, dishevelled, unhappy. That all fell away, however, as they were greeted by an older couple. The man’s parents, the girl’s grandparents: they had to be. Faces brightened, postures lifted, hugs all round.
It would take a miracle to perform the same transformation on the next pair who came through the gates, though. A married couple, perhaps, whose marriage didn’t look like it would survive the rigours of an international flight. Dave and Denny had done that once, of course – headed off on the obligatory backpacking holiday in their late teens. They’d done all right together, despite having laughably little money and even less sense. But then, they’d always been friends first, and a best mate could see you through anything. They’d taken turns seeing each other through.
Dave tried not to sigh again, and then tried not to yawn, as he absently watched the next fellow come through. The luggage came first, on a trolley, and the guy came after it, almost tumbling as he negotiated the doors and got a foot caught against the trolley wheel. Everything teetered as he tried to break free, prevent the door from slamming closed, and head down along the barriers to his right, all at the same time. He almost succeeded in achieving all those things, and probably would have, too, if he hadn’t suddenly decided to head to his left instead. He went sprawling on the floor, long limbs everywhere, while the trolley trundled off by itself for a few feet and finally came to a lame kind of halt.
Dave felt for the guy, he really did. Just his luck if he was meeting his lover at the airport or something, and had managed to klutz out entirely. Everyone was either tactfully looking somewhere else, or smiling ruefully at the guy. There wasn’t anyone nearby to help him up, because none of them were dumb enough to go past the barrier; security didn’t seem to have noticed yet, and for now the klutz was the only arriving passenger.
And he was still lying there on the floor … Why on earth was he still down there on the cold hard floor? He hadn’t broken something, had he? Dave looked at him – properly – with a frown. Considered each of those gangly limbs, but they seemed to be whole. He wasn’t lying at an awkward angle or anything. But his head was tilted back, and he was grinning a bit stupidly … and he was looking right back at Dave!
Which would have been fine, except that once he realised Dave was looking back, the guy seemed to wink. Or was that blink? But upside down like that, his smile seemed to have a wicked kick to it – and really, if they were in any other situation at all, if this wasn’t early morning at an international airport, Dave might have thought the guy was checking him out …
He turned away with a bit of a grimace, kind of a sneer. Which wasn’t like him, not really, and he wasn’t prejudiced, he’d swear it, but honestly it was way too early for lascivious stares from awkward strangers of the wrong gender. It just was.
A moment later he regretted the rudeness, of course, and his heart thudded once, punishingly. He turned back to see if he’d given offence, and perhaps to offer an apologetic shrug. But security had finally arrived, and were helping the guy up to his feet, dusting him off, making sure he would remain upright for now, retrieving his bags. Listening to him chat, and apparently letting themselves be charmed into deciding him harmless.
Dave watched, vaguely glad that everything seemed to be in order. Until they were past the barriers, and the guards ushered the guy out towards the exits, and he declined to go. Instead he turned, and his searching gaze soon landed on Dave again. Dave stood up slowly, warily, as the man approached with the guards trailing behind with matching frowns.
“I believe you’re looking for me,” the guy said in a cultured English accent.
“What?” Dave replied stupidly.
A long pale hand indicated the sign Dave carried. “I’m Nicholas Goring.”
The corner of his mouth kicked slightly, though the man was no longer smiling. “Just sir will do.”COLLAPSE
Feliz on Reviews by Jessewave wrote:
The banter between Nicholas and Davey is fantastic. Humorous, natural and thoroughly entertaining in itself, but also meaningful and with a depth of emotion behind the words. I could have listened to these guys all day. … Beautiful and descriptive, Julie took me on a literary journey through the Australian Outback. To magical and enchanting places, but getting there was an adventure. … This for me was the beauty of the whole story, the most amazing things happen when you’re not looking for them. I loved Charlie, a wise native to Australia who is rooted in Dreamtime folklore, gave the story the magical touch. I adored the way Julie wrote about this character … The writing has a depth of empathy that makes you feel the characters, sharing their bit of paradise in the Australian Outback.
Dianne on Goodreads wrote:
This book was enchanting, with finely drawn, adorable characters and a delicate, tender love story that was to die for. … 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. … 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.
Can I give 10 stars??!! Gorgeous writing, unforgettable setting, gorgeous writing, the characterizations of Dave and Nicholas are amazing (as is their relationship), gorgeous writing, lovely symbolism, and did I mention... gorgeous writing?! Butterfly Hunter has instantly become one of my favorite reads... ever.
Honourable Mention in the Rainbow Awards 2012, in the category One Perfect Score.
Selected as a Prism Book Alliance Recommended Read in February 2015.