Title: Of Dreams and Ceremonies (Butterfly Hunter #2)
Author: Julie Bozza
Publisher: Manifold Press
Buy link: Amazon.com
Length: novel (46 k words/ 248 pages)
Rating: 4.75 out of 5 rating stars
A Guest Review by Feliz
Summary Review: Nicholas and Dave’s romance continues in this delightfully British tale of three weddings (and no funeral).
The Blurb: It seemed like a great idea at the time… Aussie Dave Taylor has followed Nicholas Goring to England, and the lovers have become engaged. But now Dave has to cope with living in a mansion full of family and servants, making wedding plans, getting his head around visa applications, and wondering why on earth he’d ever want to wear a ‘mourning suit’. He’s not sure if it will prove any easier, but right now Dave would love to just skip ahead to the honeymoon…
The Review: This is the sequel to Butterfly Hunter which I reviewed here and the second book in the Butterfly Hunter Trilogy. For those who enjoyed Butterfly Hunter, this one here is a must-read–who wouldn’t want to know what happened after Dave’s and Nicholas’s helter-skelter engagement to marry?
Well, what happens is a marriage, of course. The world might call it a civil union ceremony, but to Nicholas, it’s a wedding celebration, and he’s determined to make it a memorable one, complete with flowers and guests and formal dinner at the manor and matching morning suits for groom and groom.
Which, in turn, frightens Dave a little. For one, why on earth would he wear a “mourning suit” for his wedding? And once that misunderstanding is cleared up, Dave puts his foot down; since he hasn’t even worn a suit for his father’s funeral, why would he wear a suit–of any kind–now? Luckily, Dave’s former girlfriend Denise is as resourceful as ever and comes up with a solution that suits all parties and helps avoiding Dave’s and Nicholas’s first marital strife before they’re even married.
While Nicholas throws himself with his usual ardent zeal into the wedding preparations, Dave feels a little overwhelmed by all the foreign-ness coming at him, starting from living in a manor house with a big family and servants (who in fact didn’t only feel and act last-century to Dave, but to me as the reader too–an effect that might’ve been intentional, but struck me as taking the cliche a tad too far) and not ending with the many obstacles the Australian Immigration regulations put into the way of Nicholas moving to Australia permanently. (From the latter fact accidentally evolved a delicious blog Nicholas started to keep which provided some of this books best poetic lines.) Although the commitment ceremony is as perfect as it can be, Dave is more than relieved once it is over and done with and he can escape with his new husband to their honeymoon cottage by the sea.
As Butterfly Hunter was pervaded by the spirit of Australia and the Dreamtime, so to speak, it’s “merry old England” that waves a hand in Of Dreams and Ceremonies. From the cottage where Dave and Nicolas spend their honeymoon to the supposedly haunted stone circle right on their doorstep, from the eccentric characters they encounter in the nearby fishing village to their quirky secret-tunnels-and-hidden-trapdoors adventure–I enjoyed the tongue-in-cheek references to “typically British” storylines including Enid Blyton’s Fabulous Five.
In spite of that, like with the Goring family’s servants I found the whole “ye olde” aspect layered on a bit too thick for my taste. Not to mention the fact that practically everybody simply accepted Nicholas and Dave as a gay married couple–the one expression of disapproval they encountered consequentially seemed forced, apparently only put into the story in order to break up the overall OK-gay world.
Otherwise the honeymoon portion of the story read to me like Nicholas’s symbolic goodbye to his childhood home (I figure he must’ve grown up reading all those stories referenced and quoted here). At the same time, the honeymoon time also stood for the beginning of a new period in Dave and Nicholas’s lives–breaking old habits and making new ones, raising questions and finding answers together, building and reinforcing mutual trust, with the handfasting ceremony that married them to each other for the second time as a fitting completion.
However, it isn’t before they go back to Australia that their new life really begins–and it does so with a song and a dance, quite literally, as they’re both invited to take part in a Dreamtime ceremony by Charlie, their Australian Native friend. Thus, their commitment is once again approved–as if along with society, Dave’s and Nicholas’s respective home countries personally gave their blessing to the union of those two men.
Once again, the characters carried the story along. Nicholas is as sweet, strong-willed and adventurous as ever, and Dave is brave and determined and always remains Nicholas’s unshakeably faithful rock. I loved how both Nicholas and Dave remained true to themselves while at the same time, they managed to grow toward each other, making a stronger couple in the end. Amazingly done and embedded in a smoothly flowing, at times almost poetic narrative laced with this author’s trademark gentley mocking humor–despite some minor niggles, this was a worthy sequel to a wonderful book and a treat to read.