A Guest Review by Aunt Lynn
One Sentence Review: I was good until the Bickering BMs came to visit and stayed a while.
When a heat wave wrecks Nolan Brooks’ rental car, leaving him stranded in a sleepy little Tennessee town, the goal of spending the summer running his best friend’s beachside bar begins to flutter out of reach. He’s trying to be responsible and ambitious for the first time in his life, and spending the weekend at a local festival celebrating the migration of the Purple Lacewing butterfly doesn’t fit into those plans.
But he’s stuck for the duration, and making the best of a bad situation doesn’t seem so difficult when a shortage of hotel rooms means he’s spending it with the charming, if mysterious, Gray Ashton. Gray isn’t too fond of tourists, but despite his misgivings it seems he’ll make an exception for Nolan.
When Nolan succumbs to the charms of the town, the butterflies and Gray, he has to re-evaluate what he really wants. But the secrets in Gray’s past and the obligations in Nolan’s future won’t make that any easier than chasing butterflies.
Chasing Butterflies is the first book by this author that I’ve read, and although I had some issues with it, I think I’d pick up something else by her as I thought the writing was generally good.
Nolan is on his was from Cincinnati to Savannah to spend two months looking after the sea-side bar of a good friend while he is vacationing. Unfortunately known for being irresponsible and somewhat foolish — just ask his ex, Elias — he’s trying to turn that around by fulfilling the promise he made, but it seems that the weather gods have conspired against him as one of the worst heat waves has struck the east, and no matter how he tries to get there, he is blocked. Renting a car after all flights are canceled, he breaks down on the outskirts of a small, dusty, hot town in Tennessee, the residents and visitors of which are waiting patiently for the return of a rare butterfly that makes a stop in its southerly migration to begin the annual festival. Grabbing the last available room at the inn, he meets Gray, a local trying unsuccessfully to get a room off the proprietor and who isn’t so trusting of out-of-towners. Asking to share Nolan’s, Gray works his way into the room and into his heart, the last thing Nolan really wants since he’s getting the heck outta Dodge the minute the car is fixed. But after a few days he falls for the town in addition to Gray, even though it’s clear that Gray is hiding something that happened in his past, something that gets in the way of them getting close. Nolan must leave as soon as he can, but what happens after that?
What I liked:
I thought this Doc Hollywood-meets-M/M story started out just fine. I found myself liking Nolan, though I felt he was a bit hard on himself around the whole irresponsibility thing (more on this later). I thought the overall plot was credible. The smexxin was hawt, and I bought the chemistry between our heroes. I adored wedding-cake-and-cookie-master and innkeeper Loreena, who is described as “Dolly Parton’s long-lost cousin gone wild in a bakery,” and how Nolan feared for his safety: “If Loreena puffed out any more with pride, Nolan feared she’d take his eye out.”
What I didn’t:
My biggest issue is that this book suffers from what I am calling the Bickering BMs; I am not fond of either bickering as interaction or the Big Misunderstanding as a plot device, and here we have both. There isn’t even just one BM, either, and much of the second half of the book is spent arguing while in the throes of the BMs. Not a good time, in my opinion.
As the story progressed, Nolan’s putting himself down with the “I’m an irresponsible, unambitious loser” self-esteem issues he had kinda wore on me. The fact that his ex, Elias, constantly mentioned it as well just made it worse. Actually, I’m not sure what Elias’s role was except to drive home to us that he was an emotionally abusive prick. Additionally, based on what we know about Elias, his appearance later in the book didn’t make sense to me. My impression is that he was done with Nolan, preferring him o continue to make and deal with his own mistakes.
Lastly, there is a part at the very end where Nolan tells Gray of what he had been up to before he returned, but it isn’t a conversation on the page. What I mean by that is the copy says “As dispassionately as he could, he told Gray about the meeting with Davey’s business advisors,” and he proceeds to tell us, the reader, about it through his memory of it. I would have really liked to have been part of the conversation, where we could gauge Gray and his reactions.
Despite several issues I had with Chasing Butterflies, I think I’d try another story by Cat Kane.