Dave is an Australian bush guide with a new client. He is going to escort, Nicholas, the son of an English earl, on his quest for an undiscovered butterfly. When Nicholas first sees Dave, he falls at his feet as he is so distracted by the sight of him. But Dave is straight and has only ever loved one woman.
Dave must teach Nicholas everything he knows about how to survive in the Outback as the search takes them through uncharted territory as the butterflies remain elusive. The men work well together and Nicholas makes it known that he is attracted to Dave. Dave cannot wrap his head around what he feels for Nicholas as the sight of the man’s many smiles and long pale fingers calls to him. Just as a butterfly transforms and changes, so will Dave as Nicholas becomes a need for him that he cannot live without.
Butterfly Hunter is at times sweet, at times romantic, at times lyrical and poetic, and mostly it is easy. There was also much of it that was slow and there was much of it that went unanswered and unexplained. Perhaps it was too much of those things for me all at once. Just like every book I read, I really wanted to love this one as there were so many things that called to me. Dave is not a happy man, but he is not particularly unhappy either. The only woman he has ever loved is married with a child, yet they remain the very best of friends. There is no explanation of their relationship, why they broke up, or why Dave is so emotionally stuck where he is. He is the best at what he does and Nicholas’ trip was arranged through the family butler with the cryptic message for Dave to take extra good care of Nicholas.
Nicholas arrives and the two set off on their trip. They click instantly as friends and are able to instinctively read each other with few words. That was great for Nicholas and Dave, yet not so great for me. There was a lot of the story I felt I was missing, some from the butterfly explanations and some from the development of their relationship. There were also specific Australian culture references that felt like the author expected each reader to have a full working knowledge of the stories beforehand. Dave has never been with a man and he is attracted to Nicholas at first in small subtle ways. There are times where this works well as Dave realizes that Nicholas was “so unexpected yet so necessary.” When Dave realizes he is in love with Nicholas, it becomes less about being with a man and more about Dave just being in love with Nicholas. While it speaks to the theme of loving the person not the gender, there was no discussion about Dave having a relationship with a man and everyone was completely on board with no questions asked. I needed a little more from Dave as he was completely changing his entire life.
The butterfly expedition is to find these elusive butterflies that nobody is sure really exist, yet it was fairly easy for the men to find them. The whole tone of the book has a sense of being fleeting and some things just are without explanation. There were times that the men spoke to each other in such a soft manner it became child-like. When Nicholas offers Dave a look into what is really going on with him it is a substantial life altering situation yet there is no resolution or even a follow-up conversation. Life just continues on and the men don’t talk about their relationship either beginning or ending. There were a few passages that read like the story was being retold from a later point in time and it pulled me out of what was a present day story. At the end, I was left with the feeling that I was not given enough to really get to know either of the men. The times that Nicholas and Dave were strongly connecting with each other had some sweetness and there are many passages that are well written, but overall a lot of it fell flat for me. I would say that there is definitely an audience for this book and I would suggest it if you wanted a slower build with characters that are more proper than passionate.