Category Archives: The Apothecary’s Garden

The Apothecary’s Garden

The Apothecary's Garden ebook coverBlurb: Hilary Kent, a Londoner all his working life, retires to Wiltshire after an estranged cousin unexpectedly leaves him an inhabitable tower surrounded by an overgrown physic garden – and that’s when graduate student Tom Laurence suddenly erupts into his life, convincing him that together they can restore the ancient garden to its former glory. Tom’s cheerful friendship is the best thing that’s ever happened to Hilary and he’s perfectly content with that until, to his astonishment and confusion, it seems that Tom’s affection for him is beginning to grow into something more … something he feels he probably shouldn’t allow.

Genre: male-male romance; contemporary; May/December; novel

Word count: 71,000

Click here for an excerpt of text, and here for the reviews.

Awards:

  • Eighth place in the Best Gay Contemporary Romance (William Neale Award) category in the 2013 Rainbow Awards.
  • Nominations in the M/M Romance Group Member’s Choice Awards 2013 on Goodreads, in the following categories:
    • Best Contemporary (genre)
    • Best Friends to Lovers (theme)
  • Nomination in the M/M Romance Group Member’s Choice Awards 2014 on Goodreads, in category Favorite All-Time Romance.

Available in ebook format from:

Available in paperback format from:

Available in audiobook format, narrated by Mark Steadman, from:

reviews: The Apothecary’s Garden

My age-difference male-male romance, The Apothecary’s Garden, is receiving some lovely attention on Goodreads – and now five substantive reviews as well! Thank you to everyone who’s giving this one a go. ♥

My Reviews and Ramblings: from Elisa

Excerpt: This was quite a beautiful romance, and strange enough, while the pace was slow, for various reason I will explain, the story wasn’t at all boring, and actually it was captivating, like a blanket wrapping you in winter, letting no desire to go out of your nestle. … I liked how respectful the author was of these two men, and how she didn’t deprive them of the sexual nature of their relationship. Tom is 23 years old and it would be unbelievable if he hadn’t desires; sure their love making is different from that of two twenty something fellows, but nevertheless is satisfying for the both of them.

Bachelors and Bombshells Book Reviews: 5 smooches from Runell

Excerpt: I can only hope that ‘once upon a time’ the story between Hilary and Tom actually took place because this slowly formed friendship that then unfolds into love … It’s just a love, that if it existed, made the world a little better of a place. […] This was my first book by Julie Bozza so I can’t compare this work to any of her others, and I don’t want to compare it to any other author’s work because that’s like comparing apples and oranges (cliché, I know, but it’s true). All I know is that if her other work is anything like ‘The Apothecary’s Garden’, I’ll give it a go.

Bittersweet Reviews: 4 stars from Aurora

Excerpt: Trusting Manifold Press to release quality work, I decided to buy this without reading either the blurb or the extract so I had no idea what The Apothecary’s Garden was about and it proved to be a fabulous surprise because I don’t always like Julie Bozza’s releases. I had almost made my mind up that Bozza’s style just wasn’t for me, but I fell in love with last year’s Butterfly Hunter and everything just sort of clicked into place after that. … Bozza’s prose is beautiful and has a dream like quality similar to Butterfly Hunter which may be why I liked it so much. The book literally starts with the words “Once upon a time” which I will admit made my heart sink a little but once the setting is established, the writing becomes more intimate and I was quickly drawn into Hilary’s world. More importantly, Bozza has set her readers a challenge with this book and that is to open their minds to the idea that love can exist for two people who are generations apart and it shouldn’t really matter.

Reviews by Jessewave: 4 stars from Sirius

Excerpt: Julie Bozza is a writer whose writing I love and whose work I also respect very much if for nothing else than for the fact that she tries to write about so many different things in her stories. … I really loved both guys in this book. Hilary was such a sweetheart and it was really a sweet and gentle read overall. Almost nothing happens in this book besides them meeting, restoring a garden together and slowly, so very slowly, moving towards each other. The conflict is about Hilary worrying over him being so much older than Tom. You really have to like slow moving books if you want to enjoy this one, where the two characters are figuring out their relationship and whether they would have one. Tom was an old soul, who was also smart, resilient and so very determined to get what he wants, or should I say whom he wants. But he was also a bit naïve and sometimes too persistent. … I thought that the guys had chemistry together and while I was reading the book, I even managed to almost forget about their age difference … I still highly recommend the book though if you are okay with a huge age difference between the protagonists.

Boys in Our Books: 2.5 stars from Sue

Conclusion: Obviously The Apothecary’s Garden is not meant to be any of the things I was looking for, so the joke is on me – but I was so bored, I wanted to cry. I can see why everyone adores it because it’s lovely and gentle and very sweet, but yeah not for me.

The Novel Approach: 3.5 stars from Lisa Horan

Conclusion: The Apothecary’s Garden is a book I’d recommend unreservedly if you’re looking for a story that leads you quietly along the path to its happy ending. Don’t read it if you’re expecting loads of angst and conflict, don’t read it if you’re expecting erotica, but do read it if you’re looking for an understated and touching romance.

Hilary on Goodreads

Currently 4.14 stars, with 121 ratings and 74 reviews!

  • Enny gave it 5 stars and said: For this gem of a book I’ll ignore my resolution not to post reviews here anymore because it deserves all the love it can get. … Things like date of birth becomes completely unimportant when you meet your soul mate. And the author did a wonderful job of showing how they both liked the same things, had the same values and how well they fit together. … both men have a deeply caring nature, putting the other’s need before their own and this is what ultimately convinced me that their relationship might actually work. … Plus the prose in the book is absolutely beautiful. Some sentences absolutely took my breath away which is another reason why this is a 5 star read for me.
  • MandyM gave it 5 stars and said: Wow! This is quite brilliant. The May/December pairing doesn’t usually appeal to me and luckily I didn’t realise that was the theme of this novel because I might have missed out on reading it. … I loved Hilary with his knitted tea cosies, his gentle courtesy and his repressed sexuality. And Tom with his youthful exuberance and idealism. The age difference was explored sweetly and thoughtfully. … But away from the book and its beautiful prose, do I believe that Tom would really have fallen for Hilary? I don’t know. But as a romantic fantasy and a love story it was beyond beautiful.
  • Vio gave it 4.85 stars and said: Yes, I am one of those readers where this theme doesn’t work, usually. … What convinced me to keep reading? The beautiful narrative, the fears about pursing a *forbidden* relationship. The courage and will to change … It never once entered my mind that this was a substitute father relationship, its love, plain and simple. … The author is a gifted writer and a wonderful storyteller, she is a whiz at weaving magical stories. I’m impressed, I fell for it, hook line and sinker. A deeply moving story, Highly recommended.
  • Emma gave it 6 stars (!) and said: Spectacular. Marvellous. Wonderful. The most acutely romantic book I’ve read in years. Cried happy tears all the way through, and bought a Bach album. Best of 2013 for me so far by a mile. I wish I could read it again for the first time all over again.
  • Feliz gave it 5 stars and said: In a word, I loved this book. It can’t hold a candle to my all-time favourite Julie Bozza book, Butterfly Hunter, but it comes close. Everything about it was just so up my alley– the garden, the slow pace, the sheer British-ness of both Hilary and Tom. And yes, even the much-belabored age difference…ok, 40+ years is huge, but considering who these two are, it became almost negligible.

Hilary on Amazon UK and Amazon US:

Currently 4 reviews with 3 of them 5 stars!

  • Ulysses Dietz said: If this was the last m/m book I ever read, I would die happy.
  • R Parklane said: Looking forward to many more stories from this exceptional writer in the MM romance genre.

Readers’ Responses

Jenre listed this as her favourite male-male romance book read in 2013 in the Contemporary category, and said: This author is a bit of a find for me this year. I love her intelligent writing and the way she manages to make a very large age gap work effectively as a romance in this book. Both characters were charming and the story has stayed with me long after I finished.

excerpt: The Apothecary’s Garden

An excerpt from the novel. Tom begins to explore Hilary’s overgrown physic garden.

Rhododendron nipponicumThere was a stone terrace of sorts just outside the back door, with steps against the wall leading down to the left. Plants that probably should have remained shrubs had grown tall here, right up against the tower’s feet, with gnarly branches looming aggressively towards the doorway, reaching even over Tom’s head. Hilary had only ever ventured out here once before, and had very soon retreated back inside.

Tom, however, seemed undaunted. In fact, he seemed positively cheerful. “Well, this won’t do, will it? I’m glad you said that about being ruthless, because this lot will have to go.”

Hilary managed to say something fervent about his undying gratitude.

“In the meantime, I’m going to see how far I can work my way through from the bottom of the steps,” he announced. “There might be a relatively open area in there.”

“You’ll be careful, won’t you … ?” Though Hilary was at a loss to describe what he feared might happen. Perhaps he was imagining that Tom would get stuck as if in a briar patch, and Hilary wouldn’t be able to follow him in and bring him back out again.

“Of course I’ll be careful,” Tom reassured him with a grin. “I’ll start clearing a path, if it’s any use, but what I’ll definitely do is cut back some of those bushes right up against the paved area there. You should at least be able to see out!”

“Oh!” said Hilary, not knowing what he’d ever done to deserve this. It was true that the kitchen and living area at the back of the tower were rather dark rooms, even though they faced to the south; sometimes he didn’t even bother drawing the curtains in the morning. The idea of getting some more light into his home was wonderful. “Thank you, Tom.”

“Don’t mention it!” Another wink as the young man reached the bottom of the steps – and then with a twist and a wriggle, Tom disappeared into the dark foliage.

Continue reading excerpt: The Apothecary’s Garden