reviews: The Fine Point of His Soul

My alternate history, The Fine Point of His Soul, received its first review on Goodreads from its proud dedicatee! It has also received terrific, thoughtful reviews on the Jessewave site – which is particularly appreciated, as their main focus is male-male romance, a theme which is only a subplot in this novel – and also from Narrelle Harris, a writer who knows how to spin a darn good yarn.

Discovering Diamonds: Highly Recommended by Richard Tearle


Excerpts: … an excellent read. … not exactly a romp, but the action moves along at a good pace, the dialogue is suitable for the ‘romantic’ poets and the plot and settings authentic. … an intriguing mystery and very well told to boot!

Mortal Words: 4 stars from Narrelle M Harris

Excerpt and summary: Bozza … evokes the language and cadences of the time period without sounding like a pastiche – her prose has an easy, thoroughly readable flow. Through Andrew Sullivan she has a narrator who is practical but has a love of the noble and poetic, particularly explored through his friendship with Keats and the discussions he has with all the poets. Bozza writes artists who converse like artists without getting pompous or sounding like she’s simply reworking material from their own poetry or diaries. Her understanding of the poets in question and their worldviews feels extensive, and she manages to incorporate these ideas with a light touch and a sensibility for how they impact the characters, their interactions and the overall story. … the inexorable pace of it is taut and full of anticipation. … The Fine Point of His Soul is a beautifully crafted novel of Gothic horror, evoking original tales of the time period while achieving its own storytelling voice.

Reviews by Jessewave: 4 stars from LadyM

Excerpt and summary: One of the things I love about Julie Bozza’s writing is the fact that she can change her writing style from book to book to fit their tone and theme. Whether it’s a gritty police procedural, beautiful love story set in Australian Outback or, in this case, speculative fiction set in alternate 1820s, she wields the chosen style with ease and brings to life an amazing cast of characters. And here, in The Fine Point of His Soul, the style beautifully matches the story’s characters, especially the three most famous among them, romantic poets John Keats, Percy Shelley and Lord Byron, their heightened emotions, doubts, fancies, loves and losses, pathos. … Bozza’s portrayal of Keats warmed my heart, but I fell head over heels with Byron (though I suspect every reader will have their own favorite). He is a proud man, sometimes hard, unreliable and insecure. He sees himself as a man of action, but the gentleman and lord in him always win. … The Fine Point of His Soul isn’t a perfect novel … [however] In Keats’s own words: “A thing of beauty is a joy for ever.”

Keats on Goodreads

  • Bryn Hammond said: The trio of star Romantic poets, Keats, Shelley, Byron – sort of like the Three Musketeers – with each his companion or offsider (wife, servant, friend) and – if I’m going to run with the Three Musketeers – our d’Artagnan is nothing of a poet, he’s a lieutenant in the navy, who requires their help or other input – it isn’t always assistance, at least from Byron – in a secret mission, sensitive both to the Home Office and to the lieutenant’s heart. … [Recommended] If you like unlikely heroes in speculative histfic, or want to meet Bryon, Shelley and Keats. Believe me, you want to meet Keats.
  • Sanna said: Unusual, skillful incorporation of real historical figures with a fascinating narrator and fantastical gothic story.
  • Abigail Bok said: This is an odd little book, but I found considerable interest in just about every page of it. I enjoyed the characters’ companionship, their attachments and their conflicts; and their dialogue and activities seemed believable. I felt they were all people I might know. … I was especially delighted to discover an author who is writing as she pleases, without looking over her shoulder at what “readers” might want or expect. The greatest pleasure I found in the reading was its unpredictability—the fact that it was not written to some kind of formula or genre. The author followed the story where it led her. I hope to find more such works!

Readers’ Responses

Lisa Scott: The Fine Point Of His Soul is an innovative historical mystery, set in Rome in the 19th century. It is a tale of friendship and the encounter between good and evil featuring the Romantic Poets, a valiant naval lieutenant and the inscrutable figure of Iago.

Somebody has stolen important papers from the English government. The lieutenant must travel to Rome to retrieve them from the suspected thief. He enlists the help of John Keats and his friends and together they embark on a journey that will lead to disturbing and fatal events, causing them to doubt their own sanity.

I loved the premise of this enthralling novel – a fusion of true historical facts and settings with a ‘what if’ scenario. The scenario being what could Keats have got up to in the last few months of his life, after he had been quarantined aboard the Maria Crowther in the Bay of Naples.

It is a wonderfully written tale with a well-realized historical setting, very likeable characters and an intriguing original plot. In reading I was transported to the piazzas and pavements of C19th Rome and longed to be part of the ‘gang’ so I could join in with their tea drinking and plotting.

The story contains some references to literary details, which a less cultured reader (like myself) may have felt a little daunting – but not to worry, as the lieutenant is not so well read either and so the author kindly ensures that where necessary, explanations are given to the lieutenant and vicariously to the reader via Keats and his friends.

The author’s knowledge and love of Keats emanates from the pages, which makes the book all the more a joy to read.

The ‘True Love’ Solution

true-love-200pxBlurb: Jules Madigan loves his family and he loves his job. The only thing he’s missing out on is a Happy Ever After, like the ones written by his favourite romance author Ewan Byge. While he’s waiting for that HEA, Jules indulges himself in buying Ewan’s old typewriter as memorabilia – before realising he’s been defrauded. Through the fraud case, he makes friends with Police Constable Leonard Edgar – and through Leonard, Jules even gets to meet and work with Ewan Byge Himself! But the course of True Love never did run smooth, and soon Jules has to face some harsh realities.

Genre: gay romance; contemporary; comedy drama; novel

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

Word count: 45,000

Available in ebook formats from:

Available in paperback format from:

reviews: The ‘True Love’ Solution

Thank you to everyone who’s giving my latest novel a try! I had a lot of fun writing it, and I hope that makes it a lot of fun to read.

Bike Book Reviews: review by Becky

Excerpt: Jules captured my heart on page 1 of this book, what with his swinging hips and artfully styled ginger hair, how could one not fall in love? … it is a great read. 

Books Laid Bare Boys: 4 stars from Fiona

Excerpt: I enjoyed this so much – it was well written and properly researched so no distractions from the story line. I would recommend this to anyone who wants to read an amusing feel good old fashioned romance (with a bit of gay sex thrown in for very good measure!)

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words: 3.75 stars from Stella

Excerpt: I discovered Julie Bozza in the Butterfly Hunter series and fell in love with her style. That’s the reason I soon jumped into the chance at reading The ‘True Love’ Solution. What I particularly like of this author is her way with words, she can always bring me into real and at the same time dreamy worlds. This is exactly what I felt with this last story.

Bayou Book Junkie: 4 stars from Jaymie

Excerpt: The writing was very good and the author is definitely talented.

Engaging Secrets: 4 feathers from Gretchen

Gretchen seems to have found it a rather unexpected book – weird and quirky! – but concludes: Overall there were things I didn’t like but mostly I enjoyed this book very much. It’s different and well written with complex characters.

Romantic Fanatic Book Blog: 4 stars from Brave One

Brave One particularly enjoyed the ‘sweet love story’, the humour, and Jules’ family dynamics.

The Novel Approach: 3 stars from Jules

While the ‘love triangle’ aspect of the tale did not suit, Jules still found a lot of things to like about it. Archie, Leonard, and the strength of the opening chapters and the final chapter saved this one for me.

Sinfully Gay Romance Book Reviews: 4.5 stars from Mark

Beware of spoilers if you click through to this review!

Conclusion: This book has no big angst factor, no biting your nails, no heart breaking break-ups, big tear jerking making up or reunion scenes and no broken characters.  It is light on the erotic but thoroughly entertaining as it focuses more on the characters, and what wonderful characters they are too. I was in immersed in this book from the beginning and thanks to Julie’s wonderful writing was introduced to another set of vibrant, lovable characters.

Mortal Words: 4 stars from Narrelle M Harris

Conclusion: All up, The ‘True Love’ Solution is a light, fun, gentle, sweet read that dances its sprightly way to a lovely and satisfying conclusion. It’s a perfect pick-me-up if life has seemed a bit dark lately, and a cheerful confection if life’s good and you want to celebrate True Love, even if it does wobble off course sometimes.

Readers’ Responses

Tess on Goodreads gave it 4 stars and said: This was a delightful, sweet and very British romance. One thing I really loved was Jules’ relationship with his father, Archie. Probably one of the best father/son relationships I’ve seen in gay romance.

Ije on Goodreads gave it 5 stars and said: I needed to read something like this. Something that has a strong loving family, a character who loves to read romances and adores authors. … This is a lovely story which is touching, gentle, beautiful in its simplicity but very realistic.  And it is going onto my list of exquisite reads for 2016!

Keela on Goodreads gave it 5 stars and said: It was solidly adorable. I will definitely be reading from Julie Bozza again.

Sharon on Goodreads gave it 5 stars and said: I rarely award five stars but this book had it all: good story, well written, good editing.

excerpt: The ‘True Love’ Solution

This is the opening scene of the novel. I hope you’ll be as fond of Jules as I am!

The best thing about working from home, Jules thought as he danced lightly down towards the front door, was … No, strike that. The best thing about working from home was spending all day in his pyjamas. Jules laughed under his breath, and detoured to scoop up Jem’s pashmina from her armchair. He slung it around his hips and fastened it with a loose knot while he sashayed through to the hall. A quick glance in the hall mirror reassured him that his quiff of thick red hair was looking rakishly mussed, and his pale face was unblemished by the remains of breakfast or random pen marks. Presentable, or enough so.

The second best thing about working from home was – No, that wasn’t true either.

The third best thing, Jules amended as the doorbell rang once more, was that he could accept delivery of whatever little goodies might have found their way into his Amazon shopping cart that week. And completely fluster the delivery guy while he was at it.

“Hellooooo!” Jules sang as he flung the door and his arms open wide.

Continue reading excerpt: The ‘True Love’ Solution

A Pride of Poppies

WWI anthology cover FINAL 200pxModern GLBTQI fiction of the Great War

Blurb: Ten authors – in thirteen stories – explore the experiences of GLBTQI people during World War I. In what ways were their lives the same as or different from those of other people?

A London pub, an English village, a shell-hole on the Front, the outskirts of Thai Nguyen city, a ship in heavy weather off Zeebrugge, a civilian internment camp … Loves and griefs that must remain unspoken, unexpected freedoms, the tensions between individuality and duty, and every now and then the relief of recognition. You’ll find both heartaches and joys in this astonishing range of thought-provoking stories.

An anthology featuring authors: Julie Bozza; Barry Brennessel; Charlie Cochrane; Sam Evans; Lou Faulkner; Adam Fitzroy; Wendy C. Fries; Z. McAspurren; Eleanor Musgrove; Jay Lewis Taylor

Genre: LGBTQ+ fiction; historical; wartime; anthology

Click here for the blurbs, and here for the reviews.

Word count: 65,000

Awards:

Available in ebook formats from:

Available in paperback format from:

All proceeds are donated to the Royal British Legion.

reviews: A Pride of Poppies

Rainbow Awards 2015: Honorable Mention

Judges’ comments: Consistently good short stories. … An excellent anthology of World War 1 stories all told with a remarkable eye for authenticity and a great deal of love and compassion. … Wonderful read!

The Book Breeze: review by Ace Katzenbooks

Conclusion: A good collection of stories, and an excellent reminder that even when things are tough, we can remember that for LGBT people a hundred years ago, they were much more dangerous.

Prism Book Alliance: 4 stars from Feliz

Conclusion: This anthology is, in my eyes, a must for readers interested in the WWI – era as well as for fans of the contributing authors. (who might even discover new favorites, like I did.) It’s high-quality writing throughout, not to be consumed as a whole, but best enjoyed one story at a time.

Historical Novel Society: review by Christoph Fischer

Conclusion: Entertaining, emotional and thought provoking this not only fills a gap in WWI literature, it is also a very moving and stimulating read with plenty of original ideas. 

Very highly recommended.

Editors’ Choice, and Shortlisted for the HNS Indie Award 2016

Long and Short Reviews: 4 stars from Astilbe

Excerpt and conclusion: They say that tough times bring out a person’s true colors. If this is true, I want to meet all of these characters. … a beautiful collection that I’d recommend to anyone who has even the slightest interest in World War I or GLBTQI fiction.

Sinfully Gay Romance Book Reviews: 4 stars from Sally and Mark

Comments about individual stories: A lovely but bittersweet story of wanting to be normal and fitting in. (No Man’s Land) … Oh this was beautiful! Absolutely beautiful!! (I Remember) … I particularly loved the gentle innocence of both young men and the very practical steps they took independently to try to find out what was what, and the misunderstandings that this engendered. (Inside) … For such a short story the author has packed in a lot of emotional wallop and a lot of sharply drawn secondary characters, including a number of period appropriate but benign women, unusual and refreshing for M/M. (A Rooted Sorrow) … This story blew me away. My historical knowledge is so rooted in European history that it’s always a joy to be shown another country and another way of life, in this case in Cambodia, then under French rule. (Anh Sang)

Adventurous Hearts: review by Narrelle M Harris

Excerpt: … a superb collection of stories that give voices to those who were silenced by the mainstream at the time. … a damned fine read which will break your heart, fill it with hope and remind you that love will find a way to grow, even under the harshest conditions.

Odds and Ends: review by Kizzia

Excerpt: …  I can, hand on heart, say that I didn’t find one story that didn’t move me or make me think about some aspect of living at a LGBTQIA person during the war that I hadn’t considered before. This is something that, given my deep and abiding interest in WWI, you should know is no idle praise …

Reviews by Amos Lassen: review by Amos

Conclusion: This is an anthology in which every story is an excellent read and a look at an age that none of us experienced personally.

On Top Down Under: 5 stars from Kazza K

Overview: A Pride of Poppies is a quality anthology. There isn’t one story I didn’t enjoy. The editing is superb and the writing exceedingly good to sublime. … I could not believe the depth and breadth of storytelling in each and every individual story.

blurbs: A Pride of Poppies

THE STORIES

No Man’s Land
Julie Bozza
Drew was born neither boy nor girl, but he was raised as a man, and now he is desperate to enlist to prove himself. His lover, who fought in the Transvaal twelve years before, is just as desperate to dissuade him.

I Remember
Wendy C. Fries
Time goes tick-tock forward, turning boys into men and men into soldiers, but sometimes a man is left behind. Christopher Timlock meant to join the London Regiment with James Gant, but the British Army had other ideas. So Chrissie made a promise: he would wait for Jamie, for as long as it took. And he would remember.

War Life
Z. McAspurren
During the war, people lived their lives in different ways. Even separated by a country, however, a sister and a brother’s thoughts circled around similar ideas. One was a worker in a factory, and the other was on the Front Line; both had something important taken from them because of the war, and the thing they’d lost had a way of always entering their minds.

Lena and the Swan
or, The Lesbian Lothario

Julie Bozza
While the men are away, Lena will play … She delivers the mail, and happily takes advantage of some of the women on her route whose husbands are at war. But then a Miss Cawkwell moves into the house at Fields Corner, and Lena’s world begins to shift.

Inside
Eleanor Musgrove
Alfred Schuchard is a baker, the English-born son of a German immigrant, and stuck in a civilian internment camp for the duration of the war. The last thing he needs is for life to get any more complicated. But then a new arrival at camp turns what little still made sense in his world on its head …

Continue reading blurbs: A Pride of Poppies

stories: No Man’s Land

I contributed two stories to A Pride of Poppies, the first being No Man’s Land. The main character in this story is 21-year-old Drew, who was born intersex and raised as a man. We discover during a conversation between Drew and his doctor that perhaps the decision about his initial gender assignment was made for the wrong reasons – his father demanded a son – but Drew is fiercely attached to his identity as a man.

The story is set in November 1914; the war broke out a mere three months before. Drew is desperate to enlist, to prove himself. But his older lover, Henry, who fought in the Transvaal, is just as desperate to protect him – not only from the realities of war, but from a situation that would expose Drew to the scrutiny of men who are unlikely to understand or be sympathetic.

 

stories: Lena and the Swan

This is the second of my stories that appeared in A Pride of Poppies. The other story explored a difficult and challenging situation for its main character Drew. This story, however, is far more positive and up-beat.

image courtesy of Pezibear on Pixabay

The men are away at war. Lena has taken on her uncle’s work, and is delivering the mail in her village and to the outlying farms. When I first started writing the story, I began with two or three paragraphs of exposition about these facts – but luckily it occurred to me to start with something rather more powerful.

When we first meet Lena she is flying along a country lane on her bicycle, enjoying the speed and the sunshine, and revelling in the sheer freedom of it. There’s no denying that war is a tragedy, but it did serve to open up opportunities to women to do different kinds of work, to contribute in different ways than usual.

That’s all well and good, but Lena is also taking the chance to provide a very personal kind of comfort to the lonely wives.

I very much enjoyed writing the cheerfully outrageous Lena, and I’d love to return one day to write more about her and her friends. In fact, I’m going to go add her to my To Write List right now …

fiction by Julie Bozza