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Division Bells

4.34  ·  Rating details ·  93 ratings  ·  33 reviews
In politics, love is a stranger

Its a bitterly cold winter in London and Jules Elwin has no idea what hes doing. As the newest special adviser to a government minister, hes drowning in arcane procedures and party politics, and the civil servant whos supposed to be helping him is doing nothing of the sort. Ari is sarcastic, intolerant and has no time for a special adviser
Kindle Edition, 81 pages
Published October 13th 2020
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Average rating 4.34  · 
Rating details
 ·  93 ratings  ·  33 reviews

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K.J. Charles
A sweet, slightly melancholy, utterly delightful romance set in the House of Lords between a civil servant and a spad working on an infrastructure bill. Might not sounds as romancey as the usual cupcake shop, but the setting works beautifully to give the characters hinterland, and really show how their work matters to them as well as their love lives--which in turn gives the romance more heft.

Strikingly gorgeous writing (author knows how to balance spare and lush), charming characters, deft
Alexis Hall
As the shelving shows, was rather charmed by this, and slightly unexpectedly since I'm contrary enough in my preferences that it's not easy to find queer books that work for me.

It's a very gentle romance between a civil servant and a special advisor--shades of Yes Minister given the focus on the administration of government (although less bitter).

As ever with workplace romances I found myself wanting a touch less work and a bit more of the characters outside work. But that might just have been
Para (wanderer)
I finished a book, wooo! I usually have an aversion to contemp, but I liked the premise too much not to give it a try and it was so, so good. Delightfully bureaucratic (you wouldn't think these words go together and yet), heartwarming, and the dynamic between them was perfection. Might be my sleep-deprived and generally addled brain, but it made me tear up too.

Either way, a combination of romance and politics, yes please!
Oct 23, 2020 rated it really liked it
Lovely, obscure, fun. I wish some more background had been given for the characters, but Sharma's turn of phrase is just amazing.
I needed a break from the norm and when I saw this as I cruised around Amazon I though to myself, why not?

The author has a nice turn of phrase. I even enjoyed the nod to Yes, (Prime) Minister - one of the best shows ever made - with Sir Humphrey Applebee garnering a mention. It is a rather British story. However, we have a Westminster style Parliament here. I'm also of an age where when you went overseas it was likely you went to Earl's Court, and I grew up on a constant diet of English shows
Nov 25, 2020 rated it really liked it
4.5 stars

This was so good, and I'm really not sure how to describe it. There are definitely lots of details about getting a bill through Parliament, but I found it all very interesting and thought it really served to drive the character and relationship development with so much of both happening in the subtext. I'm a big fan of subtext. (Is that a weird thing to say??) One of the most impressive novellas I've read in the genre. I desperately hope Iona Datt Sharma keeps writing romance because I
Oct 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Jules's father, Lord Elwin of Evesham, had wanted his son to go into the church. This being impossible on account of the boy's temperament and homosexuality, following his father's footsteps into Parliament was the next best thing.

Ahhh, such a soft, kind, lovely novella. I loved the dynamics between the characters, the dual perspective and the setting so so much. Just a perfect little cake bite.

I know the characters were being overworked to the point of exhaustion, but it made me wanna do the
Oct 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Jules's father, Lord Elwin of Evesham, had wanted his son to go into the church. This being impossible on account of the boy's temperament and homosexuality, following his father's footsteps into Parliament was the next best thing."

A romance set amid the inner workings of public policy and legislation is deeply tailored to my interests, although honestly anyone who doesn't enjoy melodramatic queers bickering over the finer points of clean energy regulation doesn't know how to live. Beautifully
Nov 21, 2020 rated it liked it
Recommended to Ami by: Ellie
First of all, thank you to Sirius from Goodreads Secret Santa Gift Exchange Event who gifted me this one. I've been curious about since a friend recommended it on Twitter (that's you, Ellie). Now, I didn't actually READ Ellie's review because I liked to keep myself surprised... but on hindsight, maybe I should

The thing is, I like the romance. It feels low-key, sweet, and tender. Ari and jules may not start their first day well... Ari is caught by surprise when he finds out that his boss, the
Nov 26, 2020 rated it liked it
I loved it. But the whole procedurals and jargon went straight over my head. At first, I thought, I might learn something. But I didn't. What remained is an image of overworked officiary's squeezing in some miniutes for a love life.
Oct 15, 2020 rated it really liked it
"I wouldn't have done it before," Jules said, after a moment. If he owed Ari the truth, he owed him all of it. "I wouldn't have cared enough about the Bill, or climate change, or anything. But doing it, caring about it, despite the personal consequences?"
"Yes?" Ari said again, when Jules didn't go on.
Jules breathed in, and out. "I learned that from you." [loc. 984]

It's winter 2021 in post-Brexit London, and senior civil servant Ari has been burdened with a spad ("Special adviser, please"). The

Ally Machala
Oct 12, 2020 rated it really liked it
So when Iona called Division Bells a soft political romance, they meant soft because, oh my heart.

Division Bells was exactly the super short, super sweet read I needed right now. And while my brain kind of turned to goo when reading about the political processes (lots of fossils, if you get my drift), the uptight Ari with his gruff manor and sly humor and cinnamon roll Jules who just wants to take care of Ari and make a difference were totally worth it.

Iona does an amazing job of packing so
Nov 30, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: queer, politics, romance, poc
Sweet, hopeful, and full of people geeking out about politics while trying to do some good in a messed up system. I needed this.
Oct 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing
That's a delightful, somewhat melancholy story. it's a low-heat London-set contemporary political romance, focused the the legal and administrative side of policy-making in the UK, rather than on ideology. Exquisitely written and heart-warming in the truest sense of the word.

Highly recommend!

CW for grief
Oct 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Review to come but I loved it (as everybody said I would lol, i'm predictible af).
Monica Achen
Actually grasps something about what it's like to work in government--the constant struggle to process vast quantities of information without drowning in minutiae, the endless memos and meetings, the plethora of offices and individuals who need to sign off on everything.

Also an unusually perceptive (i.e., uncomfortably recognizable) depiction of a perfectionist workaholic doggedly crawling toward total burnout. The kinds of mistakes that Ari makes feel specific and true to that character and
Nov 16, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: romance
A charming romance where the romance was not the charming part.

This is a novella, but really it is a novel with a large chunk missing out of the middle. I loved it anyway, dont get me wrong - it was exactly what I wanted to be reading - but because I am utterly contrary I loved it more for the excellent closeups of British governmental bureaucracy than anything else. I went in expecting romance but it was the memoing that I ended up finding enjoyable. The romance is rushed (literally most of the
Sophie Davenport
Oct 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2020
It's been a while since I was as utterly charmed by a book as I was by this, but "people doing their best under difficult circumstances" coupled with "romance with a very niche and specific setting" is going to get me every time. Beautifully written, with very human, realistically complex/flawed characters. I usually hesitate to compare different author's works to each other (too much scope for unintentional misunderstanding) but I feel strongly that if you enjoyed Alexis Hall's "Waiting for the ...more
Oct 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Civil servants dealing with a parliament bill and falling in love in the process. I haven't been able to deal with much contemporary-ish settings lately, but this novella is one of the exceptions to that (it's set slightly in the future - winter 2021/2022). I really liked seeing Ari and Jules' romance unfold, and I loved that it was filled with people trying to make the world a better place!
Oct 17, 2020 rated it really liked it
Oh my heart, this novella! What a sweet and touching little story about two people who just want to help the world and really just need a hug. Full of both funny and somber moments, I was brought to tears several times. The explorations of grief and loneliness are deftly done and felt very real to me.
I definitely recommend this novella and am looking forward to whatever they write next!
Eva Strange
The perfect combination of hard politics (steep learning curve ahead!) and genuine human warmth, delivered in a distinctive prose with some wonderful turns of phrase that are idiosyncratic in that natural, unassuming way that I like so much.

Dont be deterred by the tumblr aesthetic of the cover!
Oct 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Short but charming

Real-feeling people gently falling in love in believable ways, amidst UK politics. Sweet and believable, hopeful and only a little poignant. Highly recommended for a fall afternoon under a blanket.
Oct 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Everything I want in a novella. Politics, great dialogue, environmental on-pointness, and growth of both lead characters that is both incidental and not to the romance. I'm very keen to read more by this writer.
Oct 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2020
Absolutely frigging excellent. This was charming, and heart-stopping in the right places and funny and deeply nerdy in all the best possible ways, and generally speaking everything I expect from Iona Datt Sharma's stories.

cw: grief
Oct 29, 2020 rated it really liked it
This book is unashamedly queer and unashamedly full of British Parliamentary minutia. I wasn't aware that I needed a book about what parliamentary staff (or maybe house of lords? I kind of let those details wash over me lol) get up to, but apparently I did! I don't know if I would have picked up the book based on that selling point, but I will read anything and everything by Iona Datt Sharma, so it was an immediate buy for me. The characters subtly gain depth as the story goes on and an office ...more
Nov 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This is utterly beautiful. The writing, the romance, the way it makes your soul feel -- it's all quietly perfect. If you need to read something about healing, about finding a home, about the ordinary in the extraordinary, read this.
Oct 16, 2020 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Teamama by: K.J. Charles
Delightful romance between very smart people.
Oct 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed this, even though I always find novellas challenging compared to full length novels. It suited being the length it was, but I wanted more anyway.
Oct 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Bureaucracy and romance. Absolutely delightful!
Fred Langridge
Nov 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This civil service procedural/romance is perfect, and exactly what I needed right now.
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I'm a British-Indian writer of speculative literary fiction. My debut short story collection, NOT FOR USE IN NAVIGATION, was released in March 2019.

FYI, my surname is "Datt Sharma", two words, but books listed on Goodreads under "Iona Sharma" are also me.

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