Mechanical Universe: Winter’s Bees – E.E. Ottoman
Lord Marcel de la Mont de Anges, the Marquis de Montespan is a brilliant mathematician, member of the mechanical animation movement and all around dandy. He’s been in love with shy, quiet entomologist and youngest member of the royal family, Prince Gilbert André XVI, since they were children. The Emperor’s plans to arrange a marriage between Marcel and Gilbert should have been the answer to all his secret fantasies.
But Gilbert is still reeling from a nasty breakup, and he cannot picture the man he regards as a brother becoming his lover. The order to marry has thrown their relationship into disorder, and if they cannot sort out the changes there may not even be a friendship left for them to save…
E.E. Ottoman’s stories are peopled with diverse characters I rarely see in other stories. There’s an Indian ballet dancer, a trans man, a castrato, pudgy love interests, female police and military generals and so on. In this last installment of Mechanical Universe, Marcel is an adopted Eastern (possibly Asian descent) Marquis with physical disabilities. The world itself is diverse, with magic and science working together seamlessly.
The best parts of the story for me was the first half because that where I felt the sparks and I found the two really cute. I was also looking forward to them reminiscing about their younger days and the times they spent together. The middle part was the dragging part.
The way these two agonized over their marriage was a bit of a snooze-fest for me mainly because married people’s problems are boring. The party near the end was a good way to wrap up the story because the reader gets to meet all the gang again. I wished there were more interaction with these characters.
Overall, I would recommend the entire Mechanical Universe series. As favorite author and editor K.J. Charles said:
“I love EE Ottoman’s writing. I love the worldbuilding, and the realistic, insecure characters nervously feeling their way through to one another, and the odd passions, and the secrets. It’s a lovely novella and as ever, I wanted more, longer, deeper. I want a full-length EE Ottoman novel and to see what they do on a bigger stage, pushing the characters further and harder. But for now, this will do very nicely.
3.5 Stars – that place between like and love