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
Mechanical Universe: Duende – E.E. Ottoman
Famed opera singer Aimé has a lot in common with Badri, the Royal Ballet Company’s most popular male lead. They have both dedicated their entire lives to their art, and struggle to be taken seriously among the Empire’s elite. And both harbor a secret admiration and desire for the other.
This year for his birthday Aimé treats himself to a night at the ballet seeing Badri perform, and after the show decides to meet Badri and confess his admiration for Badri’s skill. But when that first awkward meeting turns to more, they are left wondering if there is room in their lives for both career and romance…
Artist types who can’t wait to get into each others breeches. If it succeeded in making me feel anything, it was boredom. The idea of a castrato and a ballet dancer pairing certainly piqued interest there was not much going on in terms of the story itself.
2 Stars – it’s a struggle to finish the damn book
Mechanical Universe: A Matter of Disagreement – E.E. Ottoman
The rise of mechanical animation, and its popularity at court, is threatening to end Andrea’s scholarly pursuits of spell craft and literature—and force him to let go of his assistants, who depend on him to support their families In retaliation against the field that is ruining his life, Andrea begins to campaign against it. The efforts gain him notoriety, but do not solve his financial dilemmas.
When he is dragged to a party by his brother, he comes face to face with the man who pioneered mechanical animation: Leon Gregory de la Marche VI, Marquis de la Marche. And he is not at all what Andrea expected.
Major points to the author for having an MC who’s slightly out of shape (aren’t we all?) and a nerdy transman who’s a gentleman and an inventor The conflict between the two MCs was not as intense as other friends-to-enemies stories but the chemistry was there. The whole book read like cute YA, written in Andrea’s POV and sounded like a 17 year old’s ‘voice’ except near the end where it got all kinky and explicit. I don’t know what the spells are in the spell craft part (I suspect it could probably be just electricity) but I imagine the mechanical birds are as delicate as Faberge eggs.
I think this story is a good introduction to E.E. Ottoman’s works. It sure as hell made me pick up book 2 immediately.
3.5 Stars – that place between like and love