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Hearts On Fire Reviews

We read and review for the love and joy of books.

ARC Review: E.E. Ottoman – Winter’s Bees

Winter's Bees - E.E. Ottoman

Reviewer: Lucy

Genre: MM Steampunk


Review: I have to start off by saying – I love the world EE Ottoman has built. I had to go back and read Duende, the second in the series, after I read this because I missed it. In this story, Marcel, the Marquis de Montespan, has been in love with his best friend, Prince Gilbert, for years. Gilbert is very introverted and rather plain, while Marcel is outgoing and beautiful. They complement each other as the best of friends, even as they don’t see each other due to Marcel being away studying.


Upon his return to the city, he pays a call to the palace and finds the Emperor has arranged for the him to marry Gilbert. It is like all Marcel’s dreams come true until he realizes Gilbert doesn’t want to marry him at all. Gilbert has had his heart broken (and the fact that he never even mentioned his affair to Marcel really is sad) by a callous lover and now he’s cynical about love.


Marcel, with his limp and his missing arm, is an amazing character. He chooses to wear an arm that matches his outfit, as opposed to one that is functional. He brings gifts to Gilbert that demonstrate how much he listens to what Gilbert has to say. He treats Gilbert well and wants him happy. He’s in love. So imagine how painful it has to be to hear from Gilbert, “I already told my father I didn’t want this, several times…” in regards to their upcoming marriage. “The marriage that was everything Marcel had wanted since he was twelve.” Oh, heartbreaking for Marcel.


We do get to see Gregory (from A Matter of Disagreement) and that was lovely – he’s another character I just loved. Marcel has a friend in Gregory and for that I was very glad. He needed one. An awesome thing about this world - while yes, some of the characters are beautiful, not all of them are.  They are "real" type people, with flaws and imperfections.  It makes them lovely.


My favor was totally for Marcel. Gilbert has been heart broken, yes, but Marcel didn’t do it, yet I felt like Gilbert punished him for it. To ask what he did at the Christmas ball was the height of selfish, by this time knowing Marcel loved him. And the apology for that request was the worst apology ever. The fact that Marcel wants Gilbert happy at the expense of his own feelings? That’s love. To put yourself in pain to make someone else’s life better, well, unconditional love.


This story is destined to be a re-read for me, and it will be for Marcel.