New Discovery: A Matter of Disagreement by E.E. Ottoman
Ever since reading I’d been wanting to read more sci-fi and steampunk romances with trans heroes/heroines. Unfortunately, it’s not like I can just find them on the shelves of my local bookstore or easily search for them online. If anything, I discover them through pure happenstance.
I’d known about author E.E. Ottoman for some time, but wasn’t aware zie had written steampunk romance. Then I discovered the author’s novella A Matter of Disagreement (Mechanical Universe #1) through a reader recommendation at Heroes and Heartbreakers. The odd part is I was at the site searching for something else when the post in question popped out at me.
It dismays me that finding stories like A Matter of Disagreement are basically left to chance. I know—life’s not fair so not every potential book we want to read will receive equal marketing. Perhaps someday technology will develop to the point that a reader like me can type in “transgender steampunk romance” and a tailored list appears. For now, I must rely on other readers and lots of site hopping.
I seek out trans characters in other mediums, but since sci-fi and steampunk romance is my main love, I want to read more stories in this genre featuring them. The appeal is simply this: science fiction offers many different settings so I expect to meet all kinds of character types. Trans characters are no different and I crave the new perspectives and insights such characters can bring to the table. So far, I’ve found the experience to be highly enriching.
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.
Both heroes are endearing, Andrea especially. He’s quite the fussy type, but his emotions run deep. The story is told entirely from his POV. Allow me to share some tags and impressions based on my reading experience.
One aspect about the story I enjoyed was its cerebral, philosophical nature. Andrea and Gregory are academics and inventors and much of their verbal sparring concerns the debate between spell-craft and mechanical animation. The actual content of their conversations doesn’t delve deeply into specific details of steampunk technology, which seems more a function of the story’s short length than anything else. Given more time, we might have learned more about why steampunk technology exists in this world.
A Matter of Disagreement shines the most in its character-driven moments. Andrea and Gregory have great chemistry despite their scholarly differences. Their interactions vary between tense, awkward, and flirty.
I also very much enjoyed reading about characters whose bodies are portrayed more realistically than general romance heroes/heroines. Andrea, for example, is described as pudgy, mainly because he prefers books over exercise. I won’t go into detail about Gregory so as to avoid spoilers; but suffice it to say his presentation and backstory are refreshing.
In terms of heat level, I’d describe the story as having an erotic heat level. The love scene is steamy, perhaps graphic for some folks, but this story isn’t about their sexual journey. It’s about their emotional and intellectual journeys since the two grapple with their professional, personal, and political relationships.
I’ll end this with another of my calls for trans characters in steampunk/sci-fi romance. If you know of any, hit me up!
About the author
Heather Massey is a lifelong fan of science fiction romance. She searches for sci-fi romance adventures aboard her blog, The Galaxy Express and is the New Releases Editor for Sci-Fi Romance Quarterly. She’s also an author in the genre. To learn more about her published work, visit heathermassey.com.