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The Doctor's Discretion

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New York City, 1831.

Passion, medicine and a plan to break the law ...

When Doctor William Blackwood, a proper gentleman who prefers books to actual patients, meets retired Navy surgeon Doctor Augustus Hill, they find in each other not just companionship but the chance of pleasure--and perhaps even more. The desire between them is undeniable but their budding relationship is disrupted by the arrival of a mysterious patient at New York Hospital.

Mr. Moss has been accused of being born a woman but living his life as a man, an act that will see him committed to an asylum for the rest of his life. William and Augustus are determined to mount a rescue even if it means kidnapping him instead.

Their desperate plan sets William and Augustus against the hospital authorities, and the law. Soon they find themselves embroiled in New York's seedy underworld, mixed up with prostitutes, spies, and more than a lifetime's worth of secrets. When nothing is as it seems can they find something real in each other?

195 pages, Kindle Edition

First published November 28, 2017

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About the author

E.E. Ottoman

28 books282 followers
writes romance novels, wears pretty clothes, does history stuff.


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Displaying 1 - 30 of 164 reviews
Profile Image for K.J. Charles.
Author 58 books8,107 followers
November 13, 2017
A marvellous romance set in 1830s New York between William Blackwood, a doctor who prefers administrative work, and Augustus Hill, an ex Navy surgeon. William is a quiet retiring man, in part because of the ghastly social pressure because of being black in this rotten era. He trained in Glasgow and struggles to establish himself back in the US. Augustus is a firecracker: impulsive, opinionated, full of energy, action and passion. They hit it off immediately, but their barely-started relationship takes an abrupt turn due south when Augustus is forced to ask for William's help in rescuing a patient from his hospital. Moss, the patient, is a trans man. So is Augustus, and the horrors of watching Moss be treated as a living medical specimen are too much for him to contemplate.

This is a romance that deals with big themes--endemic racism, transphobia, femmephobia and internalised homophobia--but does so as lightly as possible, in large part by giving us a charming pair of leads with a tricky job on their hands as they discover it's not as simple as breaking Moss out of the hospital and they have plunged into deeper waters than they knew. Augustus and William are both very human, with their own flaws, and it's a delight to see William's gentle kindness relax Augustus, and Augustus's exuberance help William regain his zest for life.

The setting is super vivid, especially the trudges through nighttime New York. Pigs in the streets! Also, Moss is a sardonic joy and if he doesn't get his own book stat I shall throw things.

Disclaimer: I edited this, as is stated in the prelims. I don't normally review books I edited, but this is a cracking read, so I am, fight me.
Profile Image for Kaje Harper.
Author 75 books2,515 followers
January 20, 2018
In this story we meet two gay doctors in New York of 1831. Researcher Doctor William Blackwood is a black man, educated in Scotland because no US college would accept him. Retired Navy surgeon Doctor Augustus Hill is a practicing physician who lost a hand in action with the Navy. Brought together by a job curating a medical library, they quickly realize they have more in common than their profession.

Augustus also works part time at the New York Hospital, and he is distressed to discover that a new patient has been brought in - a hermaphrodite (intersex) or possibly F2M trans person named Moss who was arrested for impersonating a man. Moss is destined for painful and humiliating medical exams, before lifetime incarceration in an asylum. Augustus is not about to allow this to happen, and he embroils William in a rescue attempt.

Through plot twists and turns, the author gives us both two excellent main characters falling in love, and three men whose obstacles are huge in the society of 1831. Although the solution is a bit deus-ex-machina in its simplicity for overcoming some of those, it allows for a happy ending. Well written, well researched, and a great addition to the broader category of M/M stories with GBTQI main characters.
Profile Image for destiny ♡ howling libraries.
1,655 reviews5,130 followers
April 7, 2019
I really wanted to love this, if for nothing other than how incredibly diverse it was — with the primary characters being a black gay man, a white gay intersex and disabled man, and another white intersex man (presumably gay but I don't think it was ever confirmed?). Unfortunately, the plot that should have been thrilling just played out as a bit boring, and the writing wasn't very enjoyable for me.

It needs a lot of editing, which is not a big issue for me (I read a lot of indie work that doesn't always have impeccable spelling and grammar, and I really don't care as long as it's legible), but I know it's something that would bother a lot of readers. The biggest issue as far as the writing went was just how overly detailed and monotonous it got at times. I don't need multiple sentences describing a character paying for their dinner at a pub, or making a cup of tea, etc.

I also had a pretty tough time with the romance, as it's very insta-lovey (there's even a part where a character thinks something along the lines of, "how could I call him an acquaintance after the week we've had?", but I'm pretty sure it had only been 3 days, not a week, and even if it had been a week, no, you should not essentially commit all of your foreseeable future to someone after a few days in both romantic and business ventures). Maybe I sound nitpicky here, and I'm sorry if I do, but the good in this book was just vastly overshadowed by how poorly written I felt it to be.
Profile Image for Richard Derus.
2,887 reviews1,923 followers
October 7, 2020
Real Rating: 3.75* of five

Transgender persons have been among us throughout time, just like lesbian or gay persons have. What is different now is that we have the vocabulary to identify, to label them; this is both a blessing and a curse. I know, from my own experience of growing up Other in a world (South Texas in the 1970s) and in a family of mostly unsupportive women, the incredible power of naming yourself: "I am gay. Not a faggot, not a queer. I am gay."

What, then, is one to do when a transgender person has the clawing need to name themself? How to find the courage and the model? For millennia, that wasn't on offer; there was no way to explain a transgender person to themself. With few exceptions, societies where the trans people came out and lived as they ought to have had the freedom to live were reviled, subjected to psychological and physical violence at even greater rates than the merely homosexual. Most of us who are cisgender but queer (and it took a long time for me to warm back up to that label, let me tell you) can, at a pinch and for a minute, hide it well enough to pass if trouble looms. Not so a man in women's clothing, or a woman trying to pass as a man.

This is becoming a thing of the past. Bodies are plastic; we are able to sculpt and mold them in many ways once impossible. We understand the endocrine basis of gender a great deal better than ever before. How we're failing the transgendered persons in our midst is less and less medical and more social, political. MANY folk feel they are being abused by being asked to refer to and address the trans community by the gendered pronoun of their identity, not their biology. These are usually also the people whose faces turn red and mouths spew hate when asked to wear masks to help keep everyone safe during a plague whose causal virus is *demonstrated* to be airborne.

Idiots, in other words; deeply ignorant and utterly unworthy persons without a shred of worth or value to add to society.

That being both self-evident and inarguable, the book I review here is one in which a transgender person is "discovered," arrested, and subjected to the full brunt of the hateful and misguided legal and medical regimes in place in the US during the 1830s. These truly are enlightened times, as much room for improvement as there remains; we should all be grateful we live in them as well as practice kaizen, the path of pride in accomplishment melded to continual striving for improvement.

Mr. Moss, the person in question, is lucky enough to be rescued by Dr. Augustus Hill, a gay Navy veteran without a hand due to combat injuries. Dr. Hill's maiming hasn't disabled him; he practices medicine at New York Hospital. He must, given his limitation, accept the other work that comes to him. For example, as we meet him, he is busily cataloging and organizing a collection of medical books and objects. With him in this task is Dr. William Blackwood, a trained physician of free African descent. The men meet in the book stacks, sparks fly, they begin what must be a clandestine relationship of great tenderness, passion, and intimacy.

So when Hill impulsively rescues Mr. Moss from the humiliations and horrors attendant on being shown to be a "transvestite," he is by no means sure Dr. Blackwood will assist him in arranging an escape. This is a romance, so we all know that he will; but the author effectively conveys the uncertainty of Hill's anguished waiting for Blackwood to decide.

In the end, the to-ing and fro-ing of this rescue-cum-escape is resolved a bit too neatly; the idea of their assistance to a wanted fugitive possibly rebounding on them is snipped at the same time. One can see the appeal of such a symmetrical bounce of the ball. It wasn't particularly satisfying to me.

What worked very well was the atmosphere, the world-building of sights and sounds and customs and coping skills. I was immersed, I was enfolded, and I was invested in the Happily Ever After that must follow such a lot of stress and battling of demons.

What gave me great pause was, in this deeply unenlightened passage in US history, the fearful recognition that this story could become a cautionary tale and not just a thumping good read if too many people, for whatever reason, do not get themselves up off their hindquarters and vote 45 and his fellow kakistocrats out of office on 3 November 2020.
Profile Image for Erin (PT).
561 reviews93 followers
April 3, 2018
The more I think about this book, the more its issues bother me. It was an enjoyable read, I had fun with it, I stayed up late to finish it...but. But.

Starting with the good: I haven't read a lot of romance with trans characters and if I'm going to to, I would absolutely prefer one written by a transgender author. And in that respect, this reads like an Own Voices story; one written by someone with experience as well as knowledge.

However, that's why it doesn't hold up as well in its depiction of its Black protagonist, William Blackwood. There's nothing that I found offensive about Blackwood; he didn't read egregiously wrong...but he didn't read right, either. I'm a huge fan of the Benjamin January mystery series; as it's also set in the 1830s and features a Black protagonist (who has been trained as a doctor) written by a White author, I couldn't help but compare the two throughout and consider the things I felt Hambly does and handles better than Ottoman.

There were lots of small moments where it pinged wrong, but the scene where this felt most glaring was I just can't get past it.

The other trip up for me is the plotting. Ottoman does a lovely job writing at the interpersonal level. The chemistry and heat between Blackwood and Hill feels real and palpable and you want to cheer for them, as a couple. The framework of the story around them isn't nearly as satisfying.

So it was a lot of things that thought they were leading somewhere that ultimately didn't, and a lot of conflict that just...deflated, rather than getting resolved. After the degree of excitement I felt wondering how Ottoman was going to resolve it all, to find out that he just wouldn't was such a huge letdown.
Profile Image for Talia Hibbert.
Author 30 books28.3k followers
December 15, 2017
This book was absolutely fantastic. The setting was fabulous. So many historical romances revolve around Regency England, and that's lovely too, but this was really refreshing!

In fact, everything about this book was refreshing. One of the heroes is trans and disabled; the other is black. The plot was so exciting and heartbreaking (in a good way), and really took full advantage of the exciting time and place. 1830s New York was fascinating, and Ottoman's writing was so immersive!

The writing style was uniquely... I'm struggling to find the perfect word, so I'll just say 'clear'. Every word felt like a piece of glass slotted perfectly into place, creating a window to the story. There was no decoration; everything was completely necessary, and also very compelling. And I felt it suited the characters, who were both more straightforward and sensible than the average romance hero!

The romance between William and Augustus was achingly sweet; my only complaint is the fact that I wanted more of this! I wouldn't have minded endless scenes of them being cute together, to be honest. While I loved the plot that brought them together, I would've liked to see more of the inner workings of their relationship. More! Fluff! Forever!

I'm so glad I read this book. It made me smile.
Profile Image for Aleksandra.
1,409 reviews
May 15, 2018
4.5 stars!

Love the book so much! One of the best romances and hist fiction I've read.

The Doctor's Discretion is romance standalone novel about two doctors set in 1831, New York City. The main characters are Dr William Blackwood and Dr Augustus Hill. The novel is about them meeting on a library project, falling in love and also saving an innocent man from asylum along the way. The writing is great, the characters are complex and likable, the plot has twists and turns and there's so much heart in the story.

The best part of the book is the characters. I'm so glad I've got to meet them. William is cis black man, he's American but studied medicine in England and now works as an expert in medical libraries and private collections. Augustus is trans white man, he served in the army as surgeon and lost his hand during the naval battle. Augustus works in New York Hospital as junior physician. William is kind, smart, he has great sense of what's right and he follows his heart. He doesn't handle everything perfectly, he apologizes and does better as one should. Augustus is impulsive, brave and also kind. His moral compass is on point and way ahead of the society's established morals. I love the romance between Augustus and William. It starts as mutual attraction and rather quickly develops into mutual respect and adoration. I love that they communicate, they share their experiences, they make each other see the world from their pov and understand it. [As you can imagine life of a black queer man and a trans queer man in 1830s in New York wasn't the easiest, but people worked, fell in love and lived. No matter how diligent the mainstream history wants to erase them or reduce to stereotypes. The book shines light on it in fictional form, The Doctor's Discretion is interesting and important read.]

The non-romantic plot line is all about rescuing a trans man from imprisonment. His name is Henri Moss. The police arrests him and puts into the hospital, where Hill works. Hill meets Augustus and decides to rescue him. Hill's recruited Blackwood to help. Neither of them meet Moss before but they're willing to risk everything to save the man. I love this support and solidarity to the pain of the other. During the course of the book, we get to see different parts of New York, see the customs and attitudes of the people of that time. The novel is fascinating and multi-layered!

The diversity in this book is to live for. It's intersectional, the story is # ownvoices for trans and queer rep.

To those who loves romance, historical fiction, gripping plot and characters to root for, I highly recommend to read The Doctor's Discretion!
Profile Image for Ellie.
814 reviews165 followers
December 27, 2017
Oh, that was so lovely, a passionate romance with strong mystery/suspense elements

This is my second book EE Ottoman, the first being Documenting Light, which I loved, and this one was just as good. It's a historical trans romance involving two doctors and a patient they save from being sent to an asylum for living as a trans man.

Without revealing much of the plot since there is quite an intriguing suspense/mystery there, I'd describe this story as one about empathy and compassion and kindness and treating everyone as equal human being.

I enjoy the author's writing which is both tight and somewhat lyrical. It draws you in and makes you care deeply for the fate of the characters. I liked how the story brought together the personal and political without becoming preachy. The politics of the day are inescapable for everyone but they are even more intruding into and shaping (for better or worse) the lives of people like William and August and Moss.

It's fast-paced, dynamic story interwoven with a tender romance. The characters are not idealised, they make mistakes and learn and grow and the reader is taken along for the ride. Their daring escape takes them outside their everyday routines, placing them in extreme circumstance where they show their humanity and empathy and this is the element in the story I loved the most. Seeing how people can be do good and follow their moral code and take a stand against inhumanity, degradation and inequality in whatever small way they can, it was so uplifting.

In addition to William and Augustus (and Moss), there is also a great cast of secondary characters who add richness to the story.

It's a fantastic read, complex and poignant, tender and intriguing, rich in historical detail which I greatly recommend to all fans of historical romance.
Profile Image for  ~Preeti~.
669 reviews
November 16, 2021
(Setting~1831- US, trans/non-binary rep, Transphobia, Racial discrimination, )

I was originally planning to read The companion by this author which is a romance between two trans women and trans men, set historically in NY. But, then I ended up reading this book because of its diverse representation.

The story is set in 1831, NY. The backdrop is set against the medical development of the era because both our MCs are physicians by profession. William is a gay man of POC and Augusts is a trans male, an ex-Navy-surgeon with a prosthetic limb. We have another trans side character named Moss. 
Now, see the potential this book has. And, I should say the author was successful in creating the atmospheric details of time.  Moreover, he doesn't shy away from writing about people's prejudices against POC or other minorities, transphobia or the draconian medical practices of the time. 

Even the romance was beautifully written but for a 200-page book, I felt a lot of time that I am disengaged from the story. And, then the ending was so rushed. 

Yet, I liked the diverse representation, a hard thing to find in historicals. So, yes I will try to read more books by the author in future.
Profile Image for Chris, the Dalek King.
1,167 reviews147 followers
March 31, 2018
I was initially drawn to this story because of the MCs, and the time period in which they exist. Interracial couples in 1831 are not exactly common storybook fodder, and it is one of the first historical stories that has a intersex(??) main character that I’ve read, so I was really excited to get my hands on it.

Set in New York City, this is the story of two doctors, William Blackwood and Augustus Hill. Both are a bit outside the considered norm. William being a black man trying to make his way in a profession–and society–that still regularly views those of his skin color as less than human. And Augustus being…

Ok, we pause this review for a quick confession.

I’m not entirely sure if Augustus is trans or intersex. The story was incredibly vague about this–or I was especially inept at taking the hint. There were several mentions of “cocks” but sometimes trans men refer to what would also be known as a clitoris that way, so I was a bit confused. And while the book does use the term hermaphrodite, I wasn’t sure it was referring to what we would call people who are intersex, or just catch-all term for those outside the strict binary gender system of the day. Lacking the more precise modern terminology, and relying on the contextual clues in the story, I’m going to be referring to Augustus as intersex. If I have got that wrong, I apologize and will be more than happy to correct the review at a later date. Now, back to the review…

And Augustus being intersex, and there for at best a medical curiosity–and really, that is like “a bag of money fell out of the sky and landed right at your feet” at best–and at worst he runs the risk of being arrested, studied, assaulted, and locked away for the rest of his life if he is not killed. Which is brought sharply into focus when he comes to work one day at his hospital to find that a man much like himself is currently locked within the hospital walls awaiting some horrible fate at the hands of the doctors. His conscience can not let him ignore the poor man’s plight…but if he dares to attempt a rescue and is caught? Well, he knows exactly what fate lays for him then.

While I do have several issues with this story, I ultimately came away happy with what I got. I really liked the chemistry between Augustus and William, and while it doesn’t do a deep dive into the realities of an interracial couple–let alone one that was gay–in that time and age, it also doesn’t just sweep it under the rug either. Both characters are clearly flawed, but it doesn’t go to such an extent that it was annoying. And this might have felt a bit more on the HFN side of things, I’m really not sure that their are many historical queer romances out there that can give you more than that.

I will say though that the problems in this story sorta just sorted themselves out without much work needed from anyone. Which was disappointing. I was also unsure about how I felt about the twist at the end there. Not sure if the way the story and certain characters were built up to that point really jived with it was well as I would have liked. I don’t know. Maybe on a reread it will all make better sense.

As it is…it is definitely worth the read, and it turned out to be much lighter than I had thought going in so if that is what you are looking for, you should be happy. I just wish there was a bit more time spent on fleshing out the characters more, especially Augustus, because I’m a huge fan of coming away from the story feeling so unsure about a key aspect of a character.

This book was provided free in exchange for a fair and honest review for Love Bytes. Go there to check out other reviews, author interviews, and all those awesome giveaways. Click below.
Profile Image for Mel González.
464 reviews64 followers
November 27, 2017
*ARC provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.*

This was absolutely marvelous, I don't think I've ever read anything quite like this. It has the perfect balance of a lot of different and important topics like romance between two men, racial relations, racism, transphobia, among a lot of other things. It had an incredibly interesting plot and I was immediately invested in their relationship and the adventures that they went on. All the things that they had to do in order to live a peaceful life broke my heart. The setting was brilliant, it takes place in 1830s New York City, and they both have a lot of intersections that made their lives very difficult because of the marginalization. I liked both of the main characters, their personalities were very distinguishable and different and I grew an attachment to both of them and their happy endings. I really enjoyed the subplot and the secondary characters as well. Moss was a super complex individual and truly, the story wouldn't have been the same without him.

This is my first E.E. Ottoman book and I have to say, I was surprised by his meticulous writing and his ability to beautifully construct this story in a way that was both intense and swoony. I really enjoyed that he didn't shy away from saying things like they are and that he explored topics that are inherently part of the LGBTQ+ community and that are sometimes ignored by authors who write these stories. Especially when it's set in the past. Especially acknowledging that there were a lot of queer people in 1830 even when some people want to say that we started appearing only in the modern times.

I liked that even though they had some fights and even William didn't react well to learning that Augustus was trans, William apologized and he worked strongly to be better and making Augustus comfortable with him again. I really enjoyed the sex scenes because they were full of emotions and intensity just as the other parts of the books. There wasn't a moment that wasn't there because of a reason and a contribution to the bigger plot and the message that this book had. I would love to read the continuation of Moss' story and even see how William and Augustus are doing as well. This is honestly one of the best historical fiction romances books I've read, I could feel the love and the sentiments through the pages and I appreciated that a lot. I definitely want to read more from this author and even more from this world if he decides to continue with it.
Profile Image for Skye Kilaen.
Author 15 books304 followers
December 25, 2018
Solid historical romance centering trans issues from E.E. Ottoman, whose work I've enjoyed before. The romance part of it didn't quite sweep me away for whatever reason (my heart is a stone?) but I enjoyed the book! I would definitely read The Continuing Adventures of Doctors Blackwood and Hill to watch them grow as a couple while reforming the heck out of hospitals or whatever. (Or if Mr. Moss got his own book, absolutely.)

I was also thrilled to see the following quote, in contrast to the oft-repeated enthusing in M/M books of how men are just so great because they're so rough and made of jutting angles and body hair and straight lines and just so not womanish:

"he’d known plenty of men—slept with plenty of men—who had hips as round and chests that were not completely flat."

The guys I've slept with who fit that description have not been trans, but fat - so it's worth remembering when gender essentializing physical traits in our celebration of guys getting it on with each other, that it's liable to sting all kinds of men who don't meet your "ideal" image of manly bodies. Just sayin'.
Profile Image for retro.
348 reviews1 follower
September 13, 2019
The blurb sounded so interesting: an interracial romance between a black man and a transman set in 1830s New York? Sign me up! Tack on a race against time to save a man unjustly confined to an asylum and I was so ready to love this.

The story starts off well enough: Blackwood and Hill are brought together to catalog a Doctor Russell's collection of specimens and notes after the man's death. Neither have met him and yet here they are, working together in close quarters in his big, drafty house filled with eyeballs floating in jars. Naturally the two end up spending time together and sparks fly.

And then Henri Moss is introduced. Upon hearing that Moss is about to be treated as a research subject in the hospital where he works, Doctor Hill, who is trans himself, obviously feels compelled to come to his aid.

What follows is Blackwood and Hill having to hide Moss until they figure out a way to get him out of New York and away from the doctors who are now looking for him and the lawmen who aim to imprison him. Why haven't they thought of this before? Not sure. Once Moss is out of the hospital, the narrative just stalls while the characters sit around and occasionally grapple with what it means to be black, or trans, in 19th century America. Then for some reason they decide that taking Moss to Doctor Russell's home is a wise move... for some reason. Presumably so the dreaded Thornton can show up and be menacing?

Goodness, it's taken a while, I think to myself at this point, but I'm glad this book finally has a villain.

Ha. No.

This book doesn't just lack a villain (even saying ~society is the villain doesn't hold, because society doesn't do anything villainous short of Moss's arrest and that happens off the page) it sadly also lacks a plot. Characters sit and talk, travel by carriage, eat in various eateries, and have sex. They briefly engage in some Oppression Olympics, followed by an apology and forgiveness. There is no climax, no conflict, plot threads are introduced and discarded or otherwise tied up in wholly unsatisfying ways. The editing also leaves a lot to be desired and there were more than a few instances where the typos were quite jarring. I am disappoint.
Profile Image for Karen Wellsbury.
822 reviews38 followers
May 28, 2018
Full review/ chat about this book to follow on blog.

The relationship between Augustus and William was lovely, and the depiction of New York was colourful and vivid, however I found how the story unfolded rather telley, and the ending too simple and abrupt for me.

Review/ discussion here
442 reviews
July 12, 2018
What I liked about the setting of this book (besides the fact that I am always happy to read the book set in the historical New York) is that it was not glamorized. I thought it was a very good thing. We see that there were many talented doctors who tried to serve their patients to the best of their ability, but we also see that for example even in New York Hospital (according to the book one of the better NY Hospitals at the time) nurses were not well trained and had not had much (if any chance) to receive medical knowledge unless somebody who actually thought that well trained nurses could be helpful to the doctors would actually help in one way or another. We get to hear how awful Belleview hospital was and how much improvement was needed to actually help the patients needed the specialized mental help. There is really not much ( if any) glamour in this story, but to me it felt realistic and well researched.

Two main characters in your book meet in the house of recently deceased Dr. Russell who as they learned asked them both to catalogue his collection before it will be donated to medical organization of their choosing. Actually it was a little unclear to me if William and Augustus get to choose where to send the collection, but it was not really important, what important was that they got to make sure the books are in order, sort it out if not, etc.
Both men learn very quickly that no matter how different their life experiences may have been, they had a lot in common too, specifically their dedication to medicine, even if William was so burned out on serving the public during the epidemic of cholera that he did not feel he could examine patients anymore and devoted himself to medical research, especially public safety issues. Augustus served as a military surgeon, lost his arm and now works in the New York Hospital.
Both men also quickly realize that they are attracted to each other; however their attempt at getting together is cut short when Augustus is not willing to go beyond certain limits and William respects that.
When Augustus discovers that the patient mentioned in the blurb is brought to the hospital, he realizes what awful fate awaits this man and pretty much decides to kidnap him and enlists William’s help. I will leave it up to the reader to decide whether they would find the certain turn of events in the book to be plausible, but I thought the author established pretty well why Augustus would risk his position and his liberty to help the person he just met.
The story took pretty fast moving, suspenseful turn in the middle of it and I quite enjoyed it. I also liked how William and August navigated the beginning of their relationship in the midst of the auction.
The only nit I had was about the ending. I do not mean happy ending between Augustus and William. After all this is what I expect in romance and I was perfectly happy with it. I also believed that they may have a chance at the permanent future together. No, I just found the resolution that the author found for happy ending for Mr. Moss to be a tad convenient. I am not complaining much, because I sure liked that much better than the opposite, and I thought the author came up with a creative solution, but I did find it a tad convenient.
Grade B.

This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Katie (Romance Novel Quotes).
120 reviews11 followers
March 26, 2023
I forget how much I love non-Regency England historicals until I read a great one like this. 1831 New York City completely comes to life here, and as a New Yorker it was fascinating to read about neighborhoods and places I’m familiar with (Columbia University, Bellevue Hospital etc.) The characters are equally fascinating and their journeys get at so many different parts of identity and belonging and how they intersect—gender, sexuality, race, class, education etc. Plus, the plot is gripping and I love stories that explore medicine and illness through history. Thank you #transrightsreadathon for the push to read this excellent book.
Profile Image for ⚣Michaelle⚣.
3,672 reviews203 followers
February 3, 2018
3.9 Stars

Truly an interesting read; I wish more of the plot had centered on Augustus and William and them figuring out why a deceased doctor neither had met chose them to catalogue his book & specimen collection, or with both of them addressing the discrimination they each faced or the reticence their "new" thoughts and procedures for medicine would cause - as they would likely face extreme push-back from the whole staff in their new roles at the end of the book.

That's not to say the bit with Moss wasn't interesting; his plight was what drove the book and gave us insight into the fear Augustus felt were he to be discovered as well. Fear well-founded as history shows us that "freaks" and oddities were not treated well by the medical community (even those who seemingly meant well), and that horrid doctor's desire to examine and make a name for himself by exploiting Moss' physical differences is not a limited, infrequent occurrence. The way they were going to expose and handle Moss - as if he weren't human and because he was deemed a criminal had no say in what was to be done to him - is horrifying to imagine...and sadly common throughout history.

I do wish there had been more on the romantic relationship between Augustus and William as well. Not necessarily more sex, but more on their connection. It was very much Insta-lust/love and I think given their status, experience and orientation I would have liked it to be explored just a bit more.

Also, I found it really interesting that while William knew prejudice, his own upbringing and education shielded him some from the worst it. His limited wealth allowed him to be discerning - not buying clothes made of cotton, not drinking rum and abstaining from many products of the slave trade. I loved that, but can't help thinking that others less fortunate wouldn't be able to make that kind of moral stand without the means. And what I wouldn't give for more of Augustus' past! Being in the Navy, having that acceptance from the men he served with (many of them knowing his secret because in such close quarters it would be too hard to hide)...that HAS to be an interesting tale! Maybe the author will give us a prequel some day? *crosses fingers*
Profile Image for Hunter.
154 reviews53 followers
May 5, 2023
I really enjoyed this historical fiction with a sprinkle of romance (and spice) set in New York in the 1800s, following two doctors, William and Gus, as they take on the mission of rescuing a trans man, Mr. Moss, who has been held against his will in a hospital for inhuman examination and research of his body.
Profile Image for Cat M.
170 reviews24 followers
March 26, 2018
An enjoyable, but somewhat distant-feeling historical romance set in the 1850s.

cw: arrest and misgendering of a non-pov trans male character and threat of institutionalization and medical abuse of said character. pov character reacting poorly to his sexual partner disclosing that he is trans.

I really like both William and Augustus and I love that, while they are both doctors, they have very different focuses and experiences. And there is a richness of historical accuracy here that is a pleasure to read. It was also lovely to read a story centred on two characters - one black, one trans, both working professionals - who fall outside the common archetypes found in so many historical romances.

However, I found myself unable to entirely engage with either their romance or the risky endeavour to rescue an imprisoned trans man that is at the heart of the narrative. It just never pulled me in.

While it’s obvious that the stakes are high, the plot never feels particularly fraught or tense, and in the end they don’t find a solution to their dilemma so much as have a fully realized one dropped in their laps.
Profile Image for Chels.
288 reviews374 followers
December 2, 2021
The way this book packs a punch! It's littered with small, intimate moments, tender confessions, and longing. I loved everything about it.

Dr. William Blackwood and Dr. Augustus Hill are brought together to work on a project. William is a Black man who is always on edge in his interactions with his fellow doctors, guarding himself from both overt racism and microagressions. He quickly hits it off with Augustus, a white trans man who is closeted by necessity. They're both uneasy in their environments and worried what the other is thinking of them.

When another trans man is involuntarily hospitalized at Augustus's workplace, Augustus knows that he needs to help him escape, and William is quick to help. The stakes are so high for everyone involved, and evening knowing that I was promised a happy ending, I cared so much about how I got there.

Profile Image for Anna.
1,334 reviews225 followers
April 12, 2022
So I'm 100% on board for all the rep and the historic setting but I think this one fell victim to a poor narrator. I was routinely pulled from the story and the characters bc the narration was jarring and over enunciated. There was also no distinction to when the POV was changing and the narrator didn't use a different tone so I often felt confused. This had so much potential but unfortunately fell a bit flat. It's still an intriguing story and even though the romance was rushed it was still lovely.

Black cis gay man, white disabled trans man, secondary white trans man.
Profile Image for PaperMoon.
1,389 reviews57 followers
July 29, 2022
The reviews were all over the place with this and I'm afraid that whilst the MCs were not unlikable, I wasn't drawn into their drama/plight. The ending was unexpected, if not entirely believable. 2.5 stars at best.
Profile Image for Trin.
1,782 reviews558 followers
February 18, 2018
Captivating -- I read it in one sitting. The plot unfortunately deflates a bit at the end, abruptly running up against a slightly too convenient conclusion, but while it's humming along, it is interesting and different and great. Also, and I say this as someone who is very picky about these things: this book is genuinely sexy.
Profile Image for Misty.
1,368 reviews
December 2, 2017
** 4.5 Stars **

What a wonderful surprise this novel was! It encapsulates everything you could want in a story : an intriguing theme, well-drawn and unusual characters and an excellent plot with the right amount of angst. I think Augustus & William would have been fun to have around a little longer. I suppose this is a common phenomenon, that feeling of not wanting a good book to end. Highly recommended!
Profile Image for Victoria (Eve's Alexandria).
664 reviews384 followers
August 12, 2019
Set in New York in 1831, this romance between two doctors - one a black gay cisgender man and the other a white transgender man - is absolutely lovely in so many ways. It’s tender and gentle, and extraordinarily good at the interpersonal relationships at the heart of the story. I was really rooting for Augustus and William, who made such a perfect fit together.

The story, however, was somewhat lacking. It starts off well, with a daring plot to rescue another trans man from New York City Asylum, but loses a lot of momentum in the second half and fizzles completely towards the end. The writing too was a little uneven, brilliantly astute and detailed at times and then rather mundane and monotonous at others.
Profile Image for Jenn (not Lily).
3,805 reviews18 followers
July 2, 2020
3.25 stars
Yes, these characters are all rather amazing. Yes, the city and hospital and eating-houses and tavern were all beautifully detailed. Yes, the sex was both hot and tender in turn. But I still wish to God it had been edited more closely. By the end, I was highlighting the worst of the spelling errors and just plain sloppiness where a word was placed at the end of another word instead of a line down where it belonged. (You can't possibly believe that "Hospitaljust" is a real word, can you? I can't.) And a doctor treats their patients with patience -- please note the difference in spelling. I wanted to love it, but I was yanked out of the story just one too many times. Sigh.
Profile Image for Anwen Hayward.
Author 2 books306 followers
October 3, 2019
Doctors Augustus Hill and William Blackwood meet when they're asked to archive and catalogue a medical estate, but when Augustus discovers that his hospital is holding a 'true hermaphrodite' (the hospital's words, not his / mine) patient against his will as a sensationalist object of ridicule, the two of them join forces to stage a hospital rescue, prison break style, and their own secrets are revealed along the way.

Ottoman is very, very good at invoking a historical setting and using it to explore modern ideas without losing the authenticity of the period, and nothing in this book feels forced or is treated lightly. Augustus is trans and disabled and William is a man of colour, and ableism, transphobia and racism are all themes alongside the main romance plot. Despite that, it's not a heavy read; the plot moves at a fast but well measured speed, and the romance evolves quickly without feeling unnatural. The, erm, spicy scenes are handled well (ooh-err) without making light of Augustus' dysphoria, but showing that love is always possible, and indeed best flourishes, with respect and boundaries.

I did find that the plot meandered a bit towards the end, and it then pulled my least favourite kind of ending - the ending that no-one could ever have possibly seen coming because it wasn't foreshadowed at all - with one of the subplots, but the main plot was wrapped up nicely enough that I didn't mind too much.

A diverse romance which manages to deliver a feel-good hopefulness without shying away from what it takes to get there.
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