REVIEW: The Doctor’s Discretion by E.E.Ottoman
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?
Dear E.E. Ottoman,
What I liked about the setting of this book (besides the fact that I am always happy to read a 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 who needed 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 a 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 is 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, he 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 an 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 a 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 the 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 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.