Seeking absolution for his past in a fiery death, a young space force pilot crashes his ship on a desert planet.
When Ellis Ligoria, King of Xol, witnesses a spaceship hurtling to the planet’s surface, he rushes to the scene of the crash and joins the search party for survivors. As night descends, a strange compulsion leads him to the site of an underground city. Here he rescues a badly injured Jem. During his recovery, it is discovered that Jem is part Xolan. Not only that, but he’s a genetically submissive variation called a Xolani. Ellis has no wish to care for a Xolani but cannot resist his desire for Jem. Taking him under his protection, he brings him home to his family.
Desperately wanting this new life, Jem claims to be a solitary Vagabond, a loner without family or home. A man nobody wants or is looking for. Safe for the first time in his memory, Jem has hopes for a happy future. He is falling in love with Ellis and adores his new family. All he wants is to live a quiet life as Ellis’ consort, but as his secrets sink him deeper and deeper into a prison of lies, he knows that he cannot hide his true identity forever. Marrying Ellis is a dream come true, but he’ll never escape the brutal man he is running from.
Soon called upon to make the ultimate sacrifice, Jem must fight to stop a powerful monster bent on revenge.
- 2 Read lists
- 1 To Be Read list
Publisher: Pride Publishing
Heat Level: 4
Romantic Content: 4
Ending: Click here to reveal
Character Identities: Gay
Protagonist 1 Age: 26-35
Protagonist 2 Age: 18-25
Tropes: Hurt / Comfort, Mpreg, Rescue, Thrill of the Chase
Word Count: 77,575
Languages Available: English
Serena on Rainbow Book Reviews wrote:
The world building in this story is fabulous. I loved how there’s history included yet done seamlessly so you don’t feel like you’re getting information overload. The scenery is described so beautifully you truly get the sense you’re there. Jem and Ellis love each other deeply and you can feel it coming through in their words and actions.
Some of Jem’s actions and motivations were lost on me. However he has a deeply troubled past so he’s not always completely rational. I loved watching his journey in this story. He goes through so much you ache for him. But he is amazingly strong even when he’s at his weakest. He overcomes things that would kill most people. The final scene was lovely. Getting to see him genuinely happy and feeling worthy of the love and affection he receives if fabulous.
I wanted more Ellis. We get to see inside his head to some extent in this story, but it wasn’t enough. He’s such a well presented character I really connected with him. I wanted to see some more of his motivations and struggles. I’m hoping there will be more books in this world so I can get more Ellis plus more of the other characters too. I will be reading more by Ms. Sky in the future as well. Her voice was wonderful and I hope to see more by her soon.
Not an easy or straightforward read, ‘Pretty Human’ is fascinating in its mystery and disquieting in what it says about human nature. Set on a faraway planet, in a distant future, what is going on was not clear initially and took some getting used to. The world building is good and intriguing, the characters are introduced gradually, and the background is revealed slowly enough to maintain a certain suspense while ensuring the flood of information does not overwhelm. The main characters are from very different backgrounds, yet feel drawn to each other, and the truth of what is going on isn’t revealed until the final third of the novel.
Jem is shrouded in secrets, things he is trying to forget, but that will catch up with him, sometimes at the most unexpected moments. At the beginning of the novel he intends to kill himself, but when he doesn’t succeed, forgetting who he is and what he has done is the next best thing. Jem will do anything for his new life, one where he is safe and loved. He discovers that he is part Xolan, a Xolani who is “made to obey”, and while he thinks he wants to be like a Xolani on the one hand, he struggles against it on the other. After all, he is three-quarters human, and I believe his willingness to obey Ellis is an act of desperation, and maybe hope for a new life. The fact that Ellis meets out corporal punishment, in line with the laws that he says he doesn’t believe in, did not sit easy with me. But – by the end of the book I could see why he did it and while I still did not like it, at least there was a certain logic to it.
Ellis is a man living his life out in the open, supposedly without secrets. He has become king at too young an age because his parents died in a car accident. He feels attracted to Jem despite an unwillingness to become tied to a Xolani. But even though he falls in love, he uses a belt on Jem when punishment is required – not something I understood until the very end of the book. Ellis does stand by Jem though, when his past comes to catch up with him, and I have to give him credit for that.
Jem and Ellis do not have an easy relationship. Ellis loves Jem, all of him, while Jem cannot believe or fully trust him. Based on what emerges about Jem’s past, I can’t say I blame him. Jem’s final “test” is as brutal as expected, but the way he reconciles himself with who and what he used to be, then stands up and fights that is well done. Please do heed the publisher’s warnings – abuse, rape, and torture are an integral part of this story and rather graphic at times.
If you like the grittier side of science fiction, if a human discovering he is part alien and born not only to be submissive but also to carry children, and if you’re looking for a read full of mystery, suspense, extremely cruel enemies, and a psychologically and physically challenging fight for freedom of a man who never wanted to be what his enemies made him, then you might like this novel.