Rating: 3.75 stars
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Having only the memories of a long lost love that left a gaping hole in his life, Prez is certain he’s destined to only find comfort in the arms of the brothels he frequents. After all, who would want an alien half breed that has been used as a lab rat? Held captive by his own people, a freak in the eyes of the rest of the universe, Prez and his merry band of misfits now call the Outcast, a relic of a cargo ship, home. Forced to take on a new co-pilot when his old one has a minor mishap, Prez chooses a quiet, mysterious, and intriguing Aldorian. His attraction to Lan is immediate, but Lan’s cultural restrictions – not pairing with other alien races and the fact that Aldorians don’t accept male-male pairings – keep Prez from acting on that attraction.
Lan left his home planet, Aldor, after shaming himself and his family when he failed to complete the Binding ceremony with an Aldorian female. Finding a job as temporary co-pilot on the Outcast seems like just the thing he needs to start his life over. Joining the ragtag crew on the old cargo ship proves to be disconcerting and confusing, as well as an unexpected adventure. Learning to live among other races proves to be strange, but not impossible. When Lan notices physical changes to his body, and his attraction to a male becomes apparent, he tries every way possible to deny those feelings. After all, it’s impossible for Lan’s true mate to be a male; it goes against everything he’s ever been taught.
During their final mission aboard the Outcast, the crew transports a secret cargo and hover on the edge of starting a galactic incident. When the mission is complete and things return to normal, including Prez’s original co-pilot’s reappearance, Lan is sure that he will be sent away. Lan makes the painful decision to leave before he can be asked to do so. Just as Prez has almost everything to make him feel complete – great friends, money from the successful mission, and a new ship – can he find a way to keep Lan again and keep him as part of the Outcast crew and in Prez’s life for good?
I’ll be honest, the thing that attracted me to this book was the cover. Which is not to say that the book itself isn’t good. It’s a good sci-fi story set in an amazing world…or universe. It’s an okay romance, but a better adventure, and it does have some obvious setbacks.
First, let’s begin with what worked. The world building is seriously amazing and complex. The different species, their beliefs, their physical characteristics and capabilities, the separate planets, the histories of each planet, space travel, the different languages – it’s all so very detailed without distracting from the storyline. It’s easy to get lost in the picture that this world creates. Oh, and the secret of the blue planet is cute. Once I realized what was happening, I had to giggle to myself for not seeing it from the beginning.
The characters, main and secondary, are all great characters. The personality put into each individual character, their quirks, their strengths – I was charmed by them immediately. Prez and Lan are both broken in different ways, but each helps the other heal and move on. Prez is headstrong and confident with a secret insecurity he keeps hidden pretty well. Lan is more innocent and confused but ready to move on with his life, if only he knew how to. As friends, they complement each other well. As a couple they lacked a connection, but if that connection would have been there, I feel they would have balanced each other out well. The secondary cast is my favorite. They are all so vastly different and peculiar. They support and love each other passionately. They are a family, the only family most of them have. They truly are the best part of this book.
So, on to the things that didn’t work so well for me. Whereas individually, I really liked Prez and Lan. I wasn’t really feeling their attraction to each other in this book. It was odd. They seemed to be friends, sort of, but I just didn’t see a physical attraction. Once they did acknowledge an attraction to one another that was it, their relationship didn’t really change until the last couple chapters, and even then I still didn’t feel the connection between them. Also, the story itself was a good one, but it had a slow start. There were times I just wanted them to get to the point and move on instead of dragging the story out. Finally, the alien language. There were times where the author just drops a word and readers are expected to know what it means, when in all reality there’s really no way to understand this made up language. And when the definition is finally given three chapters later, I’d already forgot what context it was used in prior. I feel that the alien words could have been presented in a better way.
In the end, I liked this story – more for the sci-fi world and adventure than the romance. The characters are solid. The world is amazing. The space adventure is exciting. It was a pretty good read once I got past the slow start. I would have preferred a more of a love story, but I wouldn’t mind reading another story set in this world someday.