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REVIEW: Home Within Skin – Jem Zero

Home Within Skin - Jem Zero

Genre: Sci-Fi, Romance

LGBTQ+ Category: MM, Bi, Gay, Trans FTM

Reviewer: Maryann

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About The Book

A homeless trans man and an alien sex worker ruin each other’s nights, film a porno, and fall in love.

Jax, a disabled trans man with more hangups than belongings, has survived two years of homelessness by keeping his head down and refusing to trust. The intergalactic Rrhi immigration reshaping life on Earth seems irrelevant until Jax sneaks into a hotel hoping for a respite from the cold and accidentally barges in on a Rrhi sex worker.

Sei-vész is stunning, but his defensiveness almost scares Jax away. Almost. Jax sees his vulnerabilities mirrored in Sei-vész, so he accepts the other man’s reluctant offer of a truce. What starts as a one-time experiment spirals into an unexpected deep affection that draws them into each other’s arms again and again.

When Sei-vész tries to protect Jax from his own stubbornness, though, Jax digs in his heels. Love isn’t a guarantee, and relying on others is what landed him on the streets in the first place.

If Jax wants a future with Sei-vész, he’ll need to challenge himself… and open up to trust. Otherwise he might be left out in the cold once again.

HOME WITHIN SKIN is a 63,000 word M/M alien romance with a trans protagonist. It is written in second person, present tense. The story includes descriptions of PTSD, abuse, sex work, and homelessness, and has multiple open door intimate scenes. Happy ending guaranteed.

The Review

This is an unbelievably, fantastic story from Jem Zero. Sei-vesz and Jax are two absolutely unforgettable and wonderful characters! Their story is funny at times, but it’s also sad as they face adversity from society.

The Rrhi have escaped their planet and come to Earth – specifically Detroit in 2004. Michigan Law protects them, and has given Rrhi the ability to integrate into local communities. They have the right to make a new and safe start in a new world. Some gain education to find a good jobs, but many find they aren’t accepted, and because of their physical form, they can only find jobs as sex workers.  

Jackson “Jax” Gale twenty-two, is transgender. He’s been dealing with his transition for two years. His life as a child was abusive, and at seventeen, he went to live with his Great Aunt Fadwa. Three years later, she passed away, leaivng Jax living out of her old car and homeless for two years.

 Jax is a complex character. He struggles with his transition, doesn’t like to be touched, and seems to have a guilt complex. He fights accepting, help and doesn’t like to be trapped by offers of places to stay from those that care about him. He feels that the best place for him is the streets.

Natalie has befriended both Jax and Sei-vesz, and she worries about both of their lives. She works at a local hotel, and has found a way for both her friends to spend the night in warm rooms. A mix-up of room numbers has Jax and Sei-vesz meeting under some very awkward circumstances. 

Sei-vesz aka Seth is one of the Rrhi and a very high priced prostitute. He seems to have accepted that this is the best job for him. But when he meets Jax, he turns the human’s world upside down.

Jax doesn’t know what to do with this beautiful creature. As they both connect, Sei-vesz makes Jax a part of his life, and explains about the world that he came from.

This was an amazing story, the first time I’ve read something from Jem Zero. The writing is outstanding and fresh. I was invested in Jax and Sei-vesz from the first time they met – the scene with the mixed up hotel rooms is really funny and cute. And the physical differences between the trans human and the alien Rrhi made this a highly erotic and romantic novel.  There are some very emotional moments between Sei-vesz and Jax, and they tug at your heart strings!  

Jem Zero also paints an amazing picture as Sei-vesz explains to Jax what his planet was like, and why the Rrhi left, and howthey now have to struggle to live on Earth.

The story also addresses several big problems – prejudice, racism, homophobia and just being different. As a trans man, Jax has to face the fact that he was prejudiced against Sei-vesz and his kind – just like people are prejudiced against him.  

I highly recommend Home Within Skin. It’s an unforgettable story with two very memorable characters!  The cover had me intrigued and the blurb did too. I’m so glad I got the opportunity to read this!

The Reviewer

Hi, I’m Maryann, I started life in New York, moved to New Hampshire and in 1965 uprooted again to Sacramento, California.  Once I retired I moved to West Palm Beach, Florida in 2011 and just moved back to Sacramento in March of 2018.  My son, his wife and step-daughter flew out to Florida and we road tripped back so they got to see sights they have never seen.  New Orleans and the Grand Canyon were the highlights. Now I am back on the west coast again to stay! From a young age Ialways liked to read.

I remember going to the library and reading the “Doctor Dolittle” books by Hugh Lofting. Much later on became a big fan of the classics, Edgar Alan Poe, Mary Shelley, Bram Stoker and as time went by Agatha Christie, Ray Bradbury and Stephen Kingand many other authors.

My first M/M shifter book I read was written by Jan Irving the “Uncommon Cowboys” series from 2012.  She was the first author I ever contacted and sent an email to letting her know how much I liked this series.  Sometime along the way I read “Zero to the Bone”by Jane Seville, I think just about everyone has read this book! 

As it stands right now I’m really into mysteries, grit, gore and “triggers” don’t bother me. But if a blurb piques my interest I will read the book.

My kindle collection eclectic and over three thousand books and my Audible collection is slowly growing.  I have both the kindle and audible apps on my ipod, ipads, and MAC. So there is never an excuse not to be listening or reading.

I joined Goodreads around 2012 and started posting reviews.  One day a wonderful lady, Lisa Horan of The Novel Approach, sent me an email to see if I wanted to join her review group.  Joining her site was such an eye opener.  I got introduce to so many new authors that write for the LGBTQ genre. Needless to say, it was heart breaking when it ended.

But I found a really great site, QRI and it’s right here in Sacramento. Last year at QSAC I actually got to meet Scott Coatsworth, Amy Lane and Jeff Adams. 



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