Meet the "cosmetic genetics": friends, lovers, and situational enemies who form a vibrant, unexpected harmony of comedy, romance, and drama.
Hector "Zario" del Rosario is excited to begin life as an independent gay man in Los Angeles, but he can’t keep his straight roommates out of his love life. After breaking up with his boyfriend Shane, his friends enter a high-stakes bet to find new romantic prospects for him.
Ellington Gomez has his hands full, usually with an assortment of beautiful women, but when he receives an SOS from his gay younger brother Marshall, it becomes apparent that a little change might be the best thing to happen to him.
Jericho "Jay" Kim doesn’t like staying in the same place long enough for the smell to stick, so when he moves in with struggling actor Sunji Spencer, he figures eight months, twelve tops. Then Zario moves in and suddenly Jay finds an increasing amount of reasons to stay.
Adapted by show creator C.S.R. Calloway, Pretty Dudes: The Novel brings Zario and his friends into a rich, textured new medium, combining their kaleidoscopic experiences into bold, ever-changing patterns of humor, heartbreak, and hope.
Chance Sion-Raize Calloway is a prolific writer across a multitude of mediums and genres. Best known as creator and showrunner of the award-winning series Pretty Dudes, Calloway currently lives in Los Angeles with his Venus flytraps Betsy, Bootsie, and Itsy-Bitsy.
The question you must ask yourself before reading this book: How important is a definitive HFN to your reading enjoyment? It's pretty important to me, so I had to sit on this rating for a minute, but in the end I didn't knock any stars off because I liked it so much before the open-ended conclusion.
It's a fun, easy read that still has actual depth. It's smart. It has insightful things to say -- about diversity and POC rep, about the unintended microaggressions the gay MC experiences from his extremely loving, caring close-knit group of straight roommates/friends, about the dangers of tokenization (with both race and sexuality) -- without ever getting heavy or angsty.
There's also a lot of casual dating (mostly low-steam), and it takes quite a while before the main love interest really becomes clear. So you have to be able to enjoy the ride and not worry too much about the destination.
The book starts with the friend group dragging the MC out of the house for his first night out since a bad breakup. There is discussion of the bad romantic choices/luck of the group at large that eventually devolves into an elaborate bet over who can pick the best date for Zario. Shenanigans ensue, and we then get to watch how these dates play out each week.
To use references from the book, it's a diverse, Millenial, slightly more serious version of Friends / Living Single, if there had been a gay MC (or any queer rep atall...). So we get snippets of the love lives of all characters in the friends group, not just the MC, although it's a single POV...for the most part.
The writing style had me a little worried at first, but it settles into itself once the bet gets going. This is the novelization of a web series (written by the series creator), and the change in mediums is obvious when we're in scenes that don't involve the POV character. It mostly works, but the transitions are a little awkward and sometimes the jumps between the shorter scenes feel choppy.
I'm pretty sure this is self-published, and the author is clearly a fantastic storyteller. I did end up taking off half a star for the clash of mediums, but this is potential five-star material with a proper book editor. (And I am stingy as hell with my stars.) I liked the large cast of characters, but a few of their scenes could easily have been cut as we ramped up toward the conclusion with the MC and his love interest.
That and the final ending were the two places that felt like the author needed to make better use of the inherent advantage of books over TV shows -- no need to factor in the actors themselves. Shove everybody else to the background as your MC takes center stage for his HFN, and firm that up without worrying about which cast members are committed to season two. Embrace your literary FREEEEEDOMMMMM!!!
As it is, the ending walks right up to the line of qualifying as a tentative HFN, but doesn't quite cross it. Mostly because I never could get a sense of what's going on in the love interest's head, so it really just feels like a disaster waiting to happen. But hell, that could very well be the intent because it sure is an enticing disaster, and I'm not sure I'd be able to avoid it any better than Zario is. The physical chemistry between the two characters is sizzling and their intellectual connection is palpable. It's the emotions that remain a mystery.
And despite the lack of clarity in that ending, I would still whole-heartedly recommend this OwnVoices romcom, where the platonic friendships get just as much weight as the romantic ones, and the pretty boy millennials had me laughing even as I was cringing as they somehow managed to be both ridiculous and thought-provoking.
**This book was provided for free by the author in exchange for an honest review via the MMRG Don’t Buy My Love Program**
3.5 rounded up. When I got to the end of this I wasn't sure what to think of the book. I wasn't thrilled with the ending of this book but it for the most part I did enjoy reading it. There is a lot of humor and I love alot of the characters. I like the group dynamic of all friends and the interconnecting relationships between them. They are caring of each other but at times the relationships get messy as well. Four straight guys and the next door neighbor trying to set up their gay friend is a fun concept.
Hi, I wrote this! Pretty Dudes: The Novel is based on the award-winning digital series and has all the great stuff from the show, plus new and exciting scenes, storylines, and moments.
💘 straight guys playing matchmaker for their gay homie ☕️ a unique chosen family 💵 a bet that puts everyone out of their comfort zones 🦄 thoughtful conversations about marginalization and intersectionality 💍 an accidental proposal 🏨 rooftop LA clubs with pools 🦚 a pretty privilege deconstruction 💪🏾 one protective older brother 🃏 a life-changing game of truth or dare 🐇 something called hoikey-boikeys 💦 hot, sacred, explicit gay sex 🏳️🌈 straight love, too, sometimes, but really a lot of gay shit
content warnings: 🗯 implied sexual assault 🥃 frequent/excessive alcohol use 💊 brief drug use 💔 brief suicidal ideation
Zario, Ellington, Jay, Alexander, Sunji, and Eagle are all waiting for you inside. Grab an empty teacup and let them pour you a shot of escape.