Author: J. Leigh Bailey
Publisher: HaromonyInk Press
Publication Date: 15 September 2016
Rating: 2.5/5. Stars
Diversity: LGBT Characters, Disabled Characters
TW: rape, underage prostitution, parental abuse, suicide attempt
Summary: No good deed goes unpunished, and for seventeen-year-old Isaiah Martin, that’s certainly the case. The gun he was caught with wasn’t even his, for God’s sake. He only had it to keep a friend from doing something stupid. No one wants to hear it though, and Isaiah is banished—or so it seems to him—to live with his missionary father in politically conflicted Cameroon, Africa.
However, when he arrives, his father is so busy doing his good deeds that he sends Henry, the young, surprisingly hot do-gooder with a mysterious past, to pick up Isaiah and keep him out of trouble. Even while Isaiah is counting down the days until he can go home, he and Henry get caught in the political unrest of the region. Kidnapped by militant forces, the two have to work together to survive until they are rescued—unless they manage to find a way to save each other first.
Disclaimer: I received an e-copy of this book on NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Isaiah was born in Africa, but soon moved with his mother to the United States. Now he is on his way back. He tried to stop a friend from making a big mistake and was caught with her gun in his hand. He should spend two months there, working at his father’s hospital. Henry, who works for his father, picks him up at the airport. While they drive they are stopped by armed mercenaries and kidnapped. During their time as prisoners they have to face many terrible things and struggle for survival.
I enjoy the character growth we got to see and how Isaiah turned from a moody boy to a Hero, from somebody who thought that helping people only got yourself in trouble, to somebody who actively wanted to help people.
Their relationship starts with a hate-love relationship in which Isaiah calls Henry Hank to make him angry. He also resents all those do-gooders who are like his father, but slowly he starts to care more about Henry and soon develops a bit of a crush.
I liked that Isaiah was a Typ-1-Diabetic and that it w
as described realistically as where the problems that happened when he couldn’t access his Insulin.
There where some scenes that just didn’t make sense (like Isaiah forgetting that he had just been abducted and locked up in a dark damp cellar and instead swooning over how ~pretty~ Henry is.) Some of the paragraphs were choppy and it threw me out of the reading flow at times. Also Henry’s mysterious past was the “gay homeless boy starting prostitution to survive” which I’ve read in so many stories already, that it is neither a mystery nor particularly interesting. And while i’m sure that it’s the story of many homeless gay boys, it also doesn’t help that most of the time that plot is written by women, and not ownvoices.
There was an (unnecessary) rape scene (and no exploration of what trauma that must have been, especially considering Henry’s past), the death of the only black women of importance (the book was set in Africa and there’s not a single important black character who survives/exists, which just feels… lazy) [the only other black character is an evil kidnapper] and some racist remarks from Isaiah (at least those where challenged in the book).
I think the setting was interesting, but that the story could have been better. I also never really felt connected to the characters, so the book just fell flat for me.
Why I read it: A m/m romance set in Africa? Yes, I’ll check it out!
Do I recommend it: If you’re looking for a fast-paced m/m romance with crime story aspects, this could be the book for you. Just look out for the trigger warnings.