Do-Gooder, by J. Leigh Bailey
Publisher: Harmony Ink Press
Release Date: September 15, 2016
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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.
This book was not what I was expecting at all. I was immediately intrigued when I read that it’s set in Africa since that’s a location I don’t ever recall seeing in Romance before. I love learning about new places so I jumped at the chance to review this one. I went in thinking that these kids would have some fun adventures with a conflict at the end. You know, the typical romance format, but this…this story is so much more. It’s an incredibly intense telling of how Isaiah and Henry get through the challenges of a horrible situation all the while putting the past behind them and growing as individuals. There may not be much room for romance but love abounds, tenfold.
I thought it funny how Isaiah kept referring to his dad and Henry as do-gooders. He’s so wrapped up in his feelings about his absentee father, his BFF’s problems, how he feels about Henry and the trouble they find themselves in that he doesn’t realize he’s just like them. He’s got a good heart and I really enjoyed seeing him and Henry take turns looking after one another. Even still, being kidnapped gives him a lot of time to figure out all the emotions he’s feeling.
“Chuck had been more of a father to Henry than he’d been to me, but maybe Henry needed it more. I had Mom. He’d had no one. I didn’t like the crazy jumble of emotions my mind and body could barely contain. Anger, protectiveness, jealousy, pride, love, disgust. It was too much for any one person to hold in.”
The story is told in Isaiah’s POV but he’s such a curious character that I think Bailey does a great job of letting us get a peek inside Henry’s head too.
Isaiah learns that Henry’s had a rough start in life but he’s found his place working with Isaiah’s dad. I thought his cool calm was a good counter balance to Isaiah’s anxiousness. His past has made him wise beyond his years but he needs to let those old demons go. I think Isaiah is the perfect person to make him see that he’s worthy of love, and even though he probably won’t listen, he can put his own wants and needs ahead of everyone else from time to time.
I worried that the story had the potential to go off the rails and become an eye rolling DNF but that moment never came. This enthralling tale flows at a pace that’ll have you turning the last page before you know it. There’s a ton of character growth and although it seems dire for the better part, the conclusion makes all the nail biting worth it. There were a couple inconsistencies that bugged me but they were so minor that I don’t feel it was enough to take away from the experience. Another thing I liked is that although it’s written about young adults I feel that people of any age will enjoy it.
So if you’re tired of the same old romance formula or you’re just looking to try something different I definitely think Do-Gooder is worth a look. I know I’ll be looking for more from Miss Bailey.
J. Leigh Bailey is an office drone by day and the author of Young Adult LGBT Romance by night. She can usually be found with her nose in a book or pressed up against her computer monitor. A book-a-day reading habit sometimes gets in the way of… well, everything…but some habits aren’t worth breaking. She’s been reading romance novels since she was ten years old. The last twenty years or so have not changed her voracious appetite for stories of romance, relationships and achieving that vitally important Happy Ever After. She’s a firm believer that everyone, no matter their gender, age, sexual orientation or paranormal affiliation deserves a happy ending.
Now she writes Young Adult LGBT Romance novels about boys traversing the crazy world of love, relationships and acceptance.
You can purchase Do-Gooder from:
Harmony Ink Press (paperback)
Harmony Ink Press (ebook)
Barnes & Noble
I received an advanced copy of this novel in exchange for a fair and honest review.