Review: Focus On Me, by Megan Erickson

Blurb:

cover-meganerickson-focusonmeColin Hartman can now add college to his list of failures. On the coast-to-coast trek home from California, Colin stops at a gas station in the Nevada desert, and can’t help noticing the guy in tight jeans looking like he just stepped off a catwalk. When he realizes Catwalk is stranded, Colin offers a ride.

Riley only intended to take a short ride in Colin’s Jeep to the Grand Canyon. But one detour leads to another until they finally find themselves tumbling into bed together. However there are shadows in Riley’s eyes that hide a troubled past. And when those shadows threaten to bury the man whom Colin has fallen in love with, he vows to get Riley the help he needs. For once in his life, quitting isn’t an option…


Stats:

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Dates read:
Edition read:
July 21, 2015
InterMix
Contemporary, New Adult, M/M, GLBT+
204 e-book pages
1st person
In Focus, book 2
February 5, 2016
Kindle Edition
See the book on GoodReads.

Rating:     ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Ratings are 1 to 5 stars and based mostly on GoodReads standards.
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Review:

Megan Erickson is a dark horse.

You’d think (or at least I did) that with that cover, with that blurb, you’d get a sweet, low-angst tale. One of just two guys hooking up under rather ideal conditions and trotting merrily down the highway to Happily Ever After.

That’s kind of what I needed when I sat down to read this on a Friday night after a high-stress week.

Alright, on second glance, the last three sentences of blurb indicate things may not be all sunshine and roses. But that was so quickly forgotten when I started this book because the beginning was mostly sunshine and roses and happy trails and tales (and tails, of course).

Road trip stories. What an excellent backdrop and metaphor for figuring out how you fit in this great big world. You, the open road, nothing but time and an endless stretch of highway to sort through failures and mistakes, figure out what’s next, where you belong. Realizing that sometimes the place you belong is where it all began, a place you initially ran from. Having the time to deviate from your intended route to see and experience parts of the country you’d likely never otherwise see. Offering a ride to a stranded person who’s smokin’ hot. *

And what may feel like insta-lust or insta-love is insta-believable because these characters are pent-up in a vehicle and in motel rooms, joined at the hip for days and days on a mostly coast-to-coast journey. What better way to get to know someone beyond insta-attraction? Even when one of them isn’t very talkative.

I don’t like to give spoilers–except of course when I have major problems with a story and feel the need to unleash an epic rant. I don’t have cause here…. BUT will say that there are some potential triggers herein with eating disorders, depression, mental illness, and suicidal thoughts.

This is why I call Megan Erickson a dark horse…because I wasn’t expecting these things. I wasn’t expecting to sob ugly tears and I wasn’t expecting to get gut-wrenched back to a place as the person seeing a loved one fight similar demons. And since I wasn’t expecting all that, I wasn’t expecting to be so thoroughly impressed with the way Megan handled these elements. BEAUTIFULLY.

Under the circumstances of being on the road with a beautiful stranger, sorting through his own crap, finding his way home, falling in lust and love it takes Colin some time to piece together that Riley has some serious problems.

He’s gotten himself in deep enough that walking away from Riley–or dropping him on the side of the road–is not an option.

I love how this was written and handled. It’s nuanced and woven so intricately with the intimacy they’re building that it doesn’t feel overly weighted with despair. Instead, it’s fluid, organic, and full of care and hope. That’s the best part…hope.

And the Carolina barbecue. Have mercy. Ever had that? It is so different from any of the Q you get from other parts of the country and so good it’ll make you kiss your momma. Only things not mentioned, that would have had my ass in the car headed down to North Carolina, were the fried green tomatoes and green beans boiled all day with fatback (but I can get that calorified, heart-clogging goodness around here).

It’s taken me more than a week after reading this to get my review together because of the overall impact. I just couldn’t stop thinking about these guys and trying to put myself in their shoes. This story…it’s one that’ll stick with me for a long time.

*Don’t do that! Never ever, ever do that–smokin’ hot or not.

This review also posted on GoodReads.

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