New Release Review & Excerpt:
Focus on Me by Megan Erickson
BookCrushin is very excited to have been granted an eARC of Megan Erickson’s newest release, Focus on Me! I adore Megan Erickson and devoured her first book in the In Focus series, Trust the Focus. Focus on Me is a new adult, male/male, road-trip romance and it released today! My spoiler-free review is below as well as an excerpt. I hope you love this book & series as much as I did!
Category: New Adult, Contemporary Romance, M/M
Publication: July 21st, 2015; InterMix
Colin 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…
My boots made an odd sound on the Skywalk. I watched them as I raised my knees up, forward, then down onto the clear glass floor, from which I could see the bottom of the Grand Canyon two thousand feet below.
My legs shook, and my heart felt like it was beating in my mouth. I wiped my forehead with the sleeve of my shirt and breathed in through my nose, out through my mouth.
This whole thing was weird and freaky. But the bridge was a little crowded, and Riley seemed to like it, so I shut my mouth and fought against my flight instinct. Still, I gazed longingly at the solid ground at the edge of the Grand Canyon. According to the shuttle driver, the U-shaped Skywalk jutted out from the rim of the Grand Canyon seventy feet at its farthest point. Which was where we were.
Riley leaned on the railing and looked below. I followed his gaze, spying the Colorado River in the distance.
I walked over next to him and folded my forearms on the railing, resting my forehead on them and closing my eyes. Then I prayed my legs would stop shaking.
When I looked up, Riley was watching me with amusement.
“What’s that look for?”
“You don’t like this, do you?”
He laughed. “Liar. Your face is white and you’re sweating like crazy.”
I wiped my forehead again. “Hot as hell out here. This is Arizona, ya know.”
“Right . . .” He let his voice trail off and then focused back on the canyon in front of us. I told myself to chill and let my gaze roam the area. I’d seen pictures of the Grand Canyon, but to actually be here in this huge natural area was a head trip. I was seeing it with my own eyes, but could barely grasp the actual freaking size of the canyon.
A helicopter circled overhead, one of the tours, and I looked up, shielding my eyes as it flew past.
“Have you ever seen Garden State?” Riley asked.
I dropped my hand back to the railing. “Garden State?”
“Yeah, it’s a movie.”
I shook my head, “No.”
He swallowed and looked back at the canyon as he spoke. “Well, the main character is depressed, and he’s been on drugs a lot of his life to deal with it. But then he stops taking them. He said he wants to feel, and he wasn’t sure he ever needed them in the first place.” He took a breath. “Anyway, there’s this scene where he and his friends visit an abandoned quarry. He climbs on top of this old construction vehicle in the pouring rain on the edge of the quarry and yells down into it. Just yells into the infinite abyss, as he calls it. And he’s happy because he’s feeling that moment, you know?”
Riley looked at me, his eyes wide. I didn’t know what he wanted me to say. Because that sounded kind of weird, for a guy to stand and yell into a hole. Maybe he just wanted to hear his voice echo. Some guys liked to hear themselves talk. So all I did was nod.
In response, Riley stepped closer. When he spoke again, his voice was lower, softer. “Standing here like this, how does it make you feel?”
I licked my lips and broke Riley’s gaze to look at the other people walking the bridge. Some were holding hands and talking. Others were pointing at the canyon below. Then I looked back out, staring at the tan rocks of the canyon walls. The best way to describe all of this was beautiful, in the way the sun baked the ground, the way the gentle breeze ruffled my sweat-dampened hair. The way plants shoved their way through cracks in the rock to reach the sun and thrive.
I wasn’t so good at this, talking about how I felt and shit. But he’d asked me, so I thought about how to answer as honestly as I could. “I guess . . . I guess I feel pretty small. And I feel pretty lucky that I’m here. I’m alive and the sun is shining, and I get to see one of the greatest sites in the world.”
I winced a little, wondering if that all sounded stupid.
Riley rolled his lips between his teeth, and his eyes lowered until he stared at his hands folded on the railing. “That’s . . . that’s good, Colin.”
So I guessed I’d done all right. “How, uh, does it make you feel?”
Riley’s eyes fell closed slowly. “About the same,” he whispered. But there was something in his voice, something that made me scratch my head, but also made me think he was lying a little.
“You happy you got to see this?” I waved a hand out into the infinite abyss.
“Yeah,” he whispered again. But he didn’t look happy. And his eyes looked wet.
He blinked and turned away, and when he faced me again, some cool mask had slipped over his face. His eyes looked a little too bright, his smile forced. “Thanks a lot for bringing me.”
Spoiler-Free Review:[book rating=5.0/5.0]
Trust the Focus, the first book in the In Focus series, was an epic book for me. It reached me in so many ways, so when I found out that Megan Erickson was writing more in this series, I literally jumped up and down! Focus on Me is a beautiful continuation of the In Focus series and even though it follows two different guys on a very different road trip, we still get some Justin and Landry love! I have to admit writing this review is hard, because I just want everyone to know that “I LOVE THIS BOOK & SERIES!” and you all should just read it OK?! I am not sure how many times and in how many ways I can say that these books are just meant to be read!
This book is a journey; not just literally but emotionally too. I mean my heart and my head hurt while reading it. It hit my right in the feels. Like doubled over, sick to my stomach feels. It was funny, emotional, and sad. I have struggled with some of the things these characters go through, not exactly the same, but the hard points hit home. There is nothing more engrossing than reading something that fills you with love and hope and knowing you are not alone. You are never alone, someone else is going through the same thing you are…even if they are thousands of miles away. Some of us are lucky to be intersected on that journey and picked up and giving another shot at making it right.
Colin is heading home from a failed attempt at college on the other side of country, when he notices Riley at a gas station looking for a ride. The journey for these two starts here, but they both are already carrying their ‘luggage’ at full-capacity. The road ahead is full of secrets and getting to know one another, and their feelings for each brew and bloom along the way. Their relationship is the slow burn kind, no instalove here. Both have no idea what the other is going through or experiencing, but I think that Colin knows Riley needs him more than even Riley knows.
This book is hard to sum up other than it is beautiful and heartbreaking and perfect. Being gay isn’t all parties and happy times, take it from me. Many many queer kids have a real hard time finding their place in a world where we are told we don’t belong and that something is wrong with us. How Megan handles these issues in this series is pure, real and so not sugar coated. She really knows what it is like and my heart and my head thanks her for making these two sexy boys take this journey of finding each other, more so than just running into a stranger needing a ride.
5 fantastic stars!! I feel like I haven’t expressed my utter joy that this book gave me. To know that Megan Erickson not only gave us a fantastic & sexy love story, it is also about finding your place in the world and getting help when you need it. Megan is a master at the love story. She is not afraid to hit the hard road and lead us to a completely satisfying HEA. After I devoured her other new adult series, Bowler University, and now the In Focus series, she has become an auto-buy author and I implore you to read her books if you love nerdy, dirty and witty romance that isn’t afraid to be different!
Thank you to Penguin Group/Berkley for the eARC copy of Focus on Me from Netgalley in exchange for an honest, unbiased review.
Trust the Focus
Category: New Adult, Contemporary Romance, M/M
Publication: March 17th, 2015; InterMix
With his college graduation gown expertly pitched into the trash, Justin Akron is ready for the road trip he planned with his best friend Landry— and ready for one last summer of escape from his mother’s controlling grip. Climbing into the Winnebago his father left him, they set out across America in search of the sites his father had captured through the lens of his Nikon.
As an aspiring photographer, Justin can think of no better way to honor his father’s memory than to scatter his ashes at the sites he held sacred. And there’s no one Justin would rather share the experience with more than Landry.
But Justin knows he can’t escape forever. Eventually he’ll have to return home and join his mother’s Senate campaign. Nor can he escape the truth of who he is, and the fact that he’s in love with his out-and-proud travel companion.
Admitting what he wants could hurt his mother’s conservative political career. But with every click of his shutter and every sprinkle of ash, Justin can’t resist Landry’s pull. And when the truth comes into focus, neither is prepared for the secrets the other is hiding.
Author Bio: Megan Erickson
My first stories written in crayon-scrawl on loose-leaf notebook paper were about my childhood pet — a deaf cat with dandruff. And after covering real-life dramas as a journalist, I decided I liked writing my own endings better and switched to fiction. My romance novels full of humor and heart are a far cry from those early scribblings about my hygiene-deficient pet.
I live in southern Pennsylvania, with my husband, two kids and two cats. I like a good pint of beer, a greasy bacon cheeseburger, homemade mac and cheese, and a great book with a happily ever after. When I’m not tapping away on my laptop, I’m probably listening to the characters in my head who just. Won’t. Shut. Up.