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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…
If you’ve read anything by Megan Erikson, you’re aware that this author knows how to write an entertaining story.
…if you’ve read Trust the Focus by Megan Erikson, you know that this author knows how to write a heartfelt New Adult story.
…let me just say, Focus On Me is a whole new level…a deeply emotional journey, a brave bit of storytelling, and a book that will stay with me in my heart for a very long time.
First for some housekeeping: though this is book #2 of the In Focus series, it can be read as a standalone. (Justin and Landry do make appearances in this book though). Also, for those that have read book #1, be forewarned that this has a very different feel and emotion…though told most definitely in the author’s voice…and is a bit darker than the first.
Now…Colin is a salt-of-the-earth college dropout who is driving cross-country back to his hometown to start anew after flunking out of school. He struggles with the fact that he’s never really finished anything, and frankly, never had anything that he’s found worth fighting for.
Riley is a familiar character to those who’ve read Trust the Focus (but I’ll let you find out from the prologue how the author introduces who he is! It’s a treat!), who’s on his own journey…crossing off his bucket list things that he hopes will drive back some of his demons.
The two randomly meet at an off-the-beaten-path gas station, and thus starts our road trip. The author takes us all over the country with our two MC’s and she also takes us all over the map with our emotions.
The growing attraction and flirtation between the characters is charming. But it’s laced with an uncertainty and leaves the reader guessing what’s going on beneath the surface. Most especially with Riley. As I mentioned, he has his demons. And what he’s battling with, the weight and enormity of it, is heartbreaking.
Since the story is told from Colin’s point of view, we worry and fret along with him, trying to figure out what’s going on and hoping that he (Colin) can help Riley fight back the sadness and hollowness inside. Colin’s “care-taker gene” is the gentle way of saying that he’s codependent and would do anything to try and save Riley…to make him happy…to help him find peace and healing. In fact, this is one of the best portrayals of a true codependent relationship I’ve ever read…trust me, I’ve lived it…I can recognize it immediately.
The fact that this one tore me up with familiarity speaks volumes.
Some of Colin’s efforts find success. Others of them do not. And we’re ultimately left with a pit in our stomachs wondering how this broken couple can move forward. And will there be a HEA for them by the end?
I don’t want to spoiler any of this book. But, I will say that it’s raw…it has hard edges that cut and bleed the heart. Yet it’s also kind…and honest…and hopeful. My heart felt at times alternating from full to smashed…and tears flowed freely.
Purposely being vague, I just highly recommend that you read this book and let all the layers, and the bits of information, and the growth of the characters, and the mistakes and lessons and triumphs unfold for you. This journey will be well worth it.
Meet you on the flip side at the beach…
Thank you, Megan Erikson…for what is certain to be one of my favorite reads of the year…I LOVED THIS BOOK…despite the fact that it ripped me apart, made me bleary-and-puffy eyed for days, and has laid claim to my heart…