Lovin' los libros

A book blog dedicated to young adult and new adult novels

Review: Focus on Me by Megan Erickson {+Excerpt}

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Focus on Me (In Focus #2)
    by: Megan Erickson

Publication Date: July 21, 2015
Publisher: InterMix
Genre: Contemporary M/M Romance
Age Group: New Adult
Source: e-ARC received via the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review.
Page Count: 204 pages
Order Links: Amazon | B&N
My Rating: 4.5 stars

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…

 
 
Focus on Me was an emotional journey that completely took me by surprise. I had no idea that this book would take on a more serious subject matter, and while I expected a light, fun road trip with some small bumps in the road, I got so much more. I am so happy Megan delved into the issues she did, as they are ones many people will identify with and may even suffer from themselves. This was such a beautiful story of love, acceptance, and hope. Riley and Colin's story is one of strength and perseverance and I loved every minute of it, even with the darker, more troubling parts that made my heart ache for these two.
 
As soon as we met Riley, I knew we would be in for a more emotional story. He is looking for a ride, but has no real destination in mind. He's just existing and barely so. There is a quietness about him that left me feeling unsettled because I knew at my core that something wasn't right in his world. Riley couldn't have met a better person to ride with though. I loved Colin and his caretaker spirit. He sees the demons in Riley's eyes and wants him to open up to him and make things better for him. However, as Colin later learns, he can't be the one to save Riley. Riley has to be the one to save himself. I loved seeing this lesson here, because with what Riley is dealing with, love is not a magical fix all. It is an important factor though and it does play a large role in Riley's decision to get better.
 
My heart broke for Colin too, as he is feeling pretty low at this point in his life. He is heading back home after failing out of school and is really struggling with some self esteem issues. Thankfully, he has a great support system in his family and I was so happy that they accepted him without judgment or hesitation.
 
Both of these guys have their own battles they are dealing with, but along the way they do have some really sweet, fun moments together. The scene in the Laundromat where they are dancing brought the biggest smile to my face because it was nice to see Riley so happy and free in that moment.
 
The romance between these two was really sweet, but not without its challenges. That's what made it even sweeter though. They had to work at it and it wasn't easy, but they couldn't help how they felt either. Because of the way these characters developed, it did take a bit longer for me to connect with them than it did Justin and Landry from the first book. Speaking of those two crazy kids... we get to see them again in this book! I was beyond happy to check in with them. It was neat how their stories intertwined and how they became such good friends.
 
This is definitely not a light and fluffy read like I originally thought and I'm glad for it. I loved seeing these two face what they did and come out even stronger because of it. Focus on Me is one of those books that has so many poignant scenes that will affect you on so many levels.
 
 
 
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?"

I shrugged.

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.”

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7 comments

  1. I realllly want to start this series! I know I am going to really enjoy it even though it breaks my heart. Awesome review!

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    1. Yes! It's so good! I think you'll really enjoy these!

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  2. I'm really excited to see that you loved this one so much, Jess! I loved that Megan discussed powerful and difficult themes in this one. I can already tell that I'm going to need tissues and chocolates when I read this. I'm glad that this was so much more than you expected. I can't wait to read book 1 and this one soon.
    Lovely review!

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    1. I can't wait for you to read these Nick! You'll really love this series I think! Megan does such a great job with them.

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  3. YAY I loved this one, too! ALso, I am glad that this wasn't really a coming out story. Great review!

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  4. OO from reading the synposis, I assumed this would be a lighthearted road trip as well! I must learn more about Riley though, especially since I haven't read an M/M romance in quite some time. I love how Ericksen always writes characters that are more than meets the eye!

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  5. I still have to read this one. I had a tough time getting into it, but I think it was just my mood at the time. That and that I'd just finished Him, soooooooo... I have no doubt I'll enjoy it though. Great review!

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