Review: Focus on Me by Megan Erickson00:00
Author: Megan Erickson
Date of publication: 21 July 2015
Genre / Themes: Romance / New Adult / MM
Author's links: Website / Twitter / Facebook / Goodreads
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My rating: 4 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…
It's the second book in the In Focus NA m/m series by Megan Erickson. I liked book1 (review) though I had some issues with it. This one worked better for me - it was a bit darker, deeper in terms of the issues the characters were struggling with. It felt more realistic and easy to relate to.
I love the road trip trope and it worked brilliantly here. It places the characters in extraordinary circumstances forcing them to share with each other more and much sooner than they would under normal circumstances. It felt a bit reckless and dangerous at the beginning the way Colin decided to give a total stranger a ride but it might be just me being overcautious and suspicious.
Both Colin and Riley had issues they were struggling with though without downplaying Colin's doubts in himself and sense being a failure, Riley's issues were really serious and the author treated them as such. I loved their interaction - there was a strong initial attraction between Colin and Riley but a lot of secrets. Their trip was made up of a series of adventures on the road but each one had a deeper meaning to both of them and the pressure was buildin until it came to a head at some point.
Ms Erickson explores some serious mental/physical health issues with Riley and I really think she did it in a very caring and thoughtful manner. I felt all the insecurities and fears tearing Riley and I could related to the concern/love/protectiveness Colin felt for him. I like how they acted like grown-ups and sought help. Their love for each other helped Riley get better but it wasn't presented as a magic cure. Serious issues need professional help.
Another aspect of the story I appreciate is that there were no truly bad/uncaring/downright cruel families in this story. Both Colin's and Riley's parents were supportive in their own way, they loved and care about their children and it was refreshing to read a story where the characters' issues were not presented as the result of them having dysfunctional families.
Overall this is a sharper, edgier story of two people becoming too dependant on the other, coming to rely solely on the other person for them to move on. Colin has come to accept that he is a quitter, that he just gives up when the going gets though. His relationship with Riley shows him that he can stand up and fight for the things that matte to him. He feels good because Riley needs him but at the same time realises how wrong this situation is both of them.
We see more of Justin and Landry and I like their role in the story despite the fact that Riley's letter to Justin are not my favourite plot device. The happy end for both couples still shows that staying healthy and being in a healthy relationship was a work in progress for everyone.