Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Megan Erickson - Focus on Me

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…

Comment: After having been impressed by the first book in this series by the author, I was pleased there would be another story coming out this year. I only managed to get it recently, but I still remembered good things about the first story so I felt curious about this one too.
In this sequel, we meet Riley, the guy whose photo Landry from the 1st story used to make Justin jealous. Riley is in a vulnerable place in his life and he wants to try to do special things in an attempt to find himself. On the way he meets Colin, a young man dropping out of college where he never felt successful to return home in North Carolina to work in his parents' restaurant. The two of them become friends and later on, lovers. But Riley starts to change in front of Colin's eyes and the things he thought made Riley special suddenly are something very strange. In this journey the two are making, can they conquer all and find happiness?
Well, I think this story is slightly less vibrant than the first one. I think this story has a darker vibe, not in the sense that horror things happen, but only because the subjects dealt here are more difficult and sincerely the tone of the story wasn't very uplifting even after I red the HEA.
The story is told from Colin's POV. I've been fonder of 1st person POV but it's not like I can't stand it, only that it's so limitative in romances! To guess or infer things only one of the characters can see is something very annoying if we truly want to see what the other is thinking. The thing is, some authors pull it off wonderfully or the world they created is so rich one doesn't miss the cues from other characters but this is not a given and I feel we, the readers, lose so much in romances because we keep getting frustrated about the other protagonist is feeling and reading about it at the end when they confess/declare/whatever their thoughts and feelings is not enough. At least, it's not for me in most cases. I sort of felt that here, because Riley is the character that changes the most and we keep having his scenes from Colin's perspective and sometimes it's not enough. I understand the need to maximize the doubt and the guessing, but... it becomes frustrating.
Colin is an interesting character, he accepted a reality so many of us would never and he's trying to live the life he wants. I don't think it's that easy to tell yourself you aren't happy studying and you just give it up. Maybe most parent's expectations about that would be a heavy weight to influence one's decision but here Colin had his parents' support and in a way he is a very balanced person, he knows what he wants and he owns his feelings.
Obviously Riley is the opposite, he has self doubts, a tendency to lose focus and control over his own head and that affects his behavior. I think the subject of dealing with someone who has a depressive behavior and how that affects everything is quite heavy and I don't know if it's something I don't buy as a potential fodder for romance or if it simply wasn't romantic enough for me, but the thing is, I didn't really enjoy knowing about their relationship even when everything started so easily. People aren't perfect all the time and I get the part where Riley's life was out of control because of his own thoughts and emotions but then this shouldn't be a romance, maybe more of a fiction story, I don't know.
I just feel the lack of romantic layers in this story I think should help to make this a more positive story, despite the credible HEA, emotionally speaking.
Riley and Colin didn't make as big an impression in me as Justin and Landry did. The issues here were more complex but the story didn't feel like it was focusing on that, more on how could Colin help and be the person Riley needed to want to succeed. I don't know, but it wasn't very pleasant to read or uplifting and that's not the book's fault but it's the way it is.
The next book supposedly will have the two protagonist's POV. That's good, but if the vibe keeps on being this I might not keep on reading. Let's wait and see.
This book has an interesting development, I'm not fond of the road trip romance but I've enjoyed some in the past. It's just that this one lacked enough elements for me to consider it better.
Grade: 6/10

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