Tuesday, July 21, 2015

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

Focus on Me (In Focus #2)****

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… 


Colin Hartman is officially done with the college experience.  And by officially done he means he has officially dropped out.  Schoolwork was never his strong suit and no matter how hard he tried he couldn’t focus enough of his classes to maintain his grades.  And without good grades, no football.  And without football, no scholarship.  So yeah.  He’s moving on to his next stage in life.  That next step would be travelling back across country and helping his parents manage their successful restaurant.  But his plans are slightly delayed when he meets Catwalk (his nickname for this model-like creature) at a gas station. 

Riley (Catwalk) thought the trucker giving him a ride was dropping him off at the next bus stop.  Unfortunately, the gas station hasn’t been on the bus route in ages and Riley is stuck.  Until Colin offers him a ride in his old Jeep.  With so very few options, Riley takes Colin up on his offer.  Riley is obviously searching for something and Colin is in no hurry to get home so what starts out as a single ride becomes an extended cross country trip.  

Day by day their relationship grows.   And destination by destination Colin realizes that even though Riley is bright and fun and loving, there is also a dark side that becomes prominent as the days go by.  With every stop Riley seems to become more disenchanted, disappointed and emotionally unstable.  Colin realizes there is something wrong but can't quite pinpoint what it is.  What he does know is that Riley needs help.  

This was a beautiful and emotionally realistic love story.   Colin is such a normal guy.  He just wants to bring home a paycheck and live his life.  Finding love along the way is a bonus that he'll happily embrace.  And Riley?  Riley is searching for something that will ease the darkness that is becoming increasingly difficult to keep at bay.  Colin brings him moments of brightness but it isn't enough.  In the end, Colin has to learn that he is strong enough to help the guy he's fallen in love with and Riley needs to learn that he has the strength to help himself. 

Megan Erickson's empathetic portrayal of Riley's mental illness was spot on so it's no surprise that this story has its dark moments.  But it's not so dark that there is no hope.  Colin brings stability and earnestness to the story.  And if you read Trust the Focus, you will love how Landry and Justin factor into Colin and Riley's eventual happy ending. 

I first fell in love with Megan Erickson when I read Make It count, the first in her Bowler University series.  I love each of her books more than the last.  Focus on Me is by far my favorite and I can't recommend it enough. 


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