Author: Megan Erickson
Rating: 4.75 of 5 Stars
Publication Date: 07/21/2015
Length: Novel (~ 50K-100K)
Genre: Contemporary, Gay Fiction, M/M Romance
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…
I thought, as a reader, I didn’t have ‘triggers’ – I’m not sure if that is what I would call my response to this novel by Megan Erickson but it contained themes, which are very personal to me and my family. As this is the case I worried reading the novel – not that it would be ‘too much’ for me, but that it wouldn’t be handled accurately – I didn’t need to worry.
This is a book about wanting to help someone so much, but fearing you don’t know how to, and fearing you are not enough for them. Sometimes however much you love someone – they do not love themselves enough to stay with you and this is the predicament/ theme, which runs through this novel.
Riley Sorenson is beautiful and everyone can see that – except him. The character of Riley has to be stunning physically in this story because it makes the black dog of mental illness, all the more difficult to understand. We, the readers, can see the signs of Riley’s problems long before the adorable and wonderful, Colin Hartman because we have access to Riley’s emails to Landry, and therefore access into his thought processes. In real life – we do not, and in this novel, from Colin’s perspective – neither does he. So many good, loving people miss the signs of these types of illness, until it is too late.
I don’t want to elaborate on how Riley’s illness manifests itself, as it is part of the discovery in the story and integral to the journey Colin and Riley go on, literally and metaphorically. I will say that everyone needs a Colin in their lives. This southern young man considers himself a failure because he has never really ‘stuck’ with anything through to completion. Suddenly, falling in love with Riley, he has something in life he knows he cannot fail to see to the end – whatever that end it may be.
I loved this novel and I went back and read Landry and Justin’s story. The characterisations in Focus on Me are superb, Riley is not just a mental illness and Colin is not just a worried lover. These are people and I loved how the small role Riley’s parents play does not have them as misunderstanding, homophobic tyrants. These parents love their son, and are terrified for him. Like many in their situation they have to wait until their son has something to live for, knowing however much they wish it – that it can’t be them.
This is a story about difficult issues, but it is never maudlin or miserable. Colin is a really wonderful character and his commitment to Riley, which isn’t totally altruistic at first, is commendable and full of heart and happiness. Landry and Justin from the first book in this series play a small, but important role in this story. What made this novel work for me completely was the HEA, which was also a HFN. If the author had made it a pat HEA – all illness gone and forgotten – I could not have reviewed this book, as positively.
As it is – Focus on Me is a book everyone should read. It is about real love, real life and real people. I couldn’t put it down.
I would like to thank the publisher for providing me with the eARC of this title in exchange for my honest opinion.
I have a number of paperbacks, most of which are signed, to giveaway. Over the between now (11 Mar 2017) and 31 Mar 2017, every comment on the blog (this post and all other new posts), will be entered to win 1 of these paperbacks. There are also some misc swag items, so there will be a few packs of these to give away as well.
Thank you so much for your support over the last 4 years. Prism will be closing its doors on 1 April 2017. All content will remain available, but no new content will appear after 31 Mar 2017. As such all request forms have been turned off. Again Thank you,
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