Author: Megan Erickson
Publisher: Interlude Press
Cover Artist: Unknown
Rating: 4.25 of 5 Stars
Publication Date: 09/20/2016
Length: Novel (~ 50K-100K)
Love runs wild on the Appalachian Trail in the latest from the author of Out of Frame and Focus on Me…
Levi Grainger needs a break. As a reality show star, he’s had enough of the spotlight and being edited into a walking stereotype. When he returns home after the last season of Trip League, he expects to spend time with his family, only to learn his sister is coming back from her deployment in a flag-draped casket. Devastated, Levi decides the best way to grieve will be to go off grid and hike the Appalachian Trail—a trip he’d planned to do with his sister.
His solitary existence on the trail is interrupted when he meets Thad, a quiet man with a hard body and intense eyes. Their connection is stronger than anything Levi has ever experienced. But when Levi discovers the truth about what Thad is hiking to escape, their future together looks uncertain, and uncertainty is the last thing Levi needs..
The first two book of the In Focus series I thought were so good, in fact Focus on Me was one of my favourite books of 2015. For some reason I haven’t read book 3, but Overexposed can be read as a standalone, all couples from the series feature in the epilogue, but that’s it.
Levi and Thad are hiking the Appalachian Trial for different reasons, they’ve both experienced loss and it’s making them evaluate who they are, and what they stand for. While they are very different, from the moment they meet they just click, and as they are alone, pretty much, on the trail they form a deep and intense bond. It’s quite apparent that Thad is quite introverted, and keeps a lot of his emotions stored away, while Levi is more open, and one of the beauties of this book is that they share information very sweetly, and it’s really information that is emotionally important. This results in a relationship that circumnavigates the usual, yes its sudden, but it doesn’t feel ridiculous it feels right and real.
Then Erickson introduces a big heft of emotion, and while I can appreciate that it was required, it felt a little too much – but it’s testament to her writing skill that I was still invested. In the aftermath of all of this Levi takes the final steps to accepting his sisters death, and takes action to take control of his life.
Its the final part of this book where the story comes into it’s own, what the relationship between Levi and Thad led to was individual personal growth, and I think it’s important that contemporary romances where characters have issues such as grief are not shown as being healed by sex and love alone.
While I really enjoyed this, it lacked the natural feel of the first two books, and also suffered in places from something that I’ve seen more in m/m romance recently, and that is emphasising a message to the extent that it sounds almost like a lecture. That’s not to say that acceptance and understanding aren’t important, but that while the majority of the writing here was clever and skillful, when it came to Thad and his sexuality it felt like it had been inserted as an explanation.
That being said as always Megan Erickson deliveries a beautifully written love story, and hopefully the series isn’t finished yet.
I would like to thank the publisher for providing me with the eARC of this title in exchange for my honest opinion.
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