Author: Megan Erickson
Series: In Focus #4
Release Date: 09/20/16
Genre(s): M/M Contemporary Romance
Heat Level: 4 flames out of 5
Rating: 5 stars out of 5
”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…”
Review: Let me just start off by saying… I’m so sorry Megan Erickson, I have completely underestimated you. Overexposed was not my first book by this author. I’ve read three of her collaborative works with Santino Hassell (the extremely sexy and 5+ star Cyberlove series), and I have to confess… I gave him most of the credit, but two pages into this novel and I knew that Megan had just as much of a hand in bringing those unapologetically complex characters to life as Hassell did. And she proved it with this amazing story of two lost men just trying to find their way back home.
I was stunned the moment I opened this book, before I even got to the beginning of chapter 1. Megan dedicated this book to so many people with so few words, ones that I wish people said more often:
For anyone who’s trying to start over. You’re enough. You’re always enough.
Overexposed was a very honest and raw novel. I caught myself tearing up a few times (towards the beginning of the book no less) which speaks volumes about her ability to write characters that are easy to connect with. Levi was gritty and real in a way that I haven’t experienced in a book since… well, since I cracked open First & First.
“I told you I was fascinated by how you looked, but that wasn’t enough for me to… want you. Then we started hiking together, and I guess the isolation just made it all happen so fast and I-wanted you. Still want you. And it fucking terrifies me, because the last guy I wanted told me I wasn’t enough.”
Such emotionally charged novels usually leave me feeling drained after a few chapters and I have to take a break for a while, but there was just enough laughter and happiness in this one to break up the sad, depressing moments so that I didn’t feel like I was being overwhelmed or pulled down.
I absolutely loved Levi. He pulled me in from the first chapter with his cute (and slightly prissy) attitude and fierce loyalty to his sister and her memory. Throughout the book he grew as a person and, as a reader, experiencing his coming to terms with the recent tragedies in his life while so bravely and unhesitatingly opening his heart to a complete stranger gave his character a complexity that’s extremely hard to capture as a writer.
I was a project, and Thad was studying for the best possible outcome. He wanted to learn me. Be good at me. No man had ever focused on me that hard before.
And Thad… wow, did I have mixed feelings about this character. We didn’t get much insight into who he was throughout the book, as it was almost entirely told from Levi’s perspective. The few pieces that we did get from him (at least in the beginning) were vague and confusing at best. He definitely had that air of mystery around him, which I simultaneously loved and hated at the same time.
There was so much more that I wanted to know about Thad that probably would have helped me understand his character and his decisions throughout the book, but he kept the Mr. Mysterious mask on until nearly the very end of the book, where everything fell together and made so much sense. Thad’s that character with the tragic backstory that I’ll probably think about two months from now completely out of the blue and still feel that discomfort and heartache for.
“You’re enough,” I said. “You’re so fucking enough. And no one gets to tell you that you’re not.”
Despite his flaws, I found myself rooting for Thad to find happiness within himself (with or without Levi).
“I’m closed off and broody and don’t give enough.” He shot back quickly, and I knew those words had been said by someone else so often that he’d internalized them.
These two characters together were unbelievably sexy. This book certainly got a little steamy!
“Seriously, you’ve only done that once or twice? You… fuck, Thad, you sucked me like you loved it.”
…and wow, Megan, you killed those erotic scenes! But I almost thought that their initial encounter together was a bit abrupt and sudden, like there wasn’t enough build up and sexual tension between them yet… I don’t know. It felt a little like something was missing for that first scene, but it was definitely present throughout the rest of the book.
“I’m not looking at the moon right now, Le,” he said. “I’m looking at you. Those gorgeous eyes. Those lips. That body. You’re the moon I get to see during the day.”
These two guys completely broke my heart and then put it back together as they learned to come to terms with their pasts and move on.
Overexposed was a fantastic, heart wrenching, painfully bittersweet, and unapologetically real novel that I would recommend to all M/M Contemporary Romance readers. I couldn’t imagine giving this novel less than 5 stars, and although I did read this as a standalone, I will definitely be going back to catch up on the rest of the series.
Disclaimer: This book was provided by the author in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions expressed herein are my own and not influenced by the author or the publisher in any way.