Leveling the Field (Gamers #4), by Megan Erickson
Publish Date: May 2, 2016
Publisher: Entangled Brazen
Format: e-book, purchased
Genre: adult contemporary romance
To Buy: Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Rating: 5 STARS
(Synopsis) Reclusive magazine exec Ethan Talley is furious when his business partner hires a photographer—a gorgeous photographer who insists on speaking her mind, damn it—to take pictures for an upcoming article. No matter how badly he wants the woman…under him, over him, against the nearest wall…he has reasons for not wanting to be on camera anymore, and his scars are only one of them.
It takes approximately two seconds for Lissa Kingsman to recognize Ethan as the popular YouTube gamer who fell off the planet years ago. But this Ethan is different than the charming man she used to watch, and the crush she had on him then is nothing compared to the way she’s lusting after the brooding man he is today. If sex is all he can give her, fine. Why not use that bearskin rug in her studio for something other than a prop? But she’s determined to put a chink in his armor, no matter how much he resists.
This poor man has been carrying around some serious scars, both internally and externally. After a car accident in which he was driving killed his sister and scarred his face, Ethan has been wallowing in self-loathing and guilt. It's been going on for years, and it's to the point where he doesn't remember how to live any other way. He's pushed his remaining family, his friends and his own desires away in favor of punishing himself daily for his mistake.
If you don't feel bad for Ethan, then you have no soul. This tortured man is so incredibly unhappy, and it breaks my heart. His interactions with his remaining sister, Chloe (and subject of Playing For Her Heart, Gamers #2) were especially sad. You can feel how desperate she is to help her big brother and how helpless she feels when he pushes her away for the thousandth time. I can't even imagine how upset that would make me feel. And, the truly sad thing is, Ethan is completely aware that he's hurting her. He doesn't want to - he just doesn't know any other way to be.
Until the force that is Lissa Kingsman blows into his life and turns it upside down. She lost her own sister in a tragic way, but instead of spiraling like Ethan has, she's used that pain to try and do good. She doesn't let Ethan get away with feeling sorry for himself. She calls him on his behavior and convinces him to start living again, and her shake-up was exactly what he needed at exactly the right time in his life.
Once again, Megan Erickson brought all the feels. ALL of them. I was heartbroken over Ethan's guilt. I laughed at Lissa's and Ethan's banter. I raged when Ethan allowed his fears to get the better of him. And I was hot under the waistband when Ethan and Lissa shared some seriously sexy times.
I've loved reading this series almost as much as it seems that Megan Erickson loved writing it. It's been so much fun, and I can't wait to see what she comes up with next.