May 11, 2015

NEW ADULT MONDAYS: Trust the Focus (In Focus #1)

The New Adult genre - their bad boys and big problems and epic loves make them engrossing tales that are so easy to lose yourself in. What's not to love about that? And, now, thanks to the cool chicks at Bewitched Bookworms, we can show these books the love they deserve in a weekly feature - New Adult Mondays.

Trust the Focus (In Focus #1), by Megan Erickson
Publish Date: March 17, 2015
Publisher: Intermix
Format: e-ARC, obtained from NetGalley
Genre: new adult m/m contemporary romance
To Buy: Amazon * Barnes & Noble

Rating: 5 STARS

(From Goodreads) With his college graduation gown expertly pitched into the trash, Justin Akron is ready for the road trip he planned with his best friend Landry— and ready for one last summer of escape from his mother’s controlling grip. Climbing into the Winnebago his father left him, they set out across America in search of the sites his father had captured through the lens of his Nikon.

As an aspiring photographer, Justin can think of no better way to honor his father’s memory than to scatter his ashes at the sites he held sacred. And there’s no one Justin would rather share the experience with more than Landry.

But Justin knows he can’t escape forever. Eventually he’ll have to return home and join his mother’s Senate campaign. Nor can he escape the truth of who he is, and the fact that he’s in love with his out-and-proud travel companion.

Admitting what he wants could hurt his mother’s conservative political career. But with every click of his shutter and every sprinkle of ash, Justin can’t resist Landry’s pull. And when the truth comes into focus, neither is prepared for the secrets the other is hiding.

Trust the Focus was really the perfect book for me. It's about best friends who realize they are more than that during an epic road trip filled with some of my most favorite things - traveling to cool places, blogging and photography. Even on the surface, it sounded like something I would love. I had no idea what I was getting into. Woven effortlessly throughout the book is this theme of being true to yourself and how much that might cost you. 

This book... it was so compelling. Justin is the all-American boy. Baseball player. Politician's son. In love with his best friend, Landry. Landry is creative. Conspicuous. Gay. And in love with his best friend. Hmmm. What a tangled web we weave. 

Justin isn't only struggling with his feelings for Landry. His mother is all but forcing him through guilt and manipulation to come and work for her after he graduates from college. His father, who was the parent who supported him in all things, passed away very suddenly. Justin is so lost. He feels the noose his mother has so expertly put around his neck tightening with every single day that passes, and because of his loyalty to his family, he feels that there isn't anything he can do about it. He doesn't want to become his mother's press secretary and marry a blue blood and make babies. He wants to follow in his father's footsteps and become a photographer, come out of the closet and find a way to be with the only person he's ever loved, albeit, secretly. These are all things way to heavy to place on such a young man's shoulders. 

Landry has also always supported Justin in everything he has done. So, when Justin wants to take his father's Winnebago on a cross-country road trip in order to take photos of his dad's favorite places and scatter his ashes at all the sites, Landry agrees to accompany him immediately. He knows that this trip is about so much more than honoring Justin's father in his poignant way. It's Justin's way of living his life the way HE wants to live it, if only for a few weeks. And, maybe Landry hopes that a few weeks would give Justin the courage to extend it into so much longer than that. 

Trust the Focus is told entirely from Justin's POV. This really is his story to tell. It's his journey. As he comes to terms with the life he wants and who he wants it with, he also has to come to terms with what that may cost him. He knows that if he stays on his present course, he may lose Landry as both a friend and as more than a friend. If he chooses to embrace his desire for more - of everything - he could lose the only family he has left in the world. Can you imagine that choice? 

Justin most definitely struggles with it. He goes back and forth - one minute giving in to the moment with Landry (and those moments - OMG), and the next giving in to the crushing guilt and siding with his mother. In the end, after a heartbreaking confrontation (tears, people - MANY tears), it takes Landry making a bold decision in order for Justin to make one too. 

Landry's and Justin's relationship is amazing. They are funny together and wild and sweet. They know all each others' secrets (all except for the biggest and most important one!) and histories. They would do anything for the other. And in the end, they both do. I'm a huge fan of grand gestures of love. So, one of the best parts of Trust the Focus for me is the fact that, in the end, both Justin and Landry make a grand gesture, and both made me grin from ear to ear. 

There was so much to love in this book. The writing was incredible. The story amazing. The characters were all painted perfectly. Well done, Megan Erickson. 

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