All this week we are celebrating the release of Trust the Focus by Megan Erickson, and we are delighted she was able to pop in for a visit with us here at Sinfully on the Release Day of this fabulous book, that sees two best friends taking a road trip to romance. Check out Alan’s 5 STAR review and enter the giveaway for your chance to win a Kindle ebook of Trust the Focus.
If you missed yesterdays post and giveaway, you can catch up here
A Word from Megan Erickson
So, a road trip romance sounded fun to write—open road, adventures, crazy antics… All that was at my fingertips. I just had to write it!
In Trust the Focus, Justin is traveling across the country with his best friend, Landry, in an old Winnebago named Sally. They are visiting twelve sites that were important to Justin’s late father, and they are sprinkling the ashes of Justin’s father at each of these locations.
While I made up some places where Justin and Landry visited (like the amusement park), most are not made up. Every site that Justin and Landry visited are real places—Mount St Helens, Pike’s Peak, Ondaga Cave, and the Portland Head Light. There was a lot of googling and bookmarking. I watched a youtube video of a man selling a 1972 Winnebago Brave—just like Sally, so I could accurately describe Justin and Landry’s ride.
As a former journalist, it was important to me to be as accurate as possible. Sure, I’d love to visit all these places, but that obviously wasn’t in the schedule (or the budget!). Although one day, I’d love to take a cross-country road trip and trace some of the paths Justin and Landry took.
And it was fun to write about Landry’s blog, where he documented the trip for their friends. He even fashioned his own hashtag—#JusLan—which I still use on social media to talk about this book. Despite all the work that took into writing this, it was still just about the most fun I ever had. Justin and Landry stole my heart, and I fell in love with them, as they fell in love with each other, on their trek from coast to coast.
Have you ever taken a road trip? What was your favorite thing about it?
Trust the Focus (In Focus #1) by Megan Erickson
Publisher ~ Intermix (Penguin)
Published ~ 17th March 2015
Genre ~ M/M New Adult Romance
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.
I approached this title with a bit of trepidation. It's almost entirely a Road Trip, not my favorite genre. Road Trip books can get awfully claustrophobic, especially ones like "Trust The Focus" that only feature two main characters. Plus, secondary characters tend to come and go with little depth or impact.
But what I hadn't anticipated was Ms. Erickson's deft hand at the helm. She grabbed me from the very first paragraph and never let me go. This is the story of two young men who just graduated from college together. What's remarkable about them is that they've been best friends since they were twelve, and at least one of them is openly gay. Landry is an artist, an out-and-proud gay man with a passionate and sophisticated talent for drawing and illustration. Justin is virtually the other side of the coin - a first-rate college baseball pitcher majoring in Political Science with a minor in Photography. He's also known as a straight-shooter, his future preordained - going to work with his mother (she's running for the Senate from Pennsylvania), and finding a nice young girl to settle down with and raise babies.
The problem is that his mother (he calls her "The Cold Bitch") has never given two minutes' consideration to what he wants to do with his own life. And, to be quite honest, he's too much of a coward to object, or even consider his own goals separate from his mother's self-serving plans for his life.
The two young men set out on a road trip to scatter Justin's father's ashes. He died, unexpectedly, before father and son could do all the things they promised to do together. Justin's dad was a highly-respected freelance nature photographer who spent most of his time traveling America, photographing the most beautiful places in the nation, living in a small, ratty, but reliable RV named Sally as he drifted from state to state. In his memory, Justin is determined to take to the road in Sally, revisit the places at which his father shot his most celebrated photos, and scatter some of his ashes at each location - finally sharing the trip across country that his father had always promised him. He invites his best friend, Landry, to accompany him on this summer-long journey before Justin has to settle down to the bleak, joyless life his mother demands of him.
And therein lies the rub. Justin's been in the closet for a decade, living up to everyone else's expectations but his own. And he's been in love with Landry that whole time, though he's never breathed a word of it to anyone. How would they manage to live in such close quarters, sharing the same bed, spending their time together 24/7 and still keep up the fiction that they are just good friends?
They don't. At some point, their mutual attraction and affection make it impossible to live the lies they've nurtured to cover up their absolute dedication to each other, to the exclusion of everyone and everything else. And then, all hell breaks loose. Some of that "hell" is them both acknowledging that they've been in love with each other, pretty much forever. The other part is Justin's self-loathing and anger at his own cowardice and that almost-uncontrollable need to meet everyone's expectations, no matter how much they hurt him and a possible future with Landry.
The couple loves, fights, separates and comes back together several times throughout the trip. Mom "gets the message" from a photo they post on a blog that follows their progress through Landry's text and Justin's brilliant photos, including a selfie that exposes the love in their eyes, their happiness with each other, the truth of who they are, and who they need to be. Mom orders Justin home, immediately. For once, he refuses, but not without throwing another temper tantrum with Landry as the object of his anger at himself, the demands his mother is making upon him, and the endless conflict between what he wants and needs and who he thinks he's "supposed to be".
Needless to say, Ms. Erickson provides a suitable and lovely happily-ever-after, so they do, finally, work it out. And that's a good thing, because the way this incredibly talented writer evokes the deep affection and devotion these two young men share is one of the most beautiful and moving depictions of love I've ever read. It's not the sex (especially as they come to each other as, practically, virgins), but the fit - the way their bodies, together, become one, the way each man can finish the others' thoughts. It's the Platonic thing - they are two halves of one person, only complete when together.
It's an exquisitely-told tale, a beautiful story with engaging and realistic characters. It's a book not to be missed. You will love these young men, their journey and the subtlety and simplicity with which Ms. Erickson tells their tale.
No matter what you do, don't miss this one.
Meet Megan Erickson
My first stories written in crayon-scrawl on loose-leaf notebook paper were about my childhood pet — a deaf cat with dandruff. And after covering real-life dramas as a journalist, I decided I liked writing my own endings better and switched to fiction. My romance novels full of humor and heart are a far cry from those early scribblings about my hygiene-deficient pet.
All this week we are celebrating the release of Trust the Focus by Megan Erickson, today we are gifting to one lucky reader a Kindle ebook of Trust the focus. Enter the Rafflecopter below for your chance to win and let us know if you ever taken a road trip? if so, what was your favorite thing about it? If not... what would be your dream road trip and WHO would you like to take it with?
Don’t forget to check out our Facebook Page tomorrow 18th February when we will be giving away 2 x Kindle e-copy's of Trust the Focus in our 24 Hour flash giveaway.