Author: Megan Erickson
Rating: 3 stars
Buy Links: Amazon
Type: Novel in a Series
Received from Publisher
Blurb: 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: Levi Grainger is mourning his sister. They had planned to hike the Appalachian Trail together. Levi does it alone after she’s killed in action. On the trail Levi meets Thad. Thad decides they are going to hike together. Thad doesn’t talk much, but he appears to like to listen to Levi. Thad and Levi get closer as they continue to hike together. They become involved intimately. Levi discovers Thad is in the military and has at least one more deployment to go. In the midst of their argument about Thad withholding fairly pertinent information from Levi, Levi learns his mother has been hospitalized for what appears to be a drug overdose. Levi has a lot on his plate and Thad is there to help him safely get home to his mother. Once things calm down, Thad leaves. Levi isn’t putting up with that!
If you are looking for a competent and fairly cohesive formula romance to read over a weekend this book is a good choice. It’s a pretty safe bet in terms of simple entertainment. The story follows a progression, there are highs and lows, and the characters have to fight to get together in the end. Personally, I thought this book left a lot to be desired.
Levi decides to hike the Appalachian Trail as a memorial to his sister. He needed closure. After her death he was left completely alone, with only his mother to turn to. Why? Levi and his mother had no one in their lives but Levi’s aunt. Why? They are completely emotionally isolated and no explanation is given. At all. They have co-workers and neighbors but no one cares if they’re alive or dead but each other and an aunt. WHY?!?! Seriously, I’d have been thrilled to learn they were in the witness protection program. I was left with viewing Levi as someone who exists solely to mourn his sister and help Thad deal with his problems. As for Thad? He’s a mash-up of Competent Man and the strong silent type. Both guys are wounded, and both are the exact perfect person to help the other heal. That’s it. I saw nothing else to them. What I read was a book with two guys who exist only to satisfy the other. I’m not going to pretend there aren’t times that’s exactly what I want to read, but I’m also not going to pretend I think that’s quality fiction.
There is something I think Megan Erickson does incredibly well. Occasionally there will be a socially important truth mentioned. The mention is brief. I don’t feel preached to, or like I’ve been beaten over the head with a hammer. I find it so refreshing and welcome. Yes, being demisexual is a thing, and if people didn’t know about it this book is a great way to learn without feeling talked down to or schooled. Moments like this were certainly the high point for me in this book.
For fans of the hurt/comfort trope this book has a lot to offer. These guys are both emotionally wounded, and there are moments of physical injury as well. As I said before, if you’re looking for a cohesive weekend read and aren’t looking to think beyond tropes I feel this book can be some wonderful literary escapism. Unfortunately, I don’t think it’s much beyond that.