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...
I really enjoyed this one a lot and was thrilled to see that Levi wasn't portrayed as the same flaming, over-the-top reality TV celebrity that the show's producers previously portrayed him to be, as I tend to find that energy level a tad exhausting.
Instead, Levi is just your average guy, who's recently lost his sister to war in the Middle East and is trying to work his way past the loss.
Shortly after embarking on his hike of the Appalachian Trail, Levi meets a quiet, somber young man sitting on a rock and staring at the moon, nearly overcome by emotion from his own scars from loss and betrayal.
So under a moonlit sky, Levi and Thad begin their healing process together, simply by spending time together, leaning on one another and leaving any preconceived notions about their lives before the trail behind.
Thad is a man of few words, normally shying away from big personalities such as Levi's, but something just clicks between them, so as Levi rambles on incessantly, Thad soaks up those words like rain on dry ground, mile after mile.
But when truths from their lives in the real world are revealed, bigger questions about their future come into play, like how willing are you to put your heart on the line, when the past could so easily repeat itself, tearing you open, broken and bleeding, yet again?
This story confronted a lot of difficult issues, so it isn't all love and laughter, yet it does contain enough hope and genuine feelings so that the journey is mostly an enjoyable one.
It was also a semi-sexy read, not coming across as overly gratuitous, and ending with the beginnings of a solid HEA.
I also enjoyed the epilogue, where the couples from all 4 books in the series rent a summer beach cottage and get to know one another better. It was great checking in with all of the guys and seeing them still happily together.
Overall, I'd rate this story at around 4.25 stars and look forward to more books in this series.
My ARC copy of the story was provided by the author in exchange for a fair, unbiased review.
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