Leveling the Field
Leveling the Field is the fourth and final book in Megan Erickson’s Gamers series. I think that it is on par with the three previous books; a middle of the road read. Erickson’s style is fun and sexy, but none of the Gamers books have tugged too hard on my heartstrings. I think that’s okay sometimes, so I was happy with this book.
This installment deals with Ethan Talley, head of Gamers magazine and friend to Grant and brother to Chloe from Playing for Her Heart. Ethan was left badly injured by the car accident that killed his sister, and now he carries scars both inside and out. During a photo-shoot for the magazine, Ethan meets photographer Lissa Kingsman. Although it is a chance meeting for Ethan, Lissa is already familiar with him from his days as a YouTube video game commentator. She has also scoped him out and plans to ask him to pose for a series of photographs she is doing about scarred people, which has been inspired by her own sister.
With Ethan’s guilt over being the driver in the accident that killed his sister, and Lissa’s guilt over her sister committing suicide as the result of a tragic accident that left her disfigured, there was plenty of angst potential, which, unfortunately wasn’t fulfilled. I know Erickson can do angst because she has dealt with heavy issues in the past, and her writing brought me to tears in Focus on Me. It could be that the length of this book is partially to blame, because 190 pages isn’t a lot of room to torture the reader. I say torture in a good way because I love a tormented hero who can bring a tear to my eye. I saw the seriousness of Ethan and Lissa’s backstories, but it never hit me where it hurts.
What I loved about the book was Lissa herself, who is one of the most dirty-talking heroines I can recall. I think romance is rife with men that excel at dirty talk (Tessa Bailey’s heroes, anyone?), but ladies aren’t usually the aggressors in that arena. I enjoyed that Lissa gets to be forward and demanding about what she wants. This worked especially well with Ethan’s character because he is more withdrawn and self-conscious.
There was a moment where I feared the story was heading into Big Misunderstanding territory, and I was prepared to groan, but Erickson saves it through Lissa’s sense of agency. When Ethan gets emotional and wants to lash out, she is there to stand her ground and not let him run away. Bravo, Megan Erickson!
I’ve enjoyed the entire Gamers series and Leveling the Field is no different. While they may not be books that I would put on my DIK shelf, they’re excellent for when I want something short and to the point, but fun to read. I look forward to seeing what Erickson has to come now that this series has wrapped.