Reclusive magazine exec Ethan Talley is furious when his business partner hires a photographer—a gorgeous photographer who insists on speaking her mind, damn it—to take pictures for an upcoming article. No matter how badly he wants the woman…under him, over him, against the nearest wall…he has reasons for not wanting to be on camera anymore, and his scars are only one of them.
It takes approximately two seconds for Lissa Kingsman to recognize Ethan as the popular YouTube gamer who fell off the planet years ago. But this Ethan is different than the charming man she used to watch, and the crush she had on him then is nothing compared to the way she’s lusting after the brooding man he is today. If sex is all he can give her, fine. Why not use that bearskin rug in her studio for something other than a prop? But she’s determined to put a chink in his armor, no matter how much he resists.
Each book in the Gamers series is a standalone, full-length story that can be enjoyed out of order.
Book #1 Changing His Game
Book #2 Playing For Her Heart
Book #3 Tied to Trouble
Book #4 Leveling The Field
About the Author
Megan worked as a journalist covering real-life dramas before she decided she liked writing her own endings better and switched to fiction.
She lives in Pennsylvania with her husband, two kids and two cats. When she's not tapping away on her laptop, she's probably listening to the characters in her head who won't stop talking.
For more, visit meganerickson.org
Read an Excerpt
Leveling the Field
A Gamers Novel
By Megan Erickson, Heather Howland
Entangled Publishing, LLCCopyright © 2016 Megan Erickson
All rights reserved.
The guy was late.
Lissa Kingsman glanced at the clock on the wall of the office and tried not to look as irritated as she felt.
It was hard, though, because this day was simply not her day. First, she'd woken up with a headache that pain meds had just barely taken the edge off of, then her favorite barista wasn't at Queenie's Coffee and the substitute had messed up a simple latte.
Now she was standing in the conference room of Gamers magazine with a real-life Ken doll and the most annoying journalist to ever journal.
The only reason she hadn't left yet was, A) that would be unprofessional, and B) her friend Chad had promised her the guy who'd yet to show his face would be a perfect candidate for her project.
She tugged on a strand of her black curls and cracked her gum. Loudly.
Steven, the journalist writing the article about Gamers for the local newspaper, widened his eyes. Whoops, that might have been a little obnoxious.
Ken Doll, or Grant Osprey as he'd introduced himself, looked at her with amusement and a little bit of solidarity. Lissa decided she liked him.
"He said he'll be here soon," he said with a bright white smile.
Lissa cracked her gum again and raised her eyebrows.
He barked out a laugh and turned to look out the windows of his office.
She sighed and peered at the LCD screen on the back of her camera, flipping through pictures she'd taken yesterday. She wasn't a journalist, but she freelanced often as a favor to her long-time friend Sal, who ran the art team at the Willow Park Daily.
Her passion was portrait photography, and her current project was everyday people who bore scars — whether from surgery or a car accident or something else — and listening to their stories. When she'd seen the Gamers shoot on the newspaper's art department schedule, she hadn't been interested in taking the job until she'd mentioned it to Chad, knowing his sister worked at the magazine. Chad had told her he thought Ethan Talley, part owner of Gamers, would be perfect for Lissa's project.
Which was why she needed to be Charming Lissa today. Not Gum-Smacking Attitude Lissa.
She spit her gum into a napkin and threw it into the nearby trash can.
Letting her camera hang from her neck, she crossed her arms over her chest and gazed out the window.
A large black SUV pulled into the parking lot. The door opened, and a man stepped out, dark sunglasses protecting his eyes from the fall sun. He wore a black suit. Black shirt. Black tie. Black on black on black. His hair was black. The only thing that wasn't black was his skin, which was actually quite pale.
As he closed the door to his vehicle and the car beeped as the locks engaged, Lissa straightened and took a step closer to the window. In the background, she heard Steven and Grant talking softly, but her gaze was on the man now walking toward the building.
He was tall, very tall, with broad shoulders, and his stride was smooth — all long-legged and confident.
Lissa's knees went a little weak and her heart beat faster in her chest. Who was this guy? She had a thing for a man's walk. It was weird, beyond weird, but she loved to watch men walk. A hesitant gait turned her off, but a masculine strut like this guy? It revved all her engines.
Her sister used to tell her she should just check a man's teeth as if he was a horse if she was that into a guy's walk. Lissa used to tell her to shut up. Of course, if she could talk to her sister one more time, she certainly wouldn't be saying "shut up."
At that memory, Lissa squeezed her eyes shut, her arousal effectively doused as a wave of grief passed over her like it always did when she thought of her sister.
She took a couple of calming breaths and then opened her eyes to see the man opening up the front door of Gamers. It would be just her luck if he was the less-than-punctual Ethan Talley. She turned from the window and clutched her camera, the grip familiar and comforting, as loud footsteps came closer to the conference room.
Grant's head went up at the sound and he smiled. "Ah, Ethan's here."
Lissa sucked in a breath as a shadow crossed the threshold, because yes, he certainly was.
He stood in the doorway of the conference room, his hands hanging loose at his sides, his feet braced apart in their polished black shoes. His sunglasses were in his right hand, his ice-blue eyes surveying the room in a sweep until they finally landed on ... her.
Did she imagine the slight stiffening in his body at the sight of her?
She blinked, willing herself to maintain a passive expression while she took in the scars that crept up his neck and along his jaw like flames.
Oh yes, she very much wanted to photograph him and learn his story. Except this guy didn't look forthcoming at all. His jaw was tight, his hands clenched so hard she feared he'd break his sunglasses, and his eyes were shards of ice. His gaze darted to Grant. "What's she doing here?"
Lissa jolted, every instinct screaming at her to tell this prick to go to hell, talking about her like she wasn't in the room. He was either a misogynist, a dick, or a racist at the sight of her black skin. Why hadn't Chad warned her?
Grant held up a hand. "Now, Ethan. This is good publicity for us. They want to take our picture for —"
"No picture," Ethan growled. There was really no other way to describe it. He growled.
Lissa was no stranger to people who were opposed to having their picture taken. It happened a lot when she took photos for the newspaper, but she hadn't expected this here. At all. Grant had reached out to the newspaper for an article, so she'd assumed everyone would be okay with her presence.
Not so much.
She needed to take control of the situation, so she stepped forward with her hand out. "Hi, I'm Lissa Kingsman."
He stared at her hand like it would poison him. Finally he reached out and clasped it, shaking it firmly, never taking his eyes off her camera, as if at any minute, it would begin to snap away. He said with hesitation, "Ethan Talley."
There was something familiar about his voice, and Lissa wracked her brain trying to place it.
He dropped her hand and moved to sit down beside Grant. "I'm not comfortable with this."
"Ethan," Grant said, clapping him on the shoulder. "Let's just talk to the reporter first and then we'll deal with the picture thing, okay?"
Ethan nodded with a jerk of his chin.
Lissa stepped back, wishing she could blend into the walls behind her, because Ethan was still watching her, like she was going to steal something from him. Like his picture.
O-kay. Forget considering him for her project — this was like dealing with a startled deer. She shoved her hands into her pockets so they weren't anywhere near the shutter button. He relaxed a fraction but still kept her in his line of sight.
Apparently, Steven had done some of the interview over the phone and was now asking some follow-up questions.
Lissa concentrated on Ethan's deep voice, which lost some tension as he talked about Gamers and something about finding a personality to be the face of the company on social media sites like YouTube.
Wait a second ...
Just like that, Ethan's identity hit her like a brick to the chest. He was E-Rad, the video game commentator her younger brother had listened to non-stop as a teenager. E-Rad had made millions recording himself playing video games and putting the videos up on YouTube. His good looks and charming personality won him a huge following — both male and female — and even Lissa had a crush on him all those years ago. She hadn't recognized him when he'd walked in, maybe because of his scars or because he was a decade older than he'd been when he stopped making videos and disappeared from the gaming community.
It took all her strength and willpower not to point at him and yell, "Oh my God, you're E-Rad!" The guy hated her already because of the camera she wore around her neck.
And what if she was wrong?
But the more he talked, the more sure she was that he was E-Rad. If he would only let her take his picture ... He probably had an amazing story to tell. Did those scars have anything to do with his vanishing act all those years ago?
Determination fired on all cylinders in her gut, and she swallowed. She would find a way to get this guy to agree. A high-profile person like him would garner attention for her project. And the more attention she got, the more money she would raise for the scholarship in honor of her sister.
So she straightened away from the wall and smiled her most charming Lissa Kingsman smile. Ethan's eyes narrowed on her, and she geared up for battle.
* * *
She was like Aphrodite with a hissing cobra wrapped around her neck.
Ethan wasn't sure what he wanted to do more — kiss her or throw her camera through a window.
His glare, his do-not-touch posture, had been honed for over a decade. It was incredibly effective to everyone but the gorgeous woman who stood in the room with her smooth dark skin, crimson lips, and short curly hair that framed a beautiful face.
It had been ... too long to even mention since a woman had stirred his libido like this, and of course she had to want something from him. Something he hadn't been willing to give for a very long time.
Ethan shifted in his seat and scowled. It was bad enough he had to see his scars in the mirror every day. The last thing he wanted was photographic evidence of them, a tangible portrait of what he looked like to everyone else. Hell no. He also worried someone would recognize him from the days he made his fortune in front of a video camera. No one but his close friends and business partners knew about his past, and he preferred to keep it that way.
The reporter was wrapping up his questions, and Ethan smoothed down his black tie, ready to bolt, when a firm hand gripped his wrist. He turned to Grant, ready to snarl.
"We'll have her take some pictures of just me first, then us together, okay?" his friend asked.
Okay. That gave him more time to stall and come up with an excuse to leave, so he nodded and followed along as they all trouped to Grant's office.
Lissa stepped forward, her movements graceful, like a dancer's. Her red-painted toes peeked out from under a long purple skirt. As she fiddled with the knobs on top of her camera, a large collection of bangles clicked together on her forearm.
Large hoop earrings swayed as she held up the camera to her eye and directed Grant. The man smiled as he stood casually behind his desk, one hand braced on the back of his burgundy leather chair.
Despite the objects in the room — chairs, bookcases, a plant — Lissa moved around the room nearly silently, without bumping into anything.
Ethan couldn't take his eyes off her, especially when she bent over to get a different angled shot, which put her very round ass right in his line of vision.
He needed to take his jacket off, or loosen his tie, because his heart was pumping hot, hot blood faster and faster and it was all heading right down to ... his cock.
Oh, so now his libido decided to wake up. Fuck it all.
He stood behind a chair in a corner, hoping it hid the evidence of his arousal. The reporter had left and, as it was a Sunday, the office was deserted. It was just Grant, Ethan, and this woman who was making him harder and harder with every glance out of her kohl-lined eyes.
And then she turned to him fully, the camera held out at her side. She licked her lips, a swipe of that pink tongue on her full red lips. "Are you ready?"
He was going to pass out, and then he'd wake up and kill Grant. His friend should have warned him about the picture thing. Hell, this was why he'd avoided just about any sort of gathering lately, including their friends' engagement party. He'd have to attend Marley and Austin's wedding in a couple of weeks, but he wasn't thinking about that right now.
He gripped the back of the chair in front of him until he felt the fabric begin to give away under his blunt nails. His heart pounded from anxiety, and his cock pressed against the zipper in his suit pants ... and he was all about conflicting emotions today, apparently.
He was unsettled.
He didn't like feeling unsettled. And the source of that was in front of him right now, a hand on her hip, one perfect dark eyebrow raised at him.
With a finger pointed at Grant's chest, he said, "I told you no pictures. And I meant it." Then he turned to Lissa and tipped his head. "I'm sorry. Good luck with the article."
And then, before anyone could call him back, he strode from the room. He was almost to the front door when fast footfalls sounded behind him. He looked over his shoulder to see a camera-less Lissa jogging after him. "Hey!" she called.
He whirled around, twisting his face into the glare that had always served him well. Except around her apparently, because as she came to a halt in front of him, her skirt swirling around her legs, she didn't look scared at all. In fact, she looked pissed. "You know," she said, crossing her arms over her chest, which only succeeding in drawing his gaze to her cleavage. "It's kinda rude to bail on your business partner."
She pursed those pretty lips, and even with the horrible fluorescent lights in the ceiling of the office, she was gorgeous. Her long lashes fanned out over dark eyes.
"I said no pictures." His voice sounded deeper than usual.
She cocked an eyebrow. "Uh, yeah, you said that. About three times. What's your hang-up?"
"Why do you care?"
"Because my job is to get the shot —"
He scoffed. "You got a shot. Of Grant. He's the pretty one, anyway. So can I leave now without being accosted again?"
She jerked her head back. "I'm accosting you?"
"You're preventing me from leaving."
"Why are you so angry?"
The words were said quick and on a shout. And they both recoiled, she as if surprised by her own words, and Ethan at the vehemence of her tone.
He wanted to point at the scars on his neck. He wanted to pull out the photo of his dead sister and shove it in her face. There were many, many reasons he was angry, but all of them he'd caused himself.
He stepped closer to her, but the minute he did, all rational thought seemed to leave his brain. She smelled amazing, like flowers and coconut, like a tropical paradise mirage. Up close, her brown eyes were wide and warm, ensnaring his gaze so he couldn't look away.
Her lips parted as she stared up at him, her chest rising and falling. Her cheeks were slightly redder than they'd been before. Was it possible she was as affected by him as he was by her?
As if she couldn't help herself, she closed the distance between them, so that their chests brushed, and he thought belatedly that he should step back. Get away. But before he could, she made a small gasping sound as the hard shaft in his pants brushed her stomach.
But she didn't step back. She didn't move at all. He could reach out a hand and brush his fingers along the tops of her full breasts. He could bend down and take that gorgeous mouth, find out if she tasted as good as she looked.
He didn't even make a conscious effort to do it, and he hadn't realized that he had bent down, intent on pressing his lips to hers, until she inhaled sharply and stepped back, taking her scent with her, along with her warm eyes and those sweetly parted lips.
Her brown eyes flickered, her head dipped, so he couldn't see what those expressive eyes held.
Great, so now he'd sexually harassed the photographer. Before he got himself in further trouble, before he said or did something worse, he clamped his lips shut, shot her his best impassive expression, and nodded curtly.
Then he turned around, pushed the door open with an aggressive shove, and resisted all his instinct to catch one last glimpse of the enchanting Lissa Kingsman.
Excerpted from Leveling the Field by Megan Erickson, Heather Howland. Copyright © 2016 Megan Erickson. Excerpted by permission of Entangled Publishing, LLC.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I wouldn't read it again, but it wasn't a challenge to finish. Just not my cup of tea.
They healed each other...
This book is about 178 pages. To short for $2.99.
Easy read, engaging characters and good story.
3.5+ “Ethan is Top DAWG” Stars Leveling the Field is one heck of a hot book. Ethan used to have his own YouTube channel where he would commentate on video games. He had thousands of followers and more money than he knew what to do with. When a tragic accident leaves him scarred and costs his sister her life he drops off the earth. Over a decade later, he finds himself forced in front of a camera again by his business partner. Luckily the girl behind the camera is hot enough to take his mind off the actual thing. When a second chance encounter gets them alone in a room, their chemistry combusts and there’s nothing they can do to fight it. Ethan believes he’s in no place to have a relationship, even though Lissa insists that just sex (and amazingly good sex at that) is all she is after too. Even though neither is seeking a relationship, they find their way to each other time and again. But Ethan’s personal issues, as well as Lissa’s work and her own problems will get in the way of them building anything lasting. I freaking loved Lissa. While she was a little bit too aggressive sometimes for my personal taste but she was one hell of a woman. After tragedy touched her family, she found a way to make her work worthwhile and helpful to others. She was upfront and brutally honest, full of life and she didn’t back down when she felt something was important. Ethan was a mess. He closed himself off from the world after his accident, and no one and nothing could get through to him. That is until a sassy photographer pushed all his buttons. I really liked how Ethan unfolded from his hermit ways. While Lissa’s and Ethan’s chemistry was explosive and their sex really, really hot, Ethan’s own aloofness from his own feelings made it difficult for me to fully connect with him and in extension with Lissa and their feelings. I could understand the type of trauma he suffered is not a minor thing to overcome, but his constant knee-jerk reactions got increasingly annoying until I wanted to conk him on the head with something. That said Lissa’s ability to inspire him to go back to the land of the living plus the emotional quality of her work project were my favorite aspects of the story. Leveling the Field had lots of scorching hot sextivities, some harsh truths and two people going head to head in the pursuit of happiness. A really good story I enjoyed reading. *I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book*
3.5 Stars I haven't read the other books in this series. I didn't feel lost but maybe I would have had a better idea of who Ethan and Lissa are. Ethan used to be a famous YouTuber before he fell off the face of the earth. After experiencing a tragedy, his goal is to stay behind the scenes of his gamer magazine. When he shows up to the office for an interview, he's both intrigued by photographer, Lissa, and horrified. He absolutely doesn't want his picture taken. Lissa went to the interview hoping to get Ethan to participate in her project honoring her sister but quickly realizes that he is not someone who want his story told. Will the secrets these two are hiding eventually push them apart? I loved the dual POV and heat. These two had immediate chemistry and I loved how much they helped each other grow and overcome their tragedies. I haven't read the other books in this series but they are definitely being added to my TBR! *This is my voluntary review of an Advanced Reader Copy*
Since I discovered the wonderful writing of one Megan Erickson I have made it my mission to read every single one of her books, so this is me catching up on this series. It had everything that I love in a book, a tortured character in need of a good doses of . . . laughter and love and characters with real pain and emotions willing to try at being happy and living a better life. The relationship between Ethan and Lissa was explosive from the start, the way Megan wrote their first encounter was both hot and frustrating and that stands for pretty much every interaction these two have, of course there are some sweet romantic moments but the hotness was too hot to contain. I also liked the fact that we get small little glimpses into the other couples lives, how they are doing and some mile stones in their relationships. To sum up, this book made me very very happy and took my mind away from the anxiety inducing world that we are living.
Giod plot andthe characters were easy to like.
I really enjoyed this read. Funny, sexy, emotional, and entertaining.
I absolutely love Megan's words, but this series has probably been my favorite from her. Love love love Lissa and Ethan. She's snarky and strong and tells it like it is. And Ethan...well, he's not. I loved their interactions and her pushing and his retreating and JFC the chemistry could have killed me. Bonus points for getting to see that everyone else from the previous books were insane with happiness. Lissa and Ethan are absolute perfection together and I seriously loved every single page. If you're not reading Megan's words, you're missing out.
3.5 stars Leveling the Field was a good read. I enjoyed watching Ethan and Lissa come together, both characters made this such a fun and entertaining read. I loved their passion, their stubbornness and their chemistry was off the charts! **fans self** Loved catching up with the previous characters and the epilogue made my heart smile. The Gamers series has been a great read, I'm sad to see it's come to a close. Thank you Megan Erickson for once again writing with heart and sharing your words with us.
Megan Erickson can write an emotional book on unusual topics that make for a great romance. Ethan Talley is a former youtube gaming commentator that has fallen off the map after an accident left him reeling to find himself. Lissa Kingsman is a photographer who is working on a project about overcoming your scars that means everything to her. Ethan and Lissa go through many ups and down to find a happy place. The glitter is hilarious!! I liked that they were an interracial couple, yet it was never the focal point of the book.
Megan is an auto-buy author for me and this was no exception to that. I have loved the Gamers series so I am a little sad to see it end. But we got to end with Ethan's story and that is pure awesome. I was really looking forward to his story and his happy ending and it was absolutely right. Every time we have seen Ethan before he has been a mass of anger, depression and self-loathing. In this we finally saw him happy and laughing and being a human again. It was a gradual breaking through the past and everything that he has been letting drag him down for years and years. It was so enjoyable to watch him embrace his new self and make amends with those in his life that fell by the wayside. Then there is Lissa. I LOVE LISSA. She is such a badass, fiesty, tell it like it is, hot mama. She was such a breath of fresh air. I loved her take no crap attitude, the way she grabs what she wants with both hands and isn't ashamed or shy about it. She is full of life, energy and so fun. And her chemistry with Ethan is off the charts. I loved her closeness with her family and the way she is keeping her sisters memory alive with such a wonderful method. Together Lissa and Ethan are on fire. Their chemistry scorches the pages, but their emotional connection was even better. They both have had traumatic moments in their pasts but it brings them together and allows them to be open and honest with one another. Her generous spirit pulls Ethan out of his pit and he lets her be her fabulous self. I loved their connections and the way they made one another laugh. Glitter anyone? We got to see closure for Ethan, a new beginning for him and Lissa, revisited old characters I love. I laughed out loud several times and got a little emotional toward the end. If the series has to end, this was a great way to end it!
Leveling the Field is the last book in the Gamers series and tells the story of Ethan and Lissa. Ethan is the reclusive former gaming star who made millions commenting on online video. His life changed when he was in a wreck that took his sister's life and left him scarred. He has retreated from the public and is only comfortable at work or with his surviving sister. Lissa is a photographer who meets Ethan at a friend's wedding. They have instant chemistry and have a very memorable hook up in a coat closet. Ethan is very clear in that he isn't looking for more than a physical relationship, Lissa would like more. Will they be able to have a happy future or will their pasts pull them apart? This is a smoking hot book that show how two complicated people can draw out the best in each other. It reminded me a lot of the Beauty and the Beast fairy tale. Be advised this book is primarily for the over 18 crowd. I was given a free copy for an honest review.
In the 4th and final book in the Gamers series, we get to see Ethan find love! This book is steamy hot, raunchily funny and hands down a nice ending to the series. Ethan Talley has exiled himself from life for a number of years now, and he isn't happy to have his business partner forcing a newspaper interview on him, but he draws the line at having his picture taken, no matter how sexy the photographer is! Lissa Kingsman only has to hear Ethan's voice for a few minutes before she recognizes him as a YouTube gamer from years ago that she used to watch with her brother. He disappeared from the limelight all of a sudden and no one knew why. She wonders if the scars down the side of his face have something to do with it. Ethan is drawn to Lissa even though he wants nothing to do with being in front of her camera. She reaches him like no one else, and he finds himself unable to stop hooking up with her. After a few times, casual sex is no longer enough and he wants more. Are they ready to handle each other's pasts in order to have a future together?
This is the last book in the Gamers series, a set of books I've really enjoyed that focused on a video game magazine and its employees. They've all been super sexy stories with unique characters. We've seen Ethan as this reclusive smart man in the background as a secondary character up to now, with his sister Chloe finding love in Book 2, Playing For Her Heart with his business partner and friend Grant. It's finally his turn, and he meets his match in Lissa, a photographer who was hired as part of a PR campaign for the magazine. I really enjoyed all the aspects of this story! First we have Ethan, a scarred man both inside and out, from a traumatic episode in his past that drastically changed him and damaged his relationship with his parents too. He's still trying to atone for his mistakes and hasn't forgiven himself, making it impossible for him to commit to a relationship. Then there is Lissa, a woman whose sister committed suicide. She too carries guilt for not recognizing what her sister was going through. She's trying to make some amends with a fundraising project for college scholarships, using her skills as a photographer to create an exhibit that takes people with visible scars and tells their stories. Though she initially wants to have Ethan in the exhibit, as she gets to know him she realizes that he is so intensely private that she changes her mind. Ethan can't deny he's attracted to Lissa and even though he doesn't believe he's relationship material, she has no problem with their casual hookups, resulting in some very sexy scenes between them. I really liked that Lissa was an empowered woman who was an equal partner in their encounters, and wasn't afraid to call Ethan out when he tried to apologize for his behaviour, feeling like he'd pushed her into things she wasn't ready for. I also really appreciated that this is an interracial romance, and that while Lissa is African American, her skin colour was never an issue for Ethan or his friends, and vice versa. They were just a couple falling for each other, sharing their secrets with each other, and becoming integral to each other's lives. The conflict is both internal and external, with Ethan's wariness at getting involved and Lissa's side project blindsiding Ethan and making him question their relationship. I enjoyed how the whole story played out, the cameos of the secondary characters from previous stories, and having a strong female heroine stand up for herself. There were laugh out loud moments, and some surprising tears for me too. It was a great ending to the series! I will miss these guys. 5 stars.
This was my favorite in the series! I loved both Ethan and Lissa. I'm a sucker for a scarred, broody hero and Ethan was such a grouch in the previous books, I couldn't wait to see him get his HEA. Lissa was the perfect fit for him. She was happiness, sunshine, and glitter! She saw right away this beautiful, damaged man had so much to offer, but Ethan resisted and pushed away every chance he got. I knew there would be conflict at some point, and was thrilled to see how Lissa responded to Ethan messing up (as the heroes often do!). I shed just a few tears near the end when they were resolving things between each other and the family. The heartfelt emotion and conversation was fantastic. Oh, the feels. This was a wonderful story and I loved every minute of it!
4.5 Stars, even though such a thing doesn't exist on Goodreads. I enjoyed Ethan and Lissa. I appreciated that while this was the continuation of a series, it would also work as a standalone. The writing was solid. As was the dialog. I appreciated the choice Megan Erickson made to let the reader be privy to Lissa's reaction to Ethan when she first sees him, so you know that there was an attraction there before she knew who he was. I think it was also important to Ethan that she was able to find him physically attractive. There was a lot of depth to Ethan, and the similar shared experience of Lissa was an amazing commonality for them. The scene where he leaps down his stairs to stop her from leaving but then all he can do is stare at her silently was so poignant. Your heart breaks for both of them, but especially Ethan...and you want him to find his happy ending. I really enjoyed this book and highly recommend it. ***ARC Provided by the publisher and NetGalley***
My Review: Oooh, this was a great story. Ethan is scarred both inside and out. Ten years ago he was in a car accident that left him messed up. Now he lives the life of a hermit, only going to work...he's part owner of Gamer's Magazine...and home. Lissa meets him when she's a photographer for an article featuring the famous magazine, but Ethan refuses to have his horrifically scarred face photographed. Lissa doesn't see Ethan's scars as a detraction. Her sister was scarred and committed suicide. To Lissa, the scars inside a person are much worse and scarier. She's immediately drawn to Ethan, then she realizes exactly who he used to be. Ten years ago, Ethan was a cocky confident guy who charmed millions. Now, he's no where near that and Lissa wants to help. And that's all before the two realize their incredible chemistry. Both characters have reasons not to get involved...that really aren't a good deterrent to amazing sexual chemistry. They just can't help themselves...over and over again. My heart hurt for both these people. Despite their differences, their pain is eerily the same. They've both suffered horrible, sad losses that have left their marks. But they've dealt with their pain in markedly different ways. I liked seeing that difference and how seeing that helped to heal Ethan. He's a guy who needs to desperately make a change before he loses himself completely. I liked how Lissa sees him as just Ethan. While the scars are there, they are just a part of him...no big thing, except in the sense that HE is letting them hold him back. I liked how she approaches showing him a different view through her camera lens. She uses it to heal and it was a great aspect to the story. The book had lots of emotional angst that I love, but it was tempered with sexy times and even fun times. The glitter bomb had me laughing out loud. It's a great book and I definitely recommend it. In fact, I recommend the entire series. You can read any of the books perfectly well as stand-alones, but all four books are definitely worth the read. I received a complimentary copy of this book in return for an honest review.
3.75 stars--LEVELING THE FIELD is the fourth installment in Megan Erickson’s contemporary, adult GAMERS erotic, romance series focusing on the men and women who work for Gamers Magazine and in the gaming industry. This is former YouTube sensation and Gamers co-owner Ethan Talley, and photographer Lissa Kingsman. LEVELING THE FIELD can be read as a stand alone without any difficulty. Grant is Chloe’s brother (Playing for Her Heart #2). Told from dual third person perspectives (Lissa and Ethan) LEVELING THE FIELD follows the building relationship between Lissa and Ethan. Ethan is a man who keeps to himself; hides a multitude of physical and emotional scars that have left him a broken shell of a man, and a man whose heart was destroyed with the death of someone close. Enter Lissa Kingsman, a woman whose own emotional scars remain hidden behind the glitter of boudoir photography, and a smile that presents its face to the world. When Lissa’s latest assignment to photograph the reclusive Gamer entrepreneur goes downhill, she is stunned when Ethan makes her an offer she doesn’t want to refuse. What ensues is the friends with benefits relationship between two people whose earlier years met with heartbreak, loss, and grief. Tragedy struck both families: where Ethan has shunned the outside world and the family he once loved, Lissa calls attention to the people who have overcome their scars and obstacles in life. LEVELING THE FIELD is a storyline that covers a number of issues including accidental death, suicide, gay lovers, interracial relationships, and dysfunctional family heartbreak. All of the previous storyline couples play secondary and supporting roles. We are introduced to Lissa’s parents and her brother Angel, as well as Ethan’s family-long estranged from their only son. LEVELING THE FIELD is a quick and sexy read. There are moments of heartbreak and presumed betrayal; grief and loss; acceptance and moving forward. The premise is enjoyable; the characters are colorful, animated and fun; the romance is seductive. There is no denying the attraction between our leading couple but some of their interludes felt cold and empty hearted-it is the nature of the beast that only wants $ex with no emotional after thoughts.
This has been such a fun series and I’m really sad I have to say goodbye. This series is such a breath of fresh air for the romance genre and I’ve loved the nerdiness of it all. I knew from the beginning that Ethan had a story to tell and it was worth the wait. I adore Ethan and Lissa. Ethan was so grumpy and I loved him all the more for that. His hot and cold mood swings gave me whiplash but it was understandable. Lissa though, I adored. She was so strong and confident and passionate. I loved how she told it like it was and wasn’t willing to put up with Ethan’s crap. She knew what she wanted and wasn’t afraid to ask for it and go get it. These two were great together and they were fun to watch. I also loved seeing some of my favorites again. I forgot how hysterical Grant was and he had me cracking up. I also loved seeing Chad because Chad is forever my favorite and the scene with him in the beginning was pure gold. I’m really going to miss these characters. Leveling The Field was a great addition to the Gamers series and I devoured it. This series delivered such a great cast of characters and I’m sad to leave them all behind. This is not a series to be missed.
I’m gonna lead by saying this: I love Megan Erickson and I love her Gamers series. She gave me nerdy and dirty with Changing His Game at a time when I needed it most. (Seriously, why aren’t there more nerd romances? Geeky guys – and girls – are hot.) I fell in love with this series early on and each new book just solidified that love more. Leveling the Field was no exception. I feel like I’ve been waiting for Ethan’s story FOREVER. I love me a good grumpy guy in books (and some might say in life also) and I’ve wanted to see him let go of his guilt and find his HEA for a long time now. As sad as I am that Leveling the Field is the last book in the Gamers series (*wipes away a tear*), I’m so glad it went out in style, with Ethan getting the chance to do just that. I don’t think there could’ve possibly been a more perfect match for him than Lissa, too. She understood his guilt over his sister’s death because she, too, lost her sister and she felt responsible. That might not’ve been what originally connected them – that was a HOT, supposed one-time thing in a coat closet at a wedding – but it’s what eventually brought them closer together. This book had so many great little moments that I’m completely unwilling to spoil for you in any way. What I’ll say is that you can expect hot HOT HOT sexy times and a good bit of dirty talk – from both Ethan and Lissa. (YES!) Because of the connection they share with the loss of a sister (and the accompanying guilt) you should expect a few feels along the way, too. I loved getting to see more from Austin and Marley, Grant and Chloe, and Chad and Owen in this book. I absolutely adored those characters, so it was great to get just a bit more from them before the series ended. Perfect conclusion to what was – and will likely remain – one of my favorite Brazen series. I received a copy of this book from the publisher, via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.
For fans of age old fairy tales, Leveling the Field by Megan Erickson may seem familiar. Beauty and the Beast has never been told quite like this however. Ms. Erickson gave it a spicy edge but kept the core message and the emotional feel. I received an ARC of this novel in exchange for an honest review. No matter how many times it's told and whole the main characters are the central message of inner beauty is what makes Beauty and the beast a classic read that is both beautiful and unique. Ms. Erickson lived up to the message with Lissa and Ethan's story and gave it her own special touch. Well done.