Monday, March 11, 2019

The Ghosts Between Us by Brigham Vaughn Blog Tour

Dr. Christopher Allen knows how to deal with death. He’s a psychiatrist who works with hospice patients and their families, helping them cope with grief and letting go. But Chris’s job doesn’t prepare him for the sudden death of his devil-may-care brother Cal.

At Cal’s funeral, Chris is completely thrown when he meets Elliot Rawlings, an artist Cal has been dating. Chris is hurt to discover that the brother he knew as straight was actually bisexual. Elliot is angry and resentful of having been kept hidden from Cal’s family.

After the funeral, a night of drinking at the bar with Cal’s friends leads to Chris and Elliot falling into bed together. The next morning, they’re overwhelmed by guilt and grief and agree to never speak of it again.

But Cal’s apartment needs to be packed up and Elliot reluctantly agrees to help Chris, as well as answer some questions about Cal’s life and their relationship. Despite their guilt and initial dislike for one another, they sort through the pieces of Cal’s life and begin to fall for each other.

Despite his best efforts to fix things, Chris’s family seems to be crumbling around him and he begins to question who he is and what his role with them is. As his feelings for Elliot grow, Chris must decide if they’re worth further damaging his fragile relationships with his friends and family.

Elliot’s rough upbringing has left him distrustful of getting close to anyone, much less another man who isn’t willing to acknowledge him in public. The odds seem stacked against Chris and Elliot, but if they can overcome them, they may be able to lay Cal’s ghost to rest, along with their own demons.

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Book 1
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Reviews by the Wicked Reads Review Team

Grief and grieving. They play such a significant role in this book that the emotions are almost a character themselves. Yes, I realize that I’m referring to an emotion and a process as a single entity when they don’t always accompany one another as they should, but that’s one of the major themes of the novel, as I saw it, so they’re paired together in this instance. I expect that some readers will take comfort in seeing their own journeys through the grieving process reflected back at them because for many of us, while we’re grieving, we feel so alone and isolated. Just as I suspect there will be readers who are unable to finish the book because their own grief is too close to the surface and Brigham Vaughn captures the pain of loss far too well. And then there are those who don’t yet have a relatable experience to be able to fully understand what Chris and Elliott are going through, and I’m not sure if I envy you your innocence or fear for you, knowing just how devastating and overwhelming that loss can be. But whichever group you fall into, potential reader, do prepare yourself for a beautifully written and heartfelt journey through grief and a rebirth (of sorts) as Chris must find his way forward in a world without his brother.

At first glance, The Ghosts Between Us would appear to be about Chris and Elliott coming to terms with Cal’s ghost between them and whether or not they could or should have a future together. While Cal’s ghost (not a spectral ghost, but the memory of Cal) is certainly a big obstacle for them, he’s not the only ghost between them. Because the story is told from Chris’ point of view it is largely his journey as he deals with far more unresolved issues from his past than he realized he was holding onto, from his breakup with his ex-fiancé a year earlier all the way back to his childhood when he unconsciously took on the role of family fixer. Dealing with his brother’s sudden death was hard enough, but his grief was complicated by anger and sadness when Chris learns that he didn’t know his brother as well as he thought and then with guilt as he develops feelings for his brother’s boyfriend, Elliott. Added to that are feelings of failure as he watches his mother and father fall apart in the wake of their youngest son’s death. But despite Chris’ guilt, being with Elliott is the only time he feels safe and grounded and like he can breathe again… even if each breath is shrouded in more guilt as he keeps his relationship with Elliott a secret from his family and Cal’s best friend. But that’s kind of the point of the story, in his attempts to help everyone around him cope with Cal’s death, Chris fails to help the person he needs to help most – himself.

It’s not until Chris hits his own personal rock-bottom that he realizes this, and he takes the steps needed to be able to move forward. Now, because this is fiction, Chris’ trip may seem too easy to organize and a bit idyllic, and maybe it is, but it’s what fits his character and the relationship he had with his brother. The point remains that Chris had to find a way to reconnect with his brother, find a way to say goodbye to Cal’s ghost while holding onto his memory, find a way to let go of the guilt over his relationship with Elliott, and find a place in the world where he no longer felt like he was living in his larger-than-life brother’s shadow.

I feel bad that I’m probably making The Ghosts Between Us sound like a seriously depressing book because it’s not. It’s a beautifully written, emotional journey of love that is found in the most unlikely of places and at the most unexpected time. But the romance between Chris and Elliott is not easy, it’s not painless, and it’s full of heartache on both sides because just as both men find so much solace and understanding in one another, they’re also so raw that it’s too easy to hurt each other without intending to. The emotional landmines are plentiful, and I seriously began to wonder if they would make it through together when it became clear that no one would go unscathed. Fortunately, Vaughn didn’t let me down and penned an ending that was right for Chris and Elliott – not a happily ever after ending but a beautiful beginning.

Brigham Vaughn is on the adventure of a lifetime as a full-time author. She devours books at an alarming rate and hasn’t let her short arms and long torso stop her from doing yoga. She makes a killer key lime pie, hates green peppers, and loves wine tasting tours. A collector of vintage Nancy Drew books and green glassware, she enjoys poking around in antique shops and refinishing thrift store furniture. An avid photographer, she dreams of traveling the world and she can’t wait to discover everything else life has to offer her.

Her books range from short stories to novellas. They explore gay, bisexual, lesbian, and polyamorous romance in contemporary settings.

To stay up to date on her latest releases, sign up for the Coles & Vaughn Newsletter.

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Reviewers on the Wicked Reads Review Team were provided a free copy of The Ghosts Between Us (The West Hills #1) by Brigham Vaughn to read and review for this tour.

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