Monday, August 10, 2020

Off-Balance by Brigham Vaughn Release Blitz

Love doesn’t always add up.

Russell Bishop is a rising star at Vantage Marketing.

Stephen Parker is the company’s CFO.

A spilled cup of coffee gives them an opportunity to act on the mutual attraction they’ve both been trying to ignore. But attraction isn’t enough with an almost twenty-year age gap and clashing expectations about their relationship.

Fiercely independent, Russ isn't sure he's ready for long-term commitment and Stephen is afraid history is repeating itself.

Their relationship reaches a crossroads when the death of Stephen’s father forces them to visit his hometown in southern Georgia. Estranged from his family, Stephen must come to terms with his past and say goodbye to the father whose expectations he could never live up to. The small, conservative town provides its own challenges as Russ must find the strength to be the man Stephen desperately needs.

Author’s Note: Off-Balance was previously released as Equals and Partners. It has been completely re-written in a single novel with an additional 20k of brand-new content and fresh edits.

Book 1
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~  Also Available with KindleUnlimited  ~

“Hopefully, I’m not keeping you from a hot date tonight or something.”

Stephen let out a small snort of amusement. “Russ, I can’t remember the last time I had a hot date. Frankly, it’s been months since I’ve had a date of any sort. And they were lukewarm at best. If you’re asking if I’m single, the answer is yes.”

Embarrassed, Russ cleared his throat. “I was curious.”

“Nothing wrong with curiosity.”

“I’m single too,” Russ said. He cringed internally. Jesus. He’d had game once. Okay, maybe not game because he’d never had time to really develop it, but he used to be at least slightly smooth. This… whatever this was, was truly pathetic.

But Stephen didn’t seem too put out by his awkwardness. “Haven’t met the right person or no time to date?”

“Maybe a little of both,” Russ admitted. “It can be hard to meet men when you’re working fifty, sixty hours a week.” There. He’d at least managed to work the fact that he was gay into the conversation without doing it in the most cringey way possible.

“Absolutely,” Stephen said. “Though, from what I hear, you’re doing very well at Vantage.”

Russ blinked. He had no idea Stephen had even known who he was, much less that he’d been paying attention to how he was doing. “I had no idea you’d noticed me at work.”

“Oh, I noticed.” Stephen gave him a slow smile. “You needn’t worry about proving your worth, if that’s why you’re working those kind of hours.”

“I like to be thorough,” Russ said.

“Thoroughness is good.”

Was it Russ’s imagination or was there a hint of heat in Stephen’s eyes now and a faint rasp to his voice? “I like to make sure I take my time and fully grasp a topic,” Russ countered. “Get a real grip on it.”

“Traits like that will certainly allow you to get far at whatever you choose to do.”

Including with you? Russ wondered. “I’m trying to get ahead.”

The corner of Stephen’s mouth curved up even further. “That much is clear.”

“Think I’ll succeed?”

“I suppose it depends on what you’re trying to succeed at.”

“You don’t know?”

“I try not to make any assumptions about anything until I’m sure.”

Goddamn it. They were talking in circles and getting nowhere. Maybe Russ needed to try a different approach.

“I appreciate all of your help today,” Russ said. “I seriously can’t thank you enough.”

Stephen looked away from the TV again and shook his head, glancing at Russ with a small smile. “It’s the least I could do. I feel responsible for what happened.”

Russ smiled back, Stephen’s earnestness relaxing him. “Let’s call it even then, I guess. Or we could be up all night with this.”

Stephen quirked an eyebrow up at him, eyes crinkling at the corners with amusement. Fuck, what a turn on. Why older men were such an attraction for him, Russ would never be sure, but he’d realized it in college. He’d had a brief fling with a professor named Jack Burns after the semester was over. It wasn’t the forbidden aspect of it—they’d both waited until after Russ was no longer his student—but he liked the age difference.

A man with a fit body, handsome face, graying hair, and a killer smile always got Russ going. Hell, his head and ankle ached and he was still thinking about what Stephen would be like in bed. And was he flirting? God, Russ hoped so. “Well, being up all night isn’t always a bad thing.”

Stephen’s lips turned up at the corners in amusement. “You don’t think so?”

Russ shrugged. “It depends on the reason, doesn’t it?”

“Yes, I suppose it does,” Stephen murmured. He shifted to face Russ. “I’m afraid all of the best reasons are off the table at the moment though, aren’t they?”

“Too bad.”

Reviews by the Wicked Reads Review Team

3.5 stars

This book starts as a corporate, age-gap romance between two executives but it quickly becomes something bigger as the focus turns to Stephen’s difficult family background.

At the start of this book, Stephen is everything a silver fox executive needs to be. He’s polished, successful, handsome, and kind. He’s a little too buttoned up for my personal tastes but he’s a perfect match for Russ, who wants to grow up to be just like Stephen. And while Stephen is maybe a little too perfect at the start of this book, Russ finds reasons to whinge every time Stephen shows him a little kindness. The result is Russ seeming even younger than his years and me as a reader wondering why Stephen keeps trying so hard. I really found it hard to enjoy either of the ambitious workaholics we get to know in the first half of the book.

However, just when Russ and Stephen start to come to terms with the age and power gap between them, readers are thrust into a second story which involves the two men travelling back to Stephen’s hometown. The second half of the story reads like a completely separate book. This time, Stephen is the insecure one in the relationship and it is Russ who now feels like the older, more sensible partner. I engaged more with this second story. Russ and Stephen are more vulnerable here and while they are still a little snobby, they feel more real. There is a better balance between the two men in this second story. Unfortunately, Stephen’s hometown remains an outdated caricature full of backwards yokels and bigoted baddies.

The hometown return is a frequently used plot device, but it usually prompts some real growth and re-evaluation from the returning characters. Unfortunately, we don’t see much growth in Stephen here. He comes to terms with his father but remains highly judgmental about his hometown and nearly everyone in it. He and Russ remain power hungry corporate drones – there really isn’t any reflection on their crazy work hours or status symbol lifestyle. It works for them, but I tend to like a little more heart and soul in my romance.

Oh, and one more complaint. None of the dates add up in this book unless it is set several years ago. Every time Russ or Stephen talks about their age at a certain time, I grew increasingly frustrated because they just don't add up. By my calculation, Russ would have been born in 1992 and Stephen in in 1973. It's a little thing, but whole passages didn't make sense because they refer to the wrong decade. Urgh.

br /> 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.

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Reviewers on the Wicked Reads Review Team were provided a free copy of Off-Balance (Peachtree #1) by Brigham Vaughn to read and review for this tour.

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