Marc reviews ‘Partners’ (Equals Book 2) by Brigham Vaughn. Published by Brigham Vaughn on September 19th, Cover Art by Brigham Vaughn.
Brigham Vaughn talks about Sequels in a wonderful Guest Post and have a nice Giveaway. Details below!
After a rocky first few months, Stephen Parker and Russ Bishop’s relationship is at a crossroads when the death of Stephen’s father forces them to visit Stephen’s hometown in southern Georgia.
Estranged from his family, Stephen must find a way to 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 realizes providing emotional support is one part of being a true partner for Stephen.
Buy Link: Amazon
The Cover: I like the cover. It shows the support and love and teases a difficult journey.
The Title: The title ‘Partners’ shows that there has been a big step up since the two main protagonists were struggling for an equal relationship in the previous book ‘Equals’
The Story: There is a huge shift in the story since ‘Equals’. It has only been one day, but the big event that overshadowed everything else in the previous book and made the main protagonists’ problems seem less important in comparison, really brings them together. I must admit, it’s almost too quick for me. There were such struggles for an ‘equal’ partnership and just within one day they become such strong partners in one of the most tense visits home. It is nice to see, but I didn’t completely expect that it would go so fast.
HOWEVER, I think personal tragedies often bind two people together much faster and much more permanently than anything else. This story has a big dynamic shift. The focus is no longer on the self-confident Stephen as he tries to make his relationship work with his lover Russ. It is on a crumbling and heartbroken Stephen, who has to face the demons of the past and needs his partner Russ at his side to survive it.
This is not a story of high angst nor are there real, human monsters that await the two in Stephen’s home town. The story is much more subtle than that. I loved how real that made the story feel. It does not need to artificially create drama, it uses the very real problems that two men, openly together, have to face in a small town. Some openly hostile people, most hiding disgust and disapproval barely under the surface. Others showing support, love and indifference.
At it’s heart it is a story about loss and grief for a person that was estranged. Stephen’s father had disowned him and cut off contact, when he found out his son was gay. Now he is dead and the confusion about how he is supposed to feel, the tense atmosphere in the small town and the struggle to get to terms with the past and say good bye are very well written and it was beautiful to see Russ firmly at Stephen’s side through it all.
A beautiful sequel, at times heartbreaking, but always full of love and hope. You can feel the support and the love between the partners and how it makes this whole trip bearable. This novel is more a quiet whisper than a scream. No sensationalism, no over the top plot. Brigham lets true feelings speak for themselves and I believed every one of them. A brilliant, subtle story!
9 out of 10 pots of gold
Brigham Vaughn talks about Sequels
I’d like to tell you I had it all planned out from the very beginning, but I didn’t know Equals was going to be a series until I sent the story off to my beta readers. They all asked, “You’re going to continue this, right?”
I certainly hadn’t planned to continue it, but I have these people read my stories and give me feedback for a reason. It’s because I trust their opinion. If they tell me something, I listen. I don’t always do exactly what they suggest; sometimes I know what’s right for the characters and need to trust my instincts.
But in this case, I knew they were right. Equals was just long enough to tell how Russ and Stephen meet, and how the beginning of their relationship develops. There was much more of Russ and Stephen’s story—especially Stephen’s backstory–that I wanted to tell. I’d already written a lot of it in my head; I just needed to get it out on paper. It became the Equals series, and Partners quickly formed as the second part.
Since Equals was already novella-length and I felt like it had a nice conclusion, I decided to keep it that way. I briefly considered turning the series into a full length novel instead but ultimately I decided it would be best as a three part series. I certainly did not want to leave any of the stories with a cliffhanger ending, but they quite neatly divided themselves into the three major parts. A novella of roughly 40-50,000 words was just the right length to explore each of those parts. If I had tried to write the entire series as a novel it would have been well over 130,000. I like that they’re divided into three separate stories rather than one monstrous one. I like the flow of three novellas better and I think it was the perfect way to tell this particular story.
Partners only covers about four days. But so much happens in those four days as Stephen goes back to his hometown to bury his father and deal with his past that it easily wound up being about 42,000 words. It ends as they’re about to leave town and head back to Atlanta, the major conflict wrapped up and a nice segue into the final book. I wanted the reader to feel as though the could set the story down and feel content with the ending, while still yearning for a little bit more.
The final novella is set about six months down the road. In order to get Russ and Stephen to the point where I felt like their story would be complete, I needed to explore the next step in their relationship. It will focus on dealing with the last of the issues for their past, and what they both want for their future together.
Of course, a holiday short—which will take place between books 2 and 3—has also crept in there too …
Sometimes, characters just won’t stop talking! In this case, I couldn’t be happier and I hope you will be too!
Russ stepped behind Stephen and kneaded the tense muscles of his boyfriend’s back, trying to coax him into relaxing. Whatever he said, Russ knew Stephen was stressed. “What can I give you that will help? Back massage? Blowjob?” He bent his head and nipped at Stephen’s neck with his teeth. “My ass?”
Stephen chuckled quietly. “As much as I love all of those, I’d rather have a bourbon and a nap right now, if that doesn’t make me sound ancient.”
Russ kissed his neck, relishing the tang of salty skin and the familiar scent of Stephen’s cologne. “Of course not. You’re under a lot of stress. I just want to make you feel better.”
He gently pushed Stephen toward the bed and dropped to his knees in front of his suitcase. Rummaging around, he found a flask he’d filled with Stephen’s favorite brand of small batch bourbon.
“I see you came prepared,” Stephen said, tone dry, as he kicked off his shoes and got comfortable on the bed.
“I did.” Russ shot him a grin. “Stay here. I’ll be right back.” In the kitchen, he searched through the cupboards until he found juice glasses.
“The flask would have sufficed,” Stephen said when he returned, shutting the door behind him with his foot.
“You pay ninety dollars a bottle for this stuff,” Russ countered. “The least I could do was get a glass for it.” He set the glasses down on the bedside table and splashed a little in each before handing one over to Stephen, who was propped against the headboard, looking grim. He half-expected Stephen to down the drink like a shot, but he sipped it instead. Russ sipped his own, watching as Stephen’s tension begin to fade.
After a few moments, Stephen patted the bed beside him, and Russ toed off his shoes and settled beside Stephen. “You seem better already, and you haven’t finished your drink yet.”
“I have all I need.” Stephen’s voice was gruff as his hand landed on Russ’ thigh. “I have you.”
Brigham Vaughn has always been a voracious reader with her own stories to tell. After many years of abandoned plots, something finally clicked. Now she’s eating, sleeping, and breathing writing and is excited to have finally figured out what she wants to be when she grows up. In the little time that isn’t spent writing or reading, she loves cooking, yoga, photography, and remodeling her ninety-year-old home. Brigham lives in Michigan with her four cats and an amazing husband who has always been her biggest champion.
1 commenter at each stop will win their choice of backlist title from Brigham Vaughn (excludes Dr. Feelgood).
In addition one commenter in all of the tour will win a $10 Giftcard from Amazon.
Grand Prize giveaway ends 4 October 2014 @ 11:59pm CDT, Blog Stop Giveaway ends 10 October 2014 @ 11:59 CDT.
Winner will be drawn by random drawing among all entrants on 5 October.
Must be 18 or older to enter. Void where prohibited.
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