Author: Brigham Vaughn
Book: Bully & Exit and Push & Pull
Series: The Midwest series, Books 1 & 2
Categories: NA, Gay Romance
With less than a month to go until graduation, Caleb runs into Nathan Rhodes at a house party. Nathan is a star hockey player for Western Michigan University and finally ready to step out of the closet. He’s also the guy who broke Caleb’s heart in high school.
Nathan’s determined to make amends for what he did four years ago, but Caleb isn’t willing to risk getting his heart stomped on again. With only a few weeks left before they go their separate ways, it’ll take all of Nathan’s creativity and help from some interfering friends to convince Caleb to give him a second chance.
Push & Pull
Brent Cameron has been dreaming about a road trip around Lake Michigan for years. When his best friend, Nathan, ditches him to spend the summer with his boyfriend, Caleb, Brent is pissed. Stuck between a rock and a hard place, he reluctantly agrees to take Caleb’s best friend, Lowell Prescott, instead.
Brent is a former hockey player and recently out of the closet. Lowell is an in-your-face gay guy who rebels against the limits people put on him. Tempers fly and sparks flare as they hit the road, which leads to a hot night they both regret in the morning. Despite the rocky start, Brent and Lowell slowly begin to realize they have a lot in common. As the miles disappear behind them so does their animosity. Casual hook-ups aren’t Brent’s thing, and Lowell doesn’t do relationships, so they agree to focus on their friendship.
By the time they make it to the shores of Lake Superior, their feelings have deepened past simple friendship, but neither of them have the guts to admit it. When the past intrudes, will it derail the trip and the possibility of a relationship?
4✨s – Bully & Exit is a second chance romance that is a little bit dramatic. I really liked Nathan and thought everything he did to try to talk to Caleb was admirable and sweet. He went out of his way to make Caleb feel special, even when Caleb was being more than a little dramatic. I saw where Caleb was coming from, after reading the chapters set in the past I understood how hurt he was, but he became a little bitter and it was unnecessary.
Brigham Vaughn told a second chance romance that was sweet and with characters who were interesting, though I really clung to the side characters more than I did the main ones. Where Nathan was sweet and regretful, Caleb was a bit of a brat. Though they are cute together and cute as a couple, even if it was a little dramatic for my tastes.
4✨s – Push & Pull is the second book in the Midwest series and it follows Brent and Lowell. I really liked Lowell in the first book and am glad that he had his story told.
This is an opposites attract almost enemies to lovers story. I say almost because while they’re not really enemies they’re so different they don’t always see how good their difference are, or just how similar they are in many aspects of their lives. Brent resents the fact that Nathan can’t go on the road trip they planned because he wants to spend time with his boyfriend instead. In his place Lowell gets offered up and it begins a journey of a lifetime for the both of them. Even if they don’t want to admit it at first.
Lowell seems flirty and flighty, but after reading Push & Pull it’s easy to see that he’s so much more than what you’re lead to believe in Bully & Exit. He’s loyal and ambitious, and only wants the best for himself and his friends, which is something you wouldn’t expect because it’s not something he always wants people to see. Lowell and Brent seem so different on the surface, but they’re not. Brent is finally living the life he wants and Lowell has always been vocal about who he is.
They see their differences more than their similarities and their insecurities run amok. It’s easy to get frustrated when they both feel the same thing but refuse to say it because of the “what if”. Though I did enjoy reading this book just a bit more than the first. It’s well written, the characters aren’t as dramatic, even though Lowell is more “in your face” than any of the other characters, and road trips are always fun to read about.
I really enjoy reading Brigham Vaughn books. Her characters are interesting, sometimes more dramatic than I prefer, but they also have heart and souls that are easy to fall in love with.
Bully & Exit – 4✨s – This was a great book of young love, betrayal and forgiveness. I enjoyed the main and supporting characters and the story flowed really well from the beginning. Caleb is a theatre student at Uni and nearing graduation. He’s mostly enjoyed his time there until he runs into Nathan at a party and all of the old hurt from high school reemerges. Nathan has been waiting for his chance to apologise to Caleb, building up his courage for that and to finally live life as himself. With support from his best friend and Caleb’s, he tries to find his way back but it’s possible too much pain was caused. While this isn’t a hardcore emotional story, it impacts with the love and loss of a first love when all emotions are heightened. I enjoyed that we got flashback chapters to see how the two young men originally came together and the eventual heartbreak but it’s fed to us gradually throughout so we are experiencing the then and now of the same men but kind of a different relationship as they have grown and experienced a lot in the four years in between. It was easy to understand how both men were feeling and why, and especially sad once you read about why things happened in the way they did. The MC’s are set up well and we are given a good history as we go through the story. It’s not a rushed introduction or nothing at all but we find things out naturally through thoughts and conversations. Caleb is in constant turmoil about what to do in regards to Nathan but eventually it does become frustrating as to getting him to make a final decision. Gotta love a mother who is there for her son for everything! Lowell and Brent are the best friends and great support for each men. There’s moments of fun amongst the reflective times and the sad but I felt right there with the characters. All the scenes are set really well and it was easy to imagine each place, from theatre prop rooms to a bar/club, classes to apartments. Good descriptive writing helped me to envisage the characters and the places around them. I was a little confused as to the title and it’s relevance to the story as Nathan isn’t a bully, unless it’s referencing his exit from the high school relationship. This was a good start to a new series and I’m looking forward to book 2!
Push & Pull – 5✨s – It doesn’t happen often where the second book in a series is preferred to the first but this book is, for me, more complete and overall enjoyable. This story sees Brent and Lowell, Nathan and Caleb’s best friends from book 1, head off on a summer road trip around Lake Michigan. It starts out a little rough as it was supposed to be Nathan and Brent but his blossoming relationship with Caleb needs to be put first and Lowell volunteers. What then ensures is a building friendship with stumbling blocks along the way from inexperience, misconceptions and presumptions. It makes for wonderful reading alongside a trip that takes in some fantastic sites that Brigham Vaughn is fantastic at writing! I’ve never been to the US but the city and state parks were described as places of wonder and I could easily imagine them as places our MC’s visited and explored. The two men we only got glimpses at before become so much more and we hear their history and experiences as they share with each other whilst taking their trip. Their interactions come across very naturally. not forced in any way. I could easily see the eye rolls and secret smiles that would be occurring. The way in which their relationship developed stayed true to the characters, especially Lowell and his fears. You’re constantly rooting for what we want to happen and that HEA but the route they travel allows us to experience the necessary highs and lows. A favourite scene of mine is on the ice rink whilst they are staying in Chicago. It’s not this big milestone moment but something that both men get to share and enjoy, and it shines through in the writing. I was fully engaged from the start and needing to know what was going to happen next. We get the occasional pop up from Nathan and Caleb but we are mostly focused on Brent and Lowell but it never feels like they get sick of each other. There are times where a day or two is glossed over but as it wasn’t necessary to the story it flowed really well. This series has just gotten better for me and I’m hoping for Micah’s story next!
About Brigham Vaughn:
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.
Where to find Brigham Vaughn: