Thursday, July 16, 2015

Promo & Guest Post ~ Bully & Exit by Brigham Vaughn #Excerpt #Giveaway #Review

“What happens when the past won’t let you go?”

Theater student Caleb Stockwell is ready to leave college behind. Too bad his past isn’t ready to let him go.

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.


Nathan’s voice was soft when he spoke, gentle as it’d always been. “Caleb Stockwell. I’ve been looking for you.”

Caleb cleared his throat and ignored him, tipping the bottle up for another long drink. He licked the spiciness from his lips as he debated making another run for it. There was a shrub blocking his way in one direction and a hockey player in the other. Even if he hadn’t been drinking, the odds weren’t in his favor. “Nathan Rhodes,” he managed.

“Damn, I can’t believe it’s you!” Nathan leaned in, and Caleb pulled back, uncomfortable with him being so close.

Caleb laughed bitterly. “It’s me. Now that you’ve satisfied your curiosity, you can run along.” He motioned with his hand, encouraging Nathan to leave.

“It’s really good to see you,” Nathan said, ignoring him. He took a seat on the pile of discarded construction materials, his knees brushing Caleb’s as he lowered himself down. Caleb pulled away as if scorched.

“Yeah? Too bad I can’t say the same,” he muttered, his head swimming as the alcohol began to hit him. He eyed Nathan’s long, long legs and the way he was pinned in by them, remembering the way they’d felt tangled with his as they came, panting shallowly against each other’s skin. It brought it all back: the scent of Nathan’s cologne, the taste of his skin, the way Caleb’s heart raced in his chest when Nathan held him close. It brought back the memories, the ones he’d worked so hard to run from. The good and the bad. The sharp, intense happiness of falling for Nathan. The aching, crushing hurt that paralyzed Caleb for months after Nathan was no longer in his life. Everything he’d buried four years ago and vowed never to touch again.

He caught the first glimpse of doubt on Nathan’s face. “Are you okay, Caleb?”

“Oh, I’m motherfucking peachy,” he snarked and took another long drink. “I’ve made it through four fucking years trying to ignore the fact we’re on the same campus, and with barely a month left in my senior year, I thought maybe I’d managed to pull it off. But, no, Lowell had to drag me to this goddamn party, and, of course, you showed up too. Just my luck.”

He raised the bottle again, but Nathan wrapped a hand around the neck and tugged. He was stronger than Caleb, so Caleb let go, afraid he’d end up getting pulled onto Nathan’s lap if he didn’t. Nathan took a drink and passed the bottle back, licking the taste of rum off his lips before he spoke. “You’re so angry at me.”

“Ya think?” Caleb snarled. “Didn’t it ever occur to you I would be? What the hell makes you think you can waltz in here and pretend like all the shit that went down between us didn’t happen?” He tried to stand, but Nathan’s dark denim-clad knees were on either side of his, pinning him in place. The bottle was pried from his suddenly limp fingers and set aside.

“I don’t think that,” Nathan protested. “I was just glad to see you, and I… I wanted a chance to apologize. I didn’t … I wanted …”

Caleb’s lips parted in surprise as cool fingers framed his face, and for the first time in four long years, Nathan’s lips were pressed to his again. Involuntarily, Caleb’s eyes closed, feeling a rush of heat wash over him, taking him right back to the first time. Before Nathan broke his heart.

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This is a story about forgiving. It’s a story that shows us the strength of love. When we were in high school we did stupid things. Even though we thought we knew it all. Nathan and Caleb are living their lives, in college, unable to let go of one gigantic mess that happened in high school. They pretty much coast through 4 years. Study, build for a future. But they aren’t whole. They can’t be until they sit down, and talk.
The flashbacks explain the turmoil they are currently in. We get glimpses of the happy times and what inevitably made it all go wrong. But 4 years later, going to the same college, only weeks from graduation, it finally comes to a head. I was mad at past Nate. Irritated with present Caleb. But I cheered them on. I hoped they could make it.
Brigham tortures us slowly. Giving us the cookies but hiding the milk. Bringing it out at the perfect moment. I don’t usually go for flashback books. It usually ruins the continuity of a story for me. However, these were vital and equally as emotional and entertaining as the present time.
I can’t wait to read book 2… I am pretty sure I know what characters will be in attendance. I think you will too. These secondary characters are just as important and entertaining.
This is a terrific story about growing up. Facing the demons, tackling them, and being pleasantly surprised in humanity. It’s a love story, built on a pothole covered road. You’ll make it to the end on flat tires if you have to, couple of dings in the bumper, but you’ll make it!  


“Bully & Exit” is set in the city of Kalamazoo, Michigan, at Western Michigan University.  I am familiar with the area and this past weekend I took a tour of campus and downtown to get photos of some of the places described in the book.
I began by touring West Campus, the name for the main campus and where the bulk of Nathan and Caleb’s classes would be.  They would have walked by Miller Auditorium and Stewart clock tower every day as they went to class.

Ackley/Shilling Residence halls are in “The Valley”, and are where Caleb and Lowell first lived their freshman year.
Sangren Hall is where several of their classes might have been held and when I saw a bench right outside of the building I thought it would be perfect for the site of Nathan’s surprise visits and gifts to try to win Caleb over.  The modern art sculptures in the building are really incredible and I can picture Nathan or Caleb sitting under them as they study.

The Water Street Coffee Joint is a fun little place near downtown Kalamazoo.  It’s where Nathan and Lowell meet and try to figure out a way to win Caleb back.  The only thing I didn’t get pictures of is the Sleeping Bear Mocha they both order.

I was thrilled to be able to get inside the Lawson Ice Arena and take photos.  Nathan and Brent spent a lot of time in the arena over the four years they played for the Western Broncos.  It was where Nathan went to work out his disappointment and hurt when Caleb rejected him.

Downtown Kalamazoo is a great area with a nice pedestrian mall and a lot of really wonderful places to hear live music.  The one place I forgot to get a picture of was Metro Nightclub, where Caleb and Nathan talk, and Nathan finally outs himself.  

I had a great time doing this photo tour of the setting for my story and I hope you enjoyed it too! 


a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. Not entering the giveaway but I did want to say that:
    1. I adored that book and agree with every word in your review, Meredith
    2. I love that guest post and those beautiful photos.

  2. i have to say i love the story in this book and cant wait to read it

  3. I just stopped by to see the photos! What fun to be able to have a picture of the places in the book!

  4. This one sounds really good. Thanks for the review Meredith.

  5. Bully & Exit sounds great! I loved all the pictures.

  6. Would love a chance to read this book!

  7. The book sounds great. I loved the Equals books and loved how Ms Vaughn writes. Thanks for the chance