Title: The Ghosts Between Us (The West Hills #1)
Author: Brigham Vaughn
Publisher: Two Peninsulas Press
Release Date: March 2, 2019
Reviewed by: Kirstin
Heat Level: 3 flames out of 5
Rating: 4 stars out of 5
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.
I really love a hurt/comfort/healing and this was a perfect example of that trope.
Chris, having always looked up to his younger brother, Cal, is devastated at his funeral. Soon after, he realizes that his relationship with his brother wasn’t at all what he thought and he’s reeling from all of the questions and dishonesty surrounding his new found information.
Elliot loved Cal, but after six months of dating, he wanted more than just being his dirty little secret. And then suddenly, there was no time left. He was mad at the funeral. No one knew him there and seeing Chris for the first time brought back so many memories of Cal.
Neither of them could stay away from each other long and their odd friendship morphed into more.
Just reading this story was so interesting to me. The dynamic between Chris and Elliot and Cal was overwhelming at times. Everything they felt and worried about was so real. All of the questions… how much is he thinking of Cal instead of me? Gah. I loved how Brigham Vaughn just layed it all out there and forced the two to pick up the pieces.
Told solely from Chris’s POV, I kind of wanted to get in Elliot’s head a bit more. He was so much the typical brooding artist, but then he had this whole other side where he was funny and sweet and romantic.
Honestly, they were perfect for each other. There was an ensemble cast of friends and family that really left you raw, as a reader, and added so much to the story. I loved the story, the emotions, the feelings and the ending.