Sunday, May 27, 2018

Week at a Glance: 5/21/18 - 5/27/18

Sunday's Short Stack: The Soldier Next Door by Brigham Vaughn

All twenty-seven-year-old Travis Schultz is supposed to do is keep an eye on the kid next door for a few weeks while his parents are out of town. Eighteen-year-old Owen Wheeler has other plans. Newly graduated, with plans to enlist in the Army, Owen wants to get laid before he ships out and he’s had a crush on Travis for years.

The age difference and the responsibility he’s been entrusted with make Travis hesitant, but the attraction is too much to deny. When the casual one-night stand turns into something more, Travis has no idea how to tell Owen how he feels. He misses his opportunity before Owen leaves and is left at home with a broken heart when Owen cuts off all contact.

When they meet again years later, Owen is in the midst of recovery from being injured in the line of duty and Travis will have to decide if he can forgive Owen and try again.

📚Publisher's Note: This book was previously released as part of the Right Here, Right Now anthology with Pride Publishing.📚

💥This book contains brief mentions of PTSD and war-related injuries.💥

Original Review November 2017:
When Travis was asked to keep an eye on his 18 year old neighbor while his parents are away for a few weeks, he never expected it to change his life.  Owen isn't exactly pleased with the idea of having his neighbor checking up on him for the few weeks his parents are gone, especially with him joining the Army at the end of summer but then maybe it won't be so bad when its the neighbor he's been crushing on for years.  When Owen asks Travis for a favor of his own, will Travis comply?  Where will it leave the boys when the summer is up and Owen leaves for Basic?

Followers of my blog and reviews already know how much I love the writing of Brigham Vaughn.  Not only do I consider her a friend and kindred spirit but her writing style and ability to tell a story is amazing and never fails to entertain(that is my honest opinion that would be the same even if we disagreed over everything😉).  The Soldier Next Door is no different, it may be shorter as its a novella originally part of Pride Publishing's anthology Right Here, Right Now but it is definitely not short on heart.  Travis and Owen's journey is a perfect blend of romance, humor, and drama with a healthy dose of lust threaded throughout.

Perhaps the scenario that Travis and Owen find themselves in is something only found in books and television but the way Brigham creates it, I wouldn't be surprised if it happened on my block.  Fiction is where we go to escape our everyday lives but when an author can bring you that escape and still fill it with people you could see walking past your front window, you know you have found something special.  Would I have liked to seen more of the pair and had the future delved into?  Of course, I never want a Brigham Vaughn tale to end but it is a novella after all.  There was a time when I would have taken a half bookmark away automatically just for the "shortness" of the story but it was authors like Brigham that showed me when a story is well written with intriguing characters, length(or lack thereof) is not a factor.

Simply put: Travis and Owen's journey in The Soldier Next Door is a wonderfully fun tale and although its not a holiday story, I can't imagine a better time of year to give it a read.


“Travis, sweetie, can you grab the potato salad out of the fridge?”

Travis glanced up from his phone to look at his mom. “Sure, which one?”

“Oh, I made the mustard potato salad since you’re home. I know it’s your favorite. Your dad bitched and bitched, but I promised I’d make him some of his favorite soon.” Judy Schultz fussed with the flowers one more time, even though they were already perfect.

Travis stood and slipped his phone into his pocket. “No, not which potato salad, which fridge?”

“Oh.” Her hand fluttered distractedly. “The one in the basement.” She yelled after him as he turned to walk away. “Oh, and can you grab the big cooler we always put drinks in? There’s ice in it already. And once that’s up, can you set up the drinks on the deck?”

“Sure, Mom.” Travis chuckled to himself and jogged down the stairs. She was always a little flustered before her annual Fourth of July barbecue. It was a huge party—half the neighborhood came, along with all of her book club friends and their families.

Travis paused when he reached the bottom step. There was a man sitting on the couch, knees spread wide, elbows propped on them, head hanging.

“Hey,” Travis called out in a soft voice, not wanting to startle the guy, but he jerked upright and for a moment Travis would swear there was sheer terror in his eyes.

“Fuck,” he swore. Travis saw him take a deep breath and when he set down the can of soda he’d been holding and placed it on the coffee table, his hand was trembling.

“Shit, sorry. Didn’t mean to startle you, man…Owen?”

“Hey.” He stood and half-turned to face Travis.

Owen was taller now. A hell of a lot more bulked up. His voice was even deeper. And his eyes had the shadowed appearance of a man who’d seen far too much. But he still looked like the guy Travis had never intended to fall for.

Travis swallowed hard and stared at the man who’d broken his heart four years ago.

“You’re home.”

Author Bio:
Brigham Vaughn is starting the adventure of a lifetime as a full-time writer. 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.