A VVivacious Release Day Review: Stranger in a Foreign Land by Michael Murphy


Rating: 2 Stars out of 5

Patrick is in Thailand when his cab gets involved in a brutal accident resulting in him losing all of his memory. Lost and confused not to mention tired, bruised and helpless Patrick finds shelter near a pineapple cannery where he meets Jack.  Jack starts to take care of Patrick now known as Buddy and earns his trust and more. Just as Patrick and Jack find themselves deeply in love Patrick’s past comes knocking in the form of his brother.

Oh! I have a lot to say about this one. There were just so many things in this one that bugged me right from the very beginning. The first and foremost one being the wandering POV. Right in the very beginning of this book when Patrick was all alone the author managed to make the POV wander between Patrick and Amnesia Patrick aka Buddy.

In the middle of Patrick/Buddy trying to save his life, you would find yourself in the middle of some exposition on money which actually held no relevance to the story whatsoever and ended on the note that it wasn’t the first and foremost thing on Patrick’s mind, maybe because he is trying to flee a car moments from exploding.

But, the wandering POV just didn’t let up and when we got to Jack, the POV changed every paragraph until it resulted in passages such as the one below –

“I don’t know,” Jack answered honestly.

Feeling uncomfortable, Buddy decided to make a joke, or try to anyway.

It was obvious to Jack what Buddy was trying to do.

“You obviously see the bed,” he said, gesturing toward the double bed against another wall.

By the end, I had no idea who was actually talking.

Generally, I can tolerate head-hopping to quite a great extent but since in this book it was happening from the very beginning, it kept bringing me out of the book, as a result, I just wasn’t as invested in the characters and therefore was hypercritical of everything.

For me the shower scene came across as very predatory, especially considering Buddy’s almost child-like enthusiasm with everything Jack. I was hyperaware of the power Jack had over Buddy in that situation and I truly feel that not addressing that inequality did nobody any favours because till the very end Buddy/Patrick is way too dependent on Jack for everything. Jack is his entire life and frankly if this relationship doesn’t pan there will be no Patrick which is a horrifying thought.

Also, would it have killed Patrick to sympathise with his parents? He acts as nothing short of a petulant child in all those scenes. I was actually quite shocked to face the reluctance with which Patrick approaches the entire ordeal of learning who he was. He definitely doesn’t seem interested and makes no efforts to reconnect or at least sympathise with his parents which was something I couldn’t understand. Like he refers to his mother as that woman, I mean yeah I know you have no recollection of her but she is your mother and just for that fact you owe her respect if nothing else.

For some reason the author goes back to calling Buddy as Patrick even though he has no idea what it is to be Patrick and more so ever has no interest in finding out either and considering how Patrick/Amnesia Patrick/Buddy reacts to everything Patrick, I really don’t think she should have gone back to it.

Also, I have got to mention this but Patrick at one point asks James if his/their, mother is aged, and I was left gawking, well she has to be older than you doofus and you are no spring chicken yourself. This was just one of those many things in the book that made the story veer into the implausible. I couldn’t relate to the story and the plot just seemed far-fetched.

I, for the most, liked Jack but it was very hard for me to tolerate Patrick he was just so many things at so many different times that it was hard to know who he was, whoever this character was, Patrick or Buddy since I am not even sure about that.

Despite its flaws, I still managed to finish the story which seems like an accomplishment in itself.

Cover Art by Bree Archer. I liked the cover though I have no idea who that model is supposed to depict.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 1st edition, 216 pages
Expected publication: July 3rd 2018 by Dreamspinner Press
Edition LanguageEnglish

A Paul B Release Day Review: Love in the Line of Fire by Michael Murphy


Rating:4.5 out of 5 stars

love-in-the-line-of-fireSpecial Agent Jonah Pratt heads the security detail for First Gentleman Dr. David Hammond.  Basically his work is his life.  His private life, what there is of it, is just that, private.  Nobody in the Secret Service knows he is gay except his supervisors and one agent he began with years ago.  Protecting the husband of the first gay president comes first in his life.  Or so he thought until an assassination attempt on his protectee changes things.

Benji Campbell is a student at Georgetown University.  Having served a couple of terms in Iraq, he has been trained to handle dangerous situations.  Having been in the Middle East for most of the past ten years, he has hardly had time to find a one night stand, let alone something long term.  When someone starts taking shots on campus, his training kicks in and subdues the shooter.  What does he get for his trouble?  He gets punched in the jaw by a Secret Service agent.

Jonah realizes that his friend was killed in the line of duty.  Benji, having lost men in his missions in Iraq, tells Jonah that he knows what he feels and offers to listen to Jonah.  Jonah shows up one night at Benji’s apartment and gets drunk while telling his tale.  Benji feels something for Jonah but as neither have had any real experience in dating, things start awkwardly.  However, the two men find a groove and things are going great until Benji has a flashback in a restaurant.  Benji feels that Jonah needs someone whose head is screwed on right.  He also realizes what it is like now that he is the one waiting for someone with a dangerous job to come home at night.  His fears come true as there is another assassination attempt on the First Gentlemen.  He must find out if Jonah is alright but will he be able to?

I found this book more enjoyable than the Michael Murphy’s previous book The President’s Husband, which shares some of the same characters.  The slow developing romance between Jonah and Benji worked well as neither man had been in a relationship before.   After Benji has his panic attack in the restaurant, his sense of foreboding seems to telegraph future events in terms of the second attempt on the First Gentleman.  You can almost feel what every spouse or partner of a law enforcement official goes through every day they send their love one to work.  I thought that David Hammond worked better in a supporting role rather than as a primary character as he was in Husband.  Having read that book does provide some insight into his actions in this book.  However, Love can be read on its own. 

The cover art by L. C. Chase is outstanding.  It has images of Jonah (in a suit you find Secret Service agents usually wear) and Benji (in a muscle shirt with dog tags around his neck) in the top half of the cover with a photo of the National Mall on the bottom half. 

Sales Links



Book Details

EBook, 200 pages

Edition Language:  English

Published:  January 23, 2017 by Dreamspinner Press

ISBN:  978-1-63533-207-0

A VVivacious Release Day Review: Coin of the Realm by Michael Murphy

Rating: 3 Stars out of 5
Coin of the RealmTimothy is struggling to make ends meet as he tries to put himself through college. When one after the other jobs don’t pan out, Timothy ends up becoming an escort.
Then one day he gets called on to service a high profile guy. But just how powerful is this guy? Timothy is just about to find out how much…
Timothy finds himself in a fairy tale only to realise that every good fairy tale has behind it an equally evil villain.
Coin of the Realm is a pretty straightforward story. It is also quite predictable only because two-thirds of the book is revealed in the blurb itself. The first hundred plus pages of this book basically rehashes everything that you already know if you have read the blurb.
This book is extremely well written and well planned. Time is devoted to every aspect of the story but since a lot of the story progression is revealed in the blurb, it takes some time before the story becomes less predictable and more interesting.
What I liked about this book were its characters Jared, Timothy and Agent Robinson. The characters are fleshed out and since the story spends quite a bit of pages developing the main relationship, it doesn’t feel rushed or implausible. Personally the characters are the best part of this book.
Because of the circumstances most of Jared and Timothy’s relationship is mediated by way of Agent Robinson and Agent Robinson kind of out-shines the MCs at points in this story. I loved Robinson and I loved how hard he works to get Jared and Timothy’s relationship back on track and how he ran interference for these two.
I would have liked a bit more focus on the element of power which was introduced in this story. We are talking about the most powerful man in the free world and he never, even once, wonders if his lover loves him just because of his power. I mean you can view it from a million angles but you can’t just ignore the appeal of power, the fact that power makes people infinitely more desirable than they may be.
During their first encounter there is this palpable air of power that permeates the atmosphere but it is subsequently unrealistically toned down.  I mean I would have liked more awe, much more awe and it would have been nice to see people, kind of, making, a bit of, a fool of themselves around someone with that much power. I mean a little sycophantic behaviour was a definite requirement.
But for the most part of this book the power element is sorely lacking till the person in question ends up feeling just like everyone else, which I agree he is, but it would have been nice to see the reactions of new people meeting him contrasted with the reactions of those who were closer to him. Basically everyone ends up him treating him like just another person and not the most powerful man in the free world.
This absence of power would have been completely okay except for the fact that this book kind of hinges on Jared’s power. Also the fact that Jared is such an admirable human being maybe makes it harder for him to exercise such great power without appearing at least a bit evil. So in other words the author sacrifices power in lieu of Jared’s character development. But truthfully if this element had been explored more this book could have been one of a kind.
I feel like this book has a lot of elements and if justice had been done to at least a few crucial elements this book would have been amazing instead of the sweet one time read it turns out to be.
Cover Art by Paul Richmond. It is a good cover that fits the story.

Sales Links

Book Details:
ebook, 210 pages
Expected publication: August 15th 2016 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN 1634775325 (ISBN13: 9781634775328)
Edition LanguageEnglish

A Paul B Review: The President’s Husband by Michael Murphy


Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

The President's HusbandDoctor David Hammond holds the bible as his husband Grayson Alexander is sworn in as the first openly gay Vice President of the United States.  Three hours later, the newly sworn in President is killed by an assassin’s bullet, making Gray the first gay President.  Thrust into his new role, Grayson throws himself into being the most powerful man in the free world.  David is also thrown for a loop as he is now thrown into a spotlight he would rather not be.  As a professor of medicine and practicing physician at Georgetown University, he much prefers the world of academia and healing people than his new role as First Gentleman.  This is especially the case as Gray works long hours trying to set up his new government on the spur of the moment instead of the two months that most new presidents get.  This puts a strain on their relationship.

When a health crisis needs Grayson’s attention, he calls his husband into the Situation Room for his candid advice and expertise.  David decides to help out the situation by providing onsite medical assistance to prevent a possible outbreak from spreading into the United States.  Despite taking all precautions necessary to protect him from the disease, Grayson goes along with his chief of staff to force a mandatory 21-day quarantine on David.  David, knowing that the quarantine is not necessary, is livid. When Grayson forgets about an important milestone that occurs while David is locked away, the relationship reaches a breaking point.  Will the First Couple survive to make it to the end of Grayson’s term?

The first thing I would like to comment on is that I enjoyed the last part of the book. (spoiler).  I just wish that Grayson had acted more like this than like the asshole he is portrayed in the first half of the book.  Yes, we know the job of President is a difficult one and being thrust into the position unexpectedly like Grayson was is especially tough.  But to ignore your partner for the better part of three months is going to extremes.  And while I liked that David gave Gray time to adjust to the new situation, he also comes off as a bit stubborn when he completely ignores his role as First Spouse.

What was missing from the book for me was the political ramifications of not only having the first gay president but also that of a sudden change of the presidency.  It was mentioned that Gray was more liberal than his running mate and had the opposing party leading congress.  How did this play out in the first few months that made Gray work those long hours?  How did David and Gray keep their separation from the ever-present 24-hour news cycle?  If these issues were addressed I believe it would have added some depth to these characters and this novel.

Overall, it was an enjoyable read but had potential to be more.

The cover art by L. C. Chase shows David and Grayson in business suits in the top half of the cover with the White House in the bottom half.  It’s an appropriate cover for the book.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press |  ARe | Amazon |

Book Details:

ebook, 220 pages
Published January 29th 2016 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN 1623803896 (ISBN13: 9781623803896)
Edition LanguageEnglish