2.5 Stars, BDSM/Kink/Erotica, Dreamspinner Press, Genre Romance, Michael Murphy, Reviewed by Sammy

Review: Evac by Michael Murphy

Title: Evac

Author: Michael Murphy

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 200 Pages

At a Glance: Evac had such promise. However, a need to twist certain realities to produce a happy ever after really derailed this story from its initial trajectory.

Reviewed By: Sammy

Blurb: While on a mission in northern Afghanistan, Benji’s helicopter is shot down. Benji went in with a band of brothers but comes out with a stack of body bags, including one for his partner, Blade.

After recovering physically in Germany, Benji is sent home to San Diego. He’s been a soldier so long he doesn’t know how to live as a civilian. The loss of his brothers and his partner weighs heavily on him. Benji’s body might be healed, but he is still a very broken man. Unable to find work, Benji turns to drinking, bar fights, risky sex with anonymous men, and striking out at everything. As he spirals out of control, he even tries volunteering in a BDSM club as a sub for demonstrations and private scenes.

Despair drives Benji to action, and he meets Nick, a young man in desperate need of hope. With his options and his money running out, the only question is if Benji will find his way in time.

Dividers

Review: Benji is a war-hardened soldier. Used to being sent on missions that are risky at best, his final mission was almost routine for him and his crew. Among his band of brothers is his secret lover, Blade, the man Benji is set on spending the rest of his life with once they are discharged a few months hence. But this mission is different from the get-go, and before it is over, Benji will be the last man standing, and the guilt of that truth will haunt him for the rest of his life.

Sent to recover in an army hospital in Germany, Benji must now begin to pick up the fragmented pieces of his life, and somehow deal with the horrific nightmares and flashbacks that plague him and leave him unable to function in society. Summarily discharged and sent home to San Diego, Benji must now make his way and survive the downward spiral that communicates into destructive behavior. But each risk he takes is necessary, for it becomes the only thing that makes him feel alive.

This novel, Evac by Michael Murphy, began with such incredible promise. The feel of the desert, the men being pinned down, the fear and panic at being ambushed, all played out with incredible truth. Roughly the first third of this story is so visceral and raw that you feel as though you are living the horror that became Benji’s life. Then, a series of questionable moves on the author’s part threw the story into a bit of chaos and gradually made it hard to believe. So many questions about how Benji was released from service began to plague this story. Having had two brothers who are ex-military, I knew immediately that this was an area Mr. Murphy had twisted the plot to satisfy his story’s needs.

Unfortunately, such things as why Benji’s family was never contacted when he was in hospital; the reality that he was released with only the clothes on his back and nothing more; the fact that he was never made to check in and file reports on exactly what happened that horrible day his group was pinned down and systematically slaughtered; all these things made the story seem just so disjointed and unbelievable. This is the military we are talking about, and for a lone surviving soldier to be shuttled off without any proper discharge was just too much to believe.

As the story progressed, the dialogue became more stilted and Benji’s actions more erratic. While it was more than plausible for us to watch this man fall apart, the repetitive retelling of the exact same scene where the chopper was shot down grew thin. More importantly, we never got a real glimpse into Benji and Blade’s clandestine affair in Afghanistan. Given the idea that he was going to live with Blade post military career, I expected the constant flashbacks to include some of their intimate moments on base. I needed to understand more of Benji’s backstory so that his soul wrenching loss made sense. But the novel sped forward, telling us the story rather than showing us. Like a third party observer, the reader was expected to accept the inconsistencies in the plot and not worry that the result made one feel less and less emotionally engaged in Benji’s life.

Evac had such promise. However, a need to twist certain realities to produce a happy ever after really derailed this story from its initial trajectory. In the end, we were left with a questionable plot, less than convincing dialogue, and a real disappointment over a story that never seemed to find its way.

TNA_Signature_Sammy







 

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3 Stars, Dreamspinner Press, Genre Romance, Michael Murphy, Reviewed by Jackie

Review: Mano’s Story by Michael Murphy

Title: Mano’s Story

Author: Michael Murphy

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 200 Pages

At a Glance: I feel like this was more of a biography of Mano’s life than it was a romance novel

Reviewed By: Jackie

Blurb: Sequel to Little Squirrels Can Climb Tall Trees

Mano and Jake, friends since childhood, are each the brother that the other never had, hermanos. It doesn’t matter that Mano is gay and Jake is straight. They have each other’s backs. When he grows weary of being used as a pawn by his parents as their marriage collapses, Mano moves in with Jake’s family.

Jake and Mano both need a chance to start over, so they move to Hawaii and work for Jake’s uncle, Mano working as a lifeguard. In his free time, Mano explores his sexuality and finds he has no shortage of men in his bed. But after watching his parents’ relationship disintegrate, Mano guards his heart and keeps it strictly sexual.

Determined to become self-sufficient, Mano returns to college while still working full-time. When he meets the man of his dreams, he’s too scared and unsure of himself to pursue him. For years he went out of his way to avoid getting close to a man, so now when he wants to, he doesn’t know how. With the encouragement of Jake and others, Mano searches for the courage to go after what he’s always really wanted.

Dividers

Review: I read the first story in this series and I liked it, so when I saw this book on its way, I was completely sold on it. Mano was a fun character in the previous book, and I couldn’t wait to get to know him better.

Mano was raised by parents who weren’t technically abusive, but worse than that, they were inattentive to extremes. When Mano’s finally had enough, he moves to Hawaii with his childhood best friend Jake, and they get a fresh start with jobs at a hotel owned by Jake’s uncle. Mano loves his job as a lifeguard, but he knows he wants more out of life.

Soon after arriving, Mano decides he wants to stretch his legs in the gay sex scene. Being new to the area, he has no problem meeting plenty of men, but none of them are the one he wants to keep. Eventually Mano gets his act together and enrolls in college. Everything seems to be going great for Mano, but he realizes that the bar hook-ups aren’t enough anymore. When he spots his dream guy in the local bar he is too intimidated to approach him, but luckily dreamboat’s friend spots Mano’s interest and does him a solid by setting up the first meeting for him. From that point on we follow Mano, Jake, and their significant others through their ups and downs. Joseph and Kyle from the previous book played a wonderful part in Mano’s Story, and ended up being like family for Mano when he needed it most.

This was a good story and I truly loved Mano’s character, but I feel like this was more of a biography of Mano’s life than it was a romance novel. I feel like I missed out on some of the most important parts of a budding relationship. There were so many opportunities to flesh out the romantic side of the story, but I feel like they were all missed.

I am not saying that this was a bad story, it was actually very well written, and I loved the characters. I would read more from this author in the future, but I would definitely hope for more romance.






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3.5 Stars, Drama, Dreamspinner Press, Genre Romance, Michael Murphy, Reviewed by Sammy

Michael Murphy’s “You Can’t Go Home Again” Is A Heartwarming Story Of Love’s Triumph Over Grief

“Love can only be found through the act of loving.” – Paul Coelho


Title: You Can’t Go Home Again

Author: Michael Murphy

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 200 Pages

Rating: 3.5 Stars

Blurb: In work and in love, life has taught seasoned police officer Jack that closeness only leads to pain.

But Jack is wracked with guilt when his rookie partner Kevin is shot during an undercover assignment and dies in his arms. Why didn’t he take the time to get to know the rookie a little? Continue reading

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