Title: Coin of the Realm
Author: Michael Murphy
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Release Date: August 15, 2016
Genre(s): Contemporary Romance
Page Count: 210
Reviewed by: Crabbypatty
Heat Level: 3 flames out of 5
Rating: 2.75 stars out of 5
Timothy Mitchell worked his way from humble beginnings to graduate school in Washington, DC. The end is in sight—but so are his funds. Determined not to let his dream slip through his fingers, Timothy goes from part-time jobs to modeling for art classes, to stripping, and finally to working as an escort to pay his tuition.
The nation’s capital is full of powerful men and secrets, which Timothy learns firsthand when he takes on a client who demands absolute anonymity. Even though Timothy realizes he’s sleeping with one of the most influential men in the world, he must keep up the facade. Despite that, their association moves from sex to love.
But power and secrets also mean danger. When Timothy is violently abducted off the street, all because of what—and who—he knows, his lover must make a decision: risk his power and position or lose the man he loves.
Michael Murphy is a fairly new author for me, and I loved his excellent historical novel A Night at the Ariston Baths which I reviewed in April. However, I’m not familiar enough with Murphy’s body of work to know if Coin of the Realm is an anomaly, but this book just did not work for me.
As a political science graduate student and political junkie, Timothy Mitchell is in his element in Washington D.C. But when he finds himself literally counting pennies to make his rent despite having two jobs, he first poses nude for art classes, then has a disastrous turn as a stripper and finally becomes an escort. About 2 weeks in, Timothy has a client with some unusual cloak and dagger requirements – black SUVs with men in black, confidentiality agreements, medical testing and swabs – not to mention:
Timothy pulled the black mask over his eyes and lay face-down on top of the bed. “You will remain in your current position. Your client will be with you momentarily. Do not attempt to speak with him. Do not attempt to engage him in conversation. Do not move. You are simply here for sexual intercourse. That and nothing more. Is that clear?”
From this unconventional beginning, Timothy finds himself in a relationship with Jared Maxwell, ex-Marine and
- current President of the United States, the POTUS himself. Jared Maxwell is described as the best president in the last 50 years, incredibly popular, a gorgeous silver fox with a great body, and an incredibly lover, although “masturbation had been his only sexual partner for the majority of his adult life.”
Unfortunately, there were too many unbelievable plot turns and twists in Coin of the Realm and I just couldn’t get to that state of “willful suspension of disbelief” (defined as “a willingness to suspend one’s critical faculties and believe the unbelievable; sacrifice of realism and logic for the sake of enjoyment.”) Jared and Timothy felt very two-dimensional as we are told little about their histories and inner lives, making it hard to connect to their relationship. Also, the instigator of Timothy’s kidnapping is very unbelievable and cartoonish.
I would recommend this book with caution, if you can get beyond these issues. After all, YMMV …. Your Mileage May Vary.