Reviewed by Vicki
TITLE: Coin of the Realm
AUTHOR: Michael Murphy
PUBLISHER: Dreamspinner Press
LENGTH: 210 pages
RELEASE DATE: August 15th, 2016
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.
This story starts with Timothy, a starving college student, as he is trying to come up with ways to make enough money to pay his rent, and stay in school. He’s a political science student attending a university in Washington DC, and he’s rapidly burnt through his savings. He needs some quick cash, so tries nude modeling for the art department. This leads to a night of dancing as a stripper, which leads to prostitution. Which leads to being snuck in to a secret hotel room, and being fucked by the President of the United States.
President Jared Maxwell, former Marine, and current POTUS, is a closeted gay man. He’s been elected without a wife, but with no hint of his sexuality getting out. He uses his secret service agents to hire male prostitutes for him, has them tested, inspected, and signed off on a confidentiality agreement, lubed, masked, and face down on a bed. He walks in, inserts his dick, fucks them, and leaves. He’s rather surprised when his latest prostitute figures out who he is very quickly. But he decides it’s ok, and ends up seeing Timothy again. And again. Then sneaking him in to the White House for dates. Which no one notices. It all goes to hell when a bad thing happens, and no one notices.
I know this is a romance novel, and I read lots of them, occasionally with vampires and werewolves, and male pregnancy. But I could not suspend my belief in the real world enough to make this plot work. The problem with setting a book in the real world is that we have expectations of how things work. When you set a book in Washington DC involving the President of the United States, during an election year when we are super aware of politics, it sets a really high expectation of reality. I do get that this is a romance, I really do, and I can get past a lot, but not this plot. I had so many WTF moments, I laughed at inappropriate times at the total unrealism of it. I just couldn’t accept it, even though I really wanted to. But in the world we live in, especially with the election going on now, the attention to every detail of the life of not only the current POTUS, but the candidates running, there is no way in hell, a single man could be elected President, sneak out for sex with a prostitute of any gender, then begin to date that prostitute, bring them for sleepovers in the White House, and have it not be all over the news. No way. There are too many people involved, too much attention, it would never work. There were so many things that I couldn’t accept, like the entire second half of the book, a couple of ridiculous overreaction moments, and don’t even get me started on the whole kidnapping thing… so obvious.
So I don’t know what to say about this book…. I did like the characters of Timothy and Jared, and I liked the secret service agent that plays a big part in this. I can see how this plot could have been done in a realistic way, and it could have been much more emotional and dramatic. The sex was ok, not great, but not bad. There is a strong emotional bond between Timothy and Jared, which I do like to see. So it had some elements I do like. The writing was ok…. I’ve read a book or two by this author over the years, and they were ok. I wasn’t sure what to expect with this one, but the blurb got my attention and I wanted to try it. Unfortunately the plot was just way too over the top for me.
If you are a fan of cheesy romances with an unrealistic plot, maybe give this one a try. If you like a realistic political drama, I’d pass.