Thursday, February 16, 2017

Love in the Line of Fire by Michael Murphy

Agent Jonah Pratt heads the Secret Service team guarding the President’s husband. When a routine day turns into a dangerous assassination attempt, the stranger who dives into the melee and takes down the assassin complicates the situation, sparking Jonah’s anger.

Just back from multiple tours of duty in Iraq, Benji hides the fact that he brought the war home with him and that it continues to haunt him. His actions in stopping the would-be assassin are more instinct than strategy. And his first conversation with a furious Jonah doesn’t end well.

Losing a member of his team turns Jonah’s world upside down. And if Benji seems to know exactly what Jonah is experiencing, it’s because he went through the same thing in combat. Jonah’s work consumes him, leaving little room in his life for anything else, and Benji focuses on his studies, working to keep his nightmares at bay. But when they get together, Jonah and Benji recognize a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for love and happiness—one worth fighting for.

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Reviews by the Wicked Reads Review Team

Avid Reader☆☆☆☆
M/M Romance
Triggers: PTSD, shooting

Benji is a later in life student. After doing several tours as a soldier, he's come home to learn how to be a civilian again. That's not exactly easy when you're plagued with PTSD symptoms and when you interject yourself in an attempted assassination. Not only does he jump right into the fray, he does so without thinking. It's an instinct.

Jonah is a secret service agent in charge of watching over the President's husband. He loves his job and has sacrificed a lot to get where he is. One of those sacrifices is compartmentalizing his personal and professional life. When he is confronted with losing his best friend due to the attempted assassination on his charge, he lashes out – he punches the guy who kind of saved the day.

Losing a friend and co-worker is something that Jonah does not handle so well. Not only does he punch Benji, but he also leaves Benji hanging for several weeks, even after Benji talks him down and through his normal grief process. Benji sees those signs and gives Jonah a wide range of latitude, he understands where Jonah is coming from.

Their relationship is fairly organic – acquaintances, friends, lovers. When the relationship becomes more apparent, both are struggling because this is uncharted territory for both. Benji realizes that being with someone who is constantly in danger for their job is much more stressful than being the one in danger. When he was a solider, he didn't really think about it, but being on the other side is both stressful and painful. Jonah realizes that he is falling in love with Benji but takes what Benji is feeling to heart.

There are some extreme emotions evoked, at least there were for me. Anger, sadness, guilt. I wish that we could have seen more of the relationship towards the end, but understand that we are left to know that they will work on things.

3.5 stars

Never mind romantic suspense – this story about the secret agent responsible for protecting the gay American President’s doctor husband is pure utopian fantasy. Perfectly timed, this author’s alternative White House is so much more inspiring than the one in the news every day!

This story starts with a traumatic event that leaves Secret Service agent Jonah unsteady and acting out of character. Army veteran Benji understands Jonah’s reaction and offers his friendship and his own experience of trauma to help the agent. The friendship between these two is tentative and the trust between them builds slowly. Theirs is a grown-up romance with both men bringing baggage, secrets, and a little bit of PTSD to the relationship.

I found the pace of this story slightly erratic – between the action and suspense scenes, time sometimes drags. It takes time for the relationship between Benji and Jonah to really catch fire and at times neither man pursues the other with any real urgency.

There are exciting scenes here, but I struggled at times with the mix of sweet/dark/suspenseful in this story. Some moments are just too touching and too emotional for me to fully believe that one man is Secret Service and the other is a battle-hardened soldier.

But ultimately, I did invest in this story. I wanted to believe in the author’s alternative reality. I wanted to believe in the wise and good President and I really wanted the happily ever after for Benji and Jonah. The story is more romance than suspense and a little bit fluffier than the blurb suggested, but I really enjoyed it.

MICHAEL MURPHY somewhere between eighteen and eighty-eight years old—the number varies from day to day depending on his mood and his energy level. He first thought about writing when he was very young, but put the idea aside in order to celebrate his fifth birthday and then forgot about it for a year or two. Periodically, he toyed with the idea but each time rejected it as pure folly. It wasn’t until he was an old man of twelve that he wrote his first book. A long dry spell followed before he wrote his next book. Whenever he needs a laugh, he looks at those early writings. He has written science fiction and romance and has collaborated on one nonfiction history book. He and his partner have traveled extensively, trying to cover as much of the world as possible. When not traveling, they live in Washington, DC with their best friend, a throw-away dog they adopted many years ago. To pay the bills, Michael is Director of Information Technology for a national organization based in Washington, DC. All in all he’d rather be writing full-time but hasn’t yet figured out how to make that a viable option.

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Reviewers on the Wicked Reads Review Team were provided a free copy of Love in the Line of Fire by Michael Murphy to read and review.

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