Author Name & Publisher: Michael Murphy from Dreampsinner Press
Publication Date & Length: May 27th, 2015 — 220 pages
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.
This is a gritty, unflinching look at the impact of war on those who fight. Benji leaves the army after a horrific incident. Once his body heals, he is left to his own devices and PTSD consumes him.
Through Benji, Michael Murphy explores the transition from military civilian life and honestly evaluates the military’s approach to the men who leave with sound bodies but fragile minds.
I’m not entirely sure why this is advertised as a m/m BDSM story. Benji could be any soldier. His sexuality seems somewhat irrelevant to his experiences for much of the book. BDSM is only introduced as a broken Benji looks for ways to punish himself. It isn’t healthy for him and the scenes he participates in are neither erotic or safe.
This is not an easy book. It is a terrible, uncomfortably real, look at a man who has served his country, lost everything and finds himself unable to cope with civilian life.
Michael Murphy’s writing style took me a while to get used to. I loved the dialogue and banter between Benji and David at the start. It was a challenging task to write a story where most of the action only takes place in the main character’s mind. During some of the longer passages where Benji is isolated and inactive, the prose starts to feel clunky and repetitive.
While this is an important book it is far removed from the typical m/m romance or BDSM erotica it seems to have been marketed as.
Anytime I’m asked the question of who I am I have to stop and try to decide how in the world to answer. I might biologically be middle age, but inside I feel like a randy teenager anxious to explore the world. Dreams of writing have been a part of my life since I was five years old.
Two of the greatest influences on me as I was growing up were my two grandmothers. Both were strong women who had unbelievable burdens thrust upon them when they were widowed very early in life. Both of these incredible women loved stories. They loved reading stories and telling stories, and the stories they had to tell were incredible.
For as long as I can remember I’ve been writing stories. What has been different over the last five years is that I’ve finally been brave enough to allow someone else to read what I’d written. When that happened I found that others liked what I’d written which made me beyond happy.
In addition to writing, my other love is photography. Taking photos of some of the beautiful men of the world is my current focus. With any luck, one of those photos will grace the cover of a Dreamspinner novel in the near future.
My partner and I have traveled the world, trying to see as much as possible. When not traveling, we live in Washington, DC with our best friend, a throw-away dog we adopted twelve years ago. To pay the bills, I am Director of Information Technology for a national organization based in Washington, DC. While I’d rather be writing full-time, I haven’t figured out how to make that a viable option – yet.