Enemies of the State, by Tal Bauer
Series: The Executive Office, Book 1
Publisher: NineStar Press
Release Date: February 15, 2016
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
A rogue Black Ops unit with the president in their crosshairs.
A Secret Service agent who will break every rule.
A president falling for the one person he shouldn’t—a man.
Newly elected President Jack Spiers’s presidency is rocked from the very beginning, and he’s working furiously to keep the world from falling apart. Between terrorism attacks ripping apart Europe, Russia’s constant posturing and aggression, and the quagmire of the Middle East, Jack is struggling to keep his campaign promise—to work toward a better, safer world.
For Special Agent Ethan Reichenbach, Jack is just another president, the third in twelve years. With Jack’s election, he’s been promoted, and now he’s running the presidential detail, which puts him side by side with Jack daily. He’s expecting another stuffed suit and an arrogant DC politician, but Jack shocks him with his humor and humanity.
There are rules against a Secret Service agent and one of their protectees developing a friendship—big rules. Besides, Jack is straight as a ruler, and a widower, and Ethan has always avoided falling for straight men. Ethan keeps his distance, but Jack draws him in, like gas to a naked flame, and it’s a lure he isn’t strong enough to turn away from.
As the two men collide, rules are shattered and the world teeters on the verge of war, and a rogue Black Ops unit bent on destruction sets Jack in their deadly crosshairs. Ethan must put everything on the line in order to save the man he’s come to love, Jack’s presidency, and the world.
Politics (U.S. President)
Friends to Lovers
Torture (Mostly off-page)
Let me sell this book to you in one sentence:
Secret service agent falls in love with the President of the United States.
Oh hell yes. Better yet? The President is a Republican. From Texas.
But the best part is that this book is so much more than a trope-filled, smut-ridden, delightful escape from the current political shit-storm that’s reducing me to a ball of stress and tears. This book is smart. It’s well-written, the pacing is fantastic, and it’s a political crime thriller that had me turning pages so fast that I stayed up until 1:00am on a work night because I couldn’t put it down.
Author Tal Bauer clearly knows their stuff… and if they don’t, well, they do a damned good job of making me think they do! The politics in this book were spot-on, richly detailed without being too over-bearing. There was a wide cast of fascinating characters, and stories that wove together. At any given time I wasn’t entirely sure who was good, who was bad, and who was just in it for their own selfish gain. It was a marvelous, edge-of-your-seat and action-packed ride with dirty bombs, gun battles in the street, and Washington, D.C. office politics playing out in a web of tension and drama.
The romance, though. OH THE ROMANCE.
Ethan is a gay man, openly so within the Secret Service. President Jack Spiers is a widower, still mourning his wife over a decade after she was killed in Iraq. And they fall in love so achingly slowly, friendship blooming before becoming love. I thought the relationship was very believable, and that it was integrated perfectly into the story, providing a break from the heart-gripping thrills.
Note: Jack is demisexual, though the term is never used; he has been celibate since his wife (the first and only love of his life) passed, and has experienced no sexual attraction to anyone until his friendship with Ethan becomes something more. I wish the author had used the term, but was thrilled to see the book listed as having a demisexual MC on the publisher’s site!
If I am going to fault this novel for anything, it’s that the ending was a bit rushed. It felt like, after everything that had happened, the HEA (well, HFN, as there’s a sequel) was kind of shoved in our face and that was that. But there’s a sequel, so I’m holding out hope for a good, solid HEA at the end of that one!
But when real life politics are too horrifying to contemplate, maybe pick up this fantastic political thriller/romance from Tal Bauer. It’s long, but it’s a riveting read!
Tal Bauer writes LGBT fiction and romance, bringing together a career in law enforcement, trauma medicine, and international humanitarian and disaster relief work to create dynamic, strong characters, intriguing plots, and unique, exotic locations. Tal’s stories weave together pulse-pounding adventure, cunning intrigue, and sweeping romance. Tal is a member of the Romance Writers of America and the Mystery Writers of America.