Title: Enemies of the State (The Executive Office: Book One)
Author: Tal Bauer
Length: 340 Pages
Category: Action/Suspense, Mystery/Thriller
At a Glance: Tal Bauer obviously has a talent for writing a political thriller. The action was heart-stopping.
Reviewed By: Jules
Blurb: 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 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.
*** Expanded second special edition, with 15,000+ additional words, expanded scenes, and character artwork.
Review: I don’t know why it took me so long to jump on this series, but thank goodness I’ve seen the light! This book, you guys. Hohmygoddddd. If you’re looking for suspense, romance, espionage, intrigue, and/or for your heart to be in your fucking throat for about two hundred pages straight, then Tal Bauer’s Enemies of the State is for you!
As intense and action-packed as this first book is, though, things actually get off to a fairly mellow start. We do get an immediate glimpse of a couple of players involved in the black ops part of the storyline, but mostly we’re just getting to know the new president, Jack Spiers, and his Secret Service detail. We learn a lot about Jack, how lonely he is, and how difficult he finds getting used to all the formalities and security necessities that come with being a head of state. And, we get to know Ethan as we watch the budding friendship between him and Jack grow—which, of course, Ethan initially finds extremely puzzling and unorthodox, not to mention forbidden by every single Secret Service code.
So, things are moving along…You have two amazing, smart, driven men…awkward, secret friendship…UST everywhere… And then, BOOM! Your heart is being ripped out because of a misunderstanding between Ethan and Jack—Ethan kissed Jack unexpectedly and the reaction wasn’t quiiiite what he’d hoped for, which causes more tension and awkwardness, and at a very inopportune time. The president is getting ready to head to Prague for an emergency NATO summit, where he also has a secret meeting with the Russian president where they discuss a tentative alliance, but both Ethan and Jack are in emotional turmoil the entire time. Then, there are huge revelations on the way home on Air Force One…and ohmygod, we’re off to the races.
BUT…then there you are, reading along, and all of this crazy, intense, awesome political thriller stuff is going on, and you can’t breathe, and you realize that you only THOUGHT your heart was being ripped out before, but now you TRULY know what that feels like because it is happening again, but times a million. And, there are gasps, and oh-my-gods, and holy shits, and tears. So many tears. There is a section I can’t talk about—because spoilers—where the writing is so, so gorgeous. I was so in awe of a few of these passages I had to share them with Lisa. And with my husband, who thought I was a total freakshow while I was reading this book. Ha! But, seriously…the writing was just beyond fantastic. So, yeah. There was lip trembling and tears. And much cursing.
This is the rollercoaster that is reading this book, you guys. In fact, reading back through my notes and highlights, my heart totally started pounding again. Not even kidding. I started getting that giddy, yet sort of sick, heart-racey feeling I had for the entire second half of the story. I honestly feel like I could read this book again, and I would have just as visceral a reaction, even though I know how it all shakes out. The writing is that good—so intense and emotive.
Tal Bauer obviously has a talent for writing a political thriller. The action, as I said, was heart-stopping at times; but this was not solely a plot-driven story. Bauer also has a huge talent for writing characters. The character development was fantastic. Jack and Ethan’s personalities—their desires, their histories, their fears—drive the story just as much as what is going on in the world. I love them both immensely. And, I love how the author handles the topic of Jack’s sexual identity. It’s never labeled as such, but it’s obvious that Bauer wrote Jack as demisexual. I just love how Jack sees himself, and how he comes to the realization that he is in love with Ethan, but refuses to be defined or put in a box. So good.
Lots to love here. So much. I could go on and on. Instead, I’ll simply encourage you to go out and get this book. I read the new, expanded version, which is an absolute steal on Amazon for ninety-nine cents. I don’t know what the new content is (I actually owned the first version, but bought this one also when I saw the price point), but I have to believe that fifteen-thousand-plus more words of this awesomeness has to be a good thing. So, go get it. And, also, go check out the author’s website! He has little snippets called Bauer’s Bytes that are totally fabulous. Just be sure to check out the time stamps, or the reading order, so that you don’t get ahead of yourself in the series. The author recommends reading the first four Bytes between Enemies of the State and Interlude. I absolutely can’t wait to dig in to the rest of this series!!
You can buy Enemies of the State here: