Melissa reviews Enemies of the State by Tal Bauer Published February 15th 2016 by NineStar Press, 324 pages
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.
An ARC was provided in exchange for an honest review.
Why I read this book: One of my GR friends read it and loved it and when I read the blurb I was all: I. MUST. READ. NOW.
I hated to put this book down. Today (10/24/16) as soon as I got home from work, and after I dropped all my stuff, I sat down with my Kindle to finish this book!
The writing, oh the writing, was soooo good. You know how nervous you get when you read a new author (be they new to you or new to the world)? Yes, I had that fear, but I saw how many good reviews this book had received and I was like, I have to read this one. It’s got so many of my weaknesses: President/bodyguard, taboo relationship, and a battle between good and evil:
“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.”
I don’t want to reveal too much because you really should experience this book with your own eyes (or ears, if you audio). It only took me a few pages into this to know I was going to get the ride of my life.
Ethan is an out Secret Service Agent, the lead to the Presidents detail. He used to be in the military, so he is a by-the-book guy. He is also one who doesn’t do relationships. He’s never seen the point; get in, get out, is basically his motto. But then…Jack, Mr. President. He is newly elected into office and right away Ethan can tell Jack is struggling with the change to his life.
Jack is a widower, alone in the white house, looking for a friend. Ethan is drawn to the one man he knows he shouldn’t want but can’t resist, and he breaks all the rules. Neither expected their relationship to blossom into what it did, and misunderstandings threaten to end their relationship before it even has a chance, but they handle it with a lot of dignity, respect, and kissing. Yum, the kisses. *slaps self* *I’m back* 🙂
I didn’t know where I was being taken on this journey but I followed it on the edge of my seat, wanting to call in sick to work but holding strong, using my lunch break to get my fix, and tempted to read in my car before going home but resisted.
I highly, HIGHLY recommend this book if you love men loving men, bodyguard falling in love with his protectee, taboo relationship, secret/clandestine relationship, espionage, gay for you in the best way possible!! And angst, loads of angst, assassination plots and hero saving the day. And of course if you love good, great, superb writing. This is my opinion, don’t rain on my parade!
This may have been my first Tal Bauer book, but it will NOT be my last. I plan to jump right into the second book as quickly as my fingers and internet allow me.
See below for a short excerpt.
Tal Bauer © 2016
All rights reserved
By the time Ethan made it back to the White House after the Inauguration Parade, all of the snow had melted from DC’s streets, and the temperature was a blustery seventy degrees.
“I still can’t believe you got taken out by a bunch of punks.” Agent Scott Collard, Ethan’s best friend, swiveled in his desk chair, grinning like a madman.
Ethan chucked a pen at his head as he leaned against Agent Levi Daniels’s desk. He flexed his leg, straightening his knee, and then kicked at Collard’s chair. Collard scooted away just in time.
“I didn’t see you brawling on Inauguration Day.” Ethan crossed his arms and raised his eyebrows. “Where was my backup?”
“Hey, you’re the one who wanted to walk around in the crowd with the intel dorks.” Collard held up his palms, shrugging. “Why you weren’t on the route with us is your business.”
“We had credible information that there was going to be an attempt to jump the perimeter and attack the Beast.” The Beast was the unofficial code name for the presidential limo.
“And by attack, they meant pelt it with tomatoes.”
“It’s still an attack.”
“You got your ass kicked by vegan vegetable throwers.”
“Hey, I kicked their asses!” Ethan stood, striding over to Collard’s chair and crossing his arms. He was trying to be intimidating, but his grin was ruining the effect.
“You had tomato dripping from your nose and hair.”
“What if they had hidden a bomb in one of those tomatoes? Huh? You wouldn’t be making fun of me then.”
“I’m giving you a new code name. Salad Reichenbach.” Collard spun in his chair, shouting out to the guys in all corners of their office. “You all hear? Quarterback is now Salad. Copy?”
Laughs and nods floated back to the two men. Ethan shook his head. He put his foot on the edge of Collard’s chair and pushed, sending his friend wheeling away, down the rows of desks and toward the lockers where the agents on duty at the White House kept their spare clothes, extra suits, and even their tuxes.
They were in the Secret Service White House command post, code-named Horsepower, directly beneath the Oval Office. Rectangular and the size of a soccer field, the agents used the command post as an all-around everything office. Bunk beds were pushed into a far corner near the lockers, and desks lined the front half of the room. Mirrors on the wall helped agents get into their suits and tuxes, if needed, and a projector at the front displayed intelligence on two screens, constantly updated and fed from the Secret Service Headquarters office on H Street. When the details didn’t need to be surrounding the president, or when they weren’t standing post, the agents spent their downtime in Horsepower.
“Hey, how’s Agent Welby doing?” Ethan headed back to Daniels’s desk and perched on the edge again, crossing his arms.
Daniels cast him a droll stare, barely looking up from the email he was typing. “Welby’s a’right,” he drawled. His eyebrows rose, nearly off his forehead, as he fixed his eyes on Ethan. “Stick up his ass, but he’s a’right.”
Ethan smothered a grin. Agent Welby had come in to replace him as presidential detail lead while he was out, recuperating from his sprained knee after the brawl during the Inauguration Parade. Collard had texted him almost daily, bemoaning Welby’s mulish, boorish behavior and his laugh-a-minute personality.
“You coming back in as lead?” Daniels eyes shone, hopeful.
“Hope so. Got to go through a few more stacks of paperwork first.” Ethan winked at Daniels and stood, stretching. He tried for casual, speaking as he rolled his shoulders. “How’s the president?”
He failed. Daniels’s eyebrows shot high again. “The president?” He stared at Ethan as if his former lead had just stated he was a prince from the planet Saturn.
“Yeah. How’s he doing?” No way to back out of it now. He might as well try to blunder his way through, as if asking after a protectee were the most natural thing in the world.
Daniels frowned. “I try to stay out of his way, and I make it a point to not listen whenever I’m in the Beast. I don’t want to know how his negotiations are going with Congress on the educational bill, or if he’s banging any aides in the West Wing.”
“Is he?” Frowning, Ethan folded his arms, not knowing he was doing it.
“Nah, man, the guy’s legit. Straight shooter.” Daniels’s wide smile broke his stern face for a moment. “But seriously, man, I stay out of it. Keep my distance, just like you taught us. Like you drilled us.” Daniels peered at him for a long moment. “This a test?”
Snorting, Ethan clapped Daniels on the shoulder. A way out, and he took it with both hands. “You passed. Good job, Daniels.”
The look in Daniels’s eyes said “fuck you,” and he buttoned his suit jacket as he stood from his desk. “I need a cup of coffee from the Press Corps Bullpen.”
“The White House Mess is six feet to the right.” Beneath the Oval Office on the basement level of the White House, the Secret Service command post shared space with the White House Mess, the Situation Room, and Homeland Security’s White House control center. It was an odd mixture of Top Secret Clearances and Navy stewards and chefs, but at least the coffee and chow was always close at hand. Agents went on fridge raids at all hours of the night, and the Situation Room hosted impromptu slumber parties at the drop of a Predator missile strike.
Smirking, Daniels gestured for Ethan to join him. “Yes, it is, but the Mess doesn’t have Annie Perkins working down there.”
As they strolled up the stairs to the first floor of the West Wing, appearing in the hallway just outside the Oval Office and the Cabinet Room, Daniels filled Ethan in on the voluptuous beauty that was Annie Perkins, reporter from the Tribune and a current project of Daniels’s. Ethan chuckled, already well ahead of Daniels in the script. He’d seen this story play out time and time again. Daniels could woo the ladies in droves, and he stayed with them for a couple of months before cutting them loose and playing the field again. Mixed in were one-night stands and nights of debauchery, and several memorable nights where Daniels had chanced to go with Ethan out to Adams Morgan and the gayborhood. Ethan had told him the secret of picking up chicks in gay bars—nearly all of them were straight, and they would swoon for a straight man confident enough to chill at a gay bar with his gay friend. Daniels never left alone.
“Have you asked her out yet?”
“Patience, bro. Patience.” Daniels held up his hands, gesturing for Ethan to slow the hell down. “She needs to want it more.” One eyebrow cocked up, offsetting his smirk.
Ethan shook his head, retort on the tip of his tongue, when a voice down the hall called out his name.
Daniels’s eyes grew comically huge, and he snapped to attention in a smart second, wiping the smirk from his face and hitting “professional” just as President Jack Spiers broke away from his chief of staff, and strode down the hallway to the two agents. President Spiers held out his hand to Ethan.
Ethan shook his hand, stunned. “Mr. President. How can I help you, sir?”
“They told me you were injured and recuperating. I didn’t know you were back on duty.” The president was beaming at him, a radiant smile that went all the way to his eyes. The press had endlessly dissected that smile on the campaign.
Ethan suddenly understood why President Spiers had locked up the Soccer Mom voting bloc.
“First day back, sir.” Ethan let go of the president’s hand and stepped back. “I’m working over at Headquarters for now.”
The president frowned. Behind him, Jeff Gottschalk cleared his throat, a polite reminder to the president to hurry it up.
“Listen, I’ve got a meeting I’ve got to go to. Can you swing by my office in an hour?” The president waited for Ethan’s single head nod before he flashed his smile again. “Great. We’ll talk then.”
And then he was off, striding down the hallway and into the cluster of his staff. He reached for file folders and a binder and pulled out his smartphone all at once. His glasses were sliding down his nose, and he absently pushed them back up with one finger as he scrolled through the emails on his phone.
When Ethan turned back to Daniels, the younger agent’s incredibly unimpressed face stared back at him, eyes narrowed. Ethan sighed and rolled his eyes. “That was nothing.”
“Should I ask you how the president is doing?”
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.