A Lila Review: Enemy Within (The Executive Office #3) by Tal Bauer

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Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

The White House, infiltrated.
The president, running for his life.
A traitorous general, intent on burning the world to the ground.

When everything falls apart, who do you trust?

President Jack Spiers fled Washington DC on the heels of a devastating attack on CIA headquarters, masterminded by one of America’s own, former General Porter Madigan. While the world believes Jack was killed in the bombing, he embarks on a wild infiltration mission, smuggling himself into occupied Russia to rescue the love of his life: former Secret Service Agent and First Gentleman Ethan Reichenbach.

Reunited, Jack, Ethan, and deposed Russian president Sergey Puchkov, along with President Elizabeth Wall—the only person left in Washington DC who Jack trusts—must work together. They piece together a desperate plan, hunting Madigan to the ends of the earth and the bitter frigidity of the Arctic, where Madigan’s world-shattering doomsday plan comes together.

Outnumbered, outmaneuvered, and outgunned, Jack, Ethan, Sergey, and the rest of the team struggle to put a stop to Madigan and his army. In the desolate extremes of the Arctic, their resolve, their strength, and even their love is tested, pushed to the absolute limits as choices must be made: choices that pit the fate of the world against the love in their hearts, and the loves of their life.

As the world crumbles around them, Jack and Ethan find themselves waging a war on two fronts—against an enemy they can see, and another, hiding within their ranks.

Who can be trusted when the enemy is within you?

Enemy Within is more than one book. It’s a romance series following three couples. A political thriller, studying the tights between two former enemy countries. A history lesson with a speculative edge. It’s filled with intrigue, angst, hope, policies, friendships, psychological profiles. All, wrapped up to bring a coherent story with a single purpose, entertainment.

I normally read the whole book before I start writing the review, but in this case, it’s not possible. I’m thirty percent into the story and it feels as if I had read several books. We started shortly after the end of Enemy of my Enemy, without losing a step. Within the first pages, the major players are introduced, and the plot arcs set.

The changes between settings are well-documented at the beginning of each chapter and the frequent POV changes extend the complexity of the story, without hindering the connection with the characters. Our feelings, as readers, are drag through the mud of the Siberian wilderness and brought back into redemption. I’m sure this is going to happen many other times before I reach the end.

Yes, I did skim thru some of the prose and descriptions looking for more dialogue and less introspect, but the overall combination of elements worked for this series. With this marking the end of the road, the POV changes and the high amount of settings are easy to follow. And all the fight scenes and high action drama read as a contemporary Hollywood movie–a combination between the Bourne movies and Behind Enemy Lines.

At the moment, I had hit a moment of calm and had to stop by to highlight the balance between the love stories and the political mayhem bringing all the characters together. In any other book, this would be considered the last turn before the end, but is this story, is just one of many of false assurance they would face.

On the second segment, we still see all the action, but the love stories take precedent. We get into the heart of the series and all the ramifications Jack’s & Ethan’s relationship created. There’s a chance to the ghost of an HEA for all involved, but it’s, as expected, just a specter–hopes for closure and a deserved future. It’s going to be a mix of awws and angst.

There’s an intersection point with the ending of Enemy of my Enemy and as I mentioned in that review, not something I liked then, or now. But it was a necessary evil to advanced one of the many plots/romance arcs forward. I just stopped in the middle of it to take a break and let you know what’s happening.

I think I’m changing my mind. This story is more of an espionage tv series. The only difference is the bromance between the main characters is, in this case, a true romance. I feel like I’m reading different chapters of an overall plot. Perhaps that’s the reason I feel the need to write my review as I read. It’s like watching with a friend and chatting before starting the next DVR episode.

After way too many action scenes, I can finally say that some light is coming out. The unmasking of the moles that had carried during all three books was well-done, even when a bit telling. The fights, the overseas, underseas, and everywhere in-between settings added character to the story. A sense of suspense disbelief, enough to engross the reader and making them want to read faster. At points, it was hard to follow who was fighting who and how the movements worked, but all melted together at the resolution.

If you started reading looking for realism, this is not your story, but if you believe in the power of fiction, go ahead, and read. I’m so close I can smell the fuel and the HEA.

But before that, we have to dip into American Politics. If you’re a political junkie, like me, you will enjoy the number of similarities to our date-to-date politics. The book was written ahead of its time, but can be part of any late-night news broadcast.

The last part of the book, with the end result and the future for the couples, are beautiful. We get to see how they grow into their relationships and their hopes for the future. We get multiple happy endings, with a nice closure for all the alternative arcs, but there’s always a chance for more or a spinoff. Not necessary, but enough to bait the readers.

In the end, reading this series is worth all the time it takes. It’s long, but now that all the books are out, it would be a great time to read it in its totality.

The new covers for this series, by Natasha Snow, are interesting, but a bit generic. I do like them better than the original ones, though. Plus, they bring all the books together nicely.

Sale Links: AmazonNook | Smashwords

Book Details: 

ebook, 445 pages
Published: March 28, 2016, by Tal Bauer Publishing

ISBN: 9781310458163
Edition Language: English

Series: The Executive Office
Book #1: Enemies of the State

Book #1.5: Interlude: First Noel

Book #2: Enemy of My Enemy

Book #3: Enemy Within

A Lila Review: Enemies of the State by Tal Bauer

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Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

Enemies of the StateThe prologue sets the suspense arc in the story and brings the reader into the heart of Washington DC.

We first meet Special Agent Ethan Reichenbach on Christmas Eve as he guards President-Elect Jack Spiers. They’re at the President’s Austin, TX apartment getting ready to travel for the presidential inauguration. This night marks the starts of a friendship frown upon the Secret Service, but that would change their lives.

Life as President of the United States isn’t what Jack expected. He had not problems dealing with his political counterparts or advisors, but the lack of a personal life is keeping him off balance. As a widower with no children, he has no family living with him at the White House residence, and he spends most of his spare time with Secret Service agents that wouldn’t engage him in a simple conversation. It’s up to Ethan, his detail supervisor, to find a way to help the president adjust to his new reality.

This new friendship would keep them sane as they deal with the realities of their jobs. As time passes, they found themselves at the mercy of external forces trying to change the world’s political balance. Their relationship turns into an exploration of something more, and simple decisions would affect, not only their partnership but world peace.

Enemies of the State is a political thriller that happens to have two male main characters. There are three sets of narrators in this book. One brings the chaos into the MCs’ lives, as well as, into the world of politics. The second tries to stop the plans from the first group before they can accomplish their goals. And lastly, we have Ethan and Jack dealing with world threats as their friendship morphs into a loving relationship.

There’s no easy way to review this story without spoiling the outcome. Each chapter starts with a briefing of the political events taking place between chapters. Some of them are short and to the points, but others introduce too much political information for a leisure reader. In order to truly enjoy this story, you need a basic knowledge of global politics and current threats. That’s the only reason I took away from the stories rating.

The amount of characters involved can be overwhelming, and sometimes you have to read a passage twice to keep them all straight, but the further you read, the easier it’s to follow all the events developing concurrently. There’s never an idle moment. Something is happening at all times even when the main characters are relaxing and spending a comfortable afternoon together.

The location descriptions are accurate, and even simple things like weather patterns and smells play an important part in the story. The amount of detail is impressive and well distributed. We get to see exactly what the characters saw and what they experienced. The reader is always on the narrator’s side, being part of the events.

Yes, this story has a good dose of romance and sexual exploration, but it’s more than that. The political events are as important as the main characters’ relationship and without them, it would be another bodyguard/protectee cliché. The author did an excellent job creating a world, realistic enough, to set the love story. Their relationship goes beyond lust, and it’s based on everyday interaction and complete trust– a slow build with a fulfilling HEA ending.

The images in the cover matched the main characters descriptions very well, and the rest of the composition shows the main ideas of the story perfectly.

Sale Links: NineStar | Amazon | ARe

Book Details: 

ebook, 324 pages
Published: February 15, 2016, by NineStar Press
ISBN: 9781911153337
Edition Language: English

Series: The Executive Office
Book #1: Enemies of the State

 

A Paul B Review: Enemies of the State (The Executive Office #1) by Tal Bauer

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Rating: 5 out of 5 stars       ★★★★★

Enemies of the StateEthan Reichenbach is the lead agent in the President-Elect’s Secret Service detail.  He expects to spend the next four or eight years being shadowing the man just elected to live in the White House.  What he did not expect is to become the new President’s friend. Nor did he expect to develop a crush on the man in the first few months after they move to Washington. Doing so would break so many Secret Service rules and would be grounds for dismissal.  Not to mention that the President is straight.  This breaks Ethan’s personal rules of never getting involved in a relationship and never falling for a straight man.

Jack Spiers has spent the fifteen years since his wife’s death in combat in public service.  Focusing on veterans and their families, he has held several posts in Washington.  Having been elected President should be the pinnacle of his career.  But having lost his wife a long time ago, Jack finds the office lonely.  He turns to his lead Secret Service agent for friendship, which Ethan is hesitant to give at first.   However, as their friendship develops, Jack is surprised when one night Ethan kisses him.  To say that Jack is surprised would be an understatement.  As the two put distance between them, Jack still wants Ethan to be his friend.  But Jack begins to realize that he has feelings for Ethan as well.  He wants to find a way to make this work.

Against this backdrop, Jack is still President.  He must deal with a world that has basically gone to hell in a handbasket the last ten years.  With China and Russia both occupying countries and the Islamic Caliphate causing trouble both in the Middle East and around the world through terror attacks, Jack has his hands full.  However, the real trouble might be right under Jack’s nose.  An American general is working with agents in the Middle East to bring about even more instability to a region already at war.  As Jack works toward bringing peace to the world, there are others who are trying to insure that he does not succeed.  Ethan must work to protect the man who is not only the President but also his lover.

In order for a political thriller to work, the premise behind the book must work.  Set approximately 10-30 years in the future, Enemies of the State describes a world that could possibly exist at that time.  The Islamic Caliphate (ISIS/ISIL) has grown bolder with the passage of time, as has Russia with their land grabs.  The English, French and Germans are battle weary after numerous terrorist attacks.  Into this world, Jack must try to bring all sides together to prevent the start of World War III.

The other part of a good political thriller is the romance.  I loved the slow building romance between Ethan and Jack.  Ethan, the gay Secret Service agent, knows that a relationship with Jack is wrong on so many levels.  But are the signals the President is sending him real?  Jack is alone in the White House and needs a friend.  What could be wrong with that?  They begin to learn about each other as they work through their own problems with this relationship.  I look forward to see where the next book goes with both this relationship and the various subplots that are left unresolved.

The cover art by Aria Tan shows Ethan and Jack above the Washington skyline.  It is a fitting cover for the book.

Sales Links:   NineStar Press | Amazon |  ARe

Book Details

ebook, 324 pages
Published February 15th 2016 by NineStar Press
ISBN139781911153337
Edition LanguageEnglish
Series:  The Executive

Enemies of the State (The Executive #1)