#PreRelease #Review • Enemy of My Enemy (The Executive Office) by Tal Bauer ➲ Giveaway
Title: Enemy of My Enemy
Author: Tal Bauer
Publisher: NineStar Press
Release Date: October 24, 2016
An affair that stunned the world.
Two men, committed to their impossible love.
One general, determined to destroy them both.
President Jack Spiers and former Secret Service Agent Ethan Reichenbach throw caution to the wind, committing themselves publicly as the first out male lovers and partners to occupy the White House. Jack moves Ethan into the Residence, but as Ethan settles into his new role as first gentleman of the United States, not everyone is thrilled with their choices. When it seems like the world turns against them, Jack and Ethan must turn to each other, finding the strength together to press on.
In the chaos, Jack's relationship with the Russian president, Sergey Puchkov, grows closer, and the two nations find themselves working almost as allies. But President Puchkov has secrets of his own, secrets that could rip everything apart. And Ethan steps back into the action with Lieutenant Adam Cooper, taking charge of a covert kill team tasked with hunting down General Madigan once and for all.
But Madigan is elusive, and his dangerous reach is long. He strikes at Jack and Ethan from the shadowy corners of the globe, unraveling their entire world. As the mad general draws new allies together, he is single-minded in his quest to destroy the only two men who ever beat him.
He will stop at nothing until Jack and Ethan are shattered men, worlds apart, and struggling to get back to one another.
And after that, Madigan's true revenge begins…
Tal Bauer © 2016
All Rights Reserved.
Eyes slid sideways, the staff from the East Wing of the White House all seemingly hovered in the lobby, waiting to catch a glimpse of Ethan as he entered.
Ethan pushed through, nodding and giving his best tight smile to the crowd.
“Relax,” Daniels breathed at his shoulder. “You’ve got your constipated agent face on.”
Ethan threw a glare Daniels’s way.
“These are your people now.” Daniels’s eyebrows arched high as he nodded to the mass of humanity.
His people. Jesus. The office of the first gentlemen, all his. Swallowing, Ethan tried to smile again, though he couldn’t fight the nerves clutching at the back of his throat.
Daniels stayed by his side as he escaped up the stairway to the second floor of the East Wing. On the quieter second floor, the office of the first gentleman made its home. Oil paintings of former first ladies hung on the walls, and at the end of the hallway, a large corner office overlooking the Kennedy Garden, opposite the Oval Office, sported a shiny brass doorplate, reading, “First Gentleman, Ethan Reichenbach.”
“Fuck me,” Ethan breathed. Just last Monday he’d been moody and grumpy with Jack on their nightly Skype call, bemoaning his exile in Iowa. He’d been frustrated, missing Jack and Levi and Scott and everything about DC, and Jack had offered him the impossible.
He’d dismissed it out of hand; he didn’t want to be a freeloader. The first gentleman earned no income. It was a ceremonial position only. He’d be an anchor on Jack’s neck. An albatross. They were trying to stay out of the public’s eye, not catapult into it. There had never been an unwed first gentleman before, and certainly not a gay first gentleman. The whole idea was a disaster. He’d already done too much damage to Jack’s presidency.
On Wednesday, he’d flown to DC, stood in the Oval Office, and told Jack he’d take it. He’d resign from the Secret Service and move back to DC, ending his exile. He’d move in with Jack. They’d build a life together. No looking back.
That new life started immediately. They’d danced the night away at the White House Correspondent’s Dinner, and Ethan had torn up his return ticket to Iowa. Thursday he’d faxed in his resignation. Friday he and Jack took an early day, spending the weekend ensconced in the Residence as Pete released the announcement to the world.
And now, this.
It was almost too much. Ethan turned away, breathing hard as Daniels gripped his shoulder again.
“This is history, man.” Daniels smiled, warm and bright, and Ethan’s nerves screamed. “I’m so damn proud of you.”
Damn him. Damn Daniels. Ethan closed his eyes, took a deep breath, and opened them to glare hard at Daniels. “This is insane,” he grunted. “I don’t deserve this. I’m not this guy. I shouldn’t be here.”
“That’s exactly why he fell in love with you, and why you are here.” Daniels gave him a gentle shove, pushing him down the empty hallway to the office that bore his name. “Get going. Your staff is waiting inside.”
His staff. Jesus.
The heavy white door whispered over plush carpet as he entered his office. Inside, one man and four women rose together from two pale-blue silk couches facing each other before a large desk. They smiled and waited, silent.
He froze until Daniels jabbed him in his kidney. Ethan strode behind the couches to the wooden chair sitting, obviously, for him. He nodded to his staff and tried to smile. “Good morning. I’m Agent―”
Clearing his throat, Ethan quirked his eyebrows at his staff as Daniels grinned from the back of the room. “Sorry,” he said. “I’ve got to get used to dropping my old title. I’m Ethan. Ethan Reichenbach.”
The smiles from his staff were indulgent, grins and nods that told him that yes, dummy, they knew exactly who he was.
“Please, sit.” He fumbled a bit, waiting for his staff to sit and then remembered that they were waiting for him. A bobbing half stand, and then he sat, embarrassment burning his cheeks as he tried to clear his throat again and bear it.
Daniels covered his grin with the palm of his hand and looked away.
“Can you all tell me a little bit about yourselves?” Ethan nodded as he unbuttoned his suit jacket and tried to sit comfortably in the ornate—but heinous—chair.
“Mr. First Gentleman,” said an older woman with short red hair curled into wide, fluffy rolls perching around her face like a football helmet. “Let me be the first to greet you with your new title.” She smiled warmly at Ethan, her hands clasped in her lap and ankles crossed just so. Her immaculate red suit was pressed and starched, and a string of pearls hung at the hollow of her neck, just below a fold of aging skin starting to sag.
Mr. First Gentleman. Jesus. He flushed from head to foot and squirmed.
“Please, Mr. Reichenbach will do just fine.”
“Mr. First Gentleman,” she gently corrected him with an incline of her head. She would have been a socialite contemporary of Nancy Reagan and carried herself with a class that proved it. “My name is Barbara Whitley, and I am the White House social secretary. I serve at the pleasure of the office of the first gentleman.” Another warm smile and Barbara’s head tilted. “And please let me say that I am absolutely delighted to be working for you, Mr. First Gentleman.”
The gentleness radiating from Barbara calmed Ethan, just a touch. “Forgive me, Ms. Whitley. I may have protected the president, but I’m not up to speed on the full breadth of your duties.”
“I am responsible for the planning of all social events at the White House, in coordination with you, of course. From something as simple as an afternoon tea all the way to a full state dinner.”
Jesus. That was a big job. Ethan blinked. “I have to admit,” he said, shifting in his seat again, “I’m not really one for afternoon tea.”
Enemy of My Enemy picks up immediately following Enemies of the State. From the moment the news hit the stands that Ethan has joined his lover, Jack, aka President of the United States, their lives have been twisted and turned upside down and inside out. What felt like the right decision and the only decision for them would be questioned and shrouded in doubt many times over.
One thing that never wavered through the controversy and the uproar was the love and commitment between Jack and Ethan. Their foundation they based everything on remained intact and solid throughout the mudslinging and threats. Even as the memories attack Jack from the devastating nightmare they lived through in Enemies of the State, as long as Ethan surrounds Jack in his loving hold they can weather any storm. . . Or can they?
“Jack-“ Ethan’s voice broke off. His other hand rose, fingers sliding through Jack’s hair. “I love you so fucking much.” A ragged inhale. “It gets hard to breathe sometimes when I think about you.”
While Ethan’s new role as First Gentleman should be planning state dinners and worrying about flower arrangements and place settings, he has more pressing and troublesome things to worry about. General Madigan, who you will remember vividly from Book One, is still out there, somewhere, always ten steps ahead, eyes and ears on everyone and everything, and he is an international threat and a very dangerous man that needs found yesterday and dealt with immediately.
Jack and Ethan, and very close staff, work tirelessly and long grueling hours trying to get ahead of Madigan and his operation while at the same time offering support to their allies. It seems to be a losing battle, on all sides, and frustration continues to mount and the death toll continues to rise and they still have no new leads or are any closer as to where he may be or where to look. Doubt and suspicion begin to suffocate them never knowing who is truly friend or enemy.
While Enemy of My Enemy, at its core, is about Jack and Ethan, their love, there is also a plot running parallel of their story about Adam and Faisal, Prince of Saudi Arabia, who has graciously offered his assistance in any way he can to the United States in locating General Madigan.
Lieutenant Adam Cooper returns from Enemies of the State to head the mission and we learn the story that took place between Faisal and Adam which was heartbreaking and both joyfully rewarding as they work out the fine details of an arrangement that works for them. I’m not going to go into the details because you need to read it for yourself, but I will say that I was just as emotionally invested in them had they been the main couple.
There are many plots going on within this story but you always know, at all times, where you are and what’s happening. The author takes you back and forth, from the White House, to the desert, to Russia, and yet you are aware of your surroundings constantly. This is a long story, almost 500 pages, with a lot of details and descriptions that are so vividly real there are times you will think you are there watching from a distance. At one point, I was so in the zone I actually licked my lips because I knew they were chapped and dry from the desert sand and dust.
Enemy of my Enemy is a mind-fuck of epic proportions. Nothing is as it appears, and you don’t know who to trust, if there’s anyone, at all, to trust. The author doesn’t cut corners, nor are feelings spared. There are brutal scenes, vivid and hair-raising maneuvers and missions that will have you holding your breath in fear and shouting in triumph. Corruption and greed involving country after country, Generals, Leaders, no one is safe, but who do you trust?
Ethan and Jack love each other so much. I mean it’s a deep and abiding love that comes from their soul. When Ethan makes love to Jack for the first time, it is the most beautiful expression of love I have ever had the pleasure of reading. It wasn’t sex, they were making love. The author’s descriptive narrative serenaded me and moved me to tears. I was mesmerized and went back and re-read it immediately.
But, with that said, Jack and Ethan are human, and they have doubts and fears. It’s natural, right? They read something, someone says something, and they start thinking too hard about something they know isn’t true, but can’t help going there in their mind. What happens when doubts become reality? Your worst fear becomes truth? Nightmares are playing out in the daylight?
This is action packed drama with a high intensity of underlying tension of fear always running in the background. Always. Who can you trust? Anyone? Your closest friend? Your protection detail? Someone is lying. Who? We don’t know. Still don’t know the full aspect of how far the corruption and greed go.
It’s like a bucket of paint dropped from the highest ladder. It goes everywhere, splashing onto everything, running into all the cracks, seals, and there is a fast flowing stream running away before you can catch it. Weeks later, months, you are still finding splatter. That is Madigan and his army of evil misfits determined to rid the world of everything in its path.
"A new dawn is coming. A new sky awaits us all."
They are everywhere. And, it’s scary as hell because you can’t help but wonder if this doesn’t happen in real life. I can only assume, at this point, there will be another book to follow this one because there are still many things left unsolved and unanswered. Intrigue, deception, conspiracy, betrayal, LGBT rights, equality, Tal Bauer hits on all of it and the journey was one hell of a ride.
There were many times I was absolutely elated with joy over certain events that transpired but there were also many times that I absolutely, unequivocally cried big ugly tears and had to step away and catch my breath. This is storytelling at its finest and I don’t say that lightly. Brilliantly laid out, masterfully told, highly, highly recommended. Amazing and enlightening journey of love, leadership, friendship, surviving and just so many things. Read this book!! Unless you haven’t read Enemies of the State and then read that book first, but read this series. IT’S A MUST!!
* Thank you to the publisher for providing an ARC of this book. *
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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.