I normally read traditional thrillers full of action, suspense, and a memorable main character that reads will talk about for years. This main character may or may not have someone he loves. Usually a woman.
Enemies of the State by Tal Bauer is the first book in an M/M political thriller that I was not quite sure how to approach, as the M/M genre is quite new to me. Having put aside all my preconceptions and let go of everything I was taught until now, I dove in and came up for air well halfway through the book realizing that I was captivated by the story, fascinated by the two main characters, and spellbound by the almost taboo love unfolding right in front of my eyes. Amidst all the politics surrounding the President of the United States.
Why almost taboo? Because it features the President and a Secret Service Agent who is sworn to protect him from all harm and from everyone, including himself. The slow-burn love is delicious, and the two main characters push the reader yearning for more, for a happy ending despite all the obstacles. And there are too many obstacles thrown their way.
However, the book is above all a fast-paced action thriller that strongly reminded me of books by Tom Clancy, Vince Flynn, Lee Child, and David Baldacci. I can easily imagine it on screen with actors like Gerard Butler saving a president played by Aaron Eckhart, with the difference that he is falling for him too. There is just something about an almost forbidden love story that tickles you slightly strangely (not because of the gender but because we, political thriller readers, know that a Secret Service Agent should never ever get entangled with the person he is protecting), where you can’t wait to see how this messy affair will end.
And then we get the betrayals, kidnapping, and everything else that makes this book stand right along with American Assassin, Order to Kill, and The Hunt for Red October. Nothing is quite as it seems, and real loss can be excruciating.
Jack Spier is the new POTUS, a man vastly different from the previous American Presidents as Special Agent Ethan Reichenbach soon realizes. He defies all stereotypes and Ethan, despite his training and long time on the job, can’t but feel the pull of friendship for the open-faced, slightly vulnerable, and very honest president. Ethan is fighting the attraction every step of the way, but just like in Bodyguard, he can’t stay away from his ward. But the problem is, Ethan is gay, and the president was once married to someone he dearly loved before she was killed in action. But if he can only get friendship, then that’s all he will ask for, while in return he will give Jack everything if needed, including his life.
But Ethan doesn’t know just how soon his words will be tested when an op involving the president goes horribly wrong. And when the president’s life itself is in danger, Ethan does what he knows best: protect him and save him at all costs. In return, Jack starts to question everything he knew about himself and his world until now. But can Jack and Ethan survive together in a world that is nearly not ready for the two of them?