We are thrilled to welcome back Tal Bauer to Sinfully as he celebrates the upcoming release of Enemy Within, the third book in the Executive Office Series by Tal Bauer. Go check it out and don’t forget to enter the giveaway!
Creating The Executive Office
I’ve been asked more than once where The Executive Office came from. How did this series come to life? How did I develop these three novels (totaling over 500K words!)?
The answer, like the books themselves, is intertwined with real-life and is multi-layered.
First, my number one goal as an author is to help promote LGBT heroes in multifaceted roles. I want to help create the next gay James Bond, or help normalize that action and adventure heroes – the pinnacle of masculinity in our culture – can be gay just as much as they can be straight.
Second, especially in today’s political climate, I wanted to bring some heart back into political thrillers. This series has been compared by multiple readers to The West Wing TV show, which is a huge compliment. The West Wing brought so much heart to politics, and it aired in a time when we weren’t hit in the face with so much cynicism and heartlessness from the political world. Current political TV, such as House of Cards, seems to have flipped the script. There’s a complete lack of heart, and nothing but cynicism, and some would say, evilness. Or, there are other shows, like Designated Survivor, which give me heart palpitations from its lack of accuracy.
And, I wanted to explore something forbidden. I think we all do. We’re all enticed by the thought of “what if?” I come from federal government law enforcement, and I’ve worked in DC. Ethan, a Secret Service agent, falling for his protectee—the president, no less!—is the ultimate in forbidden.
I also wanted to be accurate. I wanted people to feel as if they were reading something that could truly be happening. The locations, the politics, the happenings. It all had to be accurate, for me.
So, take all of those things together, and I developed the bones of The Executive Office. I had a Secret Service agent—proudly, openly gay—accepting his promotion to the lead of the presidential detail in the White House. He’s a veteran of the service. He’s a consummate professional. Presidents are just jobs for him. Replaceable. He doesn’t care about the people. He cares about his job.
I had a president, a warm, open, feel-good candidate elected after years of political turmoil in Washington. He’s a Republican, but a softer, gentler, warmer Republican (I wrote this before the 2016 election; nevertheless, his political affiliation has reverberations throughout the series.) He’s also the first Millennial president. He’s a widower; his wife died in the War in Iraq, and he hasn’t been with anyone since. He hasn’t wanted a relationship. He, also, was written specifically to be Demisexual.
Jack Spiers, President of the United States, and Ethan Reichenbach, Secret Service detail lead, crash into each other at the White House, and the spark between them is immediate. For jack, it’s a yearning to befriend Ethan, to get to know him, to spend all his free time with the man. He thinks Ethan is a unique man, a man of character, and he wants to stay grounded through their friendship. For Ethan, Jack is like heroin. One hit is never enough, and he compromises and compromises and compromises, until he’s engaging in a clandestine friendship with the president, sneaking into the Residence to spend time with him, all while falling head over heels in love with a man he believes he has zero chance with.
(As an aside – Jack being demisexual was hugely important to me, as that is also how my husband identifies. Much of how Jack fell for Ethan came from how my husband fell for me, and mirrors his own fall into love.)
Set against their love story, General Madigan, Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, and former commander of Special Operations Command, and a lifelong soldier, has formed a splinter cell of “true patriots” who want to take their country back. Sound familiar? I did write this before the 2016 election, but I based Madigan and his followers on the then-underground surge of discontentment that was brewing around the country. Madigan, and his followers, want to bring American back to power, back to their vision of greatness as a military power. His attempts to topple Jack’s government range from a coup against the White House to a plan to wreak global devastation. In both scenarios, him and his followers plan to inherit the world in the ashes that would follow.
Jack and Ethan’s love story flows strongly through all three books. In Enemies of the State, I wanted to explore how they fell in love. How does a demisexual man, who previously had only dated—and married—woman come to fall in love with an openly gay man? What does that look like? And then, I wanted to explore what the president dating in secret would look like. How do a Secret Service agent and a president carry out a clandestine relationship? What happens when it all comes out?
In Enemy of My Enemy, I wanted to further explore what a president dating a man would be like for the world, and for US politics as well. Ethan moves into the White House, and there are mixed reactions to him becoming the First Gentleman. Jack’s VP resigns. Congress turns on him. His party (remember, Republican!) is in open revolt. Jack has political decisions to make, and one of them includes forming his own third way, a new political party in the United States.
Jack and Ethan’s relationships continues to develop, but there’s so much stress piled on them both. Ethan accepts a role with the CIA, leading a strike team to hunt own General Madigan, who is up to his own nefarious plans again. They are trying to juggle everything—running a country, finding a madman, keeping the nation safe and sane, and deepen their love.
Madigan strikes against Jack and Ethan, devastating their relationship with a vicious, brutal assault. Jack and Ethan are devastated, and just when they need each other most, they fall apart, ripped apart from each other by hurt and confusion.
I won’t say the specifics of Madigan’s attack, as it is very spoilery for a major plot point for Enemy of My Enemy (it’s not a physical assault, and it’s not sexual assault). But, I do want to address a few comments made by some readers. This series is set in the near future. I leave the date murky for a reason. I also heavily researched the science that went into the series, and while I did certainly stretch some aspects, I did not make up the science, or what occurs. In fact, I found more support for what happened than I expected to! Suffice it to say, the science is there to say it is possible, in the future.
I needed to explore this plot point, though, because I needed Jack to undergo his “dark night of the soul” moment. Jack needed to explore his life, and his choices, and realize in his head what he already knew in his heart. He loves Ethan, as deeply as it is possible to love a human being, and nothing could tear them apart. Jack makes a choice to go back to Ethan, to turn into their love, and to commit to him. He realizes, as he chooses Ethan, that Ethan is the love of his life. His soul mate.
But, at the end of Enemy of My Enemy, Madigan is still at large, and jack and Ethan are on the run. They need to take out Madigan before he unleashes his final, devastating attack, nuclear holocaust that could wreak the planet.
But they are together. Strong, together, and united. And, with that unity, with that strength, they’re finally ready to take on Madigan once and for all.
Overall, the story is one of love triumphing over evil, and finding strength in your love. Finding your anchor in a crazy world, and turning toward the love of your life at all times. All the periphery – the politics, the real-life happenings of the White house, the “what would it be like for a First Gentleman”, and everything else – is the backdrop to these two men finding their soul mates, and persevering together, finding their Happy Ever After.
This seeds of this series came from so many different places. What if questions, watching modern political media, watching modern politics, and imagining a different, better future. In some ways, this series is political escapism. I can’t tell you how many times a reader has messaged me saying that they wish that Jack and Ethan were real, and that Jack was really in the White House. (I agree!) It developed from so many different threads, and one day I sat down and started outlining.
It really developed a life of its own as I wrote. Jack and Ethan exploded off the page, and their quest for love set against Madigan’s quest for vengeance and hate struck a chord with me. I wanted these men to succeed, and to change the world. They kept going, and I kept writing, and the world of The Executive Office rose around these two men.
And now, this arc, at least, is coming to a close. Jack and Ethan are squaring off against Madigan in the final battle. With them are Sergey & Sasha, Adam and Faisal, and their allies in the White House. Against them are Madigan’s men, moles he’s put into place to strike at Jack and Ethan when the time is right, like a viper lying in wait.
But after Madigan, the promise of a brilliant, loving future stretches before Jack and Ethan (and others!) and they fight for that future, for their happy ending, for a white sandy beach and for two rings, and a love that will last forever.
(The Executive Office #3)
Published ~ 28th March 2017
Genre ~ Contemporary M/M Romance, Thriller/Suspense
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?
::: FREYA’S REVIEW :::
The Executive Office Series
Enemies of the State (The Executive Office #1) Special Edition by Tal Bauer
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.
*** Expanded second special edition, with 15,000+ additional words, expanded scenes, and character artwork.
Interlude (The Executive Office #1.5) by Tal Bauer
Before Ethan returns to DC…
Before he becomes Jack’s first gentleman…
Jack and Ethan share their first Christmas together.
Step back to Jack and Ethan’s first Christmas season and the tentative early months of their relationship under the world’s spotlight.
Three months into Ethan’s transfer-in-exile in Des Moines, Iowa, the pressures of dating Jack, the president of the United States, start to wear Ethan down. His weeks are measured by the days he works in Iowa, chasing counterfeiters and financial crimes, and the weekends he manages to steal with Jack back in DC. The media stalks his every move, he’s isolated by his coworkers, and loneliness hammers at his heart.
In DC, Jack tries to piece together a global alliance to take down the Caliphate, while the world seems focused on tearing apart his personal life. Hostility surrounds him from all corners of the globe, but a surprise offer from President Sergey Puchkov may pave the way for a tentative alliance…and perhaps the beginning of a friendship.
As Ethan finds himself in the middle of an investigation that rubs too deeply against his soul and Jack tries to balance leading the free world and keeping his and Ethan’s relationship going, the two men must face what their love has become…and where they are heading together.
Enemy of My Enemy (The Executive Office #2) by Tal Bauer
Fifteen years from now, an affair rocks the world.
Two men commit to their impossible love.
One general is 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…
Meet Tal Bauer
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.
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