Review: Tal Bauer –Enemy Within (Executive Office #3)

51bVzV-uWZLAuthor: Tal Bauer
Reviewer: Barb
Publisher: Self-published
Genre: Futuristic Thriller

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

Summary:

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?

Review:

Jack and Ethan’s saga comes to an end with this tale of one man’s quest for world dominance and self-seeking glory. Definitely not a standalone, this wraps up the story of General Madigan and his far-reaching efforts to defeat not only the US, but Russia, China, and the balance of the world as we know it.

The author sets this one up like a giant chessboard with each move representing a main character or location and taking readers through not only each move but often the thought processes involved in the move as well. The result? A sometimes confusing, quickly shifting POV change or location change that made it necessary for this reviewer to take multiple rest stops along the way. (My nerves were shot!) Interspersed with all of the battle action and espionage were scenes of normality with three principal couples—Jack and Ethan, Sergey and Sasha, and Adam and Faisal. Those moments of romance and reflection were greatly appreciated as they provided an oasis in the midst of hot and heavy, nail-biting action.

I liked this story a great deal, though there were points along the way that I felt were overly exaggerated or overly grandiose, especially in the latter stages of the story. And one of my principal dislikes concerned the abundance of body parts gone awry. As an editor, I’m conscious of autonomous body parts—those parts of the body that may travel somewhere (he laid his eyes on the grill) or act independently (his heart leaped out of his body and landed at his feet), so I acknowledge that this may not have struck everyone the way it did me. However, the body parts that acted independently in this book seemed to increase exponentially as the story progressed, i.e., “Ethan’s belly button clenched” and “he felt the weight of his friend’s eyeballs digging into the side of his face.” Just two examples but they brought me up short in the midst of the action, and I hate being pulled out of a story.

Over and above that, it seemed as if the plot got more complex, convoluted, and difficult to believe as the action in the latter part of the story increased. As the descriptions got more colorful—and sometimes more gruesome—the tale grew more and more exciting and hair-raising, but at the same time, it started to move into the realm of unbelievable. Maybe I was just ready for the drama to conclude. Again, this is my opinion, but that’s what a review is for, right?

Which brings me to the end of the book—an end all wrapped up tightly with bows on it. Yes, the last pages threw out a clue about additional clones that might be revealed in a new series, and lots of clues about what Jack and Ethan will do in the future, but contrary to making me more excited, I found the idea of additional clones irritating. I was ready for that storyline to end.

And the sweetly packaged happy endings for each couple didn’t ring true.  Again, those are my personal opinions, and I appear to be in the minority, but I wouldn’t be giving an honest review without them.

Over and above those points, however, the overarching storyline for this series was terrific. It reflects a great deal of work and research, careful thought and plotting, and attention to detail. One of my favorite series of the past few years, and definitely the most exciting, I would highly recommend the whole series to those who love political thrillers and to those who want more from their romance novels than just sexual attraction.

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