Friends by Nora Phoenix

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Four out of Five Stars

Summary:

Coulson is straight. So why was he checking Seth out?

Seth is an out and proud Secret Service agent. When he’s asked to assist the FBI on the investigation into the presidential assassination, he meets FBI agent Coulson.

Coulson is straight, or so he says. Seth has no reason to doubt that, not even when they become close friends.

Until he finds himself checking Coulson out a little too closely—especially certain over-sized body parts—and Coulson doing the same to him. For someone who’s straight, Coulson shows a lot of interest in Seth’s dating life, his preferences, and his hook ups. Could it be that he’s not so straight after all?

Meanwhile, every discovery they make in the investigation leads to even more questions. Who killed the president and how did they manage to pull it off? And more importantly: are they done killing…or will more attacks follow?

The Review

After the assassination of the President, Seth and Coulson are set to work together for their respective agencies. Seth is with the Secret Service and Coulson is with the FBI. There is something about them that clicks, making it easy for them to work together. They are friends and the longer they work together, the stronger their bond becomes. They push each other to use their strengths while working and they are there for each other in their off hours.

            Seth was out and proud, he didn’t let his job force him into the closet, and I loved a character like him. He lived his life how he wanted to live it and didn’t let his sexuality hamper that. Which is how life should be! He had all these career goals, and nothing was going to stop him.

            Coulson hadn’t considered a relationship with a man before. The more time he spends with Seth, the more interested he becomes. It’s hard not to fall in love with someone like Seth. They have fun with each other, even when they aren’t doing anything but spending the evening on the couch. You don’t find that with just anyone. Yet there they were.

            The action in this one was not as intense as in book one. It picks up at the assassination of the president and we’re given a glimpse into the investigative process and a little background on the agencies that are involved. I loved seeing Seth’s mind work through all the information he came across. Coulson was the perfect complement to Seth’s process. Coulson didn’t let anyone discredit Seth either. Which melted my heart just a little bit.

            The chemistry between them was off the charts, even before they acknowledged their romantic feelings for each other. Probably one of my favorite scenes was the scene Set realized how deep his feelings were for Coulson from the help of his family. That scene is what I immediately thought of while sitting down to write this review.

            I loved being able to see two strong, alpha males who were amazing at their job, fall for each other.

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Press by Nora Phoenix

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Five out of Five Stars

Summary

Henley is off-limits for Levar. So why can’t he stay away?

Five years ago, Levar survived a terrorist attack. The bombing left its scars, but he’s picked up his life. He loves working for the vice president—who is openly bisexual—as his press secretary.

Levar can’t afford a pesky attraction that proves to be frustratingly stubborn. Worse, those highly combustible sparks are with the very last person he should be falling for: Henley Platt, a well-known reporter covering the White House.

Henley may not be Levar’s enemy, but he’s definitely not his friend. He can’t be, not when their jobs put them on opposite sides. Henley is absolutely off-limits, even when he shows his appreciation for the sexy lingerie Levar loves to wear.

When the terrorists strike again with a devastating blow to the White House, Levar and Henley lean on each other for support. The sparks become a raging fire that won’t be doused, but what happens if they’re found out?

Review

Henley and Levar are on opposite ends of the reporting spectrum. Henley is employed as the press secretary for the Vice President. Levar is a White House correspondent for a DC newspaper. The two men can’t seem to get away from each other and it’s become harder and harder to resist temptation.

These men have a somewhat shared history. Five years ago, they were both at ground zero for a terrorist bombing at a pride parade. Which hurt my heart so much. Once they’re both in DC, they have a push/pull relationship. While they’re friendly, there is a boundary that they can not cross professionally. I liked seeing them acknowledge and point out when that line was crossed.

It takes one chance moment, a peak at what Henley wears under his dress pants, that sparks the slow burn attraction into a full-fledged fire. Normally, I’m not fan of this, but oh my goodness, it worked! It wasn’t cheesy or greasy like some novels. It was just another part of Henley that Levar loved.

Their attraction, flirtation, and sex scenes *fans self* good grief. It was such a good burn. Then, there were moments they took care of each other. That was just as intensive as their sex scenes. In those moments, I could see how much they meant to each other. Hell, if you ever find someone that takes care of you like Henley did for Levar? Don’t ever let them go. It’s a rare find.

There was action and politics, yes, but it wasn’t preachy or overly graphic.

*slight spoiler incoming* 

As a history buff, it was interesting to see the similarities between JFK and a fictional President. I was on the edge of my seat, rushing right along with Henley, the Vice President and the rest of the White House staff. I could feel that urgency and terror of what just happened. Then seeing Henley come in to his own, learning that he is as good at his job as everyone thinks he is, was wonderful. I was rooting for his success! Levar, he found a way to get what he wanted and to find his happiness. I was so excited.

Would I recommend this to friends? YES!! 100 times yes!

If you are on the fence with getting this book? GET IT! If you are a fan of Tal Bauer’s writing, this is a book you won’t want to pass up. This was a fantastic read and I’m probably going to read it all over again, because Henley and Levar? Goals.  

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Enemies of the State by Tal Bauer

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Five out of Five Stars

The Summary: 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 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.

The Review

Ya’ll, I don’t know how I managed to NOT read any of Tal Bauer’s work until now. I devoured this book overnight and promptly bought everything else of Bauer’s that I could find. I have always looked for books like Enemies of the State in the M/M romance genre and I could never find them. Political thrillers.

President Jack Spiers has a lot riding on his presidency. He promised to make a better, safe world for the citizens worldwide. But he’s been fighting terrorist attacks in Europe, Russian trying to be the bigger world power and the trouble in the Middle East. It’s a lot to handle without the support of a First Lady/Gentleman. He leans on his Secret Service Detail and one agent in particular, openly gay Ethan Reichenbach. Through this, Ethan gets to see a side of the president that pushes him to break every rule he has when it comes to who he is protecting.

As time passes and they get to know each other better, it’s hard to stay away. Ethan can’t help but blur the lines of professionalism for a man like Jack Spiers. But as the world edges closer to another war, things go disastrously wrong.

This is a President/Secret Service romance, and the chemistry between Jack and Ethan was so good. It was drawn out in actions that could be seen as playful flirting, but at the same time it could have just been Jack’s personality. Every way that Ethan fell for Jack was a way any of us could have fallen for our partners. The romance between them burned slowly and they discovered each other together.

Some of my favorite scenes were when they were together in the residence or at Camp David late at night. They focused entirely on each other as if that was their only world at the time. I can’t tell you how many times they made me smile or wish that one of them would hurry up and make a move! Then there was one moment that utterly crushed my heart. I got teary eyed while reading it and there was no way I could stop reading at that point. I needed to see everything better.

The political thriller aspect was weaved well throughout. It was easy to keep track of because we got chapters centered on that part of the storyline, and then bits and pieces in Jack’s political career that explained it further. It was just as present as their developing romance and I was all about it. I needed to figure out what the heck was being plotted and how they were going to stop it.

This was such a good read I was telling my friends about it who don’t read M/M romance. (Normally I don’t even say a word about my reads to them because they give me that look – you know the one lol). Go read this book! I’m sure everyone has already read it, perhaps more than once, but I can’t stop myself from telling you to read it.

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