Interlude: First Noel (The Executive Office #1.5) by Tal Bauer

“If I’m half as good a man as you believe I am, I’ll take that.” 

“You’re more, love.” 

“I’m a better man with you. With your love.” 


I really enjoyed this bonus story in The Executive Office Series – it fills in some gaps that were left between the last few chapters of Enemies of the State, which was the first book of this series. It gives us a sense of what Ethan was dealing with in his exile in Des Moines and how he and Jack navigated that separation while still in the early stages of their relationship and under scrutiny from all angles. The biggest focus was on Jack and Ethan’s relationship, with some truly lovely scenes between the two men, but there was still a mystery to be solved and a global alliance to try and broker. It’s probably not a required read in the grand scheme of the series but you’re probably going to want more of Jack and Ethan so I definitely recommend reading it!

The book occurs at Christmastime while Jack and Ethan prepare to spend their first holiday together. Both men are miserable without each other and live for their stolen weekends when Ethan is able to travel back to DC to be with Jack. God, the longing was palpable in this one! These men may not have been together very long but when they fell, they fell hard. Their phone calls and little text exchanges were sweet and sometimes sad as they continually counted the days until they were together again. The love between them is really beautiful, and seeing them come alive when they were back in each other’s arms warmed my heart.

Jack is just the sweetest little ball of sunshine. He has one of the hardest jobs in the world and cares deeply about doing the right thing, which often weighs heavily on him. One of the things I loved most in the first book and again here is how Ethan became his sounding board and support system. Ethan is so supportive and really just a wonderful partner. But he struggles too. While Ethan was away in Des Moines he struggled with thoughts that Jack would realize he didn’t want to be with him but Jack was so open and free with his feelings whenever they spoke or were together, there was no doubt how he felt about Ethan. Again, it’s just a beautiful partnership.

I love that the backdrop for this novella was the Christmas holiday. I’ve never been to DC but the White House sounds like a magical place during that time. I loved seeing them partake in various holiday traditions, taking steps to be more public about their relationship because they simply cannot hide the magnitude of their feelings for one another. And their private celebration was beyond sweet, the gifts they got each other were so thoughtful and adorable. I felt this book also had more spice than the first book, and that’s always a treat!

I’m glad I took the time to read this one and I am very much looking forward to continuing Jack and Ethan’s story in the next book of the series!

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