We're talking about...
"The Border Wars" 
by S.A. McAuley

This series has so many great qualities that I myself enjoyed immensely.  It's a genre mash up of Sci-fi, M/M, Military and even Politics.  I'll be talking about each book separately, with reviews for each.  You can buy all three books now!  This author also has a time travel novella that is simply beautiful for a short story.  Very impressed with what I've seen so far from S.A. McAuley!

What's this story about?...
"The world has only recently emerged from a three-hundred-year war which saw half of the world’s population wiped out and the rise of five superpowers. Despite the hundreds of millions who died, the Borders War was nearly bloodless because of the sonicrifle—weaponized sound waves, tuned to their highest frequency, and harnessed to kill. 

Merq Grayson has known only war. He is an orphan, a skilled Peacemaker, soldier, and sniper. And it is his destiny to right the wrong created by his grandfather six generations removed—the man who invented the sonicbullet.

Armise Darcan is his enemy. A sniper and Dark Ops officer who fought for the People’s Republic of Singapore in the Borders War, Armise may be the only person on the planet strong enough to keep Merq from completing his mission.

Their loyalties are to conflicting countries and diverging agendas, and despite the very real threat to their lives if they’re discovered, Merq and Armise keep finding their way into each other’s beds. It is a drive which Merq is sure will kill him one day.

But how much time either of them has is questionable. As Opposition is pitted against Revolution, the Borders War reignites, and Merq and Armise have to decide where, and with whom, their real loyalties lie."

One Breath, One Bullet
Book One


"Face to face, and rifle to rifle. The time and location change, but never the circumstance. Merq Grayson and Armise Darcan are enemies. And neither will be considered successful until the other is dead. 

It is the year 2558. A mere decade has passed since the signing of the treaty which ended the three hundred year long Borders War. In the midst of an uneasy peace, the world gathers for the first Olympic games since the war began. 

The Rifle competition showcases the very soldiers who fought in the war, pitting former enemies against one another again. Continental States Peacemaker Merq Grayson will once again battle the Dark Ops officer from the People’s Republic of Singapore, Armise Darcan, this time under the flag of their own uneasy truce. The relationship between Merq and Armise is one of violence, secrecy, and a growing intimacy that could have them both branded as traitors. 

But there is more at stake than pride or medals in these games. And neither Merq nor Armise may be able to make it out alive before the fires of revolution are set ablaze again"

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(Review by Mike)

Book one starts off by giving us a little world building, and character introduction.  We learn about this futuristic world where these powerful groups of nations are fighting heavy wars.  This war is aptly named "The Borders War".  Territorial disputes are tearing humanity apart.  There has never been a point in history where the Haves and Have Nots are so clearly distinguishable.  Guns no longer fire bullets, but sound waves themselves.  Gun fights have become far less bloody, since the sonic bullet doesn't show much outward damage.  With one shot the victim's insides are shredded by the concussive type sonic bullet.  As accurate and deadly as any bullet previously made.  The man to introduce us to this gritty dark futuristic story is none other than Merq Grayson.  He's the distant relative of the man who created this deadly weapon.  

This author does such an outstanding job painting the picture of this war torn land and it's effects.  She's created such a compelling character in Merq.  A soldier who's literally been born to fight.  He's one bad ass motherfocker.  Deadly by all accounts, but yet unable to take down the one man who is his rival in many ways.  His opponent on opposite sides of the war.  Merq can't figure out why he's drawn to this man so much.  As you can imagine, Merq isn't the "touchy, feely" "In touch with his emotions" kind of guy.  He's better with expressing himself with physical action.  Boy do these two express themselves lol. 

You get a little back story on these two's previous history.  Mostly this book helps set up the series.  It does a fantastic job doing so.  The time jumps can seem a little daunting at first, but pay attention to the dates at the beginning of the chapters.  They're a guidepost so to speak.  Also at the very end of the book are a date range, timeline.  To help you understand the pivotal moments in the story.  Great beginning to a great series in my humble opinion!

 Dominant Predator
Book Two


"A relationship is the least of Merq and Armise’s concerns… 

With one bullet Merq Grayson set the wealthiest citizens of the world on a collision course with the poorest—with those fighting for their freedom. As the Borders War reignites, the Revolution faces heavy losses. They scramble to maintain their advantage, to strike at the Opposition and crumble their power structure before they are able to rally. 

But Merq is in the midst of an internal battle that shakes him to the core. For the first time in his life Merq will have to reconcile the inherent tragedy of war and decide just how much vengeance can be justified by spilt blood. How much can he trust the men and women around him? The President, Neveed, his former soldiers, his parents…and Armise. 

Merq and Armise find themselves off grid and on the hunt for Committee members. Merq is just as unsettled with Armise at his side as he was with Armise as an enemy, but they will have to learn how to fight together—or they may just die together."

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(Review by Mike)

Think's really start to heat up politically and emotionally in this book!  We learn about plots within plots, and maneuvering by these different forces in this war.  Merq starts things off with a bang so to speak.  There has been a tenuous but fruitless peace.  But the Revolution recognizes that the majority of the worlds population is suffering.  Suffering under the control of those in power.  Those with enough influence and money to affect real changes.  Hordes of people live in tent cities, and barely scrape by.  We also get to see Merq totally get his emotional world rocked by Armise.  Even though there have been plenty of opportunities for these two opposing forces of nature to take one another out, they never seem able to.  Now we get to see why Armise never took the shot. 

Merq really thought after the games, and his pivotal role in re-igniting the Borders Wars again, that he wouldn't live through it.  His life, and mission up to this point have been clear and spelled out perfectly for him.  Now he feel's a bit adrift.  When his foundation seems shakiest, he finds support in the oddest place.  The man he thought was his staunchest rival.  Can he learn to trust in that?  

There is much turmoil for our main character in this book.  The world is plunged back into war.  Real bullets and ammunition are re-discovered.  The Revolution says that governments should be for the people, not control the people.  Opposition says they have a right to rule.  This is very similar to the "Democracy vs Communism" issue we have seen in our own history.  The author really gives you the feel of the current climate by the walk through the tent city.  Great second part to the story so far!

book Three


"He was built to be invincible. 

Merq and Armise return to the States after their mission to assassinate the remaining Committee members only to find the leadership of the Revolution isn’t as stable as they had thought. 

Outside forces come crashing down on a Revolution stronghold, leaving two of their soldiers gravely wounded. Merq’s history with his brothers in arms Simion and Neveed forces him into making decisions that will impact his future with the Revolution. 

Merq has always identified as a soldier first. Always known who deserved his loyalty and who didn’t. But with the uncertainty surrounding the leadership of the Revolution, the mysterious disappearance of the jacquerie and increased activity with the PsychHAgs, Merq knows there are few people he can trust. 

The only man Merq wants or needs at his side is Armise Darcan. But his reliance on his former enemy may be a miscalculation that will threaten everything Merq stands for."

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(Review by Mike)

Things have become quite tangled in this part of the story.  Loyalties get tested to the point of breaking.  Merq has to do major soul searching, and after a near complete defeat, some major recovery.  With the help of a former friend he barely makes it out of the fight alive.  Both are wounded to the point that they shouldn't recover.  But when the choice comes for Merq to let his friend die because he's become a potential liability, so he can rejoin the fight.  Merq opts to take his friend and flee.  He's heartbroken, but he refuses to allow himself to see it.  With the aid of Surge, a power drug of the time, he and Simion flee reality together.  

When he's found, he comes face to face with a former lover.  Who helps him recover.  Without the drug to shield his heart.  He comes to realize how much Armise meant to him.  When his allies finally have him back to the heart of the fight, and once again Armise is on the opposite side of the war, he has a decision to make.  But there really wasn't ever a choice to be made, he couldn't kill the man then, and he certainly can't now.  

I have to say this book packs in the emotional conflict inherent in war.  Merq go's through hell here but comes out the other side stronger for it.  His new feelings aren't a hindrance, they're a strength.  All in all, so far this series is just awesome.  Definitely enjoyable!  Can't wait for the next book.

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