Book Reviews

One Breath, One Bullet (The Borders War 1) by S.A. McAuley

Genre Gay / Science Fiction / Soldiers/Mercenaries / Future Earth / Romance / Action/Adventure
Reviewed by Serena Yates on 12-April-2018

Book Blurb

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.

The world is embroiled in a three hundred year war which has seen half of the world's population wiped out and the rise of five superpowers. Despite the hundreds of millions who have died, the Borders War has been 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 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.

Second Edition published by Pride Publishing, January 2016.

First Edition published by Total E-Bound, May 2013.

Book Review

As a start to a new series, I have to say this is an intriguing beginning. With two tough alpha characters who are sworn enemies yet feel an indisputable attraction to each other, the stage is set for personal as well as story drama. How to describe this book and the emotions it made me feel? This is tough because they were all over the place. From shock about the future world S.A. McAuley created here (300 years of war!!!), to unease about the violent nature of the relationship between the main characters, and admiration for the political intrigue she set up, it was all there. Maybe the easiest way to summarize what I have seen of this world so far is "disturbing".

Merq is a soldier to the core. He's strong, an excellent sniper, a tough fighter, almost immune to levels of pain that would kill a normal person, and with bare traces of a conscience. For him following orders is as natural as breathing, maybe more. It isn’t really clear whose orders he's following throughout most of the book, at least it wasn't clear to me. In a world of double identities, spies, and counter intelligence, half the fun of reading a story is trying to figure out who is on whose side. Merq doesn’t have any of those issues, and while he is loyal to his superiors, he also falls for an enemy soldier and doesn't seem to be able to stop his attraction. Needless to say, there are a few major confrontations over the seventeen years this story spans.

Armise is an enigma. He is the object of Merq's lust and attraction, but Merq doesn’t really know a lot about him. While Armise is one of the enemy's snipers, he doesn’t seem to be as determined to kill Merq as I would have expected. He lets several opportunities to end Merq's life pass, and while Merq believes that he stopped Armise, I wasn't so sure. In the end, all becomes clear, but the suspense is masterfully developed and maintained up to the last pages of this book.

Loyalties are fierce, yet from my point of view it was very tough to decide who was "right", or morally better. Since Merq tells the story, I automatically wanted to side with him, and that would have some merit. The problem is that the exact stances and objectives of any of the five countries that are left, including Merq's, are so foreign, I had no benchmark against which to really decide. And maybe that is the whole point of this series? Once everyone is at war with everyone else, out to kill and destroy, maybe none of them are morally okay any longer?

Now that this book has been rereleased, I found it even more enjoyable and fascinating than the original edition I read years ago. The elimination of all the flashbacks alone contributed hugely to my enjoyment. So did the additional scenes, and the glossary and additional information in the back helped me keep track of “who is who” in this scary future version of Earth. Despite all these clarifications, the sense of mystery, impending doom, and curiosity have not been eliminated at all. All they have done is remove some unnecessary lack of clarity with the effect that I liked this novel even more this second time around.
If you don’t like books about war and violence, stay away from this one. If you're curious to find out what might happen if we decide we need to go back to fighting for dominance with weapons, rather than wielding economic supremacy or diplomacy, this is an interesting look at how that might potentially go. This story is gritty, powerful, and will grab your attention and not let go once you start reading. And even though I have read this series before, I can’t wait to see what changes and additions the author has made to the next volume!






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Additional Information

Format ebook
Length Novel, 207 pages
Heat Level
Publication Date 25-August-2017
Price $0.99 ebook
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