A MelanieM Review: Strength of the Rising Sun (The Borders War #5) by S.A. McAuley

Rating: 5 stars out of 5     ★★★★★

Strength of the Rising SunMerq’s always known there’s only one way Armise and he can end.

The Opposition is losing—both the war and the fight for citizen support—and the Revolution’s victory appears certain. Despite that success, Merq knows his leaders won’t let two of their greatest assets simply walk away. But with Armise fighting for his life, getting out becomes Merq’s primary objective.

Almost two decades of selfishness can’t be alleviated with one right decision, and Merq is faced with the reality of how deeply he has wounded Armise in ways that cannot be seen from the outside. Merq’s world has been upended more times than he can count and he’s always survived, but life without Armise is no longer an option. He just has to prove that to Armise.

Merq believes there are few who are strong enough to challenge them when they stand together. But when the secret Armise has been protecting Merq from is revealed, the truth has consequences neither of them can prepare for.

Reader Advisory: This book contains graphic violence, mention of torture and genetic experimentation.

I admit I approached each Borders War book with more than a bit of trepidation and sense of anticipation.  I would be hard pressed to remember a series that has more twisted layers, more betrayals and anguished losses than this one.  The Borders War series has  involved no less than a worldwide conflagration of countries, environments and humanity that has played out over five novels through the perspective of two warriors and the band of people around them.  Not always on the same side, certainly not at the beginning, or even numerous times (even in the same book) when no one knew what side each man was on, even themselves.

If this sounds confusing, in anyone else’s hands but S.A. McAuley this series and this relationship could have been a muddy mess, instead it became one of magnificent passion, love and commitment to each other in the face of obstacles (realistic ones within this world building) that should have killed them.  And often came close.

In the beginning, One Breath One Bullet (The Borders War #1), Merq Grayson was a high-ranking officer (sniper) for the Continental States.  His enemy was the Dark Ops officer from the People’s Republic of Singapore, Armise Darcan.  These  two had met over countless battle fields and covert operations, sometimes killing those close to the other man, and even coming close to killing each other, often inflicting near fatal wounds.  But there was something more there as well.  A building passion and undeniable connection between them that neither could understand or repress for very long.

McAuley builds this confusing, angry and often violent relationship through 20 years, five books and around some shocking, often personally shattering revelations to both men.  Its hard to describe just how magnetic these men and their lives become.  Sometimes so raw and wounded, you think their  pain will never stop. That is especially true here.  Sometimes the feelings flow cold and distant, than back strong and raging.  Through vivid descriptions and dialog that pulls you into the scenes, you become a part of Merq and Armise’s world and that often leaves you feeling as pain-filled and battered as they are.

Loss of humanity, scientific experimentation (willing and not) on soldiers, the ramifications of genetic/chemical warfare on the world environment…its all addressed here in some form, as a nuanced plot thread or a direct blow to the heart by the author.  Hard to be prepared for that.

But The Borders War is a magnificent series and it deserves its equal in a final story. It gets it in Strength of the Rising Sun.  This story was the equivalent of running through a narrative mine field, you just didn’t know it at the beginning.  Just when you thought the story was getting ready to settle down, another revelation would occur,  then another shattering scene, one so devastating in its impact that it took my breathe away.  I can’t even begin to give you even a smidgen of details or plot.  It wouldn’t make sense. You have to read the story and the ones before it. And when the ending came, well,  I cried buckets of tears for the men, but also of relief that the tension and agony of the narrative was gone.  You are so involved, you couldn’t pull  out of the story, even if you had wanted you.  You, Merq, and Armise to the end.  And what a ending it was.

I have no idea how S. A.McAuley will top this.  Not a clue.

So.  Love science fiction and enemy to lovers story?  Well, this is so much more.  It sexy, violent, passionate, layered, complex and agonizing on the heart at best.  But its one I  wouldn’t want you to pass up.  One of Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words Best of 2016.

Cover art by Posh Gosh shows a certain eventful scene in the story.  It might not work as well as a cover before you read the story but its perfect afterwards.

Sales Links:  Pride Publishing  | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 198 pages
Published January 26th 2016 by Pride Publishing
Edition LanguageEnglish

Series The Borders War :

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 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.

Links to MelanieM reviews:


By Scattered Thoughts

At over 50, I am ruled by my terriers, my gardens, and my projects. A knack for grubbing about in the woods, making mud pies, and tending to the injured worms, bugs, and occasional bird and turtle growing up eventually led me to working for the Parks. I was a park Naturalist for over 20 years, and observing Nature and her cycles still occupy my hours. From the arrival of Ruby-throated Hummingbirds in the Spring to the first call of the Snow Geese heading south in the Fall, I am entranced by the seasons. For more about me see my bio on my blog.

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