Out With The Old and In With The New and the Week Ahead in Reviews

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New DirectionAnother year is almost gone, another is almost here.  Past regrets, future hopes, memories made and memories waiting to be formed.  It is a time of celebration and reflection.  A time to mourn those we have lost and be grateful for those still with us.  One Winston left me, another found his way home.

For many 2013 was a year in turmoil, the government closed, money was tight, and so many I know had  health issues.  But there was also plenty of reasons to rejoice.  DADA and DOMA fell, and there are 16 states and Washington, DC that have same sex marriage equality laws.   And when Russia outlaws gays just before the Winter Olympics , then gay athletes come out of the closet, meeting Putin’s challenge with their own courage.

There were so many great books published this year in every genre that it was hard to narrow down the lists.  Book covers too were over the top stupendous, that was a  hard list to compile as well.  Last year ScatteredThoughts had a list of resolutions.  I think I am going to let that pass this year.  I am both replete of energy yet so full of emotion that I hate to think what might tumble out.  Best let those dragons lie.

I did attend GRL this year in Atlanta.  Oh, what a time I had.  The authors, bloggers, readers, publishers…..what a treasure trove on every level.  I loved meeting so many people I had only talked to through emails and FB.  It was wonderful and I still didn’t get to meet everyone I wanted to.  I was turned on by listening to authors  read their own stories, listen to how they got their start in writing, met  readers and fans who sparkled with energy and love for the fiction and author of their favorite books.  What an amazing time and I hope 2014 sees me flying to Chicago for GRL once again.

So I want to thank all those authors whose books made me dance with joy  and bite my nails in suspense this year, from the Pulp Friction gang to Shira Anthony and Venona Keyes. Thanks to Abigail Roux and Amy Lane who never fail to make me cry in happiness and sob  buckets of tears with their angst. Thanks to Andrea Speed who writes with humor and ferocity, to John Inman who made me laugh hysterically, and Ariel Tachna who took me to Australia and a sheep station I love.  Thanks to Mary Calmes, Charlie Cochrane and RJ Scott for their series and novels and thousands of hours lost in the worlds and characters they created.  And a welcome return to Josh Lanyon and LB Gregg, who returned with a bang and a giggle and love found once again.   Thanks to Kendall McKenna and her extraordinary Marines (wolf shifters and human alike).  Thanks to Sarah Black for her General series and the soldiers so close to her heart.  Thank you, ZAM, thank you, Tere Michaels, KA Mitchell  for her twists and turns, thanks to Astrid Amara and Nicole Kimberling and more, so many more that I need a couple more pages here.  Thanks to Rowen Speedwell, Jessica Freely, BA Tortuga, Missouri Dalton, Theo Fenraven…..see its hard to stop. Thanks to Riptide Publishing, Less Than Three Press, Wilde City Press, Dreamspinner Press, MLR Press, Loose id, Torquere Press  and all the others I am just getting to know. Your hard work is appreciated in getting those authors and their stories to us.  Thank you to the cover artists.  Wow what great covers came out of 2013. I loved those too.

I know I have left a ton off but now my brain hurts and I have to close it off.  You know how it is. You are all such gifted writers and have brought so much joy.   I can’t wait to see what you all come up with in 2014. I will be waiting in anticipation.

And a special shout out to Eric Arvin and TJ Klune.  They both gave us memorable books in 2013, but the best gift was the gift of themselves.  We shared their joy, their engagement and their sorrow and tough times with Eric’s illness.  May 2014 see them happy, content and together.  There will still be plenty of medical bills to come and donations welcome.  A link to the Eric Arvin Support Fund can be found on my website.

Monday, Dec. 30:      STRW Best Books of 2013Year of the Horse 2014

Tuesday, Dec. 31:       STRW Best Covers of 2013

Wed., Jan. 1,2014:     Reese Herberth’s In Discretion Blog Tour and Contest

Thurs, Jan.2:                STRW Summary of December 2013 Reviews

Friday, Jan. 3:              In Discretion by Reesa Herberth

Sat., Jan 4:                     Symphony in Blue by Shira Anthony

Happy New Year, Everyone! Best wishes and joy from ScatteredThoughtsandRogueWords!blue new year 2014

Review: Lost and Found by Z.A. Maxfield

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Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

LostAndFound_500x750Rigoberto “Ringo” Salazar is thirty years old, heads up security for the upscale RV Newport Sands Resort, and owns his own “cookie cutter” home.  He is out and part of a large latino family that still loves and accepts him, not caring about his sexuality.  The one thing missing from his life? Someone to love and be loved in return. Then he spies young Gavin Lopez playing saxophone for the summer crowd at the picnic tables and Ringo is lost.

Now a year after that first sighting, things have been rocky for Ringo and Gavin.  Gavin is insecure, rough around the edges, a commitment phobe with anger management issues. Gavin spends as much time driving Ringo away as he does pulling him in. But Gavin is also “the one” for Ringo. Through constant fights, separations, and hot makeup sessions, Ringo has been there for Gavin, where Gavin has wanted his support or not.

But now things are coming to a head.  A recent moment of togetherness, brought on by Gavin’s knee surgery, is shattered when Gavin’s beloved dog Bird runs away and Gavin blames Ringo.  While searching for Bird, Ringo comes to a number of realizations about himself and Gavin.   Things cannot go on as they have, changes have to be made by Ringo and Gavin for them to have a future together.  But Gavin is full of fear and lacks faith in everyone including himself.  It will take a miracle not only for Ringo to find Bird but for the men to find it in themselves to change and move forward.  But Christmas is a season of miracles and what was lost will find a way to come home, whether it be a dog or an abiding love.

There is nothing typical about Lost and Found by Z.A. Maxfield, other than it is a perfect example of a Z.A. Maxfield story.  Part of Riptide Publishing’s Home for the Holidays collection, it is only superficially a “holiday story”.  Below such surface expectations of Christmas memories and holiday traditions lurks the all too human characters that I have come to expect from this amazing author. Her characters are full of imperfections, riddled with insecurities, lacking the tools, the social  niceties that help others cope with society and the stress of the times.  You need to look no further than Gavin Lopez to find the tarnished jewel of this Maxfield story.

I think some people might be put off by Gavin. Or if not Gavin, then’s Ringo’s pursuit of Gavin and a relationship.  But Gavin’s character is a gritty, prickly personification of a person so wounded that his first and only impulse when faced with affection and love is to throw up barriers and inflict enough pain and insult as to make that threat to his self isolation go away.  And Gavin does a quite thorough job of it in Lost and Found.  Towards the man who loves him, Gavin is abusive verbally, sometimes downright cruel. Gavin is childish, sulking and impulsive in his actions.  So why do we like him?  Because Ringo does.  And through Ringo’s eyes, we see beyond the stunted adult into the wounded young artist crying out for help and love.

The story is told in Ringo’s pov.  We understand by hearing his thoughts and feeling his emotions that Ringo too carries his share of pain and past injuries both physical and emotional.  A vet with PTSD, he has adjusted to civilian life but his memories of his tour of duty lurk on the edges of Ringo’s mind, just waiting to reappear.  Ringo has a love of his culture and family but also understands the reality of being an out gay latino in his neighborhood where he is protected not only by his size but by the force of his Uncle Salvo and family.  Ringo’s complexities are apparent whether he is dealing with security issues at the RV park or with the emotional turmoil of Gavin himself.

It is a mark of this author’s skill that, just when the reader is getting so exasperated with Gavin’s actions towards Ringo and Ringo’s constant acceptance of the unrelenting rejection that they want to give up on this couple’s romance, she has Ringo understand that a major change in his approach to Gavin must occur in order for him to go forward in his pursuit.  This is a much needed shift in attitude, and for some readers eyes long overdue.  But again it works to help the reader better understand the men involved and the relationship Ringo is hoping to have with Gavin. One more realistic layer added to an already multilayered story.

Throughout the story, like a line tethering one character to another, is Bird, the chocolate lab who is Gavin’s constant companion and the vessel into which he pours all his love.  Tying an endearing pet like Bird to someone who is off-putting and dislikable as Gavin, at least at the beginning, helps to connect the reader to that person.  It changes our perception of them instantaneously.  For if a dog loves them, then  somewhere inside they must be deserving of being loved, a widely held opinion whether it is true or not.  The reader will find the hunt for Bird gut wrenching, especially if you are a pet owner.  It feels as real as the rest of the story, as does Bird himself.

My only real quibble here is the length.  I think Lost and Found would benefit from a longer length, from novella to novel size.  The end of the story is as realistic and satisfying as these two complex men could have at the time.  I would have loved a little more to the resolution and acceptance, letting the reader revel in the moment a little longer along with the men. T’would have been keeping in the holiday spirit and the miracles that can occur if you want them badly enough.  As it is I still loved Lost and Found and recommend it highly no matter the season or holidays you keep.

Cover art by L.C. Chase is just magnificent.  One of the best covers of 2013.  Perfection in every way from tone, emotion, and character.  Just wow.

Special Note:

20% of all proceeds from this title are donated to the Ali Forney Center in New York, whose mission “is to protect lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning (LGBTQ) youth from the harm of homelessness, and to support them in becoming safe and independent as they move from adolescence to adulthood.” To learn more about this charity or to donate directly, please visithttp://www.aliforneycenter.org/.

Book Details:

140 pages
Expected publication: December 2nd 2013 by Riptide Publishing
ISBN13 9781626490857
edition language English

Review: Too Many Fairy Princes by Alex Beecroft

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

Too Many Fairy PrincesKing Volmar of Vagar was dying.  Well, in truth, the King had been assassinated 100 years before, but hung on after death due to enchantments.  Now those magics have run out and the king will die completely.  But who will reign after him?  One son has been banished for treason, the remaining four will fight for the throne.  But fairy legends have always stated that the youngest son will win out, no matter the circumstances.  So  when their father, the King, gives them all one month to prove themselves worthy of the  title, the fallout is disasterous.   One brother starts wars, another assassinates the youngest hoping to take his place, and Prince Kjarten?  All he hoped was to stay out of the way and continue his studies but when Gisli, his youngest brother is killed by the second youngest, Tyrnir, Prince Kjarten realizes it is only a matter of time before his ambitious brothers turn on him.

When the assassination attempt happens, Kjarten flings himself, injured, into the mortal world hoping to hide. The fairy prince has heard tales of the horrible humans and the nasty fate that awaits him at their hands.  But nothing has prepared Kjarten for the truth when he is found by an artist searching for the answers to his own problems and future.

Artist and art gallery worker Joel Wilson life is full of problems.  His ex boyfriend was a jerk who left him penniless and his boss who owns the art gallery where Joel works and shows his paintings is in financial trouble.   In fact, that financial trouble involves loan sharks and other assorted criminals. Joel doesn’t know what to do.  Then he finds an elf lying injured in an alleyway near his home and everything changes.  Can a mortal artist and a elf prince pull together to save the kingdom and find true love?

Magical, funny and absolutely absorbing.  Those are the words that spring to mind when asked to describe my feelings after reading Too Many Fairy Princes by Alex Beecroft.  So many things to love about this book.  First off?  Alex Beecroft keeps me off center with her characters.  They aren’t what I expect them to be.  And that’s at any point in time during the narrative. An elf  prince?  Why, gorgeous and etheral of course.  But also self centered, isolated (by choice) so completely from his family that other important events escape him completely? That’s Kjarten too.  Somewhat arrogant and cruel, although less so than his brothers? Check.  Not exactly your normal fictional elf. Or maybe he is if you return to the old ways of thinking about the Fae.  Then the personalities of Kjarten ring true.

But nothing about the characters you will meet within these pages are static portraits.  No, these beings grow and change before your eyes, their natures metamorphosing along with the events, while still staying true to who they are at the most basic.  Beecroft’s characterizations are marvelous and not just the elves either.  From the Queen of England to the remarkable Joel Wilson, her human beings are more than a match for any elf, or goblin as the case may be.  I loved them all too.  It is so easy to become invested in all these people, elf and human alike because the author has made the reader an intimate companion to them and their worlds.  She brings us into their thoughts and hearts so that their vulnerability and insecurities help engage our affections immediately.  And her worlds? Magical as well as mundane.

World building is also a creative gift and Alex Beecroft has that in spades too.  I loved the kingdom of Vagar.  Ok, I didn’t love it.  Its hateful and cold.  But its also fascinating and full of creatures to amaze and wonder at.  Including a dead king who is still around to muck up things for the kingdom.  Here is King Volmar:

“Now we can start.” “Thank you for that, youngest,” King Volmar of Vagar said in a dry voice, as Kjartan slipped into his place below Bjarti, with a whisper of silk and a curling trace of the scent of honeysuckle. “Since Kjartan has taken up all the time I had set aside in which to do this gently, I shall do it harshly and blame him.”

No change there, Kjartan thought, watching a new-hatched moth make its way out of his father’s mouth and fly towards the light of the sea.

“Today,” the king went on, stopping carefully between each phrase to reinflate his lungs, “marks the hundredth anniversary of my execution by the sea-people, at the instigation of your exiled brother Dagnar. I like to think that the intervening years have rubbed their faces in the fact that they didn’t win that one.”

He paused to wipe a cobweb from his left eye. “However, it seems the magic sustaining me can only do so much, and I have…” a court mage leaned down to whisper in his ear, “… only a month or so left.”

“No!” cried Gisli, apparently quite genuinely. “Father!”

Kjartan and Tyrnir shook their heads, one fondly, one in irritation. Bjarti just waited to find out what would happen next.

“So each of you has one month,” the king continued, unmoved, “to prove himself worthy of inheriting the throne.” As he wiped more moth larvae from his lips, his eyelids closed, apparently by themselves. He dragged them open wearily. “There was meant to be more pomp and ceremony, but Kjartan spoiled that. So off you go. Do something impressive, come back in a month and a day with proof, and I will decide between you.”

The King is literally being cocooned before their eyes, moth larvae spinning inside him, cobwebs flowing over his features.  At one point, a servant licks the king’s eyeballs to give them moisture.  Everything about the king is both repellent and compelling.  A marvelous portrait in every way, a true mxture of evil and promise.  And we see this type of thing over and over again in this story.

The human world is just as vibrant as the elf one.  Life is not always kind to the people there either.  And one can be a human and be as isolated from those around him by choice as an elf prince.  Beecroft manages to draw comparisons between two very different individuals and their backgrounds with subtlety and finesse.

This book grabbed me from the start.  I  laughed, gasped and wholeheartedly fell in love with all the characters involved here.  And I loved the ending too, something that seems to be missing from so many stories these days.  So while I was sorry to leave their company, I loved the way in which the author tied up the loose ends.  I heartedly recommend this  book.  It’s terrific.  Run, don’t walk, and pick it up.

Cover by Lou Harper is just perfect.  I loved it as much as i did the story.  Great job.

Book Details:

Kindle Edition
Expected publication: November 5th 2013 by Samhain Publishing
ISBN13 B00D89OG9G
edition language English

Review: The Mingled Destinies of Crocodiles and Men (Valley Books) by Eric Arvin

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

Mingled Destinies of Crocodiles and Men coverWinifred Walterhouse lived in the mansion on the top of Black Hill.  She was aware of the secrets the river and the valley held.   She knew of the river sprites, and of the forest passions, small beings becoming fewer and fewer in number.  She had helped hold off the outdwellers, those who would steal the valley’s magic and destroy the old ways.  But now she is dying, unable to take care of herself let alone a young girl of a certain stubborn temperament.

When her parents died, little Calpurnia Covington was sent to live with her eccentric aunt in the mysterious River Valley. And by her arrival changed everything.  With her aunt, Winifred Walterhouse, dying and confined to her room, Calpurnia is free to roam throughout the estate and nearby woods.  Missing the outside world, Calpurnia is frightened by the beings and things she sees in the Valley and resolutely turns her back on the magic all around her, thus setting her path away from the light and those coming after her.

Minerva True is a mystic who lives deep in the Valley, aware of the magic and light all around her.  She is also aware of The Prophecy and the coming darkness.  Although Minerva tries to warn the river valley’s inhabitants, she is ignored and the darkness is allowed to grow and thrive.  In the future, it will be the mingled destinies of Minerva, the young hero Leith, his lover Aubrey, and the mute boy, Deverell that will tilt the fate of the valley and perhaps the world towards the light or darkness.  Who will succeed and who will fail in the ultimate of all battles?

The Mingled Destinies of Crocodiles and Men by Eric Arvin has to be one of the most memorable and complex books that I have read recently.  It is an extraordinary and sometimes confounding mixture of gothic horror, Grimm’s fairy tale, and dark fantasy.  Arvin pulls from a number of sources, from elementals and the Industrial Revolution to the Bible and uses them to help him create a lost river valley where magic still exists along side the human and the mundane.  Inside the valley, power flows through the woods and into the river. Here river dwellers and passions live but no longer flourish.  The Outsiders and Industry test the borders  and darkness has come to claim the valley and its souls for its own.

With this novel and the books to follow, Eric Arvin conceived his version of the eternal war between good and evil, the battle between the light and the darkness.  This story has a language so lyrical that it will remind you of sonnets and characters so beautifully defined and textured that their loss will haunt you for days.  Arvin’s story feels so old and timeless that the aroma of old leather bindings and yellowed pages of text will commingle in your mind along with the title, an effortless interface of ideas both old, fantastical and still somehow quite new.   An ebook of emotional heft and extraordinary value.

In keeping with the large scope of his story that is nothing less than the battle between good and evil, Arvin’s novel encompasses a rather large time span that starts from Calpurnia’s arrival in the valley as a young girl through her marriage and birth of her child and further still as that child, Leith, grows up and becomes a featured player in this timeless spiritual war. Circling around Calpurnia is a convoluted and intertwining group of relationships that will include beings of power to Leith, her son.   Arvin has created a large and incredible cast for his story and series, including Azriel, a angel and the fundamental Mother True.  These characters live and breath and love with an realness that will grab you.  Some love with a lightness of being and others, well,  others are weighed down with such a darkness of spirit that it seeps right off the page.  I mean really some of Arvin’s creations just exude such a feel of evil that they carry a stench of corruption.  And with any tale of good and evil, there are so many losses that will cut to the heart as the story and the fight progress.

Its that unrelenting parade of death as the story proceeds with its inexorable march towards that final battle between good and evil that might turn away readers looking for a warm tale of love and romance.  This is a true fantasy, horror story.  An epic tale that must, by its very nature, come with the deaths of characters the reader has come to love. I think it is those character deaths here will cause not only consternation but pain as the losses add up.  Not only because we didn’t see these deaths coming but because we had come to care for these people in the short amount of time we knew them, a required ingredient of great characters.   It is this aspect of the story that most readers will shy away from, especially those looking for a strictly m/m romance.  This is not that book.   Yes, there is a m/m romance, but there is also heterosexual love, familial love and so much more.  And for those readers to shy away from this story because of those aspects would be a shame indeed because this story also has great heart to go along with great loss.

One of the real revelations here is Arvin’s ability to reveal a true contamination of the soul, a slow defilement of character so extraordinary that you almost weep for the promise of the child that was thrown away, seduced by her own needs and a greater evil.  The author’s prose and descriptions delivering both a story of great emotional impact but also of spiritual warnings that go unheeded to the sorrow of all involved.   The Mingled Destinies of Crocodiles and Men is easily one of Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words Best of 2013.  Consider this tale highly recommended and a must read for all.

Cover photography by Amy Morrison.  This book needs an extraordinary cover to measure up to the greatness of the story within and it gets it with this great cover by Amy Morrison.  Also one of the best covers of 2013.

Book Details:

ebook, 286 pages
Published April 24th 2013 by Wilde City Press
ISBN13 9781925031065
edition language English
series Valley

The Contest and Blog Tour For Shira Anthony’s Encore Release Continues!

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Encore’s release will be followed on Christmas Day by the release of a Blue Notes holiday novella, Symphony in Blue. Symphony will be my 10th Dreamspinner Press release, so I’m celebrating the release of both of these books with a blog tour contest ending on New Year’s Eve at midnight! Grand prize is a Kindle loaded with many of my Dreamspinner Press titles. You can get more entries by commenting on blog tour posts, tweeting, and buying the books. Here’s the link to the giveaway:Symphony in Blue-build (1)

Contest Details for Blue Notes Series Holiday 2013 Giveaway:

Begins on release day for “Encore,” November 11, 2013
Ends on New Year’s Eve, December 31, 2013, at midnight
Drawings are open to both U.S. readers and international readers, but physical prizes (Kindle, necklace, book, and t-shirt) are for U.S. readers only. I will award a virtual set of the first 4 Blue Notes Series books to one winner from outside the U.S.
Prizes (U.S. Only):

Prizes (U.S. Only):

  • Grand Prize: A Kindle loaded with the first 4 Blue Notes Series books and some of my other back titles
  • 1st Place: A sterling silver music themed necklace
  • 2nd Place: Winner’s choice of one of my back titles in paperback (i.e., not including the 2 new releases)
  • 3rd Place: Blue Notes t-shirt, cover of the winner’s choiceEncore-Build

Blog Stops Currently Scheduled :
November 11th (release day – Encore): Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words (Melanie Marshall)
November 12th:   Live Your Life, Buy the Book
November 14th:   Michael Rupured’s Blog

Visit each stop on the tour for more of Shira Anthony and this incredible series.

Here is the link for ScatteredThoughtsandRogueWords review of Encore.

Review: Dominant Predator (The Borders War #2) by S.A. McAuley

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Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Dominant Predator coverIt’s the year 2558 and the various governments that rose after the last world war (also known as the Borders War) had come together at their first attempt to revive the Olympic Games.  But instead of peace,  a revolution was started. With one bullet Merq Grayson both assassinated the Premier of an opposing nation and ignited the Borders War once more.  Merq was prepared to die in the aftermath of the assassination, instead, to his shock, the one man who has been both his lover and his enemy for 14 years saves him.  Armise Darcan,  the Dark Ops officer from the People’s Republic of Singapore and the only equal Merq has ever known, defects in order to save his lover and enemy from death.

Now on the same side for the first time, Merq and Armise work together at the behest of the President. Their mission? To save Merq’s parents from the forces of the Opposition and assassinate those on the Committee who have defected to the Opposition’s side. But the Revolution is taking extreme losses from the forces of the Opposition and neither man is sure who to trust even within the Revolution itself.

Merq is also seeing first hand the effects of a stratified population, the extreme poor and the extremely wealthy.  Always so focused upon his missions, Merq had never really seen what the years of fighting had done to the people outside the political bunkers and now he is horrified by the blinders he so willingly wore.  Merq is evaluating not only himself but Armise too.  Armise gave up everything for Merq but is Merq prepared for what that means emotionally as well as physically?  Can two dominant predators come together, trusting each other fully in order to survive the Revolution and the resurrection of the Borders War?

What an incredible series and group of characters S.A. McAuley is giving us.  First introduced in the brutal story, One Breathe One Bullet, Merq Greysonand Armise Darcan are two black op snipers who have been going at each other head to head for over fourteen years from two opposing  countries.  Merq Grayson is a Peacemaker from the Continental States and Armise Darcan, a Black Ops from the People’s Republic of Singapore. In a beautiful twist, McAuley also makes them lovers for most of their careers as well as enemies.  Even when slicing each other open, they harbor intense feelings for each other that they are afraid to name.  I love the manner in which the author delivers this intense, intimate battle between Merq and Armise to the reader in scenes so vivid, so animalistic that they almost explode off the page one incendiary line after another.   It’s white hot, elemental and oh so sexy.

In Dominant Predator, S. A. McAuley also starts to flesh out the back histories for Merq and Armise that had been mostly absent in the first novel. Here we learn for the first time that both men have been genetically modified, something that had been only hinted at before.  But now we learn that the modifications are not only extreme but their nature is also unknown to the men they were made on.  Neither Merq or Armise realize the full extent to which their bodies have been modified, they don’t know exactly how they are affected and what all the modifications can and will do to them.  Merq, in fact, was modified while in the womb, an outlawed procedure.  And both men don’t know how and where the modifications were made.  The knowledge raises more questions about the two men than are answered by this installment.  And that is something this author does again and again.  McAuley dishes out information like specialized ammunition, in small increments and only when it will be the most explosive to the narrative, upping the level of anticipation and anxiety at the same time.

Both the plot and the characterizations are each others equal, much like Merq and Armise.  McAuley lays a web of deceit over all that transpires here, leaving the men to navigate a labrynth of intrigue so convoluted that everyone Merq and Armise is working for and against may change sides and loyalties almost instantaneously.  We as well as Merq and Armise are never sure who is the good guy and who is bad or if there is even such a thing anymore.  It is all dissolving before their eyes, all the rationale they were given, the certainty that the answers they had were real, nothing is as it seems.  Really, McAuley has created a world of smoke and mirrors  that will confound all who walk in it, including two “genetmod” snipers who find they only have each other to trust and rely on.

But the true heart of this story (and series) is the bond between Merq and Armise.  It’s a bond so strong, so magnetic that even the men don’t understand it and never have.  Even when the sex between them was as much a weapon as it was a release, the connection between the two continued to grow in strength and depth.  And now they are both on the same side, fighting for the Revolution, because Armise won’t be denied his spot at Merq’s side any longer.  Both men must move forward into the future together if they are to have one.  And that’s powerful stuff, indeed.

S.A. McAuley has promised five books for this series and is currently working on the third.  But will it be enough?  Merq and Armise are mesmerizing, larger than life personalities. In the past both men have also felt invulnerable but that is fading away along with Merq’s certainties about the men who have commanded his loyalties and the missions they sent him on.  Reality is setting in and I can’t wait to see where it takes Merq and Armise.  What a journey it has been already and the promise of much more to come from this amazing author will be worth the wait. Here is a taste of what to expect:

“You’ll never be stronger than I am, Merq,” Armise stated, the movement of his throat causing the blade to cut in farther. I eased the steel just a fraction away from his skin. He pressed his neck into the blade—with each centimetre of movement I was forced to either move the knife with him or to deepen the mark where his blood beaded—until his lips were nearly on mine. I relented, letting the steel fall away from his neck, but I spun the handle and gripped it in my fist.

Armise dipped his head down and rubbed his freshly shaven cheek over my lips and along my jaw. The feeling of it was foreign, his scent familiar, the desire now thrumming through me unavoidable.

“But,” he whispered against my skin, “that is why I’m here. We fight together and the world has no choice but to drop to their knees and beg for mercy.” I arched into him, and inhaled the fading scent of Singaporean balms, of him. I bit at his earlobe and scratched my jaw along his. “Mercy which neither of us is likely to give.” Armise dragged his lips across my neck and down to my collarbone and nipped at the fabric of my T-shirt. “Put the knife down, Merq,” he urged. His hands tugged at the hem of my shirt. “And take this off.”

If you are not familiar with this series, start at the beginning.  That’s a must if you are to understand the universe  McAuley is building and the men that stride across it like giants.  It’s compelling, it’s addictive and a must read on every level.

Cover art by Posh Gosh. This cover is just incredible, including the tattoo that has so much meaning for Merq and Armise.  It will be in my list of Best of 2013 this year.

One Breathe One Bullet (The Borders War #1)
Dominant Predator (The Borders War #2)

Book Details:

ebook, 137 pages
Expected publication: September 20th 2013 by Total-E-Bound
ISBN13 9781781844588
edition language English
series The Border Wars