S.A. McAuley

Guest Post and Exclusive Excerpt: The Borders War Series by S.A. McAuley

Borders War Banner

Have you ever read a book and thought, Wow! This would be really great if only [insert MAJOR PLOT-SHIFTING idea here].

Well, that was me—except this time, it was my own book I wanted to change.

When I wrote the first edition of One Breath, One Bullet I knew exactly how and where Merq and Armise would eventually end up, but I didn’t officially have plans to turn it into a series. After a discussion with my editor and publisher, we collectively decided to pursue the full five book Border War series. But One Breath, One Bullet was already well on its way to being finalized. So we went ahead with publication of the first book. I wrote the second book—Dominant Predator—and it was published too. Then as I began to write the third book—Powerless—I realized exactly what I should’ve done different in the first book to make the entire series flow better.

Hindsight is a vindictive asshat.

Writing a series was a new endeavor for me at the time. I learned a lot in the year between the first book and the third. I started making lists of all the things I’d change if I ever got the chance. Luckily for me, I didn’t have to wait long. That opportunity came when Pride Publishing was created as a sister company to Totally Bound. Immediately we started talking about doing re-issues of The Borders War series.

I channeled my inner infomercial host, gleefully categorizing all the improvements I could make on these *Bigger! Better! And more efficient!* versions.

The edition of One Breath, One Bullet that releases on January 5, 2016 is a completely different book. It’s gone from 30,000 words to 50,000 words (*now with 60% more violence and enemies to lovers action!*), the flashbacks have been removed in favor of a continual timeline (*that’s right, no more mess and inconvenience!*), and you finally get to hear a bit of what Armise has to say (*warning: this product may have unintended consequences if used against manufacturer’s recommendations*).

If you haven’t read any of The Borders War books, now is a great time to start. As an author, I’m really happy with how the series overall has turned out. More importantly, as a fellow reader who goes way over budget on books, I’m ecstatic to share that Pride Publishing is offering One Breath, One Bullet for FREE and Dominant Predator for 99 cents from now until the end of January. (*Yes, that’s right! Order now and we’ll throw the first book in for free!*)

Even if you’ve already read the first book, read the new version of One Breath, One Bullet. It’s free, get it. Please. I can’t be any clearer on that without giving away major spoilers.



What hasn’t changed in the reissues of the first three books is Merq and Armise’s inescapable draw to each other despite being enemies. Or that the world around them is falling apart. Or that they’re going to have to fight through a whole hell of a lot to begin to get a glimpse of the HEA that may or may not be in their future.

The Borders War series is violent. It’s dark. It takes place in a brutal time—five hundred years in the future—that is inhabited by some coldhearted people.

But above all that desolation, there is the hope Merq and Armise carry for their lives to mean something. For each other.

Their story starts with the release of One Breath, One Bullet and Dominant Predator on January 5, continues in Powerless (out January 12) and will end when the last two books of the series—Falling, One by One and Strength of the Rising Sun—go live on January 19 and 26.

(*Don’t hesitate! Act now!*)

A massive thank you to all the readers who’ve stuck with me through the years it’s taken to get to this point.

I can’t wait to share the rest of their journey with you.


onebreathonebullet_revamp_exlarge_PNG-180x288Blurb – One Breath, One Bullet (The Borders War #1)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.

Reader Advisory: This book contains scenes of violence.

Publisher’s Note: This book has previously been released under the same title. It has been revised and re-edited for re-release with Pride Publishing.

General Release Date: 5th January 2016

Reserve your free copy at Pride Publishing


dominantpredatort_revamp_exlarge_PNG-180x288Blurb – Dominant Predator (The Borders War #2)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.

Reader Advisory: This book contains scenes of violence.

Publisher’s Note: This book has previously been released under the same title. It has been revised and re-edited for re-release with Pride Publishing.

General Release Date: 5th January 2016

Pre-order your copy at Pride Publishing


powerless_revamp_exlarge_PNG-180x288Blurb – Powerless (The Borders War #3)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.

Reader Advisory: This book contains reference to genetic experimentation on children.

Publisher’s Note: This book has previously been released under the same title. It has been revised and re-edited for re-release with Pride Publishing.

General Release Date: 12th January 2016

Pre-order your copy at Pride Publishing


Falling, One by OneBlurb – Falling, One by One (The Borders War #4)Whether Armise lived or died was never supposed to matter to Merq.

As the fight for the kids of the jacquerie begins and the war between Opposition and Revolution heightens, Merq discovers that he may not have as much control over his actions as he thought he did. Further complicating their tangled relationship, Armise may be just as compromised.

Desperate to learn the truth, Merq and Armise put themselves directly in the path of a powerful enemy. They’ve spent fifteen years of their lives on the knife’s edge of trust and loyalty. What they learn about each other’s pasts—and what it means for their future—will bring them together or definitively tear them apart.

Merq’s life has always been at risk—one bullet away from death in sacrifice of his mission. As his focus begins to shift, Merq may be too late to understand what, and who, is most important in his life.

Reader Advisory: This book contains scenes of graphic violence, forced genetic modification, genetic experimentation, genetic experimentation on children and torture.

General Release Date: 19th January 2016

Pre-order your copy at Pride Publishing


Strength of the Rising Sun (The Borders War #5)

Blurb coming soon!


Excerpt – One Breath, One Bullet: “I don’t want your eyes to close. Not even to blink,” Jegs said over the comm.

“Yes, Major,” I replied, with Lark’s and Pax’s affirmative responses following mine.

I shifted my elbow off the rusted nail that was digging into my skin and kept my eye locked to the scope. I was stationed on a hill, my body covered in order to blend in to my surroundings, and not on the top level of a crumbling skyscraper in the American Federation, but otherwise, this setup was eerily similar to the first time I’d encountered Armise.

I couldn’t shake the unease that crawled down my spine as I peered at the building where Armise was supposedly holed up. This entire town, in the virtually unpopulated Western Territories, was long abandoned. Fighting between the States and the AmFed was heavy hundreds of miles away from where we were. But not here. Mostly because there was nothing here to defend. Nothing to protect. There were no other people besides Jegs, Lark and Pax, me and, reportedly, Armise. There was no way the coveted infochip was here. So there was no reason for a Dark Ops soldier to be here at all.

I frowned. “How much longer are we expected to keep this up, Major?”

“Until we kill him.”

“I have to see him to do that.”

She hesitated. “He’ll come out when he has reason to.”

I listened between her words, to what she wasn’t saying. “You know him?”

“I know enough.”

I scowled. “And you don’t think he’s here for the infochip.”

“I know he’s not.”

“Then why—”

Jegs cut me off. “Keep your eyes locked to that building, Grayson. You’ll only have one shot at him, maybe not even that.”

In my peripheral vision a wall of clouds gathered in the distance. Dark brown and rounded. A dust storm frothing on the horizon, gaining in strength as it whipped toward us.

Candlelight flickered in one of the upper rooms but I couldn’t see any other movement. The analysts had told us exactly where Armise would be and he hadn’t changed his location in days since we’d arrived, but none of us could site him in any of the places he should have been. Regardless, I was sure that he was here. Hiding. Watching. Assessing us and our actions for some ulterior motive we weren’t privy to.

I couldn’t see him but I could feel him watching. I didn’t have a name for the bristling of the hairs at the back of my neck. Or the flush of my skin that was like my blood rising to the surface where it felt like his gaze landed on me. Which was ridiculous because it was unlikely he even knew we were here.

But no matter what logically made sense, I couldn’t shake the unrest that crawled through me because of Armise.

I wanted to end this foreign sensation, needed to kill him in order to regain my equilibrium. From the little Jegs had shared with me though, Armise wasn’t the type to hand us that chance. From what I’d witnessed myself in the days we’d been watching him, I knew he wouldn’t be seen until he wanted to be. He was a ghost, setting the shredded curtains into movement but never revealing himself.

I spent hours with my eye glued to that scope, the dust storm barreling forward with each minute that passed. We would have an hour max before it hit us and there would be no chance of seeing my hand in front of my face, let alone keeping sites on the building. My patience threatened to break.

The outside edges of the dust storm kicked up around me, warning me that I had been wrong. We had half an hour, maybe less, before unpredictable air currents would hamper any shot from my rifle. I gritted my teeth. We weren’t accomplishing anything here.

Particles of dust tickled at my nose and eyes, but I held steady even as the wind picked up. I focused on the sway of the abandoned building as it tried to hold against the first onslaught of wind. It was as if the walls were breathing. Waiting and expectant. Just as much as I was.

The Borders War was swiftly approaching three centuries of active fighting, and we were still no closer to resolution than we’d been before it had started. I was set to be the impetus for change—the edges of a front, where warm air met cold and the sky swirled into chaos, emptying a rain onto the world that could wipe away the scars we’d left on this planet and ourselves. Allow us, as a global society, to start new. Rebuilding would take time, as would the reorganization of country borders, solidified down to only five in a mass consolidation of power. How that restructuring happened when the Borders War ended, at what pace, and who ended up in power wasn’t up to me. Strategy wasn’t my strength.

Killing men was.

I was tasked with a much larger end goal than killing one Dark Ops solider. But Armise was a threat. We couldn’t allow Singapore to gain the infochip. Every moment we sat here, waiting for Armise to take action, was another moment where we were being used as bait, or worse, a distraction. I closed my eyes and took in one long breath.

Although I’d been a Peacemaker for less than a year, and she was my senior in rank and age, it wasn’t Major Jegs I was beholden to. Not Brigadier Blanc. The dictatorial President Wensen Kersch of the Continental States couldn’t intimidate me either. I wouldn’t allow one Singaporean shit to tear away at my confidence by the act of doing nothing.

“He’s taunting us.” I sat up, pushing the camouflage off me and exposing my position.

Jegs’ voice went low and dangerous in my ear. “What the fuck are you doing, Captain?”

Before she could finish challenging me, both Lark and Pax had revealed their positions to my north and south.

Lark’s voice crackled over the comm receiver, gone staticky from the approaching storm. “Grayson’s got the right idea. We can’t try to wait him out anymore with that storm heading our way. He’s waiting for us to make a move, let’s do it.”

“I don’t give a shit if he is baiting us,” Pax added. “We have minutes until the dust hits and we’re out of commission for an unknown length of time. We can end this now.”

“Pax, cover Lark,” Jegs ordered. “Grayson, cover both of them.”

Lark slung his sonicrifle over his shoulder and took off running for the door while Pax covered him with shots aimed at that empty, but lit up, top floor window. Lark made it to the front door and I followed Lark’s trajectory through my sites, ready to take a shot if the opportunity came. The door swung open just as Lark went for it, and a man with his mouth, ears and nose covered with cloth, eyes masked by goggles, slammed the door into Lark’s face and sent him hurtling backward from the force. There was no way I could attempt a shot with the wind barreling down on us and the swiftness of Armise’s movements.

I took off at a dead sprint, bringing my sonicrifle up to attempt a shot while I ran. Armise was just as big as I remembered, just as powerful. I couldn’t run fast enough or get the right angle, Armise was already on the move, stomping his heel into Lark’s windpipe, crushing it with his boot and plunging a thick knife into his sternum. He spun, facing Pax, and popped off a shot from his rifle that had Pax slumping to the ground dead.

Jegs’ orders for me to stand down were background to the unceremonious decimation in front of me.

The cloth around Armise’s face had come lose in the whipping wind, and when he faced me there was a maliciousness to his sneer that spoke of certain victory. The satisfied swell of a man who had sent more than his share of souls into darkness but wouldn’t be truly satisfied until he had mine.

He lifted his sonicpistol, put finger to the trigger, and there was hesitation on his part— only half a heartbeat, barely perceptible, but there nonetheless—and the dust storm hit with a ferocity that sent me tumbling to the ground and filled the space between Armise and me with an impenetrable, stinging wall. I wrapped myself up in a ball, pulling my hood over my head and affixing my respirator.

“We ride this out,” Jegs said through my comm. “Try and make it into the building if you can. We’ll recover Lark’s and Pax’s bodies when it’s clear. Darcan is already gone.”

I hadn’t taken out Armise. He’d failed again to kill me and had taken out two of my fellow Peacemakers. I seethed, my pride stinging much more than the dust that abraded my skin. I didn’t care how long it took, I would be the one to end this, with me taking his life.


S.A. McAuleyAbout S.A. McAuley: I sleep little, read a lot. Happiest in a foreign country. Twitchy when not mentally in motion. My name is Sam, not Sammy, definitely not Samantha. I’m a pretty dark/cynical/jaded person, but I hide that darkness well behind my obsession(s) for shiny objects. I’m the macabre wrapped in irresistible bubble wrap and a glittery pink bow, I suppose.

I have a never-ending-abyss-like secret love for poetry. Especially Rumi, Hafiz, and Neruda. You can predict (as well as change) my moods and my writing schedule by my playlists.

Insomnia is my greatest ally and my nemesis. I like cheese and bourbon—not necessarily in that order, I’m flexible.

If you’re in any fandom, then I’m probably already in love with you. I’m not joking.

I like my tv shows marathoned and I have to use internet blocking software to be productive. I have software called Producteev that I loaded onto my laptop and proceeded to fill out in detail and now I haven’t touched it in a year.

I enjoy normalized chaos.

Hit me up! I love to hear from readers. xx



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