Note: Dominant Predator continues The Borders War series and picks up immediately after the end of One Breath, One Bullet. If you haven’t read that one yet, this review is going to spoil some major elements, so I would check out my review of the first book and start there with this excellent series.
With one shot, Merq Grayson killed the premiere of the People’s Republic of Singapore, ending the truce to the Borders War and officially taking himself out of the shadows. With his lover Armise Darcan’s help, Merq managed to escape the stadium, but now he must deal with the fact that everyone knows his face, and that the mission he has spent years working toward is over. But the president still has work for him, including taking on the remaining Opposition leaders as the Revolution struggles to hold ground in the increasingly violent war.
Merq also is struggling to adapt to his new relationship with Armise. Armise left his world behind to protect Merq, and Merq is finally coming to accept that he can trust Armise. In the wake of the renewed violence, Merq is also beginning to question his job for the first time, to do more than blindly follow orders, but instead to think about what he does and who he has become. The connection with Armise has changed Merq, but he still has a job to do, one that can get both of them killed. Now the two have to learn to work together and to face their new reality as a team.
I loved this second installment of the Borders War series. While the first one was told in a series of time jumps over many years, this story has a more traditional structure, following the guys in the aftermath of the assassination. I enjoyed watching Merq and Armise figure out how they can work together, to finally see their combined power as a team. I also really liked the growth we see in Merq in this story. It is clear that both his role in reigniting the war, as well as his relationship with Armise, has changed him. Yes, he is still the hardened assassin and military man who does whatever it takes. But we can see that he is also starting to think more about the war, his missions, and his role in things. I can’t say there is a softness, because that is something I can hardly imagine in Merq, but there is clearly a hint of a new perspective that is really interesting to see grow.
In this story we also see things shift into a new direction. The first book was focused on the lead up to the Olympics, but now Merq and Armise have a new mission, to get rid of all the Opposition leaders, in particular Ahriman Blanc who called for the bomb that killed so many in the stadium. It gives Merq a new focus, but also gives him a chance to work with Armise and for us to see the growth in their relationship. I am really enjoying this series so much and I can’t wait to see what else is in store for these guys. McAuley has built such a creative world here with really fascinating characters and I am looking forward to continuing on to see what comes next.
Note: This book has been revised and re-released, but has minimal changes from the previous version. It is on sale for 99 cents until the end of January from Pride Publishing.