November 4, 2013

Loved It: Return of the Assassin by Donya Lynne

Series: All The King's Men 5
Format: PDF
Release Date: October 29, 2013
Publisher: Self-published
Source: Author
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Malek and Gina are two vampires with big problems and pasts they can't let go of. Malek has never dealt with and accepted the death of his first mate, Carmen, and Gina has never been able to let go of the pain she suffered at the hands of her first mate, an abusive half-Dacian named Arman. But now that Malek and Gina have met, they had better start getting over their pasts, and fast, because Gina is Malek's new mate, and she's on the run from a pair of Dacian hunter-assassins out for blood vengeance.

Neither Gina nor Malek are eager to see her fill the role of mate, but biology and Mother Nature don't want to hear their excuses. The longer Malek and Gina fight the bond between them, the more they will suffer. Will they be able to get over their painful pasts and accept the healing they can give to each other before it's too late, or will they wait too long and lose each other forever?

All The King's Men by Donya Lynne is a series that I'm (hangs head in shame) reading backwards. So let this first paragraph be a disclaimer of sorts. I read each of the blurbs for the entire series and as each book features a different couple, I foolishly thought I could get away with jumping to AKM 5, RETURN OF THE ASSASSIN. Like the saying goes, to assume is to make an ass of you and me. In this case it's just me. Boom!

I'll admit, I didn't quite get acclimated to the side stories because they were introduced in the previous novels and are still an ongoing story in RETURN OF THE ASSASSIN but those things didn't deter me from reading and finishing this. In fact the rich and colorful subplots whetted my appetite for more because the series has that "brotherhood" flavor that I've developed a taste for. The close kinship between Malek and his crew is quite obvious and the world they move in seem small and mighty interesting. Not just that but the issues these sub plots are taking on are pretty intense. I'll let DLynne explain it in detail in our little chat below in case you're curious. 

As for Malek and Gina. Well this series is an erotic paranormal romance and it didn't disappoint. I do love where these two are coming from. These two individuals has some heavy baggage that they're toting around like those poor souls in the 4th Circle of Hell. And hell is exactly what these two went through before they merged together. What got me hooked were the emotional and mental conflict that these two viciously untangled, the feeling of disloyalty, clinging to the past because it's known and comfortable and finally taking that leap and heeding to the call of the heart. I'm not being melodramatic, in fact I've romanticized it because Malek and Gina's story is heavier and their respective backstories from what was mentioned are pretty deep and devastating. 

So despite my incomplete knowledge about the secondary characters and their individual story lines, I still enjoyed RETURN OF THE ASSASSIN. In fact I grabbed the first book which is currently FREE and decided to take this journey properly. The world building and the para-super quality aren't the main attraction rather it's the characters that will draw you in. They're vulnerable and DLynee sure knows how to write a "tortured" hero. So if you're into the kind of paranormal romance where the men are wounded while valiantly trying to keep their game face on, this is the perfect series for you. 

Purchase Return of the Assassin

Before I begin, I'd like to thank Talk Supe for inviting me to their blog today to give you all a quick rundown of my award-winning series, All the King's Men (AKM).

If you haven't discovered my AKM Series, yet, this is the perfect opportunity for you to check it out. Book one, Rise of the Fallen, is currently FREE, and the fifth book in the series, Return of the Assassin, released a week ago.

Books in the series, in order of publication, are:
  1. Rise of the Fallen - USA Today Recommended Read and 2012 eLit Awards gold medalist for best erotic fiction
  2. Heart of the Warrior - 2012 eLit Awards silver medalist for best erotic fiction
  3. Micah's Calling - 2013 IPPY silver medalist for best romance/erotica e-book
  4. Rebel Obsession - Made Indie Author News's Top 50 Indie books for September, 2013
  5. Return of the Assassin - 3rd place winner in the 2013RWA Heart of the West contest.
Hopefully next May, after the next award season, I'll be able to add more accolades to Rebel Obsession and Return of the Assassin, but I'm extremely proud of the recognition this series has received so far.

I think what draws readers into these stories is that they're rich in emotion and conflict. I admit I'm a conflict junkie and love to see my characters work through intense emotional depths on a cataclysmic personal journey that culminates in them finding "new life." For example, in Rise of the Fallen, vampire enforcer, Micah, suffered the loss of his second mate, which opened the wounds from losing his first mate, as well. He fell into a suicidal abyss of agony and wanted to die until the most unlikely human, who was running from her own problems, saved him. But being saved didn't come easy, and a lot of twists and turns nearly saw Micah lose everything.

These books also address controversial and difficult subjects head-on. I'm not scared of diving into such themes as abuse, homosexuality, bisexuality, stalking, drug addiction, rape, BDSM, bullying, teen pregnancy, etc. Such topics have the power to create juicier conflict and emotionally engage readers at a deeper level. Heart of the Warrior and Rebel Obsession are perfect examples.

In Heart of the Warrior, my first m/m book in the series, Severin and Arion have to overcome peer pressure, prejudice, and a range of incredible odds to be together. Arion has lived in denial of his homosexuality all his life, and Severin has major baggage as a half-blood who's half-vampire, half-dreck. Having enemy blood in him could make him an outcast from both races if anyone finds out. What these two endure to be together brought many of my readers to tears, and I received tons of feedback that Heart was the first m/m book many had ever read, and they loved it. Still others identified with the characters and were touched on a personal level by Sev and Ari's story.

Rebel Obsession deals with drug addiction. The hero is a former cobalt addict, and the heroine is actively using—and overdosing. But that's just the beginning of their problems. The heroine, Miriam, is the king's daughter, and the last person her father wants to see her with is the notorious playboy, Io. What Miriam and Io have to go through to be together is almost Romeo and Juliet-esque, and many of my readers said it was the best story in the series until Return of the Assassin was released. Now they say the new book is the best, but still, Rebel Obsession struck a chord with readers.

Micah's Calling was a novella follow-up to Rise of the Fallen and highlighted Micah's progress back into his playroom as a Dom. He used to be a much-sought-after Master, but grew disillusioned with the leather lifestyle after four decades in the scene. Now, with his new mate, Samantha, and his best friend, a half-blood named Trace who yearns to be Micah's submissive,Micah's interest in becoming a Dom kindles back to life. He also discovers he enjoys exhibitionism. Naughty Micah. LOL.

In the newest book, Return of the Assassin, the heroine, an assassin named Gina, has an abusive past that left her barren. Between the traumatic memories of her abuse and the low self-worth at the thought she can't bear children, she has no interest in being mated again, but when she meets Malek, a flutter of desire sparks to life in her soul that she can't ignore. But Malek is also dealing with an agonizing past. Like Micah, Malek was once mated, but she died. Now he's formed a new mating link to Gina that he doesn't want to acknowledge, because he never truly accepted the death of his first mate. Divided between two desires—1) to keep his first mate's memory intact, and 2) the need to mate Gina—Malek's mind fractures and he falls into the phenomenon known as suffering. If Malek and Gina can't move past their fears, they'll lose each other forever. Return of the Assassin is a heart-wrenching story of learning to let go of the past to embrace the present and live for the future, and, as I previously mentioned, my readers say this is the best book yet in the series. Furthermore, I have yet to talk to one person who has read Return of the Assassin and didn't cry. That's such a compliment.

Complex storylines that are told from multiple points of view also seem to be a favorite among my readers. I enjoy crafting intricate stories that start out showing lines of separate action and how those separate story lines wind closer together as the story progresses to come to a head in the climax. I think Return of the Assassin is a perfect example of this. There is a lot happening in Return, but about two-thirds in, the reader gets blown away as everything comes together. For me, Return of the Assassin has been my favorite story to write. It was like a puzzle that I had to carefully piece together to pace the reader through the action.

So that's the skinny on AKM. At least so far. With many more books to come in the series, along with a sister series and a spin-off, who knows where the series will lead. What I do know is that there will be conflict and adversity.

Before I go, I'm including a special segment in several stops of my tour that I'm calling, Get to Know All the King's Men, where I ask one of my characters a question. Today, I'm interviewing Malek.

Donya: "Malek, do you read? If so, which genre do you prefer?"

Malek shakes his head and smiles. "I'm not a big reader, but when I do read, I like the classics or science fiction." He grins fondly at Gina, who's sitting beside him. "But I do like watching Gina read." He squeezes her hand. "She's a voracious reader, just like my first mate was." The love in his gaze is almost palpable as he dips his forehead against Gina's temple, and then he sits back up and looks at me again. "Gina does this thing while she's reading that's so cute. She…" He chuckles as Gina nudges him and blushes. "What? It's cute. Anyway, she bites and nibbles her bottom lip when she's reading sex scenes. And her eyes get wider. Needless to say, when I see her nibbling her lip like that, I know I'm going to go to bed happy." He winks at Gina as she sighs and bows her head with embarrassment.

So, there you have it. AKM Series 101 and a little something to get to know Malek and Gina better.

I hope you enjoyed reading about All the King's Men.

Donya Lynne is the author of the award winning All the King's Men Series. Making her home in a wooded suburb north of Indianapolis with her husband, Donya has lived in Indiana most of her life and knew at a young age that she was destined to be a writer. She started writing poetry in grade school and won her first short story contest in fourth grade. In junior high, she began writing romantic stories for her friends, and by her sophomore year, they had dubbed her Most Likely to Become a Romance Novelist. In 2012, she made that dream come true by publishing her first two novels and two novellas. She has several more stories planned for the AKM Series, as well as two sister series that are in development.

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  1. What a lovely review. Thank you. And I'm looking forward to meeting your readers. I'll be stopping in throughout the day if anyone has questions.

  2. Thanks for sharing your review and the giveaways. I loved Malek's answer to Donna's question and I can't wait to read Return of the Assassin. evamillien at gmail dot com

    1. Malek turned into quite the romantic in the series, after starting out kind of "bland" in the early books. But he was bland for a reason, as readers found out in this book. :)

  3. Return of the Assassin was one of my favorite reads of 2013! I love the AKM series.

  4. This sounds great, I need to look into more

  5. sound really an emotional story my heart is tightening just by reading this post

    thank you also for the international giveaway!


    1. It was emotional for a lot of my readers. Many needed a box of Kleenex. :) And it was emotional to write, too. I know when I cry while I'm writing it, readers will cry while they're reading it.

  6. Great review! Definitely have to add it to my list! Thanks so much!

  7. LOL, some books really work as standalone and others well ..the side stories and overall arc make you feel a little lost. I am glad you enjoyed the couple and I must admit you have me very curious about them and this world.

    1. This was book five in the series, and my editor and I talked quite a bit about how I simply couldn't continue going back to summarize previous story lines, as much as I wanted to to help new readers along. But doing so detracted too much from the current story. :) So, yep, I'm at that point where readers won't get as much out of later stories if they don't read the earlier ones.

  8. I got the giggles when you hang your head in shame for reading backwards. LOL! Now that is a first, I have not tried that. OO I checked I got # 1 other day. You make me want to rad this series based on reading it backwards and still giving a great rating.



    1. Hahaha! The joy of reading and blogging. I think you'll like this, the stories and characters are something I know you'll appreciate.

  9. Great review hun! We've all read at least one book series backwards lol! At least you could get through it though!

    1. Haha, well it has happened to me more than once so :S

  10. oh it's usually ok to skip some books in a series like that, I'm sorry you were a little lost about some points. I confess when I read PNR, it's rare when it's book1. But I'm glad you still liked it. I'm not really into erotica, have only read one but well I should try more to see what I think about them.

    1. My book is actually erotic romance, not erotica. People often use the terms interchangeably, though. But there is a romance at the heart of the story, and the sex isn't the main dish, so to speak. It's just the icing. :) The journey the main characters take independently and with each other is the primary story.

  11. I can't wait to read this one. Thanks for sharing it and the giveaway. evamillien at gmail dot com

  12. I got the free one, thank you! I look forward to trying this series after enjoying the run down on the books. The new release looks particularly good. Thanks for sharing the character interview and giveaway too.

  13. Donya - thanks for helping me moderate, god knows I need the help.

    Supies - thanks for stopping by and for your lovely comments, if you entered the giveaways, I hope you guys win an ebook or one of Donya's big prizes!

  14. Ooo on my way to get book one! Says a lot for the writing that even at book 5 with ongoing secondary storylines you weren't familiar with that you still loved it.


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