An inside look at Black, the newest in Donya Lynne’s All the King’s Men series #BookReview #Exclusive #Q&A #PNR
Fans of vampire romance in the Black Dagger Brotherhood style will ADORE Donya Lynne’s vampire romance series, All the King’s Men. The eighth book in the series is on sale today, so we’re bringing you a special look inside the history of the series and the edgy appeal of front-man Micah Black. Read on for an exclusive interview, PLUS the GraveTells Romance review of Black.
Please help me welcome author Donya Lynne!
GraveTells (GT): Donya! Welcome back to GraveTells! It’s been awhile since we’ve seen you, and I am super psyched about the newest story in the All the King’s Men series, Black!
Donya Lynne (DL): Me, too. GraveTells is one of my favorite blogs! You always do such fun things here, and I’m excited to share the news about BLACK.
GT: Aaah, thank you!! *hug* Black is a little different than the other books in this series, in that it is more of a transition story that resolves open questions—some that readers probably didn’t even know they had!—and sets up fantastic new characters and potential series plot arcs. Can you tell us a little about how this book came to be, and what you’re excited about for the future of the series?
DL: You’re exactly right. Black is a transitional story. I’m entering a new phase for the series. The previous stories focused mostly on the characters who were introduced in book one, Rise of the Fallen. Now we’re moving into a new phase of the AKM world. Lycans and werewolves (in my world, they’re different) are joining the gang, and there is a lot of intrigue occurring right now as forces vie for supremacy.
The main purpose of Black was to show Micah’s continuing evolution as the primary character for the series. I think I accomplished that, but I found unexpected joy in some of the new characters, such as Alexis, Rameses, and Memnon, as well as in diving deeper into characters who were introduced as far back as book two of the series, such as Persephone and King Bain. One of King Bain’s scenes has been an early hit with ARC and beta readers, and many are eager to see Persephone come into her own. I will admit, I’m excited about that, too. And ooohhhh, do I ever have plans for Memnon and his empty, black heart. *I laugh mischievously while rubbing my hands together*
I’m super excited for some of the plans I have for Arion in Severin’s Muse, which SHOULD be next in the series
Other than that, I’m super excited for some of the plans I have for Arion in Severin’s Muse, which SHOULD be next in the series (unless another book shoves its way forward in my head), as well as the lycans, in general. Stryker will soon meet his mate, as well, which should be a lot of fun since he’s worked so damn hard not to find a mate. But, too bad, big guy. She’s coming for you. I’m also looking forward to rearranging the dynamics inside AKM now that Micah is heading into a new direction (and that’s all I’ll say about that since I don’t want to give any spoilers). But I may need to consider adding a couple of new characters to the inner AKM dynamic. We’ll see.
Lastly, I’m excited about adding short stories and novelettes to the AKM mix between novels. These short stories will be used for a variety of reasons: to help connect one novel to the next; to show what’s been happening in the lives of some of readers’ past favorite characters; to provide a glimpse into the past of an upcoming character; and to show events that aren’t big enough to warrant their own novel, but important enough to be highlighted as a story. The first novelette will come out in December, and it’s called Micah’s Bride. If you’ve read Black, you know what that story will be about. LOL
GT: The series has truly come full circle (not to be confused with Full Circle, another great book of yours) since Rise of the Fallen launched in 2012. What have some of your favorite moments in the series been, both writing and in interacting with fans?
DL: Some of my favorite moments have been hearing from fans who read Heart of the Warrior that 1) their beliefs about the LGBTQ community changed after reading the book (in favor of), and 2) They cried so hard from the ending that they had tears streaming down their face. One reader said her chin quivered she was crying so hard. It’s not that I like to make readers cry, but to hear that my words were that powerful, and that readers’ love for Severin so strong that they sobbed for him, moved me, as well. It truly showed me that words and fictional stories have power to alter how people feel about what is happening in society.
Other favorite moments include finally giving Trace the story he deserved and all the LOL moments Micah and the gang give me unexpectedly while I’m writing. And BLACK is probably my favorite book of the series so far. I just LOVE how this book came together. And I can’t wait for more favorite moments with these characters.
It’s not that I like to make readers cry, but to hear that […] they sobbed for [Heart of the Warrior] moved me as well.
GT: After reading Black, I realized that even though Micah is finally healing and becoming comfortable in his skin, he’s still the same ole meddling Micah who loves to be in the thick of things. His influence on other couples’ stories is one of my favorite aspects of the whole series. Tell us a little about what it’s like to pen a character like Micah, with his sarcasm and smarts and rough edges.
DL: I literally just said, “Oh, God” out loud then laughed. Micah is one helluva fun character to write.
True story: When I created Micah back during my roleplay days on Facebook, he was meant to be an extension of me. I was in a super awful dark place at the time due to circumstances in my personal life, and Micah was my outlet. I wrote Rise of the Fallen while I was just started to emerge from this dark personal place, and as Micah found his happily ever after, I found mine. So, in a way, Micah was self-therapy.
That said, he’s definitely taken on a life of his own. He’s not so much an extension of me anymore as he is his own person. But he still says and does things I would love to say and do in real life but don’t have the courage to. He also feels VERY deeply. Now, that IS me. I, too, feel very deeply. So, when I write him, it’s like I’m revealing little pieces of me in some of the things he does. This allows me to reveal who I am without actually revealing who I am, if that makes sense. But don’t get me wrong, I’m not Micah, and Micah isn’t me. He’s just a little part of me now, but one who’s so fun to explore.
GT: One of the things I love about the covers in this series—aside from just general sexiness, of course—is that the model for Micah has stayed the same. The same man who graced the cover of Rise of the Fallen (which first published five years ago) stares back at us from the cover of Black. Can you tell us more about the mystery hottie who “plays” Micah?
DL: Andrei Andrei is his name. He’s a model from Romania. He’s also a web designer and designed my website.
So, back in 2012, I contacted him to ask if I could use one of his images on Rise of the Fallen. I never in a million years thought he would reply, but he did! OMG, right? I was given permission to use the image you see on the cover of Rise. Then my cover designer found some stock images of him, which we were able to use to design the cover for Micah’s Calling and Black. If you could see the image we used for Black, you would know just how incredibly talented my cover artist is.
So, Andrei Andrei was living in New York at the time I published Rise of the Fallen, and he was still there when Hurricane Sandy hit. I remember seeing him post on Facebook about how cool it was that he was getting to experience a hurricane, which he’d never done before. But now he’s back in Romania, where he’s put on some muscle and posts workouts videos. I’m not sure whether he’s doing any personal training, but anyone who wants to follow along during his workouts he posts on live video will sure get an ass-kicking. I’ve watched a couple of his videos, and they’re not for the faint of heart.
Oh, and he can sing and likes cats. LOL. Yes, I follow him on social media.
GT: For readers who are new to the All the King’s Men series, how would you best describe it? What kind of romance and excitement can they expect from the first 8 books in the series?
DL: I would describe AKM as a paranormal saga similar to the Black Dagger Brotherhood. There are vampires, shapeshifters, and a LOT of raw emotion. One thing I hear from readers more than anything else is that the books cut deep into their emotions. Readers cry, they laugh, they scream at the characters. One reader told me the characters were so real for her that she imagined holding conversations with them and would go about her daily chores fantasizing about them like they were real people. I write from what’s called deep POV, so readers don’t just feel like flies on the wall, they feel like they’re actually living inside the characters as they endure all that’s happening to them.
AKM is a paranormal saga similar to the Black Dagger Brotherhood. There are vampires, shapeshifters, and a LOT of raw emotion.
Each book is written from multiple POVs, which is similar to the BDB, with each storyline weaving into the rest as the entire story builds toward one huge conclusion per book, while other storylines lead into future stories for the series.
There are a lot of layers in All the King’s Men, and while I probably could have written Rise of the Fallen a little better knowing what I know now, those layers started with that book. And they continue to deepen as more books are added to the series. I was still a newbie with Rise, but I’ve definitely found my stride with this series. I think each book (and I have no idea how many there will be) will just get better from here.
GT: When you’re not writing and plotting out your dozens (literally—I’ve heard about your backlog of stories-to-be-written!) of future books, what do you like to read? Who are some of your favorite classic romances and some more recent reads?
DL: I like to read books on writing craft (Story Genius by Lisa Cron is my current favorite), news magazines like Time and Newsweek (because it’s important to stay up on current events), and a variety of books. I’m currently reading CD Reiss’s Marriage Games and love it. I can’t say I have any favorite “classic” romances. I’ve never been able to read books like Pride and Prejudice or Gone With the Wind. The language is too lofty and the writing too dry for me. I know, BLASPHEMY! But it’s hard for a book to keep my attention, so I need books that jump in, get going, keep going on every page, and that are easy to follow. This is why I enjoy the Black Dagger Brotherhood books so much, as well as Harry Potter. It’s just nonstop action. But I will admit there were a handful of BDB books that lost me, too, as you’ve said before. But the latest three books in the series have kept me rapt all the way through.
GT: Donya, it has been my pleasure to have you as my guest here on GraveTells today. Thank you so much for taking time to chat with us! Do you know what’s next on your publishing horizon? Anything you want to tease for the fans?
DL: As much as I want to get back to Severin’s Muse, which I’ve already started, I need to work on a couple of other projects first. I’m in the process of changing how I develop and write my stories. It’s a pretty drastic change, but I’m IN LOVE with the process and can see that it will save me a LOT of time on editing and rewriting. Right now, I spend an enormous amount of time on rewrites. I want to cut 3-6 months off my process, and this method, which I learned about in Story Genius by Lisa Cron, is the key.
With that said, as I practice using this new method, I want to practice on a simpler project, not one as complex as an AKM novel. Those AKM novels are just so darn complicated that I’ll overwhelm myself if I try to apply the method to Severin’s Muse right out of the gate.
So, in late spring/early summer, I had been tinkering with a project I called Savage Storm…
So, in late spring/early summer, I had been tinkering with a project I called Savage Storm. I even drafted the book. It was a short novella (not long enough for print), and I LOVED the concept. Then two things happened. 1) I saw the cover art and loved it so much, I knew I needed a longer book so I could have it in print. 2) I read Story Genius, and as I worked through the exercises, the Savage Storm project is the one that exploded inside my mind. I simply couldn’t shut it off. It was like an open spigot gushing through my thoughts. I wrote page after page of notes.
Savage Storm has now turned into a trilogy (Titles: Savage Storm, Savage Surrender, and Storm Damage). It’s my first menage (MFM), too.
…which has now turned into a trilogy. It’s my first menage (MFM).
This trilogy is going to rip your heart out then shove it back inside your chest by the end of book three. All three books are roughly sketched, the characters almost fully developed, etc. All I have to do is go through my Story Genius method, rework book one while adding several more scenes, and then organize what I have for books two and three and write them.
After that, I want to finally write the followup to the Strong Karma Trilogy, Good Things Come. I’ve had a lot of readers ask me when they can expect to see more Mark and Karma, and I want to publish this book next year. The rough sketch is done. I just need to process it through my new writing method and write it.
Beyond that, Severin’s Muse is already in the works, along with a dark romance duet, a sexy standalone about an older man and a younger woman, two 5-book series, and several more AKM stories.. Yep, I’m super busy with upcoming projects that should take me through 2023. What can I say? I’m never going to die. I have too many stories to write. LOL.
I’m never going to die. I have too many stories to write.
Thank you for hosting me today! I look forward to next time!
Read an excerpt from Black
His head jerked around to the door, his awareness lighting up with Sam’s presence like a flame catching on dry kindling. She was there. Just outside, in the hall.
He started for the foyer as the door slowly opened. She stepped inside, squinting into the dark apartment.
In a flash, he was on her, slamming the door with the palm of one hand as he spun her and shoved her against the wall with the other.
She gasped, but the scent of her arousal spiked, letting him know she was more than ready for what he required.
He gripped handfuls of fabric on either side of her scoop-neck collar and yanked in opposite directions. Her T-shirt tore down the middle with the satisfying growl of ripping fabric.
He pushed the tattered shirt off of her, along with her jacket. Leather and ruined polycotton blend puddled at her feet.
“I’m sorry,” he said, growling the words as he tugged harshly at her jeans. The metal button at her waist shot across the room and thumped softly on the carpet.
She kicked off her sneakers. “For what?”
“For not being gentle.” He clutched her bra between her breasts and tore it off as if it were made of nothing more than tissue paper.
“I don’t care. Whatever you need.” She pushed the waist of her jeans past her hips and wiggled her legs so that the denim fell to her ankles as she pulled him closer. “I can buy new clothes, but you can’t be replaced.”
“I don’t want to hurt you.” He hoisted her off the floor.
Her legs locked around his waist as her palm wrapped around the back of his neck. “With you, pain is pleasure.”
This flashback quote from Micah’s father carries potent advice, and not just for a vampire…
“Always remember where you come from, Micah. Always carry the Black name with honor.” He brushed his long fingers over Micah’s cheek. “Appearance is everything. Act like that which you wish to become, and not only will you become it, but everyone around you will believe that is who you are.” His father chucked his chin again. “Now, keep your head high.”
There are two things you can depend on when you read an AKM book: a dramatic, heart-pounding ending, and some serious meddling (in everyone else’s affairs) by Micah Black. Since this story—appropriately named Black—is all about his family, Micah doesn’t get to do as much meddling, but he does spend a lot of time right in the heart of the story’s action. AKM stories are also always immersive reads, so Black flies by, leaving you wanting more of Micah, the AKM team, and even King Bain. The entire series up to this point takes place in something like 7 months, and Black covers barely a day, so there’s a lot packed into this story.
Speaking of the vampire ruler, King Bain started out as a character with misguided (archaic) views. In those earlier books, he definitely wasn’t my favorite guy. His role in Black develops his character and brings him some much-needed complexity. A lot of history is spun in this book, so you really need to have read ALL the AKM books that came before, even the prequel—named The Beginning—which falls at #6 in the series’ reading order.
He didn’t care whether a mating was heterosexual, homosexual, made between a vampire and a human, or whether the mating involved more than two people. His laws on the matter were clear. As long as the mating link was borne of biology, it was sacrosanct. He would honor all biological matings over any pairings that were engineered by outdated practices, such as those inherent to the wealthy, aristocratic families who preferred arranged unions to biological ones.
Black is more of a series transition novel than a dedicated romance for a single couple, and I like that about it. It sorts through a lot of vampire and dreck history and spins out new storylines that may even eventually seed other series in the same story world. This book tightly focuses on Micah and his family, and since he’s one of my favorite characters of the series, I have zero complaints about that (although I didn’t love the flashback scenes of him as a child). But don’t fret that this isn’t romantic! There are some seriously steamy scenes, and we get to spend a lot of quality time with Micah and Sam (his mate, from book 1 in the series). I really enjoyed circling back around to them as a couple and experiencing the changes happening in their life together.
All that said, this is in no way a standalone novel. To really enjoy this series, you need to start from the very first story in the AKM series, Rise of the Fallen.
Black is jam-packed with surprises and reveals—a must-read for fans of the All the King’s Men series.
Recommended for readers who enjoy:
- The Black Dagger Brotherhood stories
- Vampire romances
- Diverse urban fantasy story worlds
- Alpha, commanding men and strong heroines
PRICE REDUCTION: Black is discounted for a short time at $3.99. On October 1, 2017 the price will increase to $4.99.
This review copy was provided by the Author. No compensation was received for this review.
My star rating:
Black by Donya Lynne
Series: All the King's Men #8
Published by Phoenix Press on September 12, 2017
Genres: Paranormal Romance, Shifters, Vampires
Pages: 217 pages
Add it to your To Read shelf: Goodreads
Micah Black thought he was the last of his bloodline. He was wrong. Dead wrong.
Micah just found out he has a brother. Ronan, the cat burglar who broke into his apartment and stole the ankh Micah had been entrusted to protect, has turned out to be none other than his own flesh and blood. But that’s not the only revelation Micah uncovers about his family. After centuries of thinking his father was killed during the war, he learns that his father is alive. Still suffering the loss of Micah’s mother, his beloved mate, but alive.
The discoveries continue to pile up as more tightly held secrets and shocking surprises come to light, upending Micah’s world, sending him into a whirlwind of emotions and memories of war, love, and death. But it’s what King Bain reveals that throws Micah for the biggest loop. One that will chart a new path for Micah’s future and change the course of the coming war between the vampires and the drecks forever.
In the much-anticipated eighth book of the emotionally-wrenching, heart-stopping All the King’s Men Series, you see Micah as you’ve never seen him before. You will meet new characters pivotal to the survival—and hearts—of the characters you’ve come to love. Aliases will be revealed, alliances will be formed, and new enemies exposed as paranormal forces converge in a battle to decide who will ultimately rule humanity.
Recommended for fans of J.R. Ward, Lara Adrian, Kresley Cole.
Books in the AKM Series, in reading order:
Rise of the Fallen
Heart of the Warrior
Return of the Assassin
All the King’s Men - The Beginning
Bound Guardian Angel
*This post contains affiliate links you can use to purchase the book. If you buy the book using that link, I will receive a small commission from the sale.