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More Action, More Adventure, More Danger

Denna Holm Author Interview
Denna Holm Author Interview

Rise of a Warrior is book five in your Immortal Warriors series. Has the series developed as you had planned or has the series arc changed as you’ve published the books?

I had a general idea where I wanted the series to go when I started, but it has developed into something far more complex than originally planned. I started out just wanting to write a simple fantasy romance, but I soon found myself growing bored with the characters and story. In my mind they needed more. More action, more adventure, more danger, growth, and an underlying mystery to connect one book to the next. I love the challenge of creating a standalone story involving threads that will connect one book to another. Each book is centered around one particular couple, their journey as they face difficulties in their new relationship. Though we are left with unanswered questions at the end, I shy away from cliffhangers. The reader should feel as though they’ve been given a full story, but with a desire to learn more about what is going on behind the scenes.

What is something that you’ve learned as an author that has drastically changed your writing since book one?

Book one was a learning experience. I was still trying to find my own voice, my own style. Romance novels can be extremely difficult to get right, especially if there is an erotic element involved, and I worried about it coming across as shallow. In trying to keep the conflict and action at the forefront, I unintentionally shied away from the romantic aspect of the story, and I think it suffered for it, especially where romance readers were concerned. It made it hard to know what genre to place it under, action/adventure, paranormal romance, or science fiction. I knew I wanted to combine paranormal with science fiction romance, but I don’t think I quite pulled it off in book one, “Soul of a Warrior.” I found my stride with the romance in book two “Ghost Warrior.” It was here that the continuing threads of my plot really began. I only had a vague notion of it in book one, but book two doesn’t work as well without seeing where it all started. In book 3, “A Warrior’s Nightmare,” I began to figure out how to make them stand alone without losing the threads that will eventually tie them all together.

What is one romance trope that you try hard to break in your novels?

Rescue the damsel in distress trope. I started with this in book one and have been struggling to break away from it ever since. I want my female characters to stand on their own, as equals to their powerful mates. I think I succeeded with “Rise of a Warrior.” In my first four books, the female lead starts out coming across as frightened, weak, unsure of herself, and then finds her strength during her struggles. Carla starts out strong, knowing what she wants, and only grows stronger as they go along. Her mate must work hard to earn her love, trust and respect.

What can readers expect in book six of your Immortal Warriors series?

At the end of “Rise of a Warrior,” we bring in Jada Talbot, Bryce’s fated mate. Bryce plays a fairly large part in “Rise of a Warrior.” We first met Jada and Bryce in “Dark Warrior,” a novella. They did not have a happy first meeting and Jada has been fighting against their mating ever since. As we follow Jada and Bryce, we will learn more about the Djinn and Fae, more about their past relationships with the shifters and vampires, and where this all might be headed. I have a second series “Raiden Warriors” that is set in the same universe. Raiden warriors were allies to the Laizahlian when they first drove Djinn from Earth. In this next book, I plan to start drawing these two series together because they will need to join forces again if they want any chance of defeating the Djinn.

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Carla Trystan is a half-breed vampire who has spent her entire life running from powerful Hunters—aliens from another world. She is also plagued by nightmares, hearing the same deep, dark voice say night after night, ‘If you wish to live, child, take my hand.’ When she finally meets the man behind the terrifying voice, it is to discover he is one of the aliens she has spent her life running from.

Azrael, an ancient Hunter for the Laizahlian Council, is sent to Earth to track down three rogues from their world. What he doesn’t expect is to run into his lifemate. Azrael senses there is more than vampire blood running through Carla’s veins. He suspects a Djinn is involved, placing them both in great danger.

Their journey will thrust them both into the Fae realm, where Carla must rise up and fight the cruel queen who means to take Azrael as her own.

Rise of a Warrior

Rise of a Warrior (Immortal Warriors Book 5) by [Denna Holm]

Carla Trystan has spent her life running from monsters. She never understood why she was different, or why she didn’t age. She just followed her instincts and ran whenever she encountered someone that wasn’t human. Vampires, shapeshifters, Djinn and Fae are all involved in this mystery. Azrael is tracking down rogue shifters, and in this hunt, he runs into Carla, he knows instantly she is his one true mate. Carla only knows she is surrounded by monsters and needs to get away but stays to save the young coworker of hers that the rogue has taken hostage. From this point Carla is now part of hunting party. Azrael introduces her to the many supernatural beings that become involved in this much deeper plot than he or the council of Laizahlia ever expected.

This is the second book by Denna Holm I have read, Rise of a Warrior did not disappoint me at all. The novel starts out with Carla telling readers that she has to run again. You can feel the fear she has, but at the same time, her deep desire to protect her friends in the diner. The desire to protect humans is a Laizahlia trait that she is unaware of in her genetic makeup. Over the first few chapters we learn just how strong Carla is. Her need to run isn’t just fear, it is survival. Azrael finds her and she starts handing everything he throws at her in stride. Going from knowing there are monsters out there, to learning you are one is intense, and Holm lets the reader experience all of it with her detailed and precise writing style.

You can find hundreds of books out there on shapeshifters, vampires, fae, and other creatures, but Holm’s version of these beings feels fresh and different. She isn’t taking the same old character sheets and giving them new names, she instead has taken traditional “knowns” about these beings and enhanced them. They come to life more and are relatable in their thoughts and actions. This book is hard to put down because the characters are so engaging, and you get attached and want to know how things turn out. The plot line is complex and layered. It isn’t just a simple story; it builds as it goes and you uncover more and more players all twisted together. There is the building romance of Carla and Azrael, but I wouldn’t classify this as a romance novel, the relationship is just part of the story and mystery, not the end all destination.

While Rise of a Warrior is book five in this series, it stands on it’s own but leaves you wanting more. With so many plot lines twisted you know there will be more to explore, more questions to answer, and even some more romance to build.

Pages: 398 | ASIN: B08KLB36FX

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The Abuse They’d Both Suffered

Denna Holm Author Interview
Denna Holm Author Interview

Claimed by Rafa is book two in your Raiden Warriors sci-fi series. What were some ideas that you wanted to introduce in this book that were different from book one?

In book 1, Claimed by Nicolai, I focused mainly on Raiden society, a patriarchal society. The warriors have been raised to appreciate females, but not necessarily respect them. When she is claimed against her will, Abby begins to show their prince the error of their ways—though she’s aware that nothing so set in stone like this will be easily changed. We begin Claimed by Rafa in much the same way, with Aaliyah, Abby’s best friend, being claimed against her will. In Rafa’s case, I’d hoped to not only get through to him how wrong it was to claim a female without getting her permission first, but to learn to empathize with Aaliyah’s unique situation. Aaliyah came from an abusive past, and anyone who has personal experience with sexual and/or physical abuse will tell you it isn’t something you just get over. You have to learn how to take charge of your life, which is easier said than done. I believe I found a way in Claimed by Rafa to get through to Rafa just how traumatizing abuse like Aaliyah suffered can be. In the same breath, I wanted to get across that there is always hope for a better tomorrow. We must learn to love ourselves before we can love others, and not let our past dictate the rest of our tomorrows.

I also wanted to get through in this story that everyone carries around excess baggage. Aaliyah was probably the most damaged by her past, but Rafa had troubles of his own, a past he didn’t want to face. He had to let Aaliyah inside his own defenses.

Aaliyah has had an abusive past and she was a character I empathized with. What were some sources that informed her character’s backstory?

I watch a show on television called “My 600 Pound Life.” It shocked me how many of these people suffered sexual abuse as children, and the devastating effect it had on their lives. Though I know they have a rough road ahead of them, I always find myself happy and excited when they start to take control of their lives. Aaliyah doesn’t turn to food because of her abuse, but she does put up thick walls. No one who goes through something like this will come out of it without scars. I find some of the worst scars people carry around are those to their psyche, not something others can easily see or understand. It was a challenge to figure out a way for Rafa to get through her defenses, but he couldn’t help her unless he began to understand the depth of the trauma she’d suffered.

What were some goals you set for yourself as a writer with this book?

I wanted to keep the focus on the building love and respect these two characters learn to have for one another, not necessarily the abuse they’d both suffered. I’m also building on a continuing plot that connects my Immortal Warriors series with this one. The Djinn, who are introduced in this story, are enemies of both sets of warriors. Aaliyah has a special connection to the Djinn that will carry over to future books.

What can readers expect in book three of your Raiden Warriors series?

In Claimed by Rafa we are introduced to Samantha, Abby’s vivacious younger sister. Her story will be told in Claimed by Seraphym, book 3 of Raiden Warriors. We first met Seraphym in book 1, Claimed by Nicolai. Seraphym is a dragon shifter whom a lot of my readers appeared to be fascinated with. We begin to learn a lot more about Abby and Samantha’s connection to the dragons in book 3. Samantha was a fun character. When she was younger, she used to dream about the day she would get claimed by a handsome Raiden warrior. Now that she’s grown, she will do everything in her power to escape it, even if it means asking for sanctuary from a dragon clan.

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Claimed By Rafa

Claimed by Rafa (Raiden Warriors Book 2) by [Denna Holm]

Rafael Abeden has reached the point in a Raiden males life that it was time to find a mate. Raiden males have the problem of not being able to procreate with their own species so Rafael must find another one to claim and fall in love with. He is set on finding a human woman like his best friend, and prince, Nicolai did. Rafael heads to earth with Nicolai and his mate Abby where he meets her best friend Aaliyah. At once he knew she was the one for him. Aaliyah has had a hard life of abuse and mistreatment. Rafael wants to take all her pain away and show her what it is to feel love. This is a tremendous battle and along the way both discover things they never knew were possible all while trying to stop Nicolai’s enemies from killing him and Abby.

The setting for this novel is mostly aboard the ship Qadira. They use the reference of Star Trek a lot to try and explain things as that is a known cultural norm. The descriptions of the different aliens they encounter are vivid and well thought out. As with the Star Trek references, she uses a lot of human descriptions or animals or dinosaurs to convey what is happening on the alien worlds. This makes it easy for the reader to identify with Aaliyah seeing things for the first time.

As we get deeper into the book and learn about Aaliyah’s past, I felt the anger and frustrations that she has from living through so much pain. Seeing how she was treated by other humans before leaving Earth filled me with anger. This is a testament to Denna Holm’s ability to pull emotions from the reader and give them a connection to the characters. You want to see Aaliyah happy; you feel Abby’s anger at the male posturing, Samantha is your typical teenager and stubborn but adventurous all in one. All the women are fighters, none are weak and docile. The Raiden men appreciate these traits and encourage them.

Of all the different aliens mentioned in the book, I found the Djinn especially interesting. This book hinted that possibly the next one will go more into the Djinn people and how they tie in with the Raiden’s, or at least I hope so. Claimed by Rafa was a unique and deeply engaging novel. I look forward to reading more novels from Denna Holm and certainly more entries int this fantastic series.

Pages: 332 | ASIN: B088G25F9H

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Claimed by Rafa – Book Trailer

Rafa didn’t think much of the human female when his prince first claimed her for a mate, but her strength of character soon wins him over. He watches with jealous eyes as the love blossoms between them, especially when she begins to swell with the prince’s child. When Rafa’s shaprata begins to mature, and the time arrives for him to claim a mate, he decides to return to Earth to claim a human of his own.

Aaliyah was left devastated when her best friend went missing. Abby was last seen hiking with her faithful German shepherd near one of Oregon’s mountain lakes. Six months later, Aaliyah receives a phone call, the woman on the other end claiming to be Abby, and she wants Aaliyah to drive up to the same lake to meet her … alone.

Emotionally, Aaliyah isn’t as strong as Abby. She’s had a rough childhood and considers herself damaged goods. When the alien tries to claim her, she rejects their union, not sure she is capable of loving a man, even if it means Rafa might die.

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Heart Of A Warrior

Heart of a Warrior (Immortal Warriors Book 4) by [Holm, Denna]

Heart of a Warrior is an extraordinary vampire romance and epic fantasy book. We are introduced to Elena Murphy at the start of the book. Elena is distressed as her fated mated was not for their union which she so much looked forward to. One could feel her frustration and irritation as she stood on the deck of her house watching the dark clouds, thinking about Gabriel and where he could be. Elena is half-human. Gabriel was an old hunter from planet Laizahlia. He was, among other things, a patient and resilient character when he wanted to be. Gabriel had looked for his mate for years. He spent time and resources just to find his fated mate, his eillelé. His mate carried half his soul wrapped within Elena.

Gabriel is in a dilemma. He wants to claim Elena but he is conflicted as his council will make him do things he is not comfortable doing. To be safe, Gabriel has to convert Elena to a full vampire so as to be accepted by the council. This move is risky as Elena is happy being a half human. The conversion may tamper with her mind and even jeopardize her sanity.

Heart of a Warrior is a gripping and thrilling fantasy book. The vampire theme and twist in the story are exciting and held my interest. The author is able to engineer some creative scenes that make the unique character both charming and scary at the same time. Following the part about the missing children was scary and fascinating given they had potential threats like the Council and Slavers. Gabriel is a great character whom every reader will, eventually, empathize with. Heart of a Warrior is action-packed, with events that are unbelievable, but you don’t care, and characters who were perfect for their roles.

Every character had some sort of superpower which felt balanced and not overused. They were able to face their obstacles and even confuse the enemies for a while. I appreciated the odd, but well constructed, love story in this book. This novel combines a bittersweet love, a vampire story, and some fantastic characters that really carry this story. This is the fourth book in the ‘Immortal Warriors’ series but I didn’t feel lost and I think anyone can jump into the series from here. You will love the conversations between characters as they are witty and humorous. The plot was epic and the entire story entertaining.

Pages: 347 | ASIN:  B07X5TRQRF

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Heart of a Warrior (Immortal Warriors Book 4) – Trailer

Elena Murphy is devastated when Gabriel walks out of her life. When her granddaughter is abducted by aliens and left to die on a hostile world, Gabriel is part of the rescue party sent by his Council to find her. From the start, Elena feels a strong connection between them, but she fears Gabriel is embarrassed that she is only half vampire while he is a powerful Hunter who has lived for over three thousand years. But when two children under her care are abducted, Elena will do anything to get them back, even if it means swallowing her pride to beg Gabriel to take her with him to find them.

Gabriel has spent thousands of years searching for his destined mate, his eillelé. When he finally finds her in Elena, it is to learn she is half human. He knows this makes their options as a couple limited. If he takes her back to his world, Laizahlia, his Council will force him to convert her fully to vampire, and he knows she might not survive with her mind intact. It is forbidden for their kind to live on Earth, so rather than risk her life, he chooses to turn and walk away . . . until two children under her care are taken by Slavers, and it’s his fault the Slavers were there.

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Claimed by Nicolai

Claimed by Nicolai (Raiden Warriors Book 1) by [Holm, Denna]

Abby Harris, a beautiful blonde girl and her dog Quin were about to spend an amazing day together hiking in the mountains when an alien, Nikolai Nekbet from the planet Raiden, abducts them. Abby now finds herself on aboard a ship traveling towards another planet. The reason behind the abduction is quite surprising: the lizard-looking man – who is actually a Crown Prince on his planet – was looking for a mate. But can he convince the girl to love him? And can Abby forgive him for making her leave behind her family and friends?

Denna Holm’s Claimed by Nikolai is an amazing science fiction romance novel about love among different species, with political intrigue sprinkled throughout. The story is set on the Quadira ship in space and on the planet Raiden. The reader gets an insight into the lives of Raiden warriors, and how they are claim a mate from other species by injecting them with their shaprata and how they are ruling their planet.

Most of the characters are well developed and intriguing. The main character, Abby has a dynamic personality and changes a lot as the story unfolds (and as the shaprata starts to work in her body). She is lovely, brave, always follows her heart and learns how to trust her partner and cope with the new situation she got into against her will. I especially enjoyed how the contrast between Abby’s thoughts and the words she uttered is shown. Nikolai, the weird-looking alien with black eyes, red vertical pupils and sharp teeth is ready to do everything (except one thing) for her love, he is struggling hard to win Abby’s heart. He is a real passionate lover. Despite events being given from multiple character perspectives, I missed the exposition of Lena’s point of view. I wanted to know how she felt and what she was thinking about what happened to her. The sex scenes are well-written, sometimes even going into shocking details. I wasn’t prepared for the erotic scenes, I would have preferred less eroticism, but this would be mild for any fan of erotic fiction.

Claimed by Nikolai is altogether an enjoyable read with unique ideas, I recommend it for everyone who loves fantasies and love stories in general. Holm has brilliant writing technique, the book is filled with dialogue that constantly held my attention right from the start.

Pages: 349 | ASIN: B07R24YW7P

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