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Playing with Power

Playing with power can land a girl in all sorts of trouble with her man, as six ladies soon discover. Whether she’s a witch who disobeys the no-magic rule, a fairy making lust cakes, an amateur sorceress casting a spell on her boyfriend, a victim of an enchanted necklace, a revenge fairy messing with a deity, or a pleasure fairy abusing her abilities…

Once they’ve experienced the sensual consequences of playing with their magical powers, can these ladies find their happily for now with a hint of forever? Or have they spoiled their chances?

Publisher’s Note: This steamy anthology contains elements of power exchange.

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Eternal Bloodlines

Eternal Bloodlines by [Brennan, J.C.]

In Eternal Bloodlines by J.C. Brennan, Amanda Rain Holston is a young woman living a very boring life. Her parents have been dead for five years and lives completely alone. She works as a waitress and finds it hard to even get up in the morning because of her tedious existence. A point that is captured perfectly by the picture frames she has with stock images of people in them. The one thing she does that she actually enjoys is going on long walks. It is on one of these walks that she discovers a ghastly sight: a dead body in the snow. This discovery changes everything and Amanda’s life will never be the same.

The book is set in Skidway, Michigan. Amanda has spent her life in the town and expects to grow old and die there, probably from boredom. She longs to escape the confines of the small town. The only good thing she has there is her best friend, Jessica.

The paranormal plot of this book has promise. It starts as a standard tale of a fantasy come true but with some quirky additions that turn this piece into a unique supernatural thriller. It definitely gets interesting when Amanda meets Mihnea. They bond immediately and their love story is sweet. The story loses me a bit with the attempts at making the dialogue fit a different time. It does not always work, and sometimes seems stilted, but it’s saved by the intriguing relationship that develops between Amanda and Mihnea.

I really enjoyed this book, but I found that there were some editing mistakes, to the point where I was a bit distracted; having to go back and reread some sections to make sure I understood them correctly. The book did pick up toward the end. The story became so interesting that I was able to overlook the mistakes a bit more easily. In my opinion, all the book needs is a good editor and I’ll be begging for more. I wanted so badly to focus on the unique and suspenseful story, because under the typos is a fresh take on the vampire genre, one that puts its methodically developed characters into a deadly and captivating world.

Pages: 177 | ASIN: B075G1GK4F

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Hemlock

Hemlock (The Manhunters Book 2) by [Teller, Jesse]

Hemlock, a city dedicated to pirates, slavery, and all forms of evil you can imagine. Hemlock is a port city located in Lorinth within the realm of Perilisc. The nation of Lorinth doesn’t have an easy life, there is always some evil waiting to destroy the inhabitants. What could make life worse for these people, vampires. Vampires are returning to the land with the intention of taking over all living creatures and turning them or killing them. They are souring the soil, killing the forest dwelling creatures and making it so the Ironwood’s, that could defeat them, die of sickness. Rayph must make hard choices fighting against his own personal beliefs and trusting those he would normally never trust in order to save the lives of the humans living in the nation.

Jesse Teller is a master of writing about the dark and disturbing side of humanity. While his novels are fantasy, most characters will take on a human form. People do not simply die in these novels, torture and gruesome deaths are the norm. Long drawn out torture, maiming bodies, rape, healing people just to torture them more, emotional and physical abuse, all are common place activities among even the “good guys” in the novels. I normally avoid novels with such dark themes, but Hemlock drew me in from the first chapter. Rayph seeks out alliances to wage his battle against the vampire leader Tristan. If you are looking for vampires that sparkle and are really good people at heart, this is not the vampire story for you, rather these are the real killing monsters that horror stories are written from. Teller does an amazing job describing their brutality and steamroller approach to taking over the land.

Another key aspect of Jesse Teller is his overall character development. If you follow all the novels of Perilisc you see many returning names and characters, sometimes it is hard to follow the timeline of where one book happens from another, but many of the characters are immortal or long lived making it plausible they could exist in so many apparently different timelines. A new character to Hemlock is Aaron the Marked. This character is so well developed you don’t know if you should love him or hate him. He has an insane devotion to his king, one that will not be stopped by anyone in his mission to be reunited. He looks like a young boy and is often misjudged by other characters until it is too late. Aaron is brutal, violent, a brilliant strategist, and probably a tad on the insane side. I wanted to keep reading just to see what he would do next, who would he take out, who would he form an alliance with just to make his way back to his King. It is this kind of character development that makes me want to keep reading despite all the gore and disturbing imagery I normally avoid.

Hemlock brought back many of my favorite characters like Smear, Dissonance, Trysliana and Saykobar, the introduction of the new characters kept things interesting. It wasn’t just a new plot, it was new personalities interacting and that makes the novel for me. I can look over a lot of the gore to focus on the relationships and interactions. The world of Perilisc is one of violence and death, the characters are memorable the setting vastly different from other fantasy worlds. This may be one of my favorites in the series because of its originality in all areas.

Pages: 361 | ASIN: B079SG8L1W

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Underneath it All, She’s a True Monster

A.J. Macready Author Interview

A.J. Macready Author Interview

Redemption details the rise and fall of a line of vampires dominating Clarke’s Summit, which is home to a plague dating back to the 1700’s. What attracts you to vampire fiction?

I grew up watching a lot of horror and sci-fi, although it was some time before I got into reading any of the literature. I think the first thing that attracted me to vampire fiction was the story potential in their great longevity, the fact that they are virtually immortal. Another compelling aspect of vampire fiction is the fundamental struggle they represent between light and darkness, good and evil, and how people can be seduced by their desire for power, immortality, and even sexual desire.

In one scene in Redemption, the vampire Lydia illustrates this for us in how she tempts Mike Gaston with the fact that she has remained beautiful and unaffected by age or disease in over two hundred years. I think this is one reason why the vampire genre has grown “softer” in recent decades, with television shows like Forever Knight and films like the Twilight Series: A lot of people want what vampires have – power, beauty, immortality – and they’re doing their best to try and capture these elements while skirting the darker side of the legend. This is a major factor in why I wrote the Descendent Darkness series as I did. To phrase it biblically, vampirism is “a covenant with death and an agreement with hell.” I wanted to return to the core of the legend: vampires as the living dead, seduced by an inhuman darkness that is at war with the light.

Lydia, an ancient vampire is seeking vengeance on the three remaining members of the town’s founders. I found her character to be well developed. What was your inspiration for her character?

First off, I went with a female because females are traditionally the victims in vampire literature, and I thought it would be interesting to depict one as a master for a change. Frankly, I’m surprised that it hasn’t been done more often.

As to her character, I drew it from the description Richard Gaston provides of her in Redemption, as one who has turned her back on the light and the image of God. She’s not a victim; she actually chose to be what she is. She is the embodiment of deliberate, calculating evil, a force that feeds on the living world like a parasite. Mike Gaston describes her eyes as “thin ice over deep water,” and this is also illustrative of her character. Her human facade is just that; underneath it all, she’s a true monster, and was even before she became one of the living dead.

This is book three in the Descendant Darkness series. What were some new things you wanted to introduce into your series in this book, and what were some thing you felt had to stay the same?

The original title of this book was End Game, and that sums up the approach I took with it. The first book set the stage and lined up the pieces. The second book set them into motion. The third book is all-out war, a fight to the death. With this one, I had to bring all of the various elements I had established together, intersect all of the characters and plotlines, and resolve the whole mess in a believable fashion. That was the main thing that had to change: I couldn’t run independent subplots anymore. Everything had to mesh.

As for what needed to stay the same, well, the best stories are character-driven, and it was my primary task to ensure that established characters continued to be the people readers had come to know, even though they found themselves in new situations.

Will there be a book 4 in the Descendent Darkness series? If so, what would that story be about and when would it be available?

No, the book series is complete. I’ve told the story I wanted to tell and don’t have anything else to add, although I will miss Mike and Holly. It’s amazing how characters tend to grow on you through the writing process. I originally conceived of the series with a truly dark ending, but as the story developed I found that I couldn’t let it go that way. The characters themselves ended up driving the plot.

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Descendent Darkness: Book Three: Redemption by [Macready, A.J.]

“Now boast to me again, old man. Tell me what strength there is in you to contend with me.”

After twenty-one years, that which the men of Clarke’s Summit feared most has been realized. The evil they prayed would stay buried for eternity has risen, intent on destroying those who imprisoned it and drawing their loved ones into darkness.

In the war between good and evil, victory can be had only at the price of blood. Now as Mike and Richard Gaston race against the coming night, and those they care for most fall around them, they must prepare to offer the most precious blood of all on the altar of their family’s redemption.

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Descendent Darkness: Redemption

Descendent Darkness: Book Three: Redemption by [Macready, A.J.]

A.J. Macready’s Redemption, book three in the Descendant Darkness series, details both the rise and fall of a line of vampires dominating the mountains of Virginia. Deemed “America’s Transylvania,” Clarke’s Summit is home to a plague of sorts dating back to the 1700’s and a rash of murders in 1982. Sheriff Stan Pryor finds himself facing a terrifying night of death and retribution in Clarke’s Summit in 2003 when the town is again host to the vile and nefarious acts of Lydia, a vampire of old seeking vengeance on the three remaining members of the town’s founders. Richard Gaston, Tom Campbell, and Father Ryan Bennett are left to face Lydia’s wrath.

Macready’s Redemption is as filled with action as it is brimming with rich characters. From beginning to end, readers are left breathless with the anticipation of Lydia’s next move. There are few, if any, breaks between chaotic and harrowing scenes. The energy is high throughout the book, and the meetings between the citizens of the cursed Clarke’s Summit township build to an almost exhausting level.

As a first-time reader of Macready’s Descendant Darkness, I wasn’t sure who to peg as the main character right out of the gate. The longer I read, the more I realized that Macready’s main character is the vampire storyline in and of itself. Though each of the characters is memorable and comes with a strong backstory, no one character stands out as the focus of the storyline. Sheriff Pryor helps to set up the premise of book three while Richard Gaston, his son Mike, and Tom Campbell (the vampire hunters, as it were) work as a cohesive unit to battle Lydia, her heinous attacks, and life-altering mind games. Even Lydia, a vivid protagonist, can’t be pointed out as the book’s sole focus. I found this particular choice in the writing to be quite appealing.

I have always been intrigued by the notion that some aspects of truth are embedded in folklore. That being said, one of my favorite elements in Macready’s writing was the inclusion of excerpts from local newspapers describing historic events and the details surrounding what the town deems the “Clarke’s Summit Blood Cult.” The lengths to which Macready has gone to give his vampire tale credibility are impressive. I found myself as absorbed in the passages from the Shenandoah Observer as I was in the lengthy and involved action sequences.

One of the most striking facets of Macready’s vampires is their ability to manipulate the minds of their victims. Throughout the book, Lydia is able to inject her own words into their thoughts and, essentially, control their actions. These episodes are peppered throughout the plot, and each one brings a chill.

Any fan of vampire stories will find this book appealing and engaging. The author expertly incorporates the backstories of Lydia and the vampire-hunting descendants into this third installment. With side stories paralleling those of the book’s main cast of characters, Macready provides mystery, suspense, and action in one neat package.

Pages: 290 | ASIN: B06XPHDPB6

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The Outcasts Book Trailer

Mystical relics.

Powerful vampires.

Strange allies.

It’s hell being a teenager.

Larna Collins has never understood why her dad skipped out on her and her mother when she was twelve years old. Until then, he was a devoted and loving father.

But six years later, during a renovation of her childhood home, she unearths her father’s journal from under a dusty floorboard. According to his final entry before he left, he had recently visited a small parish in England.

The entries draw her to this seemingly quaint village, which Larna discovers isn’t as charming as its blood-craving inhabitants want her to believe, and she learns that she isn’t the only one trying to track her father down.

Could this explain her father’s disappearance? Or was placing her in the center of danger her dad’s master plan all along?

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In The End, None Of Us Are Perfect

Misty Hayes Author Interview

Misty Hayes Author Interview

The Outcasts has a unique take on the vampire story and follows Larna as she relates a tale woven in history, family secrets, and bloodlust. What was your inspiration for this novel and the overarching history behind Larna?

When I first started writing The Outcasts, it was during the Twilight vampire craze. Even though I still enjoy Stephanie Meyers’s series (I own every copy) – at the time, I still felt that we, as a society, could do better with female protags. I wanted a story that had a plot and didn’t just rely on the ‘girl’ getting the ‘boy’. I wanted a protagonist who wasn’t physically perfect and popular and had a long way to go to find her strength. It was extremely important for me to have a character that people could relate to… because in the end, none of us are perfect, we’re all outcasts and that’s okay.

What I liked most about Larna is that her character felt both fresh and relatable. Were you able to relate to your characters while writing them?

Oh my gosh, in every tortuous way possible… writing Larna was excruciatingly painful, but also freeing in the sense that I wanted her to be more than just a pretty face. It was important she be funny and witty and have an inner strength that she needed to find and tap into. I think her vulnerability was the hardest thing for me to get right.

I find that, while writing, you sometimes ask questions and have the characters answer them. Do you find that to be true? What questions did you ask yourself while writing this story?

This list could be irritatingly long! Ha! I still have questions I’m asking myself about this series, like: Is Larna relatable and not just annoying? Would people buy Corinth coming into the picture and then slowly fading away? Would people believe Alastair liked Larna? Did Alastair’s character shine through the way I wanted it to? Is Gabriel too cliché?

The Outcasts: The Blood Dagger is volume 1 in your series. When will volume 2 be available and what can fans expect in that novel?

Volume 2 is expected to be released December of this year! The book is already written, I am just working on polishing now. People can expect ACTION. The character development has been completed, now we find out what Larna, Corinth, and even Alastair are really capable of. Prepare yourselves for MORE of everything!

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The Outcasts: The Blood Dagger: Volume 1 by [Hayes, Misty, Hayes, Misty]

Larna Collins has never understood why her dad skipped out on her and her mother when she was twelve years old. Until then, he was a devoted and loving father.

But six years later, during a renovation of her childhood home, she unearths her father’s journal from under a dusty floorboard. According to his final entry before he left, he had recently visited a small parish in England.

The entries draw her to this seemingly quaint village, which Larna discovers isn’t as charming as its blood-craving inhabitants want her to believe, and she learns that she isn’t the only one trying to track her father down.

Could this explain her father’s disappearance? Or was placing her in the center of danger her dad’s master plan all along?

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The Outcasts: The Blood Dagger

The Outcasts: The Blood Dagger: Volume 1 by [Hayes, Misty]

Misty Hayes, author of The Outcasts: The Blood Dagger Volume: 1, is handing readers a unique take on the vampire stories of late. Her main character and narrator, Larna Collins, relates a tale deeply woven in history, family secrets, and bloodlust. Larna, quite the social outcast in her high school, graduates and embarks immediately on a mission to find her estranged father in England. Using her father’s journals and her own burning desire to find answers to her endless string of questions about his sudden disappearance, she leaves Texas just as her lifelong friend, Corinth, reveals his desire to be more than a tried-and-true confidante.

The Outcasts: The Blood Dagger Volume: 1 is written to appeal to young adult readers, but is so exceptionally written and full of wit and wisdom it easily resonates with a much larger audience. The idea of the socially downtrodden heroine is not a new one, but Hayes manages, quite successfully, to fashion Larna Collins into character unlike any readers will encounter within other books in the same genre. Larna is thoughtful, and the reader is privy to all of her emotions, anxiety, and, ultimately, her pride and power.

Character development appears to be Hayes’s forte. Dropping little hints throughout the plot, the author draws robust images of each character from Paul the Volkswagen/taxicab-driving vampiric sidekick to Gabriel–the devil incarnate. Each of Hayes’s characters adds a rich element to the story, and she masters the plot twist with the best of the action/adventure writers out there.

Hayes provides a captivating mixture of budding romance and action sequences. In addition, she takes literary risks with her characters’ fates. She, by no means, sticks with what the reader expects. At every turn, Hayes delivers something new and unexpected, but more than appreciated. The tension between Corinth and Larna and the ever-present question of romance between Larna and Alastair keep the reader guessing from beginning to end.

Hayes offers an originality with her presentation of the vampire tale. She successfully juxtaposes the deteriorating architecture of old England with present-day Texas and tosses in a healthy amount of technology and modern references–all easily within the schema of the young adult audience. Those expecting to find the vampires of the Twilight series will be pleasantly surprised to find a quite different vamp sketched before them as Hayes offers up a down-to-earth creature with far-reaching abilities and deep-rooted emotions.

I am giving The Outcasts: The Blood Dagger Volume: 1 a solid 5 out of 5 stars. Hayes offers a well-written, smooth read which mesmerizes readers from the first paragraphs. The relatable struggles of its main character, Larna, take an unexpected turn early on and pull readers in for a ride like no other. Hayes will soon find herself with a growing fan base yearning for more from Larna and her crew. By giving her audience the story they want with a cast of characters far-removed from those of the typical vampire tales, Hayes has succeeded in paving the way for her band of outcasts.

Pages: 356 | ASIN: B077XL9WHH

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An Alien on the Run

Roxanne Bland Author Interview

Roxanne Bland Author Interview

Invasion follows a vampire, mage and a werewolf as they try to prevent an alien invasion. How did you come up with this unique and thrilling idea?

For that, we have to go back to The Underground, to which Invasion is the standalone sequel. I wanted to tell more of Melera’s story (the interstellar assassin) than what was depicted in that first book. So, I have an alien on the run from her nemesis, who is determined to recapture her and possess her battlefleet. When she returns to Earth, what are the high stakes? Does she just resume her existence on her hidden base, doing what she’s fated to do? No, because there’s no urgency. There has to be a clear and present danger from without. And what could be more of a clear and present danger than a potential alien invasion of Earth?

I really enjoyed that each character was unique and well developed, which led to some very interesting relationships. Did you plan these relationships or did they grow organically?

Again, we have to go back to The Underground. The Underground is where those relationships developed. I didn’t exactly plan them; they more or less grew organically. I mean, I had an idea about these relationships, but I didn’t map them out—I simply wrote and watched them unfold. That’s the way I write—I don’t plot anything out. I have an idea where to start—point A, if you will—and I know I have to get to point B and then to point C. How I get to these points is completely unknown to me. That, for me, is the joy of writing, that act of creation.

This novel was fun to read. What was the most fun scene for you to write?

That would have to be the BDSM scene. I had to do research for that one. I read books on the roles of the dominant and the submissive. I learned that to be a good dom is hard work. I also learned the rules of etiquette in group settings, and things like that. I visited a couple of clubs on open house night, where we were treated to a tour of the facilities, mini-lectures and demonstrations. One night, I won a gorgeous, hand-tooled leather spiked collar at a silent auction. Anyway, I met some fabulous people who were more than willing to talk to me about how to write the scene so that it rang true. I even ran it by a couple who gave me pointers. A great group of people, really. Their lifestyle isn’t mine, but it was a wonderful experience that really opened my eyes.

What is the next story that you are working on and when will it be available?

I’m working on a sequel to a book I wrote a few years ago, entitled The Moreva of Astoreth. It’s funny—I never intended to write a sequel to The Moreva, but so many of my readers strongly suggested that I do so, well, how can I disappoint? I hope to have it finished within a year, maybe by the spring of 2019. My day job takes up a lot of my time, and I’m still working on how to balance the marketing and writing thing. I mean, I’m either all in, or not. I know there’s got to be a better way, a smarter way—I just haven’t figured it out yet.

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Invasion by [Bland, Roxanne]Kurt, vampire Master of Seattle, Garrett Larkin, mage of Balthus Coven and Parker Berenson, alpha of the city’s werewolf pack, are in a world of trouble. Already divided by love and jealousy, the three discover their auras are inextricably bound, the result of a spellcasting gone terribly wrong. Each one’s aura has been invaded by the auras of the others, and the consequences are both frightening and deadly. Worse yet, Shen’zae Melera, interstellar assassin and Parker’s love, has returned to Earth with dire news: she didn’t return alone. She’d been followed by her nemesis, Mag Beloc, and his fleet of warships. Even if Beloc recaptures her, Melera knows that Earth will suit his purposes, and that his presence may well become permanent. Drawn together by choice and fate while doing what they had to do, can Kurt, Garrett, and Parker now find a way to undo the magick that binds them, and with Melera, stop an alien invasion before it begins?

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Losing our Humanity

Jerry J.C. Veit Author Interview

Jerry J.C. Veit Author Interview

Into the Night features an unlikely pairing of characters who set out on a journey to battle barbarians and vampires across the English countryside. I felt like the setting was very detailed in this story. Why did you choose this time and place for your book?

Historically, in the early 1300’s, England became the landing point of the Vikings when they decided to leave their northern towns. Vampire legends were also very well-known and taken seriously throughout almost every century.

Vampire belief peaked and declined and then rose again as time went on. Vampires are indeed everlasting; at first being a tale of horror and then becoming a fascination. It is no doubt that vampires evolved like no other monster in our literature.  The lore is still alive today and fills us both with fear and desire.

I studied old maps of the English countryside and manipulated some letters of real older towns to create my locations. I also mentioned some landmarks that still exist today to give Into the Night a more historical background rather than that of pure fantasy. Somehow, barbarians, vampires, and England just seemed to fit perfectly.

The book got its title because one evening I was driving with the sun behind me and darker night skies ahead of me. I was literally driving into the night. It felt ominous and fit the vibe of my story well. Also at that time, was a popular song on the radio that shared the same name by Santana and Chad Kroeger.

The hero’s Samuel and Valencia are dynamic characters that battle vampire matriarchs Isabella and Cerbera who are also well developed. What was your inspiration for the characters relationship and how they contrast with the villains?

Samuel is a drifter with no clear path in life. Valencia is unable to forget a bad memory and is driven to seek revenge. In a way Valencia is too harsh and Sam too meek; together they take what the other has too much of and it makes them a perfect duo.

The vampire sisters mask their vile intentions and wicked deeds with beauty that beguiles those they encounter. Without Valencia, Samuel would not have been able to (or perhaps not want to) resist them. It stems from the duality of our minds – the fear of losing our humanity (Soul, goodness) and the desire to break free from physical obstacles and society’s restraints and give in to lust. Valencia keeps him grounded and stands as an icon of strength and courage; which eventually wins Sam’s admiration.

I felt like this novel did a great job utilizing vampire lore and creating some of its own. How did you set about creating the vampires in your story?

Into the Night was my first screenplay (and my second published book). At the time I was reading: Screenplay: The Foundations of Screenwriting by Syd Field. That’s when I decided to practice what I was reading. My first words of the story were Valencia’s speech to Sam, at their first encounter, about Cerbera stalking her prey. I remember putting the monologue on Facebook and getting replies like: “what happens next?” The truth is I didn’t know. I was just practicing a writing exercise I had assigned to myself, but I knew I had to make something out of it now.

It helped that I took a liking to everything vampire; watching movies from Nosferatu to Interview with a Vampire to Underworld, and collecting a library of vampire literature; from Camilla to Vlad to vampire encyclopedias.

Cerbera’s name is taken from a plant species found in India; known as the suicide tree due to its toxicity. The vampire sisters each have a unique trait. One paralyzes men with a touch, the other with a look. Together they symbolize heightened sexuality that dominates all men and is based on the biblical character, Lilith, who eventually formed the race of the succubus. The vampires in Into the Night are a compilation of everything I read and saw.

I would love to see more of the pairing of Samuel and Valencia. Do you have any plans to expand their story in the future? 

I have thought about bringing Samuel and Valencia back together as a vampire fighting couple. With the barbarian threat culled and the vampire’s uncanny trait to keep coming back; I would be able to dedicate the story to just vampires.

In the middle of the story Sam and Valencia rescue a family that escapes to Ireland. That was intended to be the main plot for the continuation. The team rejoins to aid the family and fight a vampire threat in Ireland.

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Into the Night by [Veit, Jerry J.C.]

In the autumn of 1325 an army of barbarians invade the south-western region of England. A drifter named, Samuel and a strong-willed woman named, Valencia journey north to Ashborough to seek the aid of the steward’s army.

While on their mission they realize the barbarian army is close behind them along with two vampire matriarchs and their vampire horde. They find themselves in the midst of two wars as they fight northward on, what seems to be, a Sisyphean task.

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