Bruce Woods' American Blood was published by Penmore Press in October 2020.

About Bruce Woods:

History with a Bite - Bruce Woods is a professional writer/editor with more than 30 years in magazine publishing, having worked as editor of Mother Earth News and Alaska Magazine, among others, and has published both nonfiction and poetry books. Prairie Schooner magazine featured his work in its “Writing from Alaska” issue. His Birdhouse Book, brought out by Sterling/Lark, is still in print and has sold more than 100,000 copies.

After leaving the editor’s position at Alaska Magazine in late 1998, Woods began a second career in External Affairs for the Alaska Region of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Eventually serving as the de facto writer/editor for the agency’s largest region, as well as providing information and an initial contact point for state, national, and international media on topics affecting Alaska’s often controversial wildlife and land management issues, Woods retired in the spring of 2013 in order to focus on fiction writing.

In addition to the Birdhouse Book referenced above, Woods has published three nonfiction volumes and several books of poetry with small presses. During his magazine editing career he also served as editor/contributor to numerous nonfiction volumes. Several of his essays have been anthologized, as well.

Woods currently lives in Anchorage, Alaska with his wife Mary and his two cats, Lucy Fur and Boswell. Gardening and bicycling (the latter usually upon a single-speed road bike named “Yellow Snow” that he built from an old track frame bought online) are chief among his many interests outside of reading and writing. He has two children, Ethan, who studied music composition at Bennington College and now resides in Asheville, N.C., and his daughter Alice, who recently graduated from Minneapolis College of Art and Design and currently lives in Minneapolis.

Click here to visit the author's Facebook page.

About American Blood:

Paulette Monot, vampire-adventuress, having survived the Matabele War in Africa, leaves England to travel in the opposite direction: to America, there to recuperate, make her fortune, and keep a low profile. So much for good intentions. When she finds herself strongly attracted to Lucy Burns, a young leader in the American movement for Women's Suffrage and the right to vote, the best Paulette can hope for is one out of three. The women who dare to peaceably demand be treated as human beings under the law are being treated worse than the most violent offenders. And it isn't just human anger and prejudice they must contend with. By the time Paulette figures out why disembodied, malevolent spirits are plaguing the suffragettes, it may be too late to save Lucy.

On the other hand, Paulette, whose thirst for vengeance is at least as strong as her taste for alluring redheads, finally has a chance to hunt down her accidental maker - with or without the permission of the American vampire kin.

American Blood, a stand-alone sequel to Royal Blood, is historical urban fantasy in which the actual events depicted are more horrific than the imagined supernatural elements.

REVIEW: AMERICAN BLOOD BY BRUCE WOODS

Bruce Woods' American Blood is the third and final novel in the Hearts of Darkness Trilogy. It's an excellent sequel to Royal Blood and Dragon Blood, because it's just as good and entertaining as its predecessors. It's highly enjoyable escapism to everybody who loves historical urban fantasy.

Because American Blood concludes the Hearts of Darkness Trilogy, this review is in equal parts a look at the whole trilogy as well as a review about the novel itself. I'll try to keep this review as spoiler-free as possible.

Having had the pleasure of reading the whole trilogy, I can say that what Bruce Woods has created is very entertaining. I enjoy the author's way of writing about Paulette Monot and her adventures, because he doesn't resort to clichés and manages to keep the story fresh and intriguing. The author's writing is wonderfully effortless and fast-paced.

The first novel, Royal Blood, introduces the courageous vampire-adventuress Paulette Monot to the readers and tells of her adventures in Africa during the First Matabele War. The second novel, Dragon Blood, tell of Paulette's adventures in the turbulent China. Now, this final novel, American Blood, tells of Paulette's adventures in America, because she now lives in Washington, D.C..

If there are readers out there who haven't had an opportunity to read the previous novels, I can mention that it's possible to read this novel as a standalone novel. It isn't absolutely necessary to know what has happened in the previous novels, but knowledge of the previous happenings will let you fully enjoy the story and its nuances, because you'll know what has happened to Paulette and how her life has changed.

American Blood begins with Paulette residing in Washington, D.C., America. She lives quietly and keeps a low profile until she meets Lucy Burns, who is a young leader in the American movement for Women's Suffrage. When Paulette rescues Lucy and offers to make a donation for their cause, she is suprised by meeting a woman who can see what she truly is. She learns that there are shades (Souls) who seem to cause trouble to the movement by affecting their opponents' minds and tries to find out more about them. Soon, she meets her maker, Bryan Card, and is not happy about meeting him, for she knows that he can cause problems...

This is all I'll write about the story, because I want to avoid revealing major spoilers. I can, however, mention that what I've mentioned here serves as the beginning for an exciting and well-executed story that will fascinate fantasy readers with its twists and turns.

I find Paulette Monot an especially intriguing protagonist, because she is a complex, multifaceted and intelligent yet sensual and liberated woman, who is a vampire. She has her own needs and - if needed - she can also be rough and ruthless. I've enjoyed reading about her ever since the first novel, because the author writes fascinatingly about her life and thoughts. It's captivating to read about how she observes what happens around her and how she feels about many things, because she looks at things from a different point of view than mortals.

One of the best things about American Blood is that it's satistyingly different from similar kind of vampire novels. I respect the author for having the courage to steer away from the clichés that have been known to plague this kind of vampire fiction. One of the most noticeable differences between this novel and similar kind of fiction is that this novel is not paranormal romance, but pure historical urban fantasy with only a few romantic and erotic elements.

The romantic and erotic elements of the story are brief, but they are handled well and the author uses them to spice up the story. There's enticing sensuality in these scenes that I find intriguing. I appreciate the author for not dwelling on these scenes, but briefly describing what happens, because it fits the story.

This novel has many historical elements that are connected to the American movement for Women's Suffrage. The author uses these elements to his advantage, because they serve as a backbone for the story. He writes well about the suffragettes and their struggle, because he tells of what kind of difficulties they experience while pursuing their goal of getting women the right to vote.

The apperance of Paulette's maker, Bryan Card, is an interesting part of the story, because Paulette doesn't think fondly of him and notices that he is capable of causing trouble. It was exciting to read what happens between Paulette and Bryan, because Paulette is appalled and disgusted by Bryan's deeds and doesn't want anything to do with him. I think that many readers will be pleasantly surprised by what happens between them and how Paulette takes care of things.

What makes this novel especially fascinating is that the author tells of how Paulette Monot became a vampire. I also want to mention that the shades (Souls) that Paulette is capable of seeing are another essential and interesting part of the story arc. I won't go into details about them, but I can reveal that their presence and the way they affect people causes Paulette to investigate the reason for their appearance.

I find Bruce Woods' prose fluent and engaging. He is one of those authors who manage to write stories in an effortless way without resorting to cheap tricks to amuse his readers. He's an excellent storyteller and his story flows well (I consider his effortlessly flowing story to be one of the reasons why each of the novels in this trilogy works well).

I think that this trilogy will be of interest to readers who love historical adventure stories, historical urban fantasy and vampire stories, because it's an entertaining and well written trilogy with an emphasis on good storytelling. It also has a few elements of mystery fiction that lend a special touch of entertainment to the whole. Despite having a few dark and slightly unsettling scenes, this trilogy is wonderfully light and thus it will appeal to a wide range of readers.

Before I finish writing this review, I'm compelled to mention that this trilogy is one of the most intriguing historical urban fantasy series I've ever come across. There's something about it that I just can resist, because the author has come up with an interesting protagonist and writes fascinatingly about her adventures in different countries and pays attention to details, not to mention keeps the story on the move all the time.

My final words are: Bruce Woods' Hearts of Darkness Trilogy is highly enjoyable escapism. If you're in need of entertaining fantasy fiction or historical urban fantasy, please take a look at this trilogy, because it's a compelling read.

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