On the New Release Tour with Valhalla by L.A. Ashton (excerpt and giveaway)

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Title: Valhalla

Author: L.A. Ashton

Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: December 31, 2018

Heat Level: 1 – No Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 17900

Genre: Fantasy, Valkyrie, war, WWII, Norse Mythology, gay, historical fantasy

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Synopsis

Sakuma has served as a Valkyrie for centuries, smoothly escorting thousands of souls to the grand halls of Valhalla. While the world tears itself apart during WWII, he is summoned to retrieve the soul of a fallen Japanese soldier, Ishii Hiroshi. To Sakuma’s surprise, Ishii refuses his invitation to eternity.

The two meet again and again as the war repeatedly sends Ishii to death’s door, and what should have been a fleeting encounter becomes something much greater for the both of them.

Sakuma is determined to give Ishii the reward he so deserves, but Ishii’s stubbornness may condemn him to an eternity outside Valhalla.

Excerpt

Valhalla
L.A. Ashton © 2018
All Rights Reserved

Sakuma stared down through the floor, past his feet, through the crack in his dimension. Beyond the collisions and splits of galaxies, Earth’s thrumming pulse called to him. There lay his charges—the human souls he would collect so they might rest easy in Valhalla.

He felt the tug in his chest, the pull of someone destined for his collection, and spread his wings wide before plunging through the rift that linked their worlds. With wings tucked at his sides, stars became burning streaks of light. The universe blurred and twisted, an orb of hazy blue its only clear constant.

Earth had erupted into a time of war, and Sakuma and his fellow Valkyrie labored for the sake of human souls. They saw the hidden crevices and shadows of war no one wanted to see. The world wilted before their eyes, and the bloodstained present turned the future bleak, and dark. But they also saw triumph, and sunrise after sunrise starting the day anew. They saw the look on every soldier’s face as they realized death wasn’t the end.

It was worth it.

Sakuma punctured Earth’s atmosphere, and the smells of the lands and seas gusted against his face. His eyes softened at the reflective sparkle of the ocean; it was a beautiful sight, an unchanging thing that rose and fell under the press of the moon rather than the press of humanity.

The ground approached fast. Sakuma felt the tremble of the soul before his eyes could discern who it belonged to, but then—yes. Sakuma’s wings flared outward, body halting so immediately it dissolved the idea of impossibility.

Tanks, empty bullet shells, and discarded guns were strewn across the ground. Machines and bodies littered the battlefield as if they carried the same value. The acrid stench of gunpowder resisted the wind and hung in the air, a trail left in the wake of Axis and Allies. Sakuma looked down at his charge. The man stared up at him, eyes wide and unblinking. He was bleeding, his uniform more crimson than not, and he shook with such ferocity that Sakuma could hear it in his breaths.

Sakuma knelt down and offered his hand. The man blinked, his lashes coercing loose the tears still clinging to his eyes.

“You’ve done well,” Sakuma told him. He held his outstretched hand steady as his wings flapped at his back. “Let’s take you away from this.”

The soldier gawked at Sakuma’s wings before bringing his eyes down to the offered palm. He immediately grabbed hold, the sensation firm and warm against Sakuma’s skin. Good. He’s ready.

Sakuma curled his fingers around the man’s hand and lifted. As the soldier rose, the flesh of his hand fell away and lowered to the ground. What was left gripping Sakuma’s hand were tendrils of light in the purest, lightest blue.

Strings of energy knit together to form fingers, and arms and shoulders wound away from the confines of a body to become iridescent limbs. Sparkling light ghosted from the soldier, lifting past his body as his human form sighed its last breath. The human didn’t notice the transition. He only smiled, and that smile was lit with the radiant energy of life. Sakuma grabbed his other hand to steady him, and there was a discernible purr of peace.

Sakuma spread his wings, took a breath, and shot them into the air.

He kept his eyes up as they sailed through the Earth’s sky and broke through the seal of the atmosphere. But once they were careening through space, breaking apart time and dimensions, he liked to watch their faces.

Every man thought he knew true beauty. And then every man saw the infinite expanse of space, and they realized they’d been wrong.

Gas, dust, and rock were turned perfect and ethereal in the silence of space, backlit by millions of stars. Galaxies wound into spirals, blues warmed into reds around a sun, purple and green congealed in overheated leftovers of a supernova.

Sakuma watched the faces of the humans he brought, their newly transcendent form experiencing their first taste of eternity.

Eventually, he left them at the gates of Valhalla. There they could take the seat reserved for them—a place promised to true warriors for the rest of time.

Hands now freed, Sakuma turned to gaze into the black. Somewhere beyond that void, there was a pulse. Another life had found a heroic end. Sakuma smiled, spread his wings, and plunged back toward Earth.

Purchase

NineStar Press | Amazon | Smashwords | Barnes & Noble | Kobo

Meet the Author

L.A. Ashton is an LGBT+ author writing LGBT+ fiction. They enjoy rock music, traveling, and anything else that adds color to their daydreams. They believe in the healing properties of art and of having a cat firmly stationed on one’s lap. Their official site can be found at http://www.LAAshton.com.

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Giveaway

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Blog Tour for Of Princes False and True” by Eric Alan Westfall (exclusive excerpt and giveaway)

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Of Princes False and True

Eric Alan Westfall has a new MM Historical Fantasy book out:

A tennis match? Starting a war between the Duchy of Avann and the Kingdom of the Westlands?

Only in a fairy tale.

When Prince Henry hurts a young ball boy who told him Danilo’s ball was inside the line, Danilo’s response is automatic. Punch the prince’s face, pick him up left-handed, and break the royal jaw. Unfortunately, there’s another “automatic” at work: a death sentence for whoever strikes royalty.

King Hiram can’t—won’t—change the rule of law to rule of royal whim. But he grants the Heir of Avann fifteen days to find words that will allow Danilo to live.

In those fifteen days: Magick. The gods, goddesses and gender-fluid deities on Deity Lane. Kilvar, the assassin. A purse which opens in a bank vault. A mysterious old man. The Lady of All. The Magickal Hand writing, rewriting. A fairy tale within a fairy tale. A huge horse called Brute. And at the end…perhaps the right words and a most unexpected love. Plus a deity-supplied dinner with just the right amount of garlic.

All royalties will go to a local LGBT organization.

Queeromanceink

Amazon | Indigo | Angus & Robertson | Kobo | Universal Buy Link


Giveaway

Eric is giving away two backlist eBook titles to one lucky winner with this tour. Enter via Rafflecopter:

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OF PRINCES FALSE AND TRUE

BLOG TOUR EXCERPT

(Exclusive Excerpt)

Danilo, and his bodyguards Jonar and Ivyn, are in Deity Lane searching for words. In this god’s temple, they’ve worked their way up the chain of command to third priest from the top.

From Chapter 5

To Danilo’s surprise, the man was thin to the point of emaciation. In Danilo’s travels, most priests at this level had long since become accustomed to the finest of everything, including food and wines, and even more important, an abundance of it all, no matter what the deity’s worshippers or the country were experiencing. All was soon explained, though not formally. The man had no time for these finer things. Nor did he so much as look at Jonar and Ivyn. He was concerned only with the basest of things, the most basic of things: money.

He obviously couldn’t read from a price list for priest services rendered, as there’d never been a request such as Danilo’s, so he was making it up as he went along. He explained the complexities of the rituals which would have to be devised, the need for certain things not readily obtained, so if the lord would care to come back the next day, or perhaps the day after that? “The lord” wouldn’t.

The priest wasn’t certain…he couldn’t be sure it would be possible…

They were at an impasse, unless a price could be agreed on.

Danilo pulled out the wallet, laid it on the desk, patted it affectionately. He assumed, with more than a reasonable degree of certainty, everyone with any concern about money in the capital had heard of the flat wallet he carried, which magickly produced an abundance of gold coins at need.

The priest’s eyes confirmed his knowledge of the wallet.

The First Ducal Bank kept on hand a vast amount of currency from other nations, with the greatest amount being the Empire’s crowns. They kept one-, five-, ten-, twenty-, fifty- and hundred-crown coins on hand. A note to the Bank last night led to his container being filled with hundreds. Danilo knew the comparative value of currency; knew the vast amount of things a hundred crowns could buy in the Westlands. He pulled two out and set them down, side by side.

The priest obviously knew what they would buy as well. He didn’t reach for them. Danilo wondered whether he was aware his finger twitched, moved a tiny increment toward the money before being pulled back.

Danilo pulled out a third hundred, put it down. Waited. As in any negotiation which reached a settlement one side paid more than it wanted to pay, the other side accepted less than it thought it should have received. Danilo was on the paying side of the table. He knew Grandser would give him as much money as he wanted or needed, the proverbial duke’s ransom, but he’d be damned if he’d be cheated.

Part of him told himself he was a damned fool to take the chance. What if this deity had the words and he was too cheap to pay the price? Pull out another coin…two…three, that side of him demanded. The other side, the stubborn side—though Jonar would have insisted it was over ninety percent and not a mere “side”—counseled waiting.

Waiting won.

A thin hand reached out, stacked the coins and pulled them to his side of the table. “If you will follow me?”

Danilo thought how very odd it was, a complex ritual requiring a day or more of preparation, could begin so soon after coin was collected.

Before entering the disrobing chamber, beyond which the deity demanded—or so his servants said—the bodyguards not go, Danilo paused, and asked to speak to the money priest again. It was the only reasonable way to identify him, as he had never offered his name. With some trepidation the holy man was sent for.

Danilo asked for a private word…well, a private word in the presence of Jonar and Ivyn.

“You do know the king has sentenced me to death if I cannot come up with words to change his mind, do you not?”

“I do.”

“I don’t know King Hiram well, but he has a reputation for believing…quite strongly…in the rule of law, does he not?”

“He does. But my lord, where is this going?”

“Patience, sir. I am almost to my point.”

“I have two questions which do not require an answer, and then my point. First, what do you think the king’s reaction would be to any mortal, holy or not, who interfered with his justice by taking my life before he hears my words? Second, what do you think the Thirty-Eight would do to a deity which allowed interference with the king’s justice if I were to die here?”

The priest gulped and looked relieved he was not required to say anything.

Danilo smiled one of the smiles he’d learned from watching Grandser administering justice, or dealing with scoundrels large and small. It was not a pleasant smile. “I’m sorry, but I do have two more questions, and of these two, the first requires no answer. If I were to die during this ritual, who do you think would be the first to die at the blades of Jonar and Ivyn, and not with any degree of speed. Of course, those they had to kill or maim getting to him wouldn’t be included in the count.”

The priest became as white as…Danilo couldn’t think of a proper comparison…and shuddered. “My last question, holy one. I will be safe during this ritual, will I not.”

“Oh, yes, my lord! Indeed, my lord!”

“Then Jonar and Ivyn will wait here for me, and this is where I will return when the ritual is done.”

“Yes, my lord. Of course, my lord.” Danilo wondered if the priest bowed so low to his own deity, but thought not. The deity probably didn’t threaten him with a most horrible death very often.

Jonar and Ivyn, unhappy, but already knowing this was likely to happen, remained silent as Danilo went into the disrobing chamber.


Author Bio

Eric is a Midwesterner, and as Lady Glenhaven might say, “His first sea voyage was with Noah.” He started reading at five with one of the Andrew Lang books (he thinks it was The Blue Fairy Book) and has been a science fiction/fantasy addict ever since. Most of his writing is in those (MM) genres.

The exceptions are his Another England (alternate history) series:  The Rake, The Rogue and the Roué(Regency novel), Mr. Felcher’s Grand Emporium, or, The Adventures of a Pair of Spares in the Fine Art of Gentlemanly Portraiture(Victorian), with no way out(Regency) coming out a month after Of Princes.

Two more fairy tales are in progress:  3 Boars & A Wolf Walk Into A Bar(Eric is sure you can figure this one out), and The Truth About Them Damn Goats(of the gruff variety).

Now all he has to do is find the time to write the incomplete stuff! (The real world can be a real pain!)

Author Facebook (Author Page): https://www.facebook.com/Eric-Alan-Westfall-1045476662268838/

Author Twitter: https://twitter.com/eawestfall43