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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Three Fates by Andrew Grey, Mary Calmes and Amy Lane

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Rating: 5 stars

The Fates sit, spin and weave the fabric of all human life.  Some people’s threads are guided to the path of true love, some are lucky in love and life while others have their lives or threads cut short, their loves lost , while others still have waited many lifetimes to find their true love again.  All human life woven into a tapestry by the Fates with some surprising and  unexpected results, even to the Fates themselves.  Three Fates weave the stories of three very different couples, from werewolves in Germany to Scandinavians in California.

Fate Delivers A Prince by Andrew Grey gives us a young werewolf with a terrible itch who visits Germany with his family only to run into a prince who takes his royal duties very seriously.  Only an intervention by Clotho will put these two on a path to love.

Jump by Mary Calmes brings us into the lives of Egyptian gods and the Fates.  When one god loses his mortal lover, he renounces his immortality and dies.  Bereft his brother God begs the Fates interference to bring the two together again, no matter how many lives each must live before they find each other again.

Believed You Were Lucky by Amy Lane stars Loki and Thor as the Nordic gods whose meddling changes the patterns of two families, giving one the abundance of luck after stealing the luck from another.  When Lief, the lucky bike messenger saves the life of Hacon, who is laboring under a family curse, the Fates have a chance to right a wrong as the Gods look on.

What a remarkable trio of stories by three amazing authors.  In each story, the Fates weave out the pattern of peoples lives but things never go as planned, not without a little interference by the weavers themselves. If you have ever heard someone say “well, it must have been fate” and you believed it, then these stories are for you.

In Andrew Grey’s story, he brings the Greek Gods, or rather Clotho , the youngest of the Moirai or Fates to help two young lovers accept their destiny.  Clotho is responsible for making decisions, weaving the human story.  When it looks like Cheyanne the young were is going to listen to his insecurities and poor self image instead of attending the ball, Clotho sends the appropriate dress and instructions to send him to the ball and a meeting with his prince.  Chey is young endearing young man, whose position in the family as the baby plus an undiagnosed skin disease has turned him into someone who craves a library and books over human interaction and society. The descriptions of Chey interactions with his father were so touching and had that authentic feel of a father and son trying to navigate their issues with each other. In fact all the relationships here feel very real whether it is family dynamics or odd man out at the ball.  Reading this story gave me the feeling of being there watching it all unfold. Andrew Grey gives us a great sense of setting with his descriptions of the buildings and streets in Munich, Germany combined with terrific characterizations.And the idea that love is an itch you must scratch as well as the balm? Priceless. And so is this gentle tale of love and a forever prince from Andrew Grey.

Anubis and Horus come to life in this touching tale of love lost and centuries later found once more.  Haven’t you ever looked at someone and sensed an immediate connection beyond all logic?  I did and let the moment and the person go by to my everlasting regret.  So this story had a special resonance for me.  When Raza and Cassidy meet and seem to know one another, I  almost wept so right did Mary Calmes get that feeling, that moment in time.  And the character of Cassidy Jane is someone I have never seen from her before.  Short, skinny, bald and wearer of bowties!  I kept thinking where did you come from?  And I loved him!  And Raza, seemingly implacable until Fate smacks him in the chest in the form of Cass and they put right what went horribly wrong so long ago.  But this is a Mary Calmes story, so you have two lovable and oh so human best friends for our two main characters, Snow Drake and Jamie Kidd.  I loved them too.  And there is angst, and anxiety towards the end that it will all go wrong again but the Fates have other ideas, and so does Anubis. That climatic scene at the end? Scary and fun? Ah, Mary Calmes, you did it again.  This was wonderful.  I so love Cass!  Can we please see all of these people again?

Our third and last weaver of human destiny is Amy Lane.  Here she invokes the Gods of Asgard and the Fates called Verdandi (neccessity), Urdh(fate), and Skuld (being).  Here the Fates or Norns, also known as the three sisters, live under the world tree,Yggdrasil, in the realm of Asgard. They weave together the destinies of men and gods as well as the changing laws of the cosmos.  Their tapestry was interrupted, the pattern broken when Loki comes and steals a golden thread of luck from one baby and gives it to another.  The Fates are horrified at Loki’s act, Skuld takes the broken threads and spit splices them together as best she can. This results in “The family with the thread, they shall be lucky, long-lived, and blessed—mostly. And the family without? They shall be unlucky and doomed—but optimistic and intelligent and resourceful.” A temporary fix until a solution comes around in the form of sons from each family that meet and heal the break in their destinies in a most extraordinary way.  Here we meet two of the most remarkable creations, two sons of Norway residing in California, undeniable in their uniqueness and depth of character.  Lief, the lucky “Thundergod” of bike messengers glows his way off the pages and into our hearts, his personality larger than can be contained within this story. Hacon Haldor aka Hake took a little longer to creep into my heart. Dark, thin, brooding, he can kill tanks of tropical fish by freezing them and make his mother’s plants turn black as he passes, although he doesn’t really believe he is to blame no matter what his ex boyfriend and brother says. Flanking these remarkable beings are Lethal, a pint sized bit of attitude and energy who is Lief’s best friend, Andre who is Hake’s ex boyfriend and cop, and two unforgettable cats, Loki (of course) and Vanir who have their own roles to play.  Element upon element, layer upon layer,  the yarn Amy Lane has woven intertwines until we are given a story tremendous in scope, as large as Asgard itself.  We have mythological elements, the scary world of bike messengers, marvelous explanations of the meaning of stories and hero figures, knitting, and some of the best cussing phraseology that has come down the pike.  I am talking some memorable wall hangings and cross stitch pillows just screaming out to be made with those phrases in mind.  And no I cannot repeat them here.  You will have to read the story!  Uh hem.

I loved these stories.  They spoke to my mind and my heart.  Clearly these wonderful authors were fated to write them as we are to read them, enjoy them and bring them close.  Don’t pass these by, don’t give Loki a reason to make more mischief (like he needs any).  Whether you believe in Fate or happenstance, these stories are for you.  No quibbles here.  Trust me.  You’ll love them.

Cover art by Christine Griffin.  Love it.  What a great sexy cover.  Amy Lane says she is the Fate in the hoodie.  Of course she is.  So who do you think are the other two?