Return of the Elf Lord by @HVanlandingham is a Love and Romance Festival pick #fantasyromance #free
Title: Return of the Elf Lord
Author: Heidi Vanlandingham
Genre: Fantasy Romance
Three People. Two unforgettable decisions. One fate.
Resistance soldier Bernard Marchand would do anything to bring his family back from the dead, but in his desperation to change their fates, he alters history and nearly destroys the world. Faced with the consequences, he's horrified at what he's done. It was never supposed to be this way.
As a Huldra, Alva should have stolen her partner's life energy, drained him to the brink of death. Instead, she went against her natural instincts and helped him win the war against a dreaded enemy. However, when he inadvertently starts the countdown to Ragnarok, Alva will have to ignore the ache in her soul as she fights to save them once again.
And that's just the beginning…
An unknown enemy lurks just out of reach and interferes in their every effort to restore Earth's historical timeline. But why? What is he after? Will they be able to focus long enough to save the Nine Realms, or are they doomed to the horrific reality they unwittingly unleashed?
Okay, little light, I need a bit more power, so I can see better. A familiar blue glow brightened until she could make out the shadowed shapes around her. She laid her hand on Aleksandra's slender arm. "Stay here. I need to get closer to the tunnel. If there is more than one Huldra, run." Her grip tightened. "Promise me, Aleksandra, that you will leave me." Her brown eyes widened, but the Night Witch pressed her lips together and nodded, stepping back until the rock wall stopped her.
Praying her friend would keep her word, Alva crept toward the tunnel entrance then stopped. Holding as still as she could, she inhaled, recognizing the scent of adrenaline-laced blood mixed with the acrid odor of fanaticism, but it was the second, more potent scent, that gave her pause.
As she stood there, trying to decide her best move, a bit of her strength returned, and she didn't feel quite so drained and weak. Straining her ears, she listened for any sound and almost missed the slight brush of material as it scraped against the rock wall in front of her.
A high-pitched screech filled the room and bounced off the chiseled stone walls as a large figure hurtled toward her. She raised her arms in front of her as a flash of silver momentarily blinded her. Bracing herself, she waited for the impact, but nothing happened. Holding her breath, Alva peeked around her hands and watched as Brita's eyes widened. Maya's first lieutenant opened her mouth and blood trickled from both corners.
Her arm rose, the sword clattering to the floor between them. A horrible, gurgling sound filled Alva's ears, as if Brita were trying to say something, before she tilted sideways and crumbled to the cave floor. Alva's gaze met the dark blue eyes of her sister, Adriana, who held a bloody dagger in her hand.
Her younger sister, Clare, stepped out from behind Adriana and laid her hand on her sister's arm, the blade slowly lowering. "You know the drill. Clean your blade then we can take Alva to Mother." She leaned closer to Adriana's ear. "She's waiting, sister," she said in a gentle voice.
Adriana's stricken gaze met Alva's. "I didn't want to kill her," she whispered. A tear slipped from the corner of her sister's eye and slid along the side of her perfect nose, only to disappear at the corner of her mouth.
Holding out her arms, Alva stepped toward Adriana. The dagger slipped from her sister's trembling fingers and clattered to the floor as she met Alva halfway, sobbing against her shoulder as Alva held her close. She didn't speak, only rubbing gentle circles over Adriana's back as her sister's tears slowed then stopped.
"I'm a terrible Huldra." Adriana sobbed against Alva's neck.
"No, sister, you are the perfect Huldra. Under our mother's rule, those who should have enforced our laws broke them instead, committing atrocities against the males of all races. I have read the ancient tenets written by the Old Ones. They decreed our people only take enough life energy for survival. What is happening now is not just our mother's fault. This has been building for centuries. You are not an enforcer, but like so many, have had to take up arms to protect those who can't protect themselves."
Alva gently pushed her sister away. Using her thumbs, she wiped away the tears then kissed each cheek. "I am very proud of you and your quick actions. If you hadn't struck, I would be dead."
"I doubt that," Adriana scoffed. "You're stronger than all of us."
Alva shook her head. "Maya kept me locked up without much food or water for at least five days. I'm not even sure how long I was in that cell."
"You've been missing for nine days," a familiar male voice said behind her.
Turning, her eyes widened when she saw Bernard standing at the bottom of the stairs. His wavy light brown hair looked wind tossed and very unlike him. His shirt was hanging in three bloody strips but underneath, she saw smooth skin. Where were his injuries?
"Nine?" She shook her head. "My mother has a lot to answer for."
More light seemed to flood the room as Bernard walked toward her. Standing close enough for her to feel the heat pouring off him, he tucked a strand of hair behind her ear. "You are all right? You weren't hurt?" Alva stared into his brown eyes, mesmerized by specks of gold floating in their depths. She had never seen eyes like his. He reached up and held her chin between his thumb and finger, tilting her head back and jarring her wandering thoughts. "Alva?"
She blinked. "I'm fine, Bernard. Starving and tired, not to mention smelly, but I'm fine. Thank you for your concern."
He stared at her a moment longer, the backs of his fingers trailing up her cheek. With a slight startle, as if he wasn't aware of what he was doing, he dropped his hand and gave her a quick nod. "I must get back to Asgard, but if you should need anything, I will return." Just as quickly as he'd arrived, he disappeared.
Freyja and Aleksandra moved to stand on either side of her with Idunn wedged between them, all three women staring at her in concern. "Are you sure you're fine?" Freyja asked, her hand cupping Alva's cheek. Alva nodded. With her sisters at her back and her newfound family in front, she couldn't have felt more loved.
An errant thought furrowed her eyebrows as Alva stared at the spot where Bernard had just been. She turned to Freyja. "Is it just my imagination, or is he acting a little off?" She started to raise her hand then dropped it back to her side. "And how is he able to transport without your help, Freyja?"
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What’s your favorite part about being a romance author?
I get to travel to any time, experience any situation in history or fantasy realm, and experience the feeling of falling in love over and over again and then passing them on so readers can experience those same feelings.
Here’s my tip to add romance to your love life:
Allow yourself to escape from the everyday stressors and curl up with the one you love and just enjoy each other.
One lucky reader will win a $75 Amazon US or Canada gift card
Open internationally. You must have a valid Amazon US or Amazon CA account to win.
Runs February 1 – 28
Drawing will be held on March 1.
Heidi Vanlandingham writes action-packed stories that take place in war-torn Europe, otherworldly magical realms, and the Wild West. Her love of history finds its way into every book with enjoyably diverse characters, and every relationship is filled with a little sweet, a little heartbreak, and lots of love.. Heidi’s stories transport the reader to a different place and time for understanding, compassion, and most of all, love.
Growing up in Oklahoma and living one year in Belgium gave Heidi a unique perspective regarding different cultures. She still lives in Oklahoma with her husband and youngest son. Her oldest son is in the autism spectrum and is working toward his own dreams. Heidi’s favorite things in life are laughter, paranormal romance books, music, and long road trips.
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