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Awaken by @mccvan @XpressoTours ~ Crossroad Reviews

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Wake up
Vanessa McLellan
Publication date: July 30, 2022
Genres: Mature, Dark Fantasy, Fantasy, Horror

Balin stands between two great powers. One will destroy his mind; another will destroy his soul. Only one of them can save his people.

Fort Resenbirg, a Norse fortress in the New World, is under siege by the evil dream-twisting wizard Ursulard. Although their fields are burned and their houses destroyed, the residents and refugees are not worried because Fort Resenbirg Woke up with the power to provide, protect and grow. But all is not as it seems when a wall of impenetrable mist surrounds the fortress and the dragon Nidhögg hunts within the mist. Nidhögg craves more than meat and bones. It inflicts nightmares on its prey, feeding on fear and pain, inevitably taking lives.

Balin Tremor, a commoner sent into the militia but hoping to stay close to his noble lover, never expected great things. When the great power of Cradleweaving awakens within him, Balin unwittingly becomes the only man capable of breaking through the wall of mist and banishing the deadly beast within before it destroys them all—if he can master the new power in time. But in order to gain power, he has to sacrifice a lot. The question is, will it be his position, his Lady or his very soul?

The Mist meets the Nightmare on Elm Street in this classic tale of personal sacrifice.



Goodreads / Amazon

EXCERPT:

He tapped his knuckles on the wooden door, leaning against the frame to take the strain off his leg.

“Who’s there?”

“It is I, Ballyn Tremor.” He looked up and down the corridor. Vacant. “I request an audience.”

The door opened. “Please enter with an open heart, Balin.” Elaine beamed at him, her joy evident in the musical laughter in her words.

Balin stepped inside and Elaine slammed the door shut.

“Is Kirsten here?” he asked, scanning the room for Elaine’s maid.

Elaine shook her head. “She gets the tissue.” Without warning, she wrapped her arms around Balin’s shoulders and hugged him tightly. “I’m so, so, so glad you’re all right,” she said, holding herself tight as if making an oath. “Don’t ever do that again. Never.” She squeezed it. It took his body a moment to react and then he was melting in her arms.

He put his arms around her, his cheek touching her plum-colored silk shirt, holding her close, praying to Balder that she would never be taken from his arms. He breathed in her lilac scent and closed his eyes.

She pulled away and the intensity of her gaze took his breath away. They were the same height, except when she wore ball shoes and could look at him with a haughty advantage. Then she would tease him, throw her arm over his shoulders when no one was looking their way. He didn’t mind, he just liked being around her. Now, however, there was no teasing in her stormy eyes. There was only anxiety and determination, and he hated to see all those emotions confused by her cute faces.

“Balin, are you just going to give in? You don’t have to go back on the field.’

Balin sighed and dropped his gaze from her to stare at her nose. “I can’t do it.”

“Yes. You can.” She pulled away abruptly, turning her back on him, and rushed into her living room, her strong pant legs closing the distance to a few paces. She picked up papers from her desk and returned to him, shaking the papers in his face. “I completed the application. All I need is Howld’s approval, and after you and William—” she waved her hands in the air in a grand gesture, the papers crackling with expletives, “there’s no way he won’t agree to you were my steward.”

They had had this argument before, and it was getting harder and harder for Balin to deny her.

But he wanted to be much more to her than just her butler.

“You know, I don’t even need your consent.” Her eyes narrowed and her mouth frowned.

He dropped his shoulders back, his attention wandering to the copper molding that surrounded her ceiling. “You wouldn’t do that.”

“Don’t tempt me, Balin Tremor. If it means keeping you out of the war, I’ll do what I have to do.’

The command in her voice brought his attention back to her face. He grabbed her hands, papers and all, and pressed his forehead against hers. They stood like that for a moment, Elaine breathing heavily, Balin’s heart pounding in his ears. During these weeks in the cage, in the cold, from hunger, he wanted her. I wanted her soft touch. Her amused smile. He kept her in his mind in hidden places that Sebens couldn’t knock out of him.

“We have to fight him, Elaine. Each of us, all of us, must do what we can.”

“In that case, Balin,” she argued in a modest whisper, “that means I have to be there too.”

He could see her looking at him through her bangs. He pressed his forehead against hers until their noses touched. “You can’t go out there, Elaine,” he whispered, the words floating between their almost touching lips.

“I’m a better swordsman than you.”

“A swordsman, not a swordsman, they are not the same.”

The door opened behind him.

“Oh, miss, I’m sorry to intrude,” Kirsten said.

The air crackled with anticipation, but Kirsten, sorry to intrude, didn’t go.

Balin bowed his head and slowly pulled away. Then he turned to the maid. “Hello Kirsten.”

Biography of the author:

Born and raised in the farmlands of eastern Washington, Vanessa McLellan is an environmental engineer and an avid birder, naturalist, and hiker living in Portland, Oregon.

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