Back Cover Copy
Become what you believe.
Elsa Fredriksen knows
there’s a thin line between love and fear. As High Healer, she rights the wrongs committed by
those who choose the darkness. But even Asgard’s secret weapon can’t undo every
injury—especially when her fate is completely entwined with the god she’s trying to save.
Elsa’s in love with the Norse
God of Justice. But Forse’s heart is ruled by fear—fear that the past will repeat itself; fear that
opening his heart will compromise his ability to do his job; fear that he’ll hurt the one girl he
desperately wants to protect. Again.
When Elsa faces off against
the very monster she once swore to protect, her survival depends on a power she isn’t sure she
can control. And when Forse’s worst nightmare unfolds in front of him, Elsa has to decide
whether it’s more important to hold the realms in perfekt balance . . . or hold on to the guy she
can’t imagine existing without.
Perfekt Balance on
“Hold up.” Henrik held out
one hand. “Where are you going? And why is Forse about to kill someone?”
We all turned to look at
Forse. Sure enough, his eyes were slits, his breathing was sharp, and he had a pulsing
forehead vein that rivaled Tyr’s neck one. He positively seethed anger.
“We are going to
Svartalfheim,” Tyr answered coolly. The four gods in the room drew a collective
The mortal took in our
reactions with practiced calm. “Which one’s Svartalfheim again?” she asked
“The worst one after
Helheim,” Brynn muttered.
“It’s the realm of the dark
elves,” I explained. “When the cosmos was born, the blackest souls were sent to a
wasteland—a realm of isolation and soot. Svartalfheim.”
“And you’re all going there?”
“Forse, Brynn, Elsa, and I
are going there.” Tyr spoke with his chin on Mia’s head. “You’re staying here with
“Elsa doesn’t need to go,”
“You of all people know how
delicate this retrieval is. The perp has been a fugitive since…well, it’s been a long time. She’s
being harbored by dark elves who demanded Fenrir in her place, and I have no intention of
unleashing that beast again. The elves agreed to accept one of the Svartish treasures from the
vault instead of the wolf, but they could very well turn on us once we get there. We need a
Unifier to make sure this exchange goes peacefully. Right now, Elsa’s all we’ve got,” Tyr
“Um, thanks?” I
“You know what I mean.” Tyr
turned his gaze to me. “I don’t want to drag you into Svartalfheim any more than Forse does. I
know you’re not up to speed on the peacekeeping function, and I don’t like putting you in
danger. Not only are you my baby sister, but you’re a Key—you’re one of the gods we train to
protect. I hate everything about this. Unfortunately, I don’t have another option.”
“I could go,” Mia offered. Her
voice was shaky, but she held her head high.
“No.” Five voices sounded as
one. A combination of relief and disappointment flickered across Mia’s features.
“If I’m not ready, you’re
definitely not ready,” I reminded her. “I’ll get this one, and once I have a handle on this bizarre
skill set I’ll pass the torch to you. I promise.”
“I’ll hold down the fort from
here this time.” Mia stared me down. “But I don’t want to be on baking duty with Henrik
I swallowed. Figure this out, Elsa.
“Hey, there are worse things
than baking with me.” Henrik raised an eyebrow. “I never did teach you to make my mom’s
chocolate mousse cake, did I?”
Mia looked up with a small
smile. “Does she use Mexican vanilla?”
“Tahitian,” Henrik countered.
“And I’ve got a stash in my secret cabinet.”
“Now that that’s settled, does
anyone want to tell me the name of the perp we’re retrieving from that Odin-forsaken realm?”
Brynn chimed in.
I turned to my brother and
waited for his answer. When he spoke, his voice was clipped.
The name fell like a lead
balloon at a birthday party. Brynn’s mouth dropped open, and Henrik sucked in a breath. I
couldn’t see Forse’s face, but the sound of knuckles cracking behind me let me know he wasn’t
happy. I could relate.
Oh dear gods. We’re going after
The room swirled in a violent
vortex, and Forse gripped my arms to steady me. As he righted me in my chair, the world
slowed to a standstill. Runa was more than just Forse’s psychotic ex-girlfriend. She was the
monster who committed the
crime—the one that changed
When I finally found my
voice, it came out dry and scratchy. “We’re going after Runa.”
“Yes.” Forse watched me
“And you’re charging her with
Forse kept his hands on my
arms as I breathed through my rage. “Elsa, if you don’t want to go with us we
“We can what?” Tyr
interrupted. “We can’t let the dark elves keep her—her crime was against Asgard, and she
needs to answer to our
realm for what she’s done.
Not Svartalfheim. You of all gods know that.”
“I’m not letting her hurt Elsa!”
Forse exploded. The words echoed off the marble countertops, piercing the normally calm
“I’m not letting her hurt
anyone!” Tyr yelled back. “And the only way I can ensure that is if I bring her to
“Enough!” I interjected. With
my emotions under control, I re-opened my abilities and sent waves of calm at Forse and Tyr.
Their chests continued to rise and fall with angry breaths, but their auras reflected a slight
decrease in rage. It was the best I could do. “Forse, I understand where you’re coming from. But
Tyr’s right. Runa needs to be brought to justice. And since that’s you”—I tapped the justice god
with my pointer finger—“and since I’ve got your back whether you like it or not, I’m going with
you. Tyr’s spot on; we don’t want this exchange going bad. We can’t let her hurt anyone else. I
need you to have that faith in me you promised you would.”
“I believe in you, Elsa. I’ve
always known you have what it takes to master this job, even before you believed it yourself.
You’re incredibly powerful, and you can do anything you set your mind to. But there are so
many forces working against us these days. If anything happened to you, I’d never forgive
myself.” Forse pressed his forehead to mine. His concern was sweet, and normally I’d have
melted into a giggling mess at the contact, but right now I just couldn’t go there.
“Let’s make sure we’re all
safe then. We’ll bring Runa in so she
can be prosecuted to the fullest extent of Asgardian law.” I shot Forse a look brimming with
confidence I didn’t actually possess. Since the energetic fireballs shooting between him and Tyr
suggested they still operated at a six on the anger scale, it was clear I was a woefully ineffective
And I had the job of my life
ahead of me.
Before finding domestic bliss in suburbia, S.T.
Bende lived in Manhattan Beach (where she became overly fond of Peet’s Coffee) and
Europe… where she became overly fond of McVities cookies. Her love of Scandinavian culture
and a very patient Norwegian teacher inspired the books of The Elsker Saga and The
Ære Saga. She hopes her characters make you smile,
and she dreams of skiing on Jotunheim and Hoth.
Find S.T. on Twitter @stbende, her website
(www.stbende.com), or Facebook (www.facebook.com/stbende). While you’re at it, introduce
yourself to @UllMyhr and @TyrFredriksen — when they’re not saving the cosmos from dark
elves, they love meeting new friends . . . especially the human kind.
Want to connect with fellow Norse god fans?
S.T.’s readers have created a Facebook group! Head over to the RagnaRockstars page to chat with other readers, talk with S.T., and get access to exclusive content…
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