Edale Lane has a new FF alt history mystery romance book out: Sigrid & Elyn.
Attracted by passion, repelled by war. Can two shieldmaidens navigate battlegrounds of the sword and the heart?
Pre-Viking Scandinavia. Sigrid the Valiant is legendary throughout the kingdoms of Norvegr, along with her twin brother, for their many heroic deeds, but her heart has not found a home. Now, racing on the heels of their father’s murder, a neighboring kingdom’s raids threaten to cause an all-out war.
Elyn is a young shieldmaiden with a score to settle, fighting her own insecurities along with enemies who threaten her homeland, but she remains unconvinced all is as it seems.
When the two clash on opposite sides of their shield walls, sparks fly from both their swords and passions. But when they talk, the two fierce women discover an antagonist’s plot has pitted their kingdoms against each other.
Will Sigrid and Elyn move past their suspicions and differences to forge a relationship and foil the villain’s scheme, or will the enemy’s assassins end their search for the truth?
Action, adventure, and intrigue ride together with romance in this enemies-to-lovers saga from the pre-Viking land of Norvegr. Award-winning, best-selling author Edale Lane brings history to life in this fast-paced sapphic novel. Grab your ax and rönd and join the quest by clicking to buy now!
Warnings: violence, rape (in a memory), slavery as part of society.
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Elyn’s heart pounded in her chest as she weighed her options. Right here, right now, she could kill Jarl Sigrid the Valiant and gain great fame and renown. With no witnesses, she could concoct any story she liked about how the epic battle in the cave occurred… except without witnesses, people may say Sigrid died in the fall and all Elyn did was chop at her corpse making it appear she had been victorious. A further problem with that option was that the gods saw everything. To kill an unarmed, unconscious opponent was a dishonorable display of cowardice akin to murder.
What would Sigrid do? Elyn lifted her ax but hesitated. One so well respected would not slay an incapacitated foe, would she?
But what troubled Elyn the most was the true impetus behind her reluctance—she didn’t want to kill Sigrid. She wanted her to live. Lowering her weapon, she gazed at the fair legendary hero. Though caked in dust sticking to blood and sweat, her legs pinned under heavy jagged rocks, she was the most astounding human being Elyn had ever laid eyes on. Maybe it was not her beautiful face or toned body, but the songs and stories that hailed her victories over man and beast, that saluted her valor and generosity that most fueled Elyn’s imagination. Perhaps it was how Sigrid had saved her from a spear hurled on the battlefield when it had been against her own best interest. But maybe it was the strange energy that pulsed through Elyn’s sensations whenever they were near each other that compelled her to choose mercy. Then again, it could merely be her own sense of unworthiness.
I am nobody, she thought. I can’t kill a jarl, a female warrior jarl… a lovely, helpless woman of distinction. She needs my help.
Elyn shoved the ax back into her belt and lifted heavy stones off the fallen shieldmaiden, tossing them aside. As she worked, Sigrid awoke. Sky-blue eyes blinked and the trapped woman coughed away dust, soon becoming aware she was not alone.
With a startled expression, Sigrid grabbed her sword and swung it at Elyn, who had to jump to avoid its reach. “Do not think of crushing me with a slab of limestone!” she blasted with rage igniting in her glare. Sigrid’s voice was robust enough to overpower the burble of the waterfall. “I could carve you like a roasted pig even without the use of my legs.”
An admiring smile tugged at the corner of Elyn’s lips, and something sprang to life deep within her core. “I am certain that you could, Jarl Sigrid, but if you will notice, I am not attacking you, but digging you out of the rubble.”
“What happened?” Sigrid raised her left hand to the gash on her forehead.
“The ground gave way, and we fell into this pit chased by large rocks. I think a Jotnar is to blame,” Elyn replied in a placid tone that seemed to disarm Sigrid.
As her focus cleared, she aimed it on Elyn’s face. “I find myself at a disadvantage,” Sigrid admitted. “You know who I am, but I am not familiar with you. What is your name?”
Elyn heaved the last of the big rocks pinning Sigrid’s legs to the side and sat on it. “I am Elyn, a shieldmaiden of Firdafylke. I live in a village called Kaldrlogr. It would appear for the moment we are trapped in this crevice. Thus far, no one has appeared at the fissure above to lend aid, and I suspect the battle continues.”
Sigrid nodded. Elyn! So that is your name. Satisfaction nestled within Sigrid until she recalled why they were there. Feelings of languid infatuation evaporated, and vengeful wrath rushed in to seize their place. She pushed up on her sword, gathering her legs under her body, and struggled to her feet. She could tell her injuries were more than superficial, and she could not bear weight on her right leg, but she was determined. Mirroring her movement with caution, Elyn rose from her rock and shifted a hand to the ax on her belt.
Pinning the flame-haired shieldmaiden with a frigid glare, Sigrid snarled. “Why did your raiders attack our farms? It is fortunate you were not among their number as we left none alive.”
She cocked her sword arm for a swing, and in an instant, Elyn whipped out her ax to block the whirling blade. The motion of the stroke rendered Sigrid off balance, and she could have easily toppled over, but her opponent pushed against her steel with her weapon until she was upright and steady on her one good leg. Elyn’s action surprised Sigrid, though she was glad for it.
“We did no such thing!” her foe declared with heated conviction. She hoisted her ax, poised at the ready.
Sigrid realized she was in no condition to fight, so she had better rein in her temper. She glanced down at Elyn’s sturdy legs, shapely hips, rounded breasts, up to luscious full lips, and finally into stunning green eyes and held them.
“Several of my friends were killed,” Sigrid asserted, and she felt a quiver go through her body. “A dozen men under the banner of Firdafylke carrying shields with your colors,” she testified, motioning to Elyn’s rönd lying a few feet away, “attacked the outlying farms of my village, Gnóttdalr. They burned homes, slew livestock, murdered women and children, then tried to flee like cowardly rodents.”
Elyn’s brows knit together in concern. “When was this?”
“Less than two weeks ago,” Sigrid confirmed. With her shoulder stiff and in pain, she lowered her sword but kept a firm grip on its hilt. “Maybe a week and a day after the first time we fought.” Sigrid tried to calculate, but her head throbbed. Has it been three weeks I have spent dreaming of you?
“That is impossible!” Elyn’s declaration snapped Sigrid’s thoughts back into focus. “It wasn’t us. All of Jarl Njord’s warriors are accounted for at that time and none have gone missing,” the younger woman insisted.
Sigrid’s frown deepened. “I know about Jarl Njord and his intentions for the throne of Firdafylke. With King Tortryggr’s mind and strength failing, he supposes to increase his fame by defeating us, but it shan’t work.”
“What are you talking about?” Elyn fumed and tossed her empty hand into the air. “There is nothing wrong with King Tortryggr’s health, mental or otherwise. And while it is true Njord has ambitions, he is not a traitor. What about your King Grimolf? Greedy to the core! We know about his plans to take over our kingdom, how he has promised all you jarls will double your holdings.”
“Nothing but sheep dung!” Sigrid retorted. “That is the biggest load of shite I’ve ever heard.”
Elyn’s brows narrowed, and her scowl deepened. “What about the Svithjod raiders that attacked our farms? We had defenseless people killed by your warriors, too. Did they make sport of it? Was it a game to them?”
“We did no such thing!” Sigrid’s voice reverberated about the cavern, which only increased the throbbing in her head. “We supported you several years ago when Raumsdal assaulted your land. I personally led a team of wagons to reinforce your army with supplies, and my brother brought volunteers to join your defenses.”
“I know,” Elyn countered, “which is why we feel so betrayed that you have invaded now. Maybe the raiders did not come from your band, but they flew the raven flag and carried the yellow and black shields of Svithjod. Why do you lie?”
She raised her ax in a defiant motion and Sigrid reacted instantaneously, slamming her sword to bear against it. “I do not lie!”
The two shieldmaidens pressed closely together, hot with anger and confusion. Sigrid was not expecting the arousal she experienced at the proximity to her enemy, but her desire could not be denied. It was baffling and unacceptable. Only a handle of wood and a blade of steel stood between them. Sigrid kept her balance on her one good leg, but if Elyn pulled away, she would surely fall. She felt the heat of her breath, inhaled her intoxicating scent, and her body ached for a woman she should not want. Is this a trick? Have I been bewitched? A part of her wished to examine Elyn’s every feature in intricate detail, while reason ordered her emotions to stand down.
Elyn slowly backed away, almost as if she was being careful to not cause Sigrid to fall. “No, you do not lie.” The words rang with sincere belief and Sigrid eased her muscles as she mirrored her foe to relax. They lowered their weapons at the same time. “But neither do I.”
Edale Lane is an award-winning author (Rainbow Awards, Imaginarium Awards, Lesfic Bard Awards) who is realizing her dream of being a full-time writer. She is the alter-ego of author Melodie Romeo, (Tribute in Blood, Terror in Time, and others) who founded Past and Prologue Press. Both identities are qualified to write historical fiction by virtue of an MA in History and 24 years spent as a teacher, along with skill and dedication regarding research. A native of Vicksburg, MS, Edale (or Melodie) is also a musician who loves animals, gardening, and nature. After driving an 18-wheeler cross-country for eight years, she now lives with her partner in beautiful Chilliwack, B.C. Canada.
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