Some loves are bigger than this world…
Former soldier Erik Harrison is a dead man walking. The sole survivor of an ambush, the guilt of losing his friends is crushing. He questions his own sanity, remembering the vision he saw as he was dying –– a battle angel come to collect his friends' souls.
Valkyrie Brenna Lund doesn't know why she failed in her duty to reap Erik's soul on the battlefield. He deserves his place with the other mighty warriors in Valhalla, and if she wants to return home, she has to kill him.
There are consequences for betraying the gods. But the closer Brenna and Erik become, the more they both want to risk everything for a future together. If only an immortal hunter weren’t sent to kill them both.
Each book in the Odin's Bastards series is STANDALONE:
* Her Alpha Viking
* Warrior Nights
* Warrior in Love
About the Author
Sheryl Nantus is an award-winning romance writer published by Entangled, St. Martin's Press/Swerve, and Harlequin's Carina Press.
When she's not writing about hunky heroes, she is sipping tea, playing board games and writing haiku.
A total fangirl at heart, she met her husband through an online fanfiction community and currently lives in Pennsylvania.
Sheryl Nantus was born in Montreal, Canada, and grew up in Toronto, Canada. A rabid reader almost from birth, she attended Sheridan College in Oakville, graduating in 1984 with a diploma in media arts writing. She met Martin Nantus through the online fanfiction community in 1993 and moved to the United States in 2000 in order to marry. She loves to play board games and write haiku, although not usually at the same time. A firm believer in the healing properties of peppermint tea and chai, she continues to search for the perfect cuppa. In 2011 she won two second-place Prism Awards from the Fantasy, Futuristic and Paranormal chapter of RWA for her steampunk romance, Wild Cards and Iron Horses and the first volume of her superhero romance trilogy, Blaze of Glory.
Read an Excerpt
Erik Harrison was a dead man.
Blood dripped down on his shirt from the gashes on his face, blending with what was pulsing out of the many small shrapnel wounds, his flak vest shredded and now useless. The weight on his chest pushed the air out of him, making it hard to breathe. Short puffs were all he could manage, drawing in a mouthful at a time. He spat out a glob of blood, watching as it sank into the hot sand.
He wasn't walking away from this.
He glanced around at the others around him, struggling to remember the past few minutes.
The frantic call for help had come in over the radio — a small convoy under attack and pinned down by insurgents, taking heavy casualties as they yelled for assistance. They'd come and gone before without any problem, the charity offering medical aid to anyone who asked. Except this time someone had taken offense and now the unarmed civilian group was under fire.
There was no time to lose. He'd called for his squad, and they'd responded, snatching up their gear as a series of Humvees pulled up, ready to take them into battle.
The plan had been to go in, take the pressure off the embattled medics so they could escape. Then they'd pull back in a strategic retreat while waiting for reinforcements to catch up.
It'd gone sideways in the worst way possible.
An IED went off behind them, trapping his people. The entire enemy force spun away from the convoy and focused on them. The medical staff and personnel had escaped, but as for him and his people ...
He blinked through the pain, his memories dribbling away along with his life.
April lay on the ground, sobbing as the blood from her head wound trickled down her face. Her helmet was gone, bare bone exposed to the hot sun. She'd managed to claw the picture of her husband and son out of her pocket, holding the color photograph close to her heart.
Scotty moaned as he tried to put a tourniquet on his leg, jagged metal still sticking out of his thigh. His blood-smeared hands slipped again and again as he struggled to stop the bleeding, tugging at the torn fabric.
The others ...
Erik couldn't remember their names. After months spent training and working and fighting beside them and now he couldn't —
The pain increased, choking out his thoughts.
A raven landed on the nearby remains of a smoking Humvee on its side, claws curling around the edge of the broken metal door. It stared at him, the cold black eye never wavering.
Erik eyed the sleek black bird.
I should be praying.
I can't remember the words.
His heartbeat pounded in his ears as he listened to the explosions, the gunfire coming closer. Someone shouted something incoherent through his earpiece, distorted by the static.
It could be his own people, trying to rescue them.
But it was too late for him.
He coughed, choking on the blood filling his mouth. This was it. Game over.
The noise stopped as if someone had thrown a switch.
Everything, his pulse, the screaming and crying and yelling, paused.
He drew a deep breath. It was like a cool drink of water, washing away the burning in his throat.
Erik looked at Scotty and April. They didn't seem to notice the change, ignoring him as they dealt with their injuries.
A sound caught his attention, pushing to the front of his mind.
There was a classical feel to it, a sweeping arc of trumpets and violins weaving in and out of each other. It reminded him of the soundtrack to a movie he'd seen years ago, some medieval epic. The king and queen appearing at the top of a tall staircase, waving at their faithful following before descending to bestow their blessings.
He tilted his head upward, seeking out the source. The sun shone down, but it didn't burn his eyes as he stared straight at the glowing orb.
A dot appeared in the center, growing to blot out the bright orange circle, shifting and changing as the music climbed to a crescendo. It morphed into a figure, causing Erik to edit his imaginary scenario.
Not a king or queen.
A warrior princess.
She settled on the sand, not far from him. Her breastplate was unmarred and shiny, reflecting the carnage around her. Greaves covered the lower part of her legs, the leather boots protecting her feet. The shoulder armor lay on her arms in layers, stopping above the elbow. The long spear she held in her right hand was long and deadly, the sharp point catching the sunlight.
If I'm going to hallucinate something, it should be a beautiful woman like this.
He smiled, seeing the blond hair peeking out from under the brightly polished helm. The bird-like wings extending out from her shoulder blades were magnificent, a rainbow of shimmering color. She radiated power, startling and silencing him.
The woman didn't look at him. She turned and walked toward the remains of a wall where Scotty sat, propped up against the shattered stone. He didn't react as she approached, still focused on his leg.
She murmured something and touched Scotty's head with the tip of the spear.
The young man's eyes rolled up, and he slumped forward, his hands falling away from the useless tourniquet.
Erik's smile disappeared.
Erik coughed the word out, covered in blood as a white, ethereal image rose out of the body.
Scotty grinned, a peaceful look on his face. He was uninjured, looking as if he were about to go on patrol.
"Your fight is over. Rise and take your rightful place among the honored dead." The words were as soft as silk. "Valhalla awaits, my brave and valiant fighter. Come feast with your fellow warriors."
Scotty flew up and out of sight, into the bright sun.
She crossed over to April, leaving no footprints behind her in the sand. She readied the lance, tilting it toward the wounded woman.
"No." Erik found his voice again. "You can't have her. You can't have —" He stopped as the mysterious woman froze in place. She slowly turned and stared at him.
"No," he said again, emboldened by the lack of pain. "You're not sending her anywhere." He raised a finger and pointed at the celestial visitor. "She's got a family, a little boy waiting for her to come home." He put all the strength he had left into his words. "Leave her alone. You touch her, you're going to answer to me."
She cocked her head to one side, assessing his threat. One edge of her exposed mouth twisted upward into a sad smile.
A few seconds later, she turned away and grazed April's forehead with the spear point, speaking under her breath.
The petite woman collapsed, her final battle over.
The photograph fell from her lifeless fingers into the blood-soaked ground as her spirit lifted into the air, smiling and radiant.
"April!" he shouted. "April!"
She didn't look at him, only up into the sun as she faded out of sight.
Erik watched helplessly as the armored woman moved to the side, out of his line of vision. There were others nearby, injured and already deceased. She was continuing her assignment, sending other souls to ...
He corrected himself, remembering the words she'd spoken.
He wracked his mind, digging through his muddled memories to find his familiar childhood tales. Where was Valhalla anyway? Was there something he could say or do to bring his people back? What were his options ...
She appeared to his left, coming toward him with a slow, measured pace.
He steeled himself, searching for a way to fight her off, to somehow save Scotty and the others.
She stopped in front of him and studied him. The edge of the lance in her right hand poked a hole in the sand, digging in deep. The very tip of the weapon was stained red — showing it'd touched blood but hadn't been driven through a body, hadn't inflicted a fatal wound in the last few minutes on any of his people.
It provided slight relief.
"Can you bring them back?" Erik asked. "Can you heal them?" He put as much command into his voice as he could muster. "I'm asking you a question — the least you can do is answer me!"
She pulled off her helmet and tucked it under her arm, letting her blond hair fall free.
He blinked, taking in her gentle features. The high cheekbones swept up over milky-white skin, unmarred by any blemishes. In another time and place, she would be his dream woman.
Here she was his executioner.
She frowned as her blue eyes caught his, held him in place with a mixture of shock and disapproval. There was sadness in her gaze but something more, something calling to him.
He struggled to move, his limbs too heavy to lift. His tongue was thick, filling his mouth and choking off his words, his arguments for saving himself and his comrades falling away as he gazed at her.
If I'm going to heaven, I want it to be holding this angel. You're beautiful. So damned beautiful ...
Another thought crept in. I might just believe in love at first sight ...
She leaned down to stare into his eyes. Her forehead furrowed, marring her features.
I'm not going with you, he whispered in his mind. Not until you tell me who you are and how I can be with you forever.
Her eyes went wide.
She bent over and kissed him. It was only a brush of her lips on his, hardly worthy of the name, but his heart soared. He wanted to lift his arms, take hold, and pull her closer, but he couldn't move.
The woman stood and took a step back, staggered as she put her free hand to her mouth. The reaction encouraged Erik, fed his urge to demand answers.
"Who are you?" he demanded.
She shook her head before putting her helmet on. She lifted the spear skyward and rose into the air, the multicolored wings pulling her aloft with a few powerful strokes.
He was tired, so tired. He struggled to raise his head, to watch her ascend.
He closed his eyes. The world rushed back in with a loud roar, the gunfire and yelling blotting out the last of the music.
But the taste of her on his lips stayed behind, carrying him away.
* * *
One year later ...
The San Diego VA drop-in center was quiet, men and women wandering in and out through the various rooms. Some gathered in casual groups, laughing and joking with each other. Others sat quietly, watching television or playing video games. Therapy sessions, both private and group, were going on in different areas.
Safe havens for veterans who needed a place where they were understood and accepted.
He wasn't here for that today. Usually he avoided them. But Ken always chose this as the place to meet, and Erik couldn't convince him to switch to a donut shop, a diner — even one of those fancy over-priced cafes would be better than the center. All it did was remind him of one of the biggest failures of his life.
It was Ken's attempt to keep him grounded, remind him there were people willing to help him out. But it hadn't worked so far and was becoming more of an annoyance with every visit.
He helped himself to a morning cup of coffee, wincing as the bitter drink burned his throat. A few steps to the side took him to the bulletin board filled with job listings and advertising.
"Erik," the familiar voice rumbled. "Been awhile. Good to see you here."
He turned to the man beside him, the former Ranger dressed in a black T-shirt and jeans.
"Ken." He took the outstretched hand, noting the strong grip. "How are you?"
"Good. How about you?" The tall African-American gave him the once-over, a frown replacing the smile. "What happened to your face?"
Erik reached up and brushed his knuckles along his right cheek, the bruises a week old and fading. "Walked into a door."
Ken's disapproving glare showed he wasn't buying the cover story. "Bullshit. You still floating around?"
"Yeah. Grabbing work here and there, whatever catches my eye."
"Like someone's fist." He shook his head. "You can't keep on doing this. It'll eventually get you killed."
"It's a job."
Ken snorted. "Bullshit. You got skills. Don't need to be fighting for a paycheck." He rubbed his eyes and sighed. "Hold on. I'm going to grab a cookie and coffee. Not going to start this on an empty stomach. You stay right here."
Erik sipped his drink as Ken went to the refreshment table.
His phone beeped, and he dug it out of his back pocket, feeling the familiar rush of anticipation. If this was what he thought it was ...
Tomorrow night. San Francisco. Let me know if you're interested. Good chance to move up the ranks.
The text was from Steve, his manager. The man took a good cut of the pay, but he hadn't steered Erik wrong yet when it came to finding work. A previous email had asked Erik to come to the West Coast, suggesting a lead on some upcoming events. Stopping in to visit Ken in San Diego had been a welcome bonus as he waited for news.
Now it'd paid out in a big way.
Erik didn't hesitate, tapping in a one-word response.
Ken returned. "What brings you into town? Was surprised to get your text — last time we talked you were over in Texas, wrangling whatever they wrangle over there."
Erik showed him the cardboard cup. "Just needed some free coffee."
"You're full of shit." He laughed. "Still glad to see you."
Erik glanced around. "Kinda quiet. Hoped to see some familiar faces."
"Janey went back into the hospital to adjust her meds. She's having a rough time. Phantom limb syndrome." Ken took a sip and winced. "God, that's bad."
"Nothing but the best turpentine for our wounded warriors." Erik forced a smile. "Give her a hug from me. She's tough. She'll make it."
He nodded. "Will do." Ken sloshed the coffee around in the cup, bringing the dark liquid dangerously close to the edge. "Doctor has her in a new group. Helps her keep going." He paused. "Like the rest of us."
Erik flashed back to a saying overheard in a therapy session.
Keep fighting. Keep sane. Keep loving who you can.
He was still working on the first and second.
Every night when he tried to sleep he saw the carnage, the blood soaking into the sand as people died around him.
April. Scotty. The others from the ambush. It was a long invisible scroll in his mind, spilling out across the sky every single time.
He recited each name like a prayer, a reminder of debts owed.
But afterward, after the painful exercise, his thoughts would wander elsewhere, to a more intimate encounter.
She stood in front of him, the blond hair tumbling free over her shoulders as she removed her helmet and stared at him. Those blue eyes, those hypnotic blue eyes. And those lips ...
"Hey. You okay?"
He blinked, coming back out of his introspection to see Ken watching him intently.
"You okay?" he repeated.
"Yeah." Erik swallowed hard. "Just faded out there for a second, thinking." He forced a grin. "Trying to make a habit of it."
Ken chuckled. "Not a bad idea." He hesitated, glancing at the bulletin board. "Job fair's happening at the convention center over the next few days. Got a special focus on vets this time 'round." He eyed him. "You going to be in town for long? If you don't want to do the fair, I could always ask around at the factory, put a bug in the supervisor's ear to let me know if a temp position might be coming open soon. Give you a chance to set down roots, stop wandering." He cocked his head to one side. "Hannah would love to have you hang out for a bit. Couch is yours however long you need it."
Erik thought about the text message.
"I'm fine for now. Got a quick job in San Francisco tomorrow night. Heading out after I leave here."
Ken hesitated a second before nodding. "Just be careful." He gestured at Erik's healing bruises. "Don't forget to duck."
Erik threw a gentle punch, hitting him in the shoulder. "I'll make a note."
Ken's smile twisted into a stern but supportive stare. "Remember, you're a survivor. You made it through for a reason."
"Yeah," Erik said. "Still trying to figure that one out."
Excerpted from "Her Alpha Viking"
Copyright © 2018 Sheryl Nantus.
Excerpted by permission of Entangled Publishing, LLC.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Erik Harrison is a former soldier who should’ve been dead with the rest of his unit. Because of this, he’s very unsettled, fighting in underground cage matches and never staying in one place too long. The one thing that’s bothered him is a mysterious woman he saw on the field when his teammates died. Valkyrie Brenna Lund has spent her entire life guiding the souls of dying warriors. She’s not sure why she didn’t retrieve Erik’s but since he didn’t die, she’s in trouble and must remedy the situation so that she can return to her proper place. When another Valkyrie shows up and tells her she’s out of time, Brenna and Erik go on the run together. This was a decent book. The premise was pretty good. The characters were very well written. Unfortunately it dragged a bit and took me a while to finish. **I voluntarily read and reviewed this book
Title: Her Alpha Viking Author: Sheryl Nantus Publisher: Entangled: Amara Reviewed By: Arlena Dean Rating: Five Review: "Her Alpha Viking" by Sheryl Nantus My Thoughts...... I found "Her Alpha Viking" a good fantasy paranormal read that each chapter will definitely keep your attention. We find from the read that Erik Harrison should have died on the battle field with his fellow soldiers but was spared due to a Valhallan, Brenna Lund who had been a fierce Valkyrie. Now we find Brenna is on a mission to track Erik down in order to correct her mistake. After a year of tracing Erik, Brenna is finally able to catch up with Erick but still unable to do the job of killing him. Well, these two will come together and work out a plan to 'stay out of the hands of the hunter [Kara] that has been sent after them to complete this job' that Brenna had fail to do. What a story this will be as they try to save themselves while they will also have to fight for their love that seems to be also happening. I found this story to be a good love story as we find Erik who had been saved by a beautiful angel and now lived off the grid making a living as an MMA style fighter. It was quite interesting seeing how well he dealt with the challenges that the higher powers that were presented to him. As for Brenna who had been a Valkyrie for centuries was now stripped of her powers [now a fallen Valkyrie]. Now it seems like these two will come together and give us a very creative fantasy paranormal read with some reality that will flow so well in this well written story. With such fiery and brave characters the reader will have delivered a quite fabulous Norse mythology read while also adding a parts of the struggles of the veteran's in America [traveling Veterans]. So, as the story continues we have 'two traveling people, making new human friends while worried about an impending attack from Kara.' Now, how will this all turn out? Be ready for a heart wrenching story that will take you on a fast paced journey where their will be Valkyries, soldiers, captivating characters that will present the reader with a 'fun entertaining read, with romance and yes, a Alpha Viking hunk.' Will Brenna and Erik finally get to peace and happiness? This is one of those stories that you will find some humor and you may even shed a tear or two. To find out how this will all come together you will have to pick up 'Her Alpha Viking' to see how well this author presents this story so well to the readers and I will say that final fight and its aftermath was my favorite part of the read where it all comes together.
Her Alpha Viking by Sheryl Nantus is a sexy paranormal romance that takes a war weary soldier and up-ends his thoughts on life and death when a creature he'd thought to be a myth turns out to be real – and wants him dead. Erik Harrison is mortally wounded on the battlefield and knows he's dying when he sees a vision – a beautiful woman with wings, a Valkyrie, who releases his friends' souls to make the journey to Valhalla. He's not supposed to be able to see her or talk to her, but he does and in her shock she is unable to release him to his death. Erik recovers and is living a life somewhat in limbo, haunted by the events of that day. He's got a gig as an underground fighter, using his physical strength to power himself from day to day. Brenna Lund is on a mission. She's been sent to earth to claim Erik's soul like she was supposed to that fated day when she failed in her task. She's lost most of her immortal abilities but plans to find him and kill him to release his warrior soul. But when she catches up to him, he recognizes her. In that moment, Brenna finds herself again drawn to him and unable to fulfill her quest. Because of this, another Valkyrie is sent to finish the job. Now Brenna and Erik are both on the run, hitching up with a traveling group of military veterans. It's only a matter of time before Brenna's Valkyrie sister Kara will find them – and she means to kill them both. Can Erik and Brenna live long enough to change their fates, and get their own happy ending? What an exciting story! I was enthralled from the very first page with this different take on a wounded warrior story and how the author skillfully blends the harsh reality of modern warfare with the mythology of the Norse Gods. From the moment Erik and Brenna meet things don't fall out the way they are supposed to, and figuring out why that is and what has drawn them to each other is part of what's revealed by the end of the story. Meanwhile, they have to contend with the sexual attraction that simmers between them as they try to evade a Valkyrie who will stop at nothing to fulfill her task. I really enjoyed the relationships that Erik and Brenna build with the group of traveling former soldiers who talk about the costs of war in various locations across the country. It's a road trip with meaning and each of the characters has their own back story for where they fought and why they are on this trip. It's easy for Erik and Brenna to blend in with them, though Erik has a reputation on the underground fighting ring and has to keep a lower profile. Brenna's presence and odd stories are explained as a manifestation of PTSD since they know people won't understand who she really is (and even Erik sometimes has difficulty with the truth). If you are looking for a sexy, exciting and unique paranormal romance, I highly recommend this one. I am looking forward to reading more in this series!
Erik should have died on the battlefield. All of his fellow soldiers were killed in an ambush and sent to Valhalla by Brenna, a fierce Valkyrie. She spared Erik, which is something she shouldn't have done. That's why her mission is to track him down and correct her mistake. Erik is difficult to follow and never stays anywhere long enough for her to easily find him, but once they finally meet again Brenna knows she can't kill him. What are the consequences of failing the task she's been assigned to complete? Erik can't forget the beautiful woman he saw during the worst moment of his life. When he meets her again he's intrigued enough to risk his own safety. When Brenna proves to be incapable of taking his life, Erik's protective instincts come to the surface. He will make sure that Brenna won't be punished for not completing her mission. Together they set out on a journey to stay out of the hands of the hunter that's been sent after them to complete what Brenna couldn't do. Will they be able to save themselves and fight for their love or are they doomed from the start? Her Alpha Viking is a gripping romantic story. Erik is a strong and capable warrior. He has a kind heart and is constantly looking after others. I loved his heroic nature and couldn't wait to find out how he'd deal with the challenges that higher powers are giving him. Brenna was a Valkyrie for centuries and she never did anything wrong, but when she's with Erik she is a different person, even though giving in to her feelings results in being stripped of her powers. I loved how she keeps following her heart, she doesn't hesitate while it means the life she used to love is over because of it. Erik and Brenna find many obstacles on their way, but they persevere. They're both fiery and brave main characters, which makes fabulous reading. Sheryl Nantus has a great thrilling writing style. I flew through the pages of her action-packed story. Her Alpha Viking is a wonderful combination of fantasy and veteran life, which is something I liked a lot. I loved the mix of a creative fictional world with reality. Sheryl Nantus effortlessly switches between the two, which makes the story feel real and dynamic. Her Alpha Viking is energetic, enchanting and captivating, I loved this terrific book.
Sheryl Nantus is a new to me author. The cover for Her Alpha Viking is what caught my attention. Reading the blurb and learning the heroine was a Valkyrie had me reaching for the book. The first line grabbed me and had me thinking I was in for a good read. Brenna Lund is a Valkyrie. She’s a warrior princess tasked with collecting the souls of warriors on Earth and taking them to Valhalla. It is a job she’s had for centuries, and one she’s very good at. She’s even one of Freyja’s favorites. Things for Brenna change when she’s sent to Afghanistan to collect the souls of military personnel killed in a rescue mission. As she’s collecting souls, she comes across Erik Harrison, the leader of the squad. Erik isn't supposed to see Brenna. He definitely isn’t supposed to see what she’s doing or have the ability to speak to her. Erik Harrison knows his last moments on Earth are going to be watching members of his team succumb to their injuries. Erik knows there isn’t much time left for him either. Laying on the hot sand, he’s drifting away. He’s finding peace when a beautiful blond woman appears before him. When he sees her taking the life of his people, he screams in protest, challenging the woman. Brenna is surprised by Erik’s actions, but she’s more surprised by her own. In a move out of character for her, Brenna kisses Erik and leaves him to be rescued. For failing to collect Erik’s soul, Brenna is banished to Earth to kill him and send his soul to Valhalla. Brenna believes this is the only way for her to return home. She knows what she must do, but she has to find Erik first. What Brenna doesn’t know is that she isn’t the only Valkyrie on Earth looking for Erik. Kara, her Valkyrie sister, is tasked with killing Erik and seeing him to his rightful place in Valhalla. She’s also tasked with killing Brenna and sending her to Helheim, as punishment for her misdeeds. And so the cat and mouse game begins with Kara as the hunter and Erik and Brenna as the hunted. As Brenna and Erik run for their lives, they meet new people who become friends. They themselves also become friends and ultimately lovers, never knowing the kind of love they now share. As with everything, their time runs out and the result is an epic fight worthy of any warrior preparing for Ragnarok. Her Alpha Viking was a good story that had the potential to be a great story. For me, I felt the story dragged on too long in the middle. I wanted more fight scenes in the middle of all the kumbaya and love. However, I was thoroughly impressed with how Sheryl resolved the conflict. If I’m being honest, I have to admit the story brought tears to my eyes. The final fight and aftermath were definitely my favorite parts of the book. After such a high, the ending was a little bit of a let down. However, it does allude to more books. I’m looking forward to the next book in this series. I’m curious to see what Sheryl is going to do next. **Received a copy of the book courtesy of the publisher and I voluntarily reviewed it.**
Because the lead female character is a Valkyrie this is technically Urban Fantasy. However, there are hardly any fantasy elements to the story. There is a vision at the very beginning, and a appearance of the gods at the very end. The entire majority of this story is two people traveling, making new human friends, and worrying about an impending attack. It’s nice that veterans are so heavily featured in this story, and that is this book’s only redeeming quality. Because while they are on the run, they aren’t attacked until the very end. Which makes this boring, I don’t know if I would continue with this series. It would depend on if the format changed and there is more action and mystical occurrences. This is a 2.5 book to me.