Review: Perfect Match (The Aere Saga #4) by S.T. Bende


Goodreads Summary:

For honor. For love. For Asgard.

Valkyrie Brynn Aksel is ready for some downtime. But when an urgent warning arrives from Asgard, heralding the death of a beloved god and the dawn of Ragnarok—the not-so-mythological end of days—it becomes clear there’s no rest for the gods . . . not when the future of the realms is on the line.

Goddess of Love Freya Skönsten can’t shake the darkness that’s clung to her since her Helheim imprisonment. An unsanctioned romantic connection with a mortal is the only thing keeping her in the light, but Freya’s vow to the Norns prevents her from fully uniting with her perfekt match. When Hel returns to finish what she started, Freya must decide how much she’s ready to sacrifice to save the family she loves . . . and whether she’s willing to give up everything for the worlds she’s sworn to protect.

With the forces of darkness aligning to destroy the realms, it’s clear more than just Love hangs in the balance. Ragnarok has arrived. And it’s shaping up to be the perfekt storm.

My Review

S.T. Bende concluded this saga in a lovely manner that tied up all lose ends perfectly. The action and plot developments were non-stop!

This go around, we get to experience the perspectives of Brynn and Freya. These two badass ladies were a great duo to spearhead this story. Brynn is so light hearted and whimsical, and her personality is paired well with Freya, who is fierce and down to earth. Unfortunately, Freya is having a rough go of it in this fourth book. Now that she has been rescued from Hel after spending a length of time as her prisoner, Freya has not been the same. There is a darkness in her that’s holding her back. However, after a certain someone comes into her life, she is at last willing and able to find a way to keep the darkness at bay. Just on time too; Ragnarok is on their doorstep.

Perfekt Match brought with it all of the beloved characters that we’ve grown with throughout the saga. It was fantastic to see all of these couples come together and do life (and battle) together. And believe me, there was no shortage of battles this time. It was interesting to read about Ragnarok from the other side of the story with different characters. I love how Bende interweaves them all into one epic Norse universe! What I would give to be surrounded by what sounds like a plethora of gorgeous men lol! By the time the ending hit, all of the wonderful things you had hoped for as a reader came to fruition, and brought with it all the feels.

I would definitely recommend you continue your journey with this series and pick up Perfekt Match! And if you haven’t started the saga yet, then most definitely get your hands on these books!

Buy it on Amazon now!




Review: Redeemer (Night War Saga Book 3) by S.T. Bende and Leia Stone


Goodreads Summary:

Hunt down the weapon pieces, destroy the night goddess, protect Midgard (Earth). That was always the mission . . .

When an unexpected sacrifice turns Allie’s world on its head, she discovers her true function within the Asgardian world. Her new purpose has much higher stakes—and significantly bigger dangers—than she ever could have imagined. And as the Goddess of Night unleashes an unparalleled wave of fury across the realms, Allie’s dream of a peaceful future with her favorite protector all but disappears. Nott’s determined to control Midgard. But Allie has more to fight for than ever before, and she’s determined to end the Night War . . . no matter what it costs her.

My Review

After that ending in book two of the Night War Saga, I was more than ready to dive back into the story and these lovely characters. After Tore discovers his mother he believed to be dead for most of his life is alive but remembers nothing of him, he is more than determined to bring back her memories, and Allie is determined to help do that. Amidst the emotional turmoil that comes with looking your mother in the face and seeing no recognition, there are still three more pieces to find of the only weapon that can kill Nott!

The romance between Allie and Tore was absolutely adorable throughout, as usual! I would expect nothing less from this series. And once again, the dynamic among her group of protectors is fantastic and flows so smoothly. Each character has a role to play in the shaping of the story.

Allie has certainly come a long way since the books first started, and it was lovely to see her character evolution! There were definitely some heart wrenching moments in this last book, but it was all worth it! The ending was beautiful, and though I’m sad to see it come to an end, I am so glad I went on the journey!

Buy Redeemer on Amazon now!

Review: Defender (Night War Saga #2) by S.T. Bende and Leia Stone


Goodreads Summary:

Allie Rydell left her life behind to protect the world from the Goddess of Night. But after weeks of training, hunting, and learning to use the life-giving power that inexplicably chose her, saving Midgard seems more impossible than ever. Nott’s followers have eyes across the realms, and they’re determined to collect the bounty on Allie’s soul. And the closer Allie and her protectors get to the pieces of the immortal weapon that could save them all, the more destruction Nott manages to unleash—not only on the world Allie loves, but on the friends she’d give her life to save.
Darkness is coming. And this time, it won’t leave any survivors.


My Review

Defender swoops in with another suspense filled Norse ride! After reading and enjoying Protector, I couldn’t wait to read Defender and see where Allie would go next on her quest to find the pieces of her weapon! And of course now that her relationship with Tore is in full swing, I was more than ready to see their relationship unfold!

Defender picks up around where Protector left off, with Allie still in the middle of her training after healing from her almost near death experience. However, now that she knows she has a real chance of healing her mom and being at last reunited with her, she is more determined than ever to kill Knott and bring the pieces of her weapon back together at last.

This second installment was full of development after development with all new worlds. Characters you’ve been waiting to meet are revealed, and the suspense was a constant! Tore and Allie’s relationship was absolutely adorable throughout! And of course there’s the rest of the gang of protectors charged with ensuring the safety of Allie. What I would give to have myself a group of hot men at my beck and call 24/7! Sounds like a sweet deal right? And of course all of them are such gentlemen! Defender brings with it more growth of these beloved characters, and new relationships are formed that are most certainly surprising.

This book was over before I knew it, the pace was swift and left me wanting more! And that ending?! I have so many questions! So.Many. And my heart is breaking for certain characters that I won’t name. But I most definitely look forward to reading the continuation of this adventure. And I would for sure recommend you read Defender! Pick it up on Amazon on July 16th! 

Review: Perfekt Balance (The Aere Saga #3) by S.T. Bende


Goodreads Summary:

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 Asgard’s enemies. But even the gods’ 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 onto the guy she can’t imagine existing without.

My Review

The lovely S.T. Bende has done it again! Perfekt Balance was a beautiful addition to The Aere Saga! We all knew that Forse and Elsa were in love since book one, but it was wonderful to finally experience it! Not to mention, it’s always a pleasure getting to read about the other characters as well!

Elsa’s perspective was definitely different from the past POVs in the series since it was coming from the “High Healer.” It was really interesting to see what the process of healing is like, and watching her grow into a “unifer” was super cool! The story took me to places I never thought it would. Elsa has such a kind and gentle heart and it was new for me as the reader to experience a POV from a character who really isn’t in the fight at all, but who stands mostly aloof from the violence. You would think this would make the book less exciting, but I was utterly riveted the entire time!

The action, twists, fights, and danger were nonstop! Although, I will say that the romance was not nearly as heavy in book 3 as it has been in the past installments, only because Forse and Elsa knew they both loved each other all along. It didn’t take too much to finally bring out the love between them, but it was beautiful once they admitted their feelings! By the time the ending rolled around, I was completely satisfied with the way events played out and eager for more! And I’m so glad book 4 is from Brynn’s point of view (she’s my fave!).

If you are a reader of The Aere Saga, then I would most definitely recommend you continue your journey through the series! And if you haven’t started the series yet, then what are you waiting for?! You can buy Perfekt Balance on Amazon here!

Review: Perfekt Control (The Aere Saga #2) by S.T. Bende


Goodreads Summary:

Brynn Aksel is a valkyrie—a battle goddess tasked with protecting both the God of War and the future of Asgard. She fends off giants and dark elves with an iron fist, a glossy smile, and no less than perfekt control. She’s focused one-hundred-percent on rising through the valkyrie ranks, and not at all on her lifelong crush on Henrik Andersson—the one guy in all the realms who could be her undoing.

Henrik serves as War’s other bodyguard, and he’s too focused on protecting their shared charge to realize that Brynn’s a girl. When an unprecedented surge of darkness abducts the Goddess of Love, Brynn’s already-steely focus is singularly directed on her new assignment—accompany Henrik to recover the realms’ source of light before the cosmos descends into chaos.

While battling demons, dragons, and the not-quite-dead, it becomes clear that immortality does not equal invincibility. And when Hel herself puts a hit on Brynn, the valkyrie has to decide if staying in control is worth losing everything . . . or if it’s time to rule the realms.

***I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.***


My Review

So after completely loving Perfekt Order and Mia’s romance with Tyr I was so excited to read about Brynn’s story and her romantic struggle with Henrik. Their feelings for one another were so blatantly obvious in the first book that I knew the sequel would have to be an emotional ride! Well it certainly didn’t disappoint!!

Brynn is such a lovable character, and a total badass! Her skills as a valkyrie are unparalleled and she’s the “perfekt” partner for Henrik! This second installment saw the characters racing across the universe from realm to realm in order to save the captured God of Love Freya before her absence leaves the world full of hate and darkness. The action and suspense was non-stop and the world of Norse Mythology was really opened up! There were encounters with mythical creatures of all sorts and it just kept coming! All the while the romantic tension continued to grow between Brynn and Henrik, it was definitely frustrating, but the outcome was SO worth it! And don’t worry readers, Mia and Tyr and the rest of the beloved characters of book one make frequent appearances as well!

By the time the ending rolled around, the suspense was high and the conflict came to a head. I was oh so romantically satisfied in every way, and have to say that I’m pretty sure I enjoyed Brynn’s POV even more than Mia’s. It was just so fun to read from the perspective of a warrior immortal with an epic past and beautiful relationship with an  equally skilled mega hot assassin immortal! You see the appeal??

S.T. Bende you’ve done it again! I loved Perfekt Control and would definitely recommend it to any fans of the series or paranormal romance!

Buy it on Amazon here!

Supernatural Chronicles: The Asgardians (Dynamis in New Orleans Book 9) by S.T. Bend


Goodreads Summary:

Inga Andersson just can’t catch a break. She’s supposed to be enjoying a ski week in beautiful Åre, Sweden, with her immortal-assassin-husband. Instead, she and Gunnar are trapped inside a bizarre scavenger hunt, unraveling an incomprehensible riddle at the bequest of a mysterious being. And if Inga and Gunnar don’t decipher the puzzle and deliver a mythological relic to a New Orleans graveyard within three days, they’ll be ejected from the Norse pantheon, stripped of their immortality, and cast as the solitary line of defense against the onslaught of frost giants and Helbeasts ready to bring about Midgard’s fall. What started as a party game has become a lethal challenge with irreparable consequences, not only for Inga, but for the god she loves . . . and the realm she adores. 

Let the hunt begin. 

My Review

I absolutely loved Gunnar and Inga’s relationship in The Elsker Saga (especially Gunnar) so I was more than ready to have an up close and personal look at their love and story.  This book was a beautiful quick glimpse, that was exciting and fun all the way through. Characters from other books by Bende are seen and mentioned as well which made it all the more fangirl worthy! I only wish the book had been longer, but hopefully there will be more from them! *wink wink* S.T. Bende!!

The Asgardians had plenty of action and Norse awesomeness to go around, but I would expect no less! Gunnar and Inga were absolutely adorable, not to mention totally badass! The storyline was unique and the plot was  fast paced! If you are looking for a great quick read filled with Godly battles and steamy romance, then I would definitely recommend this novella!


RELEASE DAY LAUNCH & REVIEW: Perfekt Order (The Aere Saga #1) by S.T. Bend



Goodreads Summary:

All’s fair when you’re in love with War.

For seventeen-year-old Mia Ahlström, a world ruled by order is the only world she allows. A lifetime of chore charts, to-do lists and study schedules have helped earn her a spot at Redwood State University’s engineering program. And while her five year plan includes finding her very own happily-evah-aftah, years at an all-girls boarding school left her feeling woefully unprepared for keg parties and co-ed extracurricular activities.

So nothing surprises her more than catching the eye of Tyr Fredriksen at her first college party. The imposing Swede is arrogantly charming, stubbornly overprotective, and runs hot-and-cold in ways that defy reason . . . until Mia learns that she’s fallen for the Norse God of War; an immortal battle deity hiding on Midgard (Earth) to protect a valuable Asgardian treasure from a feral enemy. With a price on his head, Tyr brings more than a little excitement to Mia’s rigidly controlled life. Choosing Tyr may be the biggest distraction—or the greatest adventure—she’s ever had.

***I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review***

My Review

I was a big fan of The Elsker Saga and was more than excited to get my hands on another S.T. Bende Norse God tale!! She does wonders with Norse Mythology let me tell ya folks!! All I have to say after reading her books is: take me to Asgard and never let me leave!! I found myself enjoying Perfekt Order even more than The Elsker saga! It was just so darn good!

Mia is the picture of the perfect student living her life around structure and organization. So when she starts college she has no trouble fitting her new schedule into her “perfekt” life. However, she quickly learns that there is no order and certainly no normal, when she meets the devilishly handsome Tyr, who turns out to be the Norse God of War himself!! Get your fans out ladies cause you’re gonna need them! As she begins to learn more about Tyr she gets more and more caught up in the excitement and dangers of his world, particularly Tyr’s enemy who threatens the lives of all those he holds dear.

Mia reminded me a lot of myself, which was probably a big reason why I enjoyed her character so much! I need order in my life and find myself planning out everything; I don’t always handle curve balls well. So I felt like it was relatable watching her deal with new unseen events (not that I’ve ever come across a Norse God myself…I wish!). I loved that there was a more gradual build up in her relationship with Tyr; watching their romance bloom made the plot all the more worth while! Bende is so creative and that really came out in this first book! The action was abound and the developments kept coming!

I loved this book and can’t wait to see what’s in store for the rest of the characters in the next installments! Though I will be sad to see Mia’s POV go. I would definitely recommend you pick up Perfekt Order, especially if you’re a sucker for a good romance!


Google Play:

Review: Tro (Elsker Saga #3) by S.T. Bende


Goodreads Summary:

Sometimes you just have to believe.

Finding her destiny nearly cost her everything. Kristia knows she can handle whatever The Fates throw at her next—including her long-awaited honeymoon with the God of Winter. But as things heat up between Kristia and Ull, a frost settles over Asgard. An unexpected death marks the beginning of the end, much earlier than anyone expected. Kristia’s barely begun to understand what she’s capable of, and controlling her powers seems completely out of her grasp. With her new family fighting for their lives, and Ull fighting for their future, Kristia has to make a devastating choice: preserve the life she loves, or protect the god she can’t live without?

My Review

Ah, it was so good to read the final book to this series, it had been a while since I’d read the first two, and I guess quite a bit was changed during the rerelease of the first two books. Fortunately, I was able to pick up on what had been altered between Endre and Tro and did just fine! Not to mention, S.T. Bende is such a lovely person all around, and I couldn’t have been more pleased to have read her books!

Tro picked up right in the middle of a blissful honeymoon between Krista and Ull the beautiful/sexy/mighty/charming God of Winter! Their honeymoon was oh so steamy, and Ull was drool worthy throughout! However,  when Kristia begins to have foreboding visions, of which she can’t quite seem to recall afterward, she discovers that Ragnarok suddenly might seem closer than they first thought. And it soon becomes apparent that Kristia and Ull will have to face their fate, and maybe the ending of all that they know.

This third and final book was filled with sweet moments equally paired with suspense filled moments, and God/mythological fighting action! Kristia and Ull’s love stayed strong throughout and they shared the most adorable words with each other that would melt any fangirl’s heart! The main conflict/ battle was resolved almost a little too quickly, but it was still definitely exciting to read. The overall conclusion flowed wonderfully into the plot with a twist I did not see coming thrown in right in the knick of time!

I would definitely recommend you continue your journey with The Elsker Saga and read Tro! It’s a perfect conclusion to the story, with all the Norse action you could hope for!

Buy it on Amazon here!

RELEASE DAY BLITZ Excerpt & Giveaway: Endre (Elsker Saga #2) by S.T. Bende

We’re celebrating the release of Endre (Elsker Saga #2) by S.T. Bende!

Endre (Elsker Saga #2) by S.T. Bende
Upper YA/NA Paranormal Romance

Sometimes, finding your destiny means doing the exact opposite of what The Fates have planned.

Winning the heart of an immortal assassin was a dream come true for Kristia Tostenson. Now she’s knee deep in wedding plans, goddess lessons, and stolen kisses. But her decision to become immortal could end in heartbreak — not only for Kristia, but for the god who loves her. Because while Ull would do anything to protect his bride, even the God of Winter is powerless against the Norse apocalypse. Ragnarok is coming.

And the gods aren’t even close to ready.


When I came to, my chest heaved with sobs. Cold sweat cloaked my body from my forehead to the backs of my knees. My hair was damp, my pulse was racing, and my fingers gripped the sheets so tightly my knuckles ached. I was in my room at Ýdalir, the one place I had always felt safe. Only now I was absolutely terrified.

I ripped the covers off and wrapped my arms around my legs. My nose twitched at an unfamiliar smell. I pulled the cord on the bedside lamp, and looked around to see what might be burning. There was no smoke in the room; all of the furniture seemed to be intact. But when I glanced down, I saw the hems of my pajamas. They were black, singed from the fire I’d desperately hoped had been part of a dream.

This time things had gone too far. If my smoldering pant legs were any indication, being injured in a vision could have far-reaching worldly consequences. And if Elfie had come that close to killing me . . .

Ull had his rules, but I no longer cared. I jumped out of bed and raced down the hallway. When I reached his door I pounded on the distressed wood. Tears streamed down my face but I didn’t bother to wipe them away. The downpour was too intense; it wouldn’t have done any good anyway.

The door flew open and Ull stood on the other side. He wore a loose pair of grey sweatpants and nothing else. Oh hot bejeebus. There was no way this guy was for real. It just wasn’t humanly possible to look that good.

Oh, right. Ull wasn’t human.

Despite the agony coursing through my awakening consciousness, this was a moment of glory I’d remember forever—the first time I saw Ull’s naked torso. His sweats hung low on his hips, affording me a view of the cut just above the bone.

Holy Lord.

“Kristia?” Ull rubbed the sleep from his eyes. He took in my matted hair, tear-streaked face, and shaking hands. “Great Odin. What happened?”

He pulled me to him, crushing my face against the muscles of his chest. The knot in my stomach loosened infinitesimally. Just being near Ull gave me peace, but being this near Ull was like taking a sedative. Breathing in his woodsy smell made my panic subside. And when he pressed his hands against me—one to my hair, the other against the small of my back—my gut knew I was safe. Nothing bad could happen to me so long as I was in Ull’s arms. I inhaled again, letting his familiar scent fill me from the inside until my shaking stilled. Then I pressed my lips against his skin. Hard.

“Sweetheart?” he asked again.

“I had another vision and it freaked me out. Can I stay with you?” I didn’t take my lips off his chest as I spoke. I couldn’t. He tasted divine—like spruce and soap and home. There was a very real possibility my mouth might be permanently adhered to his flesh, like a kid who’d tried to lick a frozen railing.

Only this was far less unpleasant.

Buy Endre on: Amazon/ Amazon UK/ Kobo/ Barnes & Noble  



The Amazon bestselling Upper YA Paranormal Romance series inspired by Norse mythology and featured in USA Today.

What reviewers are saying about The Elsker Saga:

“The characters will leave an imprint on your heart and mind for a long time to come.” -Lisa (Bound by Books)

“Bende takes classic bits of Norse mythology and throws in original elements to create her own tasty Nordic blend… I’ll definitely be checking out the sequel!” -Bookalicious Reviews

“One of my favorite books of the year.” -White Zin Bookends

“Action packed with a heart pounding romance!” -Curse of the Bibliophile

“This book was nearly impossible to put down and I’m dying for the sequel!” -Brittany and Bianca Blab Books (now BiblioBelles)

Tur: An Elsker Saga Novella (Prequel)


Inga Andersson is the envy of every girl in Asgard. On the surface she has it all — great friends, a job as Odin’s personal fight choreographer, and a happy ever after with her realm’s hottest assassin. But when evil invades Asgard, her perfect world comes crashing down. Someone is planning to kill off the gods, and Inga’s best friend Ull is first on their list. With the Norse apocalypse a nanosecond away, Inga has to decide how she’ll spend her final moments of freedom. Because from the moment this battle begins, Inga’s happily ever after will be nothing more than a memory.

Some things are worth fighting for.

Elsker: The Elsker Saga Book One


You don’t win the heart of an immortal assassin without making a few enemies along the way. Kristia Tostenson prefers Earl Grey to Grey Goose and book clubs to nightclubs, but when she transfers from her one-stoplight town to Cardiff University in Wales she falls in love with Ull Myhr. Her new boyfriend isn’t exactly what she was expecting. He’s an honest to goodness Norse God – an immortal assassin fated to die at Ragnarok, the battle destined to destroy Asgard and Earth. Kristia’s crazy visions are the only thing that can save their realms.

Her orderly life just got very messy.


Before finding domestic bliss in suburbia, ST Bende lived in Manhattan Beach (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. She hopes her characters make you smile and that one day, pastries will be considered a health food.

Find ST on Twitter @stbende or her blog ( While you’re at it, introduce yourself to @UllMyhr — when he’s not saving the cosmos from dark elves, he loves meeting new friends. Especially the human kind.

Release Day Blitz Excerpt & Giveaway: Tur & Elsker by S.T. Bende


Title: Tur
Series: The Elsker Saga #0.5
Author: S.T. Bende
Genre/Age Range: Paranormal, Romance, New Adult
Release Date: May 29, 2014

About the Book:

Inga Andersson is the envy of every girl in Asgard. On the surface she has it all — great friends, a job as Odin’s personal fight choreographer, and a happy ever after with her realm’s hottest assassin. But when evil invades Asgard, her perfect world comes crashing down. Someone is planning to kill off the gods, and Inga’s best friend Ull is first on their list. With the Norse apocalypse a nanosecond away, Inga has to decide how she’ll spend her final moments of freedom. Because from the moment this battle begins, Inga’s happily ever after will be nothing more than a memory.

Some things are worth fighting for.


Title: Elsker
Series: The Elsker Saga #1
Author: S.T. Bende
Genre/Age Range: Paranormal, Romance, New Adult
Release Date: May 29, 2014
Goodreads Link:

Book Trailer:

Buy Links: Barnes&Noble/ Amazon/ Kobo

About the Book:

You don’t win the heart of an immortal assassin without making a few enemies along the way.

Kristia Tostenson prefers Earl Grey to Grey Goose and book clubs to nightclubs, but when she transfers from her one-stoplight town to Cardiff University in Wales she falls in love with Ull Myhr. Her new boyfriend isn’t exactly what she was expecting. He’s an honest to goodness Norse God – an immortal assassin fated to die at Ragnarok, the battle destined to destroy Asgard and Earth. Kristia’s crazy visions are the only thing that can save their realms. Her orderly life just got very messy.




“Are you sure you will be all right on the stairs?” Ull stood in the grand hall of

Cardiff Castle, glancing at the four-inch, shiny death-traps Victoria called shoes. Since

Ull’s eyes practically bugged out of his face when he picked me up, I had no intention of

changing into the emergency flats I’d stuck in my purse. Victoria had scored another hit.

“Probably not. Walk behind me in case I fall?”

“It would be my pleasure.”

“On our right, the coats of arms,” continued the tour guide. He’d been talking

for a good five minutes and I couldn’t remember a single word. That was because

Ull had started stroking the small of my back when our tour began, and it took all my

concentration just to stay upright.

“The castle is gorgeous.” I admired the stonework as we made our way toward

the stairs. There I shifted focus to my feet, staring at each step until I’d reached the top.

“Made it.”

“And I was so hoping I would get to catch you.” Ull came up next to me and

skimmed my hand with the pads of his fingers.

“Well, the night is young and these shoes are high. You may still get your


“Tease.” Ull kissed my palm.

“Um.” I swayed on the heels and he chuckled.

“Come, Miss Tostenson. We are losing the group.”


We walked the long corridor framed with paintings. All of the history in these

walls was kind of overwhelming. The castle was two thousand years old. The oldest thing

we had back in Nehalem was probably the Homestead. Cardiff Castle had about eighteen

hundred years on that farm.

“This place is huge,” I whispered when we’d caught up to the tour. “I can’t

imagine living here. How could you ever get comfortable?”

“You get used to it,” Ull shrugged. “Find little corners to make your own.”

“How on earth could anyone get used to all of this?”

“When you are stuck in it every day it gets old. Trust me.”

“Right.” Like Ull was an authority on royal dwellings. “Living in a castle sounds

sooo terrible.”

“Depends on the day.”

“What does that mean?”

“Just that these walls did more than keep people out — they kept people in, too.”

I thought about my vision from Friday night — of Ull and me in a meadow by a

castle. Huh.

“Where did you say your family lived, exactly?” I probed.

But Ull bristled. I’d hit a nerve. “Come Kristia, we have lost our group again.” He

gently pulled me down the hall.

“You may have noticed the Animal Wall in front of the Castle. Though William

Burges designed the Wall in 1866, it was not constructed until 1890 — nine years after

Burges’s death.” The guide lifted an eyebrow as we caught up. “Please do try to stay

with the tour,” he admonished before turning down another corridor. The rest of the

group followed closely.

“Sorry.” I ducked my head.

Ull raised a corner of his mouth in a smile. “Why, Kristia, you are blushing.”

“And?” I lifted my chin, and took a step back so I stood against the wall.

“It is sweet.” Ull paused and lifted a finger to my cheek. My knees buckled and

he grabbed my arm to steady me. The touch sent shockwaves straight to my head, leaving

me with the unnerving sensation of being underwater. I lost my bearings again and Ull

wrapped both hands around my waist to stop my fall.

“Sorry,” I mouthed. “Must be the shoes.” I couldn’t stop staring at his eyes. They

almost looked nervous.

“Must be.” He ran his finger along my jaw, stopping to grasp my chin between

his thumb and forefinger. His eyes focused on my mouth and my heartbeat accelerated.

He ran his thumb lightly over my lips. They parted under his touch. A wave of heat shot

from my lower lip straight to my abdomen, creating a slow burn that wasn’t altogether

uncomfortable. I watched as his eyes slowly moved down then back up, lingering at the

neckline of my dress. Victoria had been right about the push-up bra.

“Must be,” I repeated.

Ull drew his eyes away from my cleavage and took a step closer. He leaned one

forearm against the wall, leaving me enveloped between the cold stone and his warm

chest. I was suddenly very dizzy.

“Kristia,” he spoke in a whisper.

“Yes?” I whispered back. Ull was looking at me with an intensity I wasn’t

prepared for. He stepped in, closing the last inch between us.

“Look at me.” He spoke again, lifting my chin so my lips were tilted towards

his. If his body hadn’t been pressed against mine, I would have collapsed in a heap that

instant. Instead, I took a shaky breath as Ull dropped his head. He ran his nose along my

jaw line, pausing when he reached my ear. He breathed in, the cool air sending a shiver

down my neck. With painstaking slowness he drew his nose across my cheek until our

lips were almost touching. Now when I looked into his eyes I saw something entirely

different. He was strong. Confident. And very much in control.

I let out a small sigh and immediately he covered my mouth with his. It wasn’t a

gentle kiss — it was commanding, almost forceful. I melted against him as he claimed my

lips, moved down my jaw to consume my neck. My insides throbbed. In that moment, I

would have done absolutely anything he asked me to.

“Kristia,” he whispered again.

“Mmm.” It was the best I could muster by way of response.

“I think we need to stop.”

In God’s name, why?

“Will you be joining the rest of my tour, or shall I leave the two of you here?”

The guide stood at the end of the corridor, literally tapping his foot. Oops.

Ull placed his hands around my waist to right me. I smoothed my hair and

straightened my dress, my cheeks burning the whole time.

“Great timing,” I muttered. Just when things were getting good.

“Do not worry Kristia.” Ull winked. “We have all the time in the world.”

I sure hoped so.

Before finding domestic bliss in suburbia, ST Bende lived in Manhattan Beach (became overly fond of Peet’s Coffee) and Europe… where she became overly fond of the musical Cats. Her love of Scandinavian culture and a very patient Norwegian teacher inspired the ELSKER series. She hopes her characters make you smile and that one day pastries will be considered a health food.

You can follow ST Bende on Twitter @stbende, or send an e-mail to

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