Death and Beauty by Samantha MacLeod

Baldr the Beautiful is dead.

Desperate to get back to his privileged role as Óðinn’s favorite son, Baldr strikes a bargain with Hel, the terrifying half living and half skeletal queen of the realm of the dead. He offers her the only thing he’s got: knowledge from the living world. Hel gives him three days. If he can teach her something new, she will return him to the realms of the living.

But the icy Hel seems completely impervious to Baldr’s charms. What’s worse, she already knows everything. By the end of the third day, Baldr realizes he’s only got one chance left to impress her.

Returning to his former life depends on Baldr the Beautiful seducing the most formidable woman in the Nine Realms.

Targeted Audience: Over 18!

Author Bio:
Born and raised in Colorado, Samantha MacLeod has lived in every time zone in the US, and London. She has a bachelor’s degree from Colby College and an M.A. from the University of Chicago; yes, the U. of C. really is where fun comes to die.

Samantha lives with her husband and two small children in the woods of southern Maine. When she’s not shoveling snow or writing steamy sex scenes, Samantha can be found teaching college composition and philosophy to undergraduates who have no idea she leads a double life as an erotica author.

Read more, including a sample from the book
Sample from Book:

The branch trembled, making the delicate green leaves and white flower clusters dance. A single petal shook free to sail across the bright blue sky. It was so beautiful, caught in the golden light of late afternoon. I couldn’t understand why someone was crying.
The flower petal tumbled through the sky, heedless of the voices below. I liked it. I liked it all, the bright sky, the white flowers, the audacious little green leaves. I tried to turn and follow the petal through the sky, but my neck wasn’t quite working. It didn’t matter anyway. Soon the brave little petal would be swallowed by the blackness creeping into my vision, turning the sky into a little, shrinking circle, growing farther and farther away, until it was entirely gone—
Darkness. Darkness and voices, a soft rush of motion. Then something harsh and acrid, like battlefield smoke, stung my nostrils, and my head spun. I tried to open my eyes.
“What happened?” I moaned.
Someone clucked above me. “Don’t move just yet, my boy.”
The voice sounded old and only mildly sympathetic. I ignored it, pushing myself up to sitting. My head throbbed and my stomach surged, making me gag. Soft hands grabbed my arm, dragging me back to the bed. Her grip felt weak, but I didn’t have the strength to resist.
“Where am I?” I whispered, once my stomach stopped roiling.
“You’re dead, dearie.”
I shook my head, making the room spin. “No. That’s not possible.”
She clucked again. My eyes were adjusting to the gloom, and I could just make out a hunched figure tending to a fire. “Oh, that’s what they all say.”
“No, you don’t understand. I’m—”
“Baldr the Beautiful,” she said. “Óðinn’s favorite son. Yes, yes, we know all about you here.”
“But I can’t die. My mother is Frigg. She traveled the Nine Realms, and everything she found—”
“Promised not to harm you. I know. I heard all about it.”
The old woman turned and gave me a sympathetic, tired smile. She looked like a nice woman, but of course you never can tell. “But your mother couldn’t possibly have gotten a promise from every single thing.”
She hobbled a bit closer to the bed, her arms outstretched with a rough wooden bowl in her hands. “Drink this, dearie. It’ll help.”
I tried to push myself up to sitting. Again, my head and stomach revolted, throbbing and churning. The old woman chuckled sympathetically.
“It takes some getting used to, being dead,” she said. “Tell you what, Baldr the Beautiful. Why don’t we talk about the last thing you remember, hmmm?”

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