“No Quarter” Day – Titles and Languages and a Giveaway.

April 3, 2012
It’s getting on towards my bedtime here in Australia, so before I go for the night, I leave you all with a giveaway. Leave your name and email address in a comment to this post and when I get up in the morning, I’ll announce the winner of a copy of “No Quarter.”
And just how did “No Quarter” get its title?
Well, basically, titles are my nemesis. “No Quarter” went through over twenty titles before my good friend, Meredith Shayne (author of “Equilibrium” also out with Dreamspinner Press) suggested “No Quarter.” It fit perfectly, especially as I’d just written a line about Gabriel giving no quarter in war and no quarter in love. I love my characters, like all authors do, and I wanted them to have a title that reflected the story and their personalities. So when “No Quarter” was put to me, it was very much a lightbulb moment.
Some of the other titles the novel had that just didn’t suit at all included “Craving to Entwine,” which made me *cringe*; “Masquerade of Stars,” “Flying for Lovers,” another that made me cringe, but it might get used in something else. “Hope Remains,” “Angels Speak in Dark and Light,” which was a little too close to one of my favourite books, “Creatures of Light and Dark” by Roger Zelazny, and so it was definitely a no.
“No Quarter” was Meredith Shayne’s 4am brainstorm, and her thoughts matched mine as soon as I saw it. No quarter is given in wars/battles between angels and demons; no quarter is given in love, when it’s the possessive, primitive sort of love that Michael and Gabriel have.
Now, because my Archangels represent all the races of humanity, and Michael is Chinese with Gabriel being British with a love of Russia, I wanted them to have pet names in Chinese and Russian. The Russian was easy enough, I’d researched Russian pet names and swear words several years ago for a role playing game, and I remembered the affectionate <I>solnyshko</I> and <I>solnyshko moyo</I> for (loosely translated) ‘my sun’ or ‘sun of my life.’Finding the Chinese pet names for lovers was a little harder.
I’d studied Mandarin Chinese in high school, but I don’t remember a lot of it, much to my regret. So, I did a lot of Googling to find the right terms, because I am big on research, and found a site where you could ask a Chinese speaker to translate things. Someone had already asked about terms of endearment, happily for me, and the answer was <I>da bao</I>, which means ‘big treasure.’ Perfect!
Thanks again for reading along, everyone, and don’t forget to leave a comment with your name and email address to go into the running to win a copy of the novel!

It’s getting on towards my bedtime here in Australia, so before I go for the night, I leave you all with a giveaway. Leave your name and email address in a comment to this post and when I get up in the morning, I’ll announce the winner of a copy of “No Quarter.”
And just how did “No Quarter” get its title?
Well, basically, titles are my nemesis. “No Quarter” went through over twenty titles before my good friend, Meredith Shayne (author of “Equilibrium” also out with Dreamspinner Press) suggested “No Quarter.” It fit perfectly, especially as I’d just written a line about Gabriel giving no quarter in war and no quarter in love. I love my characters, like all authors do, and I wanted them to have a title that reflected the story and their personalities. So when “No Quarter” was put to me, it was very much a lightbulb moment.
Some of the other titles the novel had that just didn’t suit at all included “Craving to Entwine,” which made me *cringe*; “Masquerade of Stars,” “Flying for Lovers,” another that made me cringe, but it might get used in something else. “Hope Remains,” “Angels Speak in Dark and Light,” which was a little too close to one of my favourite books, “Creatures of Light and Dark” by Roger Zelazny, and so it was definitely a no.
“No Quarter” was Meredith Shayne’s 4am brainstorm, and her thoughts matched mine as soon as I saw it. No quarter is given in wars/battles between angels and demons; no quarter is given in love, when it’s the possessive, primitive sort of love that Michael and Gabriel have.
Now, because my Archangels represent all the races of humanity, and Michael is Chinese with Gabriel being British with a love of Russia, I wanted them to have pet names in Chinese and Russian. The Russian was easy enough, I’d researched Russian pet names and swear words several years ago for a role playing game, and I remembered the affectionate <I>solnyshko</I> and <I>solnyshko moyo</I> for (loosely translated) ‘my sun’ or ‘sun of my life.’ Finding the Chinese pet names for lovers was a little harder.
I’d studied Mandarin Chinese in high school, but I don’t remember a lot of it, much to my regret. So, I did a lot of Googling to find the right terms, because I am big on research, and found a site where you could ask a Chinese speaker to translate things. Someone had already asked about terms of endearment, happily for me, and the answer was <I>da bao</I>, which means ‘big treasure.’ Perfect!
Thanks again for reading along, everyone, and don’t forget to leave a comment with your name and email address to go into the running to win a copy of the novel!

“No Quarter” Day: Excerpt the Second.

April 3, 2012
A short excerpt this time, a quiet moment between Michael and Gabriel.
Gabriel rolled off him and onto his back, shifting to get comfortable. Tugging Michael into the curve of his arm, he smiled to himself as Michael curled up around him, a leg thrown over Gabriel’s and an arm slung over Gabriel’s chest as Michael rested his head on Gabriel’s shoulder.
“Comfortable?” Gabriel asked.
“Yes, thank you.” Michael let out a slow breath. “Gabriel?”
“Aye?”
“I… have not felt this for a very, very long time,” Michael said slowly, “and I do not want you to wonder or leave it unsaid. It is important to say it, I feel, especially as we do not know what may happen.”
“Oh?” Gabriel shifted a little so he could look into Michael’s eyes.
“Yes. Gabriel, I… I love you.” The last three words were said in a rush.
Gabriel smiled at that, running his fingers over Michael’s shoulder and arm, over the tattoo of the phrase “I am a shield and I am a sword, I protect and I serve” in Hebrew that stood out in black ink against Michael’s olive-hued skin. “And I love you, Michael.”
“You do not have to say—” Michael began, but Gabriel cut him off.
“Hush. I know how I feel, and I love you. Deal with it.”
Michael huffed at that. “Fine. I shall deal with it, as you say.”
Gabriel started laughing. “You’re adorable.”
“I disagree.”
“As is totally your right.” Still laughing, Gabriel pulled Michael even closer, so that Michael was half on top of him, and wrapped his arms around Michael, holding him close. “Get some rest.”
Michael hummed and nodded once. “I think I will. A short nap. You will be here?” The hopeful note in his voice was not lost on Gabriel.
“Aye, I’ll be here. I’ll always be here.”
Michael smiled at that. “Thank you,” he whispered.
Gabriel felt Michael stir a few hours before dawn. “Hey,” he said softly, slowly stroking his fingers through Michael’s hair. “I’m going to have to go soon, go and take care of my kids.”
Michael stretched and yawned, rubbing his eyes with the heel of one hand. It was an almost childlike action, and Gabriel couldn’t help but smile.
“As you say,” Michael agreed.
“I was thinking, though, that maybe you’d like to come with me back to mine? You could get to know my kids a bit better, and they could get to know you—and we could spend more time together?”
Michael smiled at that. “I would like that very much, Gabriel. Do we have time for a brief shower before departing?”
“Aye,” Gabriel leaned in to press a soft kiss to Michael’s forehead. “It’s not yet dawn. We got a few hours.”
“Good.” Michael stretched again, like a big cat. “Thank you for staying, da bao.”
“Da bao?” Gabriel raised an eyebrow. “Big treasure?”
Michael looked away. “It seemed fitting. You do not mind?”
“No. I don’t mind.” Gabriel kissed Michael’s forehead again. “I like it a lot.”
“As you say.” Michael sat up, running a hand down Gabriel’s chest. “Let us bathe, da bao.”
Gabriel smiled and nodded. “Aye.”
“Thank you both for staying with ’em,” Gabriel said, shaking Remiel and Samael’s hands.
“It was no trouble, Gabriel,” Samael said. “I enjoyed the opportunity to spend time with your children.”
“Shateiel and his bonded stopped by,” Remiel put in.
“Really?” Gabriel’s eyebrow shot up. “Why?” Shateiel was mute, but able to communicate telepathically with angelkind and those sentient beings who had the ability of telepathy.
“Shateiel only said to let you know he’s finished up with the assignments you gave him earlier, so he’s available if you need him for anything, and Agrat offered her services if you can think of a way they’d be of use. Then Shateiel got all stony faced grr-angel, and Agrat patted his arm a few times while he huffed in beatific silence, and then they left.” Remiel grinned. “It’s a good thing she doesn’t mind the silence. I teased her about that. She said he’s plenty loud in her head for her not to notice the silence, and then he blushed red like a tomato and stared at the ceiling.”
“Now, now, Shateiel’s a good officer,” Gabriel chided. “Although,” he added, grinning, “I ain’t never seen him blush, but now I think I have to. I’ll mention that when I see him.”
“He’s creepy sometimes.” Remiel shrugged. “Which I suppose is the point, seeing as he’s the Angel of Silence and Soldiers. How on earth he scored Agrat is still a mystery to me.”
“Mayhap Raziel can answer it for you.” Samael chuckled.
“Or mayhap we could cease gossiping entirely,” Michael said.

“No Quarter” Day: Excerpt the First.

April 3, 2012

Here’s an excerpt from “No Quarter.” It’s a scene between the Archangel of Death, Samael, and Archangel Gabriel’s two adopted children, Mira and John. It provides some of the back history of the Archangels in the form of a story told by Samael.

Samael smiled at Mira as she joined John in sprawling on the floor of the living room. While some of the Heavenly Host might sneer at the prospect of spending time with Gabriel’s adopted human children, and consider it little more than babysitting and a demeaning trial and waste of time at that, Samael was entirely the opposite. Humans were made by God; Archangels were commanded to guide and protect them. To Samael, it was as simple as that.

Gabriel’s two children were also two humans that Samael was deeply fond of. Mira, with her long, wavy blonde hair and green eyes, was a delight; her laughter was infectious, and she had always, even from when she had been a small child, questioned him closely about the meaning of the stories he had told her. He had helped Gabriel teach her, helped raise her, comforted her in the night when she had woken from nightmares while Gabriel had been away on a mission. He had bonded with her almost from the moment Gabriel had handed her to him as a tiny two-year-old toddler, her eyes wide and glassy with tears, her lower lip wobbling as she tried not to weep as he took her into his arms. She had been so small then, so delicate, he had been half-afraid he would break her. But Gabriel trusted him, and Gabriel’s trust and confidence in him were not things that Samael intended to lose. When Mira had smiled a small, shy, hopeful smile at him that day, she had reached out with her tiny hands and claimed his heart. Samael was as devoted to Gabriel’s daughter as he was to his son, as he was to the rest of his kind.

John, Gabriel’s younger child, had come to Gabriel in tragic circumstances, and Samael remembered the day that he, Gabriel, and Remiel had found the infant, squalling helplessly upon a crude altar in the jungles of South America. He had felt rage unlike anything he had experienced for thousands of years as he had beheld the zealot who strove to sacrifice the child to the Son of God. Gabriel had lopped the head off the man wielding a knife above the baby’s sternum without a word and scooped the child up in his arms, as Samael turned and laid waste to the cultists who had rushed to defend the man who would sacrifice an infant.

That day was one of the days that Samael, Archangel of Death, would never forget, and he had seen many such days. John, once he had settled into life with Gabriel and Mira, had grown into a quiet, shy, intense child. His intensity had given him a gravitas that made him appear much older than he really was. He had eschewed the companionship of humans his own age, preferring to spend his time with animals, and at school he had spent his free time in the library or helping his biology teachers. He was as introverted as Mira was extroverted and had dark blond hair and hazel eyes.

The two children also resembled Gabriel. Perhaps it was a mark of the Archangel who had raised them as his own that had somehow imprinted itself upon them, but there was a familial resemblance that sometimes made Samael do a double take. Gabriel had adopted children from all over the world over the many centuries of his life, and none of them had resembled him so closely physically as Mira and John.

Now, with Gabriel away training humans in specialized combat for Michael, Samael had taken it upon himself to spend the day with Gabriel’s children. The way they called him “Uncle” never failed to stir his Grace, the light of an angel’s soul, and he treasured every time they used the term with him. While he and Gabriel were not brothers, they were of the Archangel Brotherhood, and Mira and John’s love for him as their uncle was one of the most precious things in Samael’s life.

He toyed with a feather that had dropped from one of his wings, the black plume longer than any of those from a peacock’s tail. Angel wings were more than nine feet long at their fullest stretch, Archangel wings being longer still. Thus, their feathers were longer, finer, and stronger than those of birds.

“Is that from your wing, Uncle Sammy?” John regarded the feather in fascination.

“Yes.” Samael smiled, holding the feather out so they could see it more clearly. There was a deep, rich indigo sheen to the feather, more visible when direct sunlight shone on it. “From time to time, we lose feathers. It is a natural part of our biology.”

“Papa’s wings are like vulture’s wings, he said.” Mira was staring transfixed at the feather. “They’re all black and gray. Are yours like his too?”

“No, child, mine are just black. Save for this,” Samael indicated the sheen of indigo at the edge of the feather with his index finger. Against the darkness of his skin, the blackness of the feather seemed even more intense. “That is the color of my power.”

“Purple?” John looked confused. “Death’s purple?”

Samael laughed heartily at that. “No, dear one. Indigo. Death is shadows and light, death is everywhere, but death is not the end. Indigo is a mood and a color and a shadow. So it is with my power.”

“What about the other Archangels?”

“What about them, Mira?” Samael smiled fondly at her.

“What are their wings like? What color is their power?”

“Ah.” Samael sat back comfortably, idly turning the feather between his thumb and forefinger. “Michael’s power is gold, and his wings are russet, like those of an eagle owl. Gabriel, as you know, has black, white and gray mottled wings, like a vulture, and his power is silver. Raphael’s power and wings are both white, like a dove. Uriel’s wings are a dark gray, like a hawk, and his power is orange, like fire. Mine, as you can see with this feather, are black and my power is indigo. Metatron’s wings are mottled white and pale gray like a goose, and his power is pale blue. Tzadkiel’s wings are spotted and banded black on white, like a peregrine falcon, and his power is copper colored. Remiel’s wings are russet, tan, white and black, like those of a Mandarin duck, and his power is deep green. Haniel, Archangel of Love, has wings that are a soft gray, like the gray dove, and his power is red. And Raziel, our youngest Archangel, has dusky brown and white wings, like the swan goose, and his power is the color of bronze.”

Samael watched the two young people as they digested his words. Mira’s expression was thoughtful as she rested her chin in her hand, propped up on her elbow as she lay on her stomach. John, leaning back against the armchair in the corner of the living room with one of his legs stretched out, the other tucked beneath him, wore a slight frown on his handsome face.

“What troubles you, John?” Samael smiled. “I can see you are thinking hard.”

“Nothing really,” John admitted. “I just… they don’t say any of this stuff in the Bible or any of the other holy books.”

“No,” Samael agreed, “they do not.”

“Why?”

“Because there are things that humans are not meant to know. Consider how many wars have been fought because of religious disagreements. How many more would there be if such things were common knowledge?” Samael shrugged. “It is how things are. We are told that the information that exists about angelkind is enough for humanity to understand and no more and no less.”

“But you and Pops tell us stuff that isn’t in the Bible. Or stuff that’s hinted at,” John pointed out.

“True. We do. But you two are not about to declare war upon a nation, are you?”

John grinned. “No. That sounds like too much mingling with people for me.”

Mira laughed. “You’ll be the mystery man wherever we live, Mr. Solitary with his horses. I feel like I should buy you a cowboy hat or something,” she teased.

John shrugged. “Animals I get. People I don’t.” He was silent for a moment, and then, as Samael tilted his head to one side, John said, “But you’re not brothers, are you, I mean, not like we humans think of brothers, right?”

“No, we are not related in the way that humans define brothers or sisters.” Samael smiled a small smile. “We are of the choir of Archangels, which is best described as being akin to a religious order. You are both aware of there being many religious orders, such as the Brothers of the Christian Schools or the Christian Brotherhood of Ireland or the Little Sisters of the Assumption. The men and women who are part of these orders address each other as brother or sister; thus it is with us. We are, however, much, much older.”

Mira laughed at that. “You don’t look a day over forty, Uncle.”

“Thank you, dearest Mira.” Samael smiled warmly at her. “Does that description help you, John?”

“Yeah, yeah, it does.” John grinned. “I know angels are a totally different species to humans, but the way you describe the different choirs of angels as like different religious orders makes a lot of sense. I was sort of thinking it might be like different countries or something, but you’re all the same race, so that wouldn’t really work as an analogy.”

“Quite so.” Samael nodded. “You are wise, John.”

John flushed. “Not really,” he demurred.

“Uncle, can you explain how angel society works?” Mira canted her head slightly to one side. “Papa tried to explain, but he totally confused me.”

Samael chuckled. “Angels are a species,” he explained. “As you know, we are divided into choirs—what humans would call races as well as religious orders, as I explained previously. Thus, I am of the choir of Archangels. Gabriel commands the choir of Seraphim, who are the warrior legions of Heaven. Michael is the Commander in Chief of all of us, but he is not a ruler; his title is Prince of Heaven, yes, but he does not rule over us. We are ultimately responsible to God Himself.

“The Archangels are ten in number,” he continued, “and there are so few of us compared to the other choirs because we are the most powerful, the strongest, the most feared weapons and tools of Heaven. Even those whom you would consider to be noncombatant: Raphael, the Healer; Remiel, the Merciful; Haniel, the voice of Love. All of us fight when we are commanded to do so, and all of us have a blade and armor. We are the first made, along with Lucifer himself. After us came the other choirs. The Seraphim, Ophanim, Thrones, Dominions, Cherubim and the like. They all answer to us and we to God. Does that explain the structure of society of angelkind?”

Mira nodded slowly. “I think so. It’s like a race that’s governed by a body of ten and you answer to God?”

“Quite so, beloved Mira,” Samael said with a warm smile. He regarded them both thoughtfully and changed the subject to one he thought more important. “How do you both feel about this proposed move of Gabriel’s?”

“Good.” Mira nodded. “No, really, I do. I mean, I like it here, but it’s been really uncomfortable for a few months now. I wish what happened to me hadn’t, but… I can’t say I’m going to miss this place.”

“Same here.” John leaned back, resting his hands behind his head. “Wherever family is and my horses, I’m good.”

“You are good people,” Samael said simply.

“So are you, Uncle.” Mira smiled at him. “Can you tell us a story?”

He chuckled at that. “I see, you flatter me in the hopes of tales of the past!”

“You tell good stories.” The smile broadened into a grin. “You tell us stuff that even the Apocrypha only hints at. It puts things into perspective. Wasn’t that what you said yesterday, John?” She turned to her brother.

“Yeah, I did.” John reached over to ruffle her hair, and she lightly smacked his knee in retaliation. “Ow, brat.”

“Oh hush, you, I didn’t hurt you.” Mira rolled her eyes theatrically, and John laughed. She turned back to Samael. “So, will you please tell us a story?”

“A story, then. What sort of a story?”

“From the early days,” John said instantly.

“On Earth,” Mira added.

“The early days on Earth.” Samael pondered it and smiled slightly. “As you wish.”

As Mira and John got comfortable on the floor, Samael began to speak.

“When the Earth was newly made, there were three races of beings. There were the angels, the demons, and the monsters. There were no humans then, not yet, for God had decided to send us down to ensure that His creation was safe and would be welcoming when humanity began to walk the Earth. The Earth was young and beautiful, and her seas were a rich, lustrous blue, her lands green and lush.

“The demons sought dominion, and they went forth, born as they were out of the first moments of Lucifer’s rage after his Fall. The Fallen Ones, angels who had followed him to Hell, remained at his side, and these newly made demons swarmed up out of their natural realm and onto the Earth.

“They strove at first to draw the monsters to their banner—they wheedled, they promised, they cajoled. And when their entreaties did not work, they used more foul means, but still the monsters remained firm and would not be drawn into their conflict. The monsters, what humanity calls such creatures as vampires, werewolves, shape shifters, djinn, faeries, dryads, naiads—all of these creatures and more—were born out of God’s regret, born out of His tears as Michael threw Lucifer down into Gehenna. They were—are—God’s children, even as we all are.

“One night, a werewolf by the name of Aiyah sought out Michael. She was weary and mortally wounded when she found him in council with the rest of us, but she survived long enough to tell us what the demons were doing. They were torturing the monsters, who sought only to survive and embrace the world made by God in peaceful existence, into doing their bidding. And by doing so, they were driving some of the clans of the monsters insane.

“She died in Michael’s arms, and he wept, for she was a valiant and steadfast friend to us all, and then he took up his blade, which shone with the golden light of his power. ‘Archangels,’ he said, ‘we must go forth and punish these iniquities so they know their place. They must not overrun this planet; they must not take control or break the balance that God wishes us to maintain’.

“We rose with him and we went out and we made war. Dreadful, terrible war, the first war outside of Heaven. This war was long and brutal, and it drew out those gifts we were made with when God first created us out of His thought. Gabriel, the General; Raphael, the Healer; Uriel, the Guardian; Michael, the Commander in Chief.

“It was sixty years into the war as you now measure time, and Gabriel went to Raziel and Uriel and commanded them to build a place of safety. For, he said, our forces were being injured, and we were not omniscient. Raphael and Remiel would need a secure place to practice their arts of healing and mercy, and the monsters who fought beside us and the Seraphim, Gabriel’s warrior angels, would need a place to rest in between battles. And so Raziel and Uriel went from the plain where battle raged and found a valley, a rich, beautiful valley, verdant and green with plant life, and there, too, were the first animals: unicorns and dragons, saber cats and mammoths. There was water—a crystal clear river that mankind later named the Euphrates, and there were flowers, wheat, fruit and vegetable plants and great, leafy trees stretching as far as the valley went.

“Together, Raziel and Uriel built a wall, a great, high wall, one hundred and forty feet high and sixty foot thick surrounding this beautiful valley. They created a gate out of Celestial steel and covered the stones of the wall with their power, protecting and reinforcing it. And then, within the boundaries of the wall, they built a city, a city the likes of which no human has seen since they were evicted from it by the command of God.

“Eden, Raziel named it, with its spiraling towers that almost touched the sky, its broad promenades and buildings with many windows to let in the light and air. Eden, which in the old language of angelkind means sanctuary. And Uriel left the city to gather up the wounded and Raphael and Remiel, who were caring for them all, and bring everyone there so that the injured might recover and heal.

“And Michael and Gabriel came with them, and Michael wept tears that became glass as soon as they touched the sand of the desert that lay for miles outside the borders of Eden, glass that was stronger than any glass that has been created since. Such glass can still be found in places in the Sahara and the Gobi. His tears were of relief and of joy, for he knew that God’s plan was truly working as it should be and progressing as it had been foretold, for Eden had been a concept that he had long discussed with God before there was such a thing as Time.”

“This is better than any movie,” Mira said softly as Samael paused to take a breath.

“No kidding,” John agreed.

The two of them fell silent as Samael took up the story once more. “God looked down on the workings of Raziel and Uriel and the destruction and carnage caused by the war fought by our kind, and He decided to end it. The demons were banished again to Hell, bound there by spells and sigils and wards that some foolish beings have tried to use to their own ends, raising demons for their own selfish purposes. He blessed those of the monsters who had fought with us and gave them lands and places wherein they could prosper. And then He blessed Eden and called it the Cradle of Civilization.

“There was a great, blinding light then, and we all shielded our eyes against it, for even though our true forms are bright light and energy, the light of God is brighter still. When it faded, we saw there in the city of Eden, you. Humans. God’s voice was heard then as He issued us our first commandment in that place.

“‘Thou, my beloved children, angels and Archangels, will guide, nurture, and protect these humans. Thou wilt serve them as thou serve Me, for such is My will, and the rewards shall be great.’

“There was great rejoicing, and Michael sent those of the Host who were not Archangel back to Heaven, leaving the ten Archangels of God to walk the Earth and serve. And the rewards were great and continue to be great, yes, even after the expulsion from Eden. For that, too, was a necessity, and it was intended to be a blessing in the long run and not a curse.”

Samael fell silent then and watched Mira and John who were gazing at him with expressions of open awe on their faces.

“Wow,” John said finally. “I’ve never heard that story before.”

“It has not been told since Adam was the Prince of the Garden,” Samael said reflectively. “He was a modest soul and his wife also.”

“Who told it?” Mira asked.

“Tzadkiel sometimes, Metatron other times.” Samael’s voice was soft. “Uriel, Michael, Gabriel, and I patrolled the walls of the city and kept guard. Raziel wrote a guide for Adam, a book of secrets and mysteries. Raphael made sure there was no unhealed sickness or injuries, Haniel arranged marriages.”

“Where did the Grigori come into it, then?” John asked.

“Long after those warm, peaceful days.” Samael sighed sadly. “They came, they watched as they were commanded. And then Ishtahar was born. When she was sixteen, she was made to be high priestess of Semjaza, for she was born at a certain time when the stars and moon were in a certain place in the sky, and so it was her destiny.”

“The one they call the Mother of Nephilim?” Mira’s eyes had grown large. “Because wasn’t Lilith the first wife of Adam and she went off and had giants as children?”

“Quite so, beloved Mira. The stories and histories gloss over the pain that Ishtahar endured in her role as high priestess and unwilling wife to an angel, but Semjaza was smitten with her, and he had to have her.” Samael shook his head sadly. “He was always selfish. He broke the laws of God—angels must not marry humans or breed with them—and so he was punished by Gabriel and locked into the constellation of Aquila. The other Grigori who believed as Semjaza did were thrown down into Hell and imprisoned there by Michael. It was just. Ishtahar was a quiet, shy, beautiful girl, she was intelligent and kind and compassionate, and she did not deserve the agonies he forced upon her.”

“Ishtahar… wait, isn’t she Uncle Remi’s girlfriend?” John frowned in confusion. “If the Grigori were punished, then how can they be together?”

Samael chuckled. “We—angelkind—are barren. We cannot procreate. We cannot breed, God saw to that after the Grigori were punished. We can, however, love, and so we do. We do not marry for that is not our way—that is a human ritual. We have our own rituals for lasting relationships. Generally, we do not take long-term partners that are human. It is… painful to do so. We live forever and humans do not, and the death of loved ones who are mortal is painful. Ishtahar, for her part, was punished with immortality, made to wander the world forever and made barren. Harsh, perhaps, but she has turned what was seen as a punishment into a blessing and done much with her extended life. She and Remiel are well suited to each other, and he adores her. God approved the match—neither can have children now and both are immortal. She is no longer truly human by virtue of her immortality.”

Mira’s face screwed up in thought as she turned that around in her head. “It sounds complicated,” she said finally.

“These things are often thought to be so,” Samael agreed. “Yet they are actually very simple. However, it is the simple things that are complex because of their simplicity.”

Mira blinked several times. “What? You totally lost me, Uncle!”

John laughed. “He lost me around Albuquerque, Mir. About all I got out of that was that angels don’t marry or have natural-born kids and Ishtahar’s immortal and no longer human.”

“That is correct.” Samael smiled a small smile. “In sum, that is correct.”

“You couldn’t just say that?” Mira asked.

“I could, but then it would have less impact, would it not?”

“Are you sure you weren’t a school teacher as well as an Archangel?” Mira teased, and Samael laughed loudly.

“No, dear child, not I. I am feared because I am Death. It is you and your brother, and your father, who welcome me most, who do not fear me. And so, I tell you these things so that you understand and appreciate what it is we all do.”

Mira got to her feet and moved to the sofa, sitting beside Samael and hugging him. It was an awkward hug, but Samael didn’t appreciate it any less as he hugged her in return.

“So angels don’t marry,” John mused, “then what do you do when you’re in lasting relationships, as you put it?”

“We bond.”

“Bond?”

“Yes.”

“And that means…?”

Samael smiled. “That is a story for another day. You two need rest, for the hour is growing late. I will tell Gabriel that you are both excited for the move to Deep Bay.”

“Fine.” John sighed with great exaggeration as he got to his feet. “But you should rest too, Uncle Sammy, okay?”

“Okay,” Samael said with a grin. “I will.”

“Good.” John gave him a quick hug and left the room.

Mira stretched up to kiss Samael’s cheek. “Thank you for telling us the story,” she said softly. “It was amazing.”

As she stood up, Samael held out the feather to her. “Here, child. For you.”

Wide-eyed, Mira took it. “Really?”

“Really.” Samael smiled. “Take it as my gift to you and sleep well.”

Mira’s fingers closed around the feather, and she nodded hard. “Thank you,” she said. “Good night, Uncle Sammy.”

“Good night, child.”

Samael sat back as she left the room, turning off the lamps with a thought, and reflected on the wonders of humanity as he waited for Gabriel to return home.

Fangs Over America by Wynn Wagner

March 2, 2012

With the abdication of the vampire queen, Mårten must take on new responsibilities. Fangs Over America by Wynn Wagner, available from Dreamspinner Press.

Mårten Larsson is one of the richest bloodsuckers ever, but his unlife isn’t exactly a flight in the park. There are some things money can’t buy—like an instruction manual on what to do when the vampire queen quits and leaves you in charge of Europe. Suddenly Mårten has to juggle politics, his royal wardrobe, and this newfangled thing called “e-mail.” And his German still sucks.

But hey, Mårten can handle it. After all, he (sort of) survived World War I, being married to two voraciously horny vampires (at the same time), and life as a sniper taking out the most dangerous vamps in history. A little responsibility should be no problem… right?

Buy in eBook
Buy in print
Genre: Fantasy/paranormal, M/M/M
Length: Novel

Wolf’s-own: Ghost by Carole Cummings

February 17, 2012

Will intrigue and vendetta bring Fen and Malick together or keep the apart forever? Wolf’s-own: Ghost by Carole Cummings, available from Dreamspinner Press.

Dwelling in the land of Ada and defending magic users called the Jin, Fen Jacin-rei is a trained assassin and an Untouchable, one whose mind hosts the Voices of the Ancestors, spirits of long-dead magicians. His fate should be one of madness and solitude, yet Fen Jacin-rei desperately clings to his sanity and ferociously protects the family he loves. But how does Fen do it? Kamen Malick has every intention of finding out.

When Malick and his own small band of assassins ambush Fen in an alley, Malick offers Fen one choice: join us or die. Determined to decode the intrigue that surrounds Fen—and to have the Untouchable for himself—Malick sets to unraveling Fen’s past while Fen delves into the mysteries surrounding Malick.

As Fen’s secrets slowly unfold, Malick is drawn into a crusade that isn’t his, one surprisingly similar to his own quest for vengeance. Yet irony is a bitter reward when Malick discovers the one he wants is already hopelessly entangled with the one he hunts.

Buy in eBook
Buy in print
Genre: Fantasy/Paranormal
Length: Novel

Pendragon’s Legacy by Caroline Stephens

February 15, 2012

Can Dean and Matthew survive an encounter with the Merlin? Pendragon’s Legacy by Caroline Stephens, available from Dreamspinner Press.

Dean Ryder is a rough and ready PI, the kind of man who will take on any case, just to prove his worth. His lover Matthew? Not so much. Matthew is an English professor who much prefers his books to Dean’s adventures… but that doesn’t mean he won’t ride along when Dean needs him.

When Dean meets an old man calling himself the Merlin, Dean and Matthew set out to investigate his claim. Matthew knows the legends, but Dean’s specialty is Matthew’s safety, and he will be working overtime to win the battle of good and evil with his partner by his side. Because if the old man really is who he claims to be, then an old evil is threatening one of the world’s greatest sources of good.

Buy in eBook
Genre: Fantasy/Paranormal
Length: Novella

Water Waltz by Hayley B. James

February 13, 2012

Can Varun and Triste betrayal and catastrophic war to find a chance at love? Water Waltz by Hayley B. James, available from Dreamspinner Press.

In a land where humans are enslaved as sexual toys, angels and demons are in constant conflict with their playthings. The demon Varun works with STAR, an organization devoted to human liberty, and it’s a never-ending battle.

Two years ago, the angel Triste broke Varun’s heart by choosing to be his butler instead of his beloved, giving Varun no explanation and no hope. However, that doesn’t mean that Triste will simply sit back and watch as Varun takes the human Elden under his protection, and Triste’s secret investigation will unearth terrible secrets, including the kernels of a pernicious plot.

Despite appearances, Triste and Varun are still in love, and Varun may well risk everything to protect Triste and discover why the angel left him heartbroken. But a still worse danger hangs over them as they seek to calm the threat of a catastrophic war.

Buy in eBook
Buy in print
Genre: Fantasy/Paranormal
Length: Novel

Apprenticed to Pleasure by Brandon Fox

February 10, 2012

In the midst of insurrection, can Ander win his mentor’s love? Apprenticed to Pleasure by Brandon Fox, available from Dreamspinner Press.

As a musician in Pella’s finest brothel, Ander thought he knew all about sex between men. He was wrong. One night, two handsome lovers draw him irresistibly to a revelation: intense pleasure can be a gateway to magical realms. As his mind and body reel from passionate new experiences, Ander discovers a destiny far greater than making music for companions and their customers.

Ander’s mentor in this new art—the leader of a small group of insurrectionists against the tyranny of pain—is a mage named Thane, who has paid a terrible price for his knowledge. Ander’s strength and ingenuity are quickly tested against great odds, and although his burgeoning abilities can help his new companions, he’s fully aware that the greatest challenge of all may be winning his mentor’s love.

Second Edition

Buy in eBook
Buy in print
Genre: Fantasy/Paranormal
Length: Novel

Mechanical Magic by Lorraine Ulrich

February 8, 2012

Aster must accept his talent for mechanical magic to save Y’rean’s life and win his love. Mechanical Magic by Lorraine Ulrich, available from Dreamspinner Press.

When Aster Genisov, a creator of mechanical novelties, is asked to help a wounded elf, his special talents and painful past could be the key to the elf’s survival.

Y’rean was born to touch the sky, but when his wings are destroyed by a cruel master, not even the life he begins to build with Aster can assuage his despair. Aster has the means to help him—it’s written in his gypsy blood—but is love enough for Aster to face his past and embrace his talent for mechanical magic?

Buy in eBook
Genre: Steampunk, Fantasy/Paranormal
Length: Novella

Burn by TJ Klune

February 6, 2012

Can Seven give Felix the courage to face his destiny as Findo Unum? Burn by TJ Klune, now available from Dreamspinner Press.

Set in a world that closely resembles our own, Burn is a story of redemption and betrayal, of family and sacrifice, which leads to the greatest question of all: how far would you go to save the ones you love?

Fifteen years ago, Felix Paracel killed his mother with fire that shot from his hands. Since then, he has hidden from forces bent on exploiting him and his fire and wind Elemental abilities. But Felix’s world is about to change, because he is Findo Unum—the Split One—and his coming has been foretold for generations.

Though Felix’s arrival brings great joy to the Elemental world, it also heralds a coming darkness. No one knows this better than Seven, the mysterious man who rescued Felix from that horrible fire years ago and then disappeared… who now has returned to claim what’s rightfully his: Felix’s heart. But even as Felix begins to trust Seven and his feelings about his place in the world, the darkness reveals itself, bringing consequences no one could have predicted.

Buy in eBook
Buy in print
Genre: Science Fiction, Fantasy/Paranormal
Length: Novel