Friday, 24 February 2012

Thank you for coming! And a Last Call for Winners...

I just want to say a big thank you to everyone who came to the Angels and Demons party! It's been great fun, and I've thoroughly enjoyed delving into all those different worlds and learning more about angel and demon lore, traditional and imagined.

A special thank you to our wonderful guests of honour, Michele Lang, K.A. M'Lady, Crystal Jordan, Moira Rogers and Angelique Armae.

And finally, a last call for a couple of winners to get in touch:

S. Durham - you're one of Michele Lang's winners of Dark Victory.
Stephanie Walters-Rowe - you won Moira Rogers' Hammer Down.

Please contact me Marie AT MarieTreanor DOT com!

See you all at the next party!


Welcome Angelique Armae!

Friday's guest of honour is the fabulous Angelique Armae whose fascinating worlds of angels and demons have won critical acclaim from readers and reviewers alike. Welcome, Angelique!

Angels and Demons by Angelique Armae

Angels can be found in many religions across the globe.  They come in many forms - including those with white fluffy wings and those with swords of fire and dark wings.  In fiction they are great characters to write about.  You can give them good virtues and bad virtues, make them fierce battle-mongers or quiet guardians.  I love writing angels.

In my book SHADOWS OF THE SOUL, my hero Nicolai Valentine, is half-human, half-angel.  His father is a fallen angel who has since repented.  This gives my hero his strong connection to the human world as well as his blood ties to both Heaven and Hell.  Creating a diverse character such as Nicolai gave me tons of writing pleasure.  He's good, he's sexy, he's righteous and he still has human flaws.  He's one of my most favorite characters of all time.

Other angels and demons in the book and/.or upcoming sequels include the Valentine brothers, the Archangels Raphael, Gabriel and Michael, and Lucifer, Hadean and Dreadacus, .  Here are some Paradisian facts based on my series on these fascinating beings:

Nicolai Valentine - The oldest Valentine brother.  He runs eNVee Laboratories, the clinic that caters to preternatural creatures living on earth, including other half-human, half-angel beings. 

Sebastian Valentine -  Nicolai's half-brother.  Sebastian is a Triplicate Soul -  part-human, part-angel, part vampire.

Max Valentine - The quieter of the Valentine brothers.  Max deals with all the legal issues concerning the family and their laboratory.  He's skilled in Paradisian Law, including the laws of Hell.

Raphael -  a healing angel, one of the Seven Archangels.  In Shadows of the Soul I've portrayed him close to his common angelic traits. He's a physician in the angelic world, but still a fierce warrior.

Michael - top general of the angelic army, one of the Seven Archangels.  In my series, The Paradisian Chronicles, (Shadows of the Soul is Book One) Michael is the head honcho when it comes to the Paradisian warriors. 

Gabriel - a warrior angel, one of the Seven Archangels. Home post - St. Gabariel's Abbey, Midtown Manhattan. Gabriel's human warriors are also called Scholars - mortals trained in angelic warfare and angelic languages.  Gabriel's troops are collectively referred to as Gabriel's Gothic Garrison. Gabriel trained my human heroine, Isabel Godfroie Heart.

Lucifer - Hell's ring leader.  You can't get much worse than this guy. He's a neat freak, loves beautiful music and is the most tortured soul to exist.  Picking on his half-human bloodline is what he does for fun.

Hadean - a really ruthless demon.  He's both an living, breathing entity as well as one of Hell's most potent supernatural viruses.  He attacks fallen angels and their half-human kin by ripping their souls from their bodies, leaving them to roam in a ghost-like state.

Dreadacus - a Hell-bread spawn capable of stealing human memories.  He carries a memory sphere that he uses to trap mortal thoughts. 

Book Blurb:

(Book 1 of the Paradisian Chronicles)
By Angelique Armae
ISBN: 978-0-9845151-4-1
Publisher: Diversion Books

When a Grigori prince and a demon huntress team up to find the antidote to a supernatural disease, the balance between good and evil is forever altered.

A fallen angel...
A human scholar...
A race against time...

Isabel Godfroie Heart is a Paradisian Scholar-an immortal human trained in the ways of Heaven and Hell-who's suffering from memory loss. During her last battle, a dark force erased specific portions of her past life memories. Now she remembers little of times past, save for the fact she's a demon slayer mentored by the archangel Gabriel. When ordered to a new post to help translate a volume of ancient text from a forbidden verse, Isabel is forced to work with the dark prince Nicolai Valentine, a soul who may or may not be responsible for her memory loss. If only she didn't find the tempting creature so hard to resist...

Born to a fallen angel and a mortal mother, Nicolai Valentine is a prince of the Grigorcov, the children of the fallen sons of God. Searching for the lost chalice that will save his kin from eternal damnation, Nicky unknowingly unleashes the Hadean Virus, a dark entity targeting members of the Grigorcov. Now the entity has been unleashed on man's world and Nicky's in a race against time to find the antidote that will stop this deadly parasite. But in order to keep the Hadean virus from attacking again, Nicolai must enlist the help of Isabel Godfroie Heart, the Paradisian Scholar he was unable to save from the wrath of Hell centuries ago...

GIVEAWAY:  1 pair Angel wings earrings

QUESTION:  What character is your favorite?  Angel or Vampire?

Angelique's contest will close at midnight tonight and her winner will be announced tomorrow on this thread.

Thursday, 23 February 2012

Demonic Movies

Having had a look at angel movies a couple of days ago, I thought to be fair I should check out the demon ones too. Interestingly, these are on the whole less quirky than the angel films and seem to concentrate largely on demonic possession and straight horror films.

I came across some old favourites like The Exorcist (which I remember seeing at a late night cinema showing when I was a student - we'd been to the pub first so at least the alcohol took the edge of the terror :)) and The Omen. Others, like Hellraiser and Rosemary's Baby that I didn't like at the time for whatever reason!

One I did really like when I saw it for the first time a few months ago was The Devil's Advocate with Al Pacino, about a lawyer who's tempted to make a wrong decision and get a guilty man released just to further his own career. It's a fascinating tale that unfolds as his successful new life becomes gradually stranger and his boss is revealed to be Satan himself.

Others that I came across that I might like to see are: Constantine, with Keanu Reeves; Possession with Isabel Adjani; and Paranormal Activity. 

But one thing that seems to be largely missing from these film is romance. The demons are quite definitely evil with no redeeming or even remotely lovable qualities whatsoever. So maybe for romance, we should stick to the angels :)


Welcome Moira Rogers!

In today's guest of honour we get two authors in one! Moira Rogers is the pseudonym of an extremely talented and highly successful writing partnership that I'm thrilled to have at the party today. Moira, welcome to you both!

While trying to decide what sort of post I should write today, I got sidetracked trying to decide who would throw a more interesting party.  This question wasn’t as simple as it seemed on the surface.  In fact, it looked like a job for a Pros & Cons list!

Angel Party Pros
  • ·         If the police bust the party, you can say God approves.
  • ·         No need to hire a DJ. They’ll have harps!
  • ·         Designated Fliers: if you drink too much, someone will fly you home.

Angel Party Cons
  • ·         BYOB. That whole water-to-wine thing is for special occasions only.
  • ·         If God busts the party, YOU’RE IN BIG TROUBLE, MISTER.
  • ·         The angels have a certain reputation for decorum to maintain. Gotta keep it clean!

Demon Party Pros
  • ·         If the police bust the party, you can claim you were possessed.
  • ·         The Devil knows a lot of great fiddlers. Guaranteed dance music!
  • ·         You can’t get too wild for a demon party. All the vice, none of the judgement.

Demon Party Cons
  • ·         Have you ever tried to get a cab to pick you up from Hell at 3 AM?
  • ·         If God busts the party, YOU’RE IN BIG TROUBLE, MISTER.
  • ·         If you accidentally sign anything at a demon party, you may wake up soulless.

So which will it be? Party dangerous with the demons or hang safe with the angels?  Me, I’d probably take a chance.  What can I say. I really like fiddle music.

Excerpt from Hammer Down by Moira Rogers

“It shouldn’t matter.” His voice grated, suddenly angry. “God damn it, it shouldn’t fucking matter. You shouldn’t matter.”

It hurt, even though she understood the sentiment perfectly. “Thanks.”

He snarled again and covered the space between them in two long strides, crowding her against the wall. His hands slapped the wall on either side of her head, but he didn’t touch her. “Liar. Or are you going to tell me you want me to matter?”

She opened her mouth to give him a kind lie, to tell him he didn’t matter in the least, not to her. “No. I wish I didn’t give a damn about you.”

“You don’t. You don’t know me.” He pressed closer, nothing but hard muscle and heat stretched out against her. “We both got it bad, sweetheart. If you want to take me for a ride and get it out of your system, I’m game.”

“I bet you are.” He’d obviously given the matter some thought, which was more than she was capable of at the moment. Her body had gone into sensory overdrive, cataloguing every bit of tactile information it could gather about him.

And it wasn’t enough. She wanted to know what he tasted like, mouth and skin. Whether she could find softness anywhere on his body, or if he was all hard. There was only one way to find those answers, so she lifted her hands to his shoulders and pushed, testing his strength.

He didn’t budge. His lips curved into that wicked smile she’d first seen at the Pit Stop, and his hands skated down to grasp her hips. One quick jerk lifted her off the ground, onto his solid, muscular thigh, and he crushed his mouth to hers.

Heat blazed through Devi. Nothing, not even the way she’d spent the last few days craving him, had prepared her for the way she reacted to what should have been a simple kiss. His tongue touched hers and her knees went weak, leaving her grinding down on his leg. He knew how to take a woman’s mouth with single-minded determination, waging all-out war on her defenses. His thigh began to move against her, and he matched the thrusts of his tongue to that slow, deadly rock.

Devi jerked her mouth from his with a gasp. “Harder.”

“Bossy.” He bit her lower lip, and his chuckle rolled over her. “You want something, you take it.” He fit his mouth to hers again as his rough fingers curled around the back of her neck.

He liked being in control, but so did she. When she rocked against him this time, she dropped her hand and caressed the hard ridge of his cock in time with her body’s movements.

She swallowed his hissing moan, and a heartbeat later he snatched up her wrist and pinned it against the wall. “If that’s how you want to play…” He moved his other hand from her hip to her ass, dragging her into his next grinding thrust.

A little creative wiggling put her legs on either side of his, and she arched off the wall. She wanted to play, so badly that once wouldn’t be enough. She’d fuck him fast, round off the sharp edge of hunger twisting her belly. Then she could take her time, learn all those things she couldn’t leave without knowing.

He groaned, a rumbling noise that was half pleasure, half something darker, but he let her wiggle as he lowered his lips to her ear. “Impatient, aren’t you? Do you usually fuck men who roll onto their backs for you?”

“Sometimes.” She moved her hips once more, and a bolt of pleasure shuddered through her. Anticipation prickled over her skin and tightened her nipples.

“Lazy bastards. Not that I wouldn’t let you ride me, sweetheart.” He squeezed her ass. “But not until I’d had my fingers between your thighs. I bet you bite when you come.”

The mental picture his words painted was intoxicating. “And you like the thought of my teeth on your skin.”

“Depends on where you sink ’em.” He worked a hand between their bodies, his knuckles skimming the edge of her pants. “Where would you let me sink mine?”

“I’m not nearly so picky.” Flip, easy words, handy for hiding how deeply his touch shook her. “Bite me wherever you want.”

“That’d be just about everywhere.” His fingertips were hot as they grazed her bare skin. Rough breaths fell against her cheek, almost panting, proof that he wasn’t nearly as unaffected as his cocky, casual tone implied. “Fuck, I wanted to do you slow, but I’m losing my damn mind. Can’t think about anything but being inside you.” He traced his tongue around the shell of her ear and proved the words with a low groan.

The wet trace of his tongue made her hands clench in his shirt, and the fabric ripped a little. “Shit, sorry. Take it off.”

A rough denial as his fingers jerked at her pants. “If you weren’t wearing these, I’d be fucking you already.”

Devi bit his jaw. “You’d be fucking me already if you didn’t talk so much.”

“And I’m talking—” He froze, his hand halfway into her pants, and cursed as his gaze jerked to the door.

She heard it a second later, pounding footsteps coming down the hallway. Zel backed away and eased her to the floor. She wanted to withdraw, smooth her hair and take a moment to compose herself, but there could be trouble. If there was, it was likely to affect her crew.

So she jerked open the door as Cache skidded to a stop outside of it. “What happened?”

Cache couldn’t hear her words, but she apparently had no trouble interpreting her meaning. Her fingers flew, three quick gestures in a row. Tanner. Guard. Fight.

“Fuck.” Devi grabbed her vest and shrugged into it with a quick glance at Zel. “Tanner’s found trouble. A fight with a guard.”

He swore and jerked his shirt back into place, seemingly oblivious to Cache’s too-curious appraisal. Devi turned back and signed to Cache. Where?

Cache pointed behind her, toward the hallway that led to the main common area and the tunnel to the rest of the compound.

Zel appeared at Devi’s shoulder. “What’s going on?”

“I don’t know. Somewhere in the compound…” She scrubbed her hands over her face. The last thing they could afford after Cache’s potential snooping was violence. “We have to stop it. Come on.”

She didn’t wait for him to follow, too preoccupied by the knowledge that they were heading into a fight that likely involved more than one halfblood. The same demon heritage that made them such fierce warriors also gave them enhanced senses.

She had Zel’s scent all over her, and vice versa. Which meant that, in very short order, the complications Zel had wanted to avoid would come crashing down around them.

Today Moira is kindly giving away a download of Hammer Down to one lucky commenter who answers her question above: Which will it be? Party dangerous with the demons or hang safe with the angels? The contest will end at midnight tonight and the winner will be announced tomorrow on this thread.

Demon's Kiss...

One of the fascinating things about angel and demon stories, at least for me, is the reason for those angels and demons to be among humans. They usually have a job or a mission, whether that involves them living among humans all the time, or just dropping in to complete a task. This leads to a whole mythology of who commands them and why, and an explanation of all the other beings who're connected with them. Sometimes it's based on religious teachings, sometimes complete imagination, but I've often found this part of the story very intriguing indeed.

As a writer, I haven't really delved into a major angel/demon mythology. The closest I got was in a short story called Demon's Kiss at Changeling Press. My demon here first appears to my troubled heroine through her own painting of a demonic orgy, and his mission is to stop her marrying a supposedly good man who stunts her creativity, and so turn her back to full time painting, because that's what she's meant to do. My demon here specializes in temptation, and of course he works for the devil, known here as the Big L (for Lucifer, obviously!), although my demonic hero suspects they're all working, one way or another, for the Big G :).

The story was a lot of fun to write, and one day I may go back and expand the world. But in the mean time, here's an excerpt from Demon's Kiss, my frustrated heroine's first conversation with her demon....

Available Now from Changeling Press

Charlotte's been good too long. Now only a demon will satisfy her.

Charlotte is a reformed bad girl, who releases her inner demons through art. But her talent and her disastrous decision to marry a "good" man have attracted powerful interference. When her painting comes to life and her own sexy demon invites her into the orgy she created on canvas, she realizes she can't deny her identity or her desires any longer.


Charlotte let out a moan of need and frustration and fell backward onto the bed. Once, painting had been enough to calm her inner demons. Now it seemed she'd painted one so big that it was taking over.

She should close her eyes, force her tense, pulsing body to relax until blessed sleep took her. Instead, she rolled onto her stomach and twisted around so that she lay gazing at the painting, staring at her demon.

A rueful little smile tugged at her lips. "Well, demon? What would you actually do for me anyway?"

God, she'd painted those deep-set blue eyes so well. They actually seemed to change expressions. She even imagined his lips moved in a provoking, tempting smile, inviting her to find out.

"I'd love to," she whispered. "Do you know, I haven't had sex in six years?"

A slight change of her position altered his expression again, and that was good too -- a mixture of pity and flattering surprise, as if he wondered how someone as attractive, vital and talented as she could possibly be without a sexual partner for so long. Even better, she imagined a new urgency to the invitation of his reaching hand.

"I gave myself a fright," she explained. "When I was an art student, I was into everything, tried everything. I did exactly what I wanted, slept with anyone I wanted. Then one morning I woke up and realized I was failing my course, that I didn't like who I'd become. I hated being the art school slut, the bitch who stole other girls' men and spent most of her life out of her head. I hated the hangovers and the self-recrimination. So I turned it around. I went straight. I stopped drinking, I stopped taking drugs and sleeping around. I worked hard and scraped a pass just in time. I went back to my parents' church, and then I met James..."

"Who's James?"

Of course the demon in the picture would speak to her. And he would have that gorgeous, deep, seductive voice. It was natural. She'd probably drifted off to sleep. Whatever, it felt good to tell someone, even in her imagination.

"My ex-fiancé. He's a good man, works in local government. We were going to get married and have children."

"What's stopping you?"

"Sex." Charlotte laughed and wriggled, rubbing her breasts against the sheet beneath them. "Among other things. As good Christians and members of our church, we don't do sex before marriage."

"Get married," the demon advised. She liked the way his lips moved when he spoke -- sexy and tempting. She wanted to purr.

"Well, that's the thing," Charlotte explained. "I don't think I really love James any more than I loved any of the shits I slept with at college. He just seemed to be everything I wanted at the time. Only... he isn't. I messed up again." She gazed straight into the demon's eyes. "I want sex."

His smile seemed to widen. Lust stabbed straight to her womb, enticing, encouraging her to wicked elaboration. "I want wild, beautiful sex, lots of it in every imaginable way with a man who makes me scream for satisfaction and then gives me it."

The demon's eyes darkened, and yet flashed like fire. "I can do that."

Oh she'd just bet he could. This was a good dream. She propped her head up with her hand, adjusting position to allow him a tantalizing glimpse of her naked breasts. "And how would you do that, demon?"

Obligingly, his gaze lowered, swept across her shoulders and breasts like a caress. "However you want me to. And a few more ways you haven't thought of yet."

Oh yes. Involuntarily, Charlotte pressed her hips down into the mattress. It felt good, and yet only aroused a rush of stronger desire for real contact, flesh to flesh. "You're a good dream, demon."

"Then step into my world."


Yes, definitely, she was asleep, because she wasn't just putting words into his painted mouth; his outstretched hand actually turned; he crooked his finger.

"Come." His low, rich voice spoke straight to her clenching pussy.

I should wake up now... Please, no! What would happen if I actually got up and went to him? Would I feel the flesh of his hand? Or wet canvas?

There was only one way to find out.

:) Anyway, just as a matter of interest, do you prefer your angels and demons to come from traditional concepts of heaven and hell, God and the devil, or are you more comfortable or more entertained by completely different worlds? For me, it depends on the story, but I'd love to hear your views.


Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Welcome Crystal Jordan!

Today's guest of honour is the very talented Crystal Jordan, who writes fabulous paranormal romance for Kensington and Samhain. Here she is to tell us about her angels and demons - welcome Crystal!

Angels and demons can be controversial topics if you're discussing them in a religious sense. There are all these rules about who does what and who's good/bad, right/wrong. I know people who could argue this kind of topic for days, but I decided to ignore all of that when I came up with the concept for the last two series I've written for Samhain Publishing. I didn't mean to do angels and demons back to back--it just sort of happened, and when it did I ended up tossing everything I learned about angels and demons in Sunday School out the window. I decided that angels could be former humans, and not really all that angelic, and that demons weren't bad at all, they'd just gotten a bad rap.

Hey, it's fun to add twists to old ideas. It makes people realize right away that they aren't going to get exactly what they expect out of a well-worn paranormal being. It also gives me a chance to play with the idea of good and evil, right and wrong. So, what happens if demons were just demonized over the millenia because their jobs are to catch evil souls and keep them locked in hades? Are they really all that bad? That's how I kicked things off in my Demon Heat series. And what happens if a human messed up in life and got himself and his soul mate killed, then became a guardian angel and has to convince other soul mates to get together--basically doing what he couldn't do for himself in real life? Is he really a perfect being who does no wrong? I take my hard-headed angels for a spin in the Unbelievable trilogy.

Anything or anyone that's totally good or totally bad is no fun at all. My characters make mistakes and then have to fix them and, hopefully, become better people in the process. If you're already perfect or already so evil you'll never move from that spot, then there's no way to grow. So, I like my gray areas. I like when lines get blurred and things get a little unexpected. It makes my job a lot more fun. Plus, a perfect angel having dirty, dirty sex? It just seems wrong, and my characters always get to have the hot and sweaty lovin'. It's how I make up for the fact that I put them through hell before I give them their happily ever after!

Excerpt from Demon's Caress:

She was being hunted.

Adrenaline pumped through Maron’s veins, made her heart pound and her breath rush as she darted between pedestrians and across a busy intersection. Horns blared and drivers swore at her, but she ignored them, a feral smile curving her lips. It was usually she who hunted, she who captured and claimed. Even now, she trailed a killer, the scent of his evil stinging her nostrils, and all the while she knew others of her kind–demons–drew closer by the minute. Seeking her. Wanting her.

The dichotomy sharpened the experience.

This was what she lived for. The thrill, the chase. The order of demons she belonged to tracked down evil souls and shipped them straight to the hot spot before they could hurt any more innocents. Once a person crossed over into true evil, the soul festered inside them, the stench enough to make Maron gag.

If only humans knew the truth about what demons did on earth, keeping the baddies away from them. But it made sense that her kind would be demonized over the ages. You worked in the gutter long enough and it was inevitable you’d end up knee deep in shit. Maron shrugged and let her body dissolve into nothing more than a shadow as she ghosted up a narrow side street. It didn’t really matter what people knew or not, she would do her job.

And bringing in this piece of scum was going to be a pleasure.

David Norris. Drug dealer, pimp, murderer. His stink was in her nose, sinking into her blood until her heart thrummed with the need to vanquish the evil. Her world came down to a single focus–find him.

He was close. Very close.

A high scream froze Maron in place. Every sense went on alert, and she eased around the edge of a building to see what was going on. Norris struggled with a teenage girl who looked way too clean and well-dressed for this part of town, but her eyes and nose had the red-rimmed look of a junkie coming off a bender. He slammed her against a dumpster, cutting her next scream off. She gagged and sobbed for breath, tears streaking her make up down her cheeks. He got in her face and growled, “Where’s my money, bitch?”

“I’ll get it to you!” The girl squeaked when he shoved her again. “I swear I will, Norris. I’m good for it. Just give me a little more time.”

“You said that last time.” He grabbed a handful of one of her breasts, squeezing and twisting. “Maybe I should take it out of you a different way.”

Her hand locked around his wrist, her knuckles whitening as horror crossed her face. “No. No!”


Maron wasn’t about to stand around and watch some kid get raped by this asshole. She was only supposed to reconnoiter, find the evil soul, and wait for her back up. It didn’t look like that was going to be an option tonight. Her boss, Samael, was going to be pissed. She stepped out of the deepest shadows, rematerializing not far from where Norris had the teen pinned.


Both humans jerked, their heads snapping in her direction. The girl’s look was pleading, the man’s enraged.

“Get the fuck out of here, bitch. This has nothing to do with you. Unless you want it to.” He grabbed his crotch for emphasis.

Maron rolled her eyes at the crude gesture, which just made the bastard more furious. Too bad. She flexed her fingers, held her hands out in front of her, and unleashed the power deep inside her. It rushed up eagerly, the hot, consuming force of it shaking her down her to her bones. Flames danced at her fingertips, and she shot forward an arrow of fire. It sizzled on the concrete in front of Norris, and he shouted, jumping back. She drove him further away from the girl with one ball of flames after another.

The teen cowered against the dumpster, snot and tears dripping from her chin. Maron spared her a glance when they drew even. She felt the fire flickering from the corners of her eyes, and her smile was a simple baring of teeth. “Run, little girl. Stay out of dark alleys from now on. And don’t do drugs. They’re bad for you.”

The kid’s eyeballs almost popped out of their sockets and she nodded so fast her hair flapped against her pale face. Then she ran like her ass had been scalded. Smartest thing the kid had done that night. Sadly, she wouldn’t remember her encounter with Maron. That was the thing about demons. They faded from your memory the moment you left their presence. The fire and lightning and soul-stealing power was just a bad dream. Unless they’d come for you.

Once the teen was safely away, Maron spread her fingers, and a ring of fire whipped around Norris. He screamed, the sound as terrified as the girl’s had been. Maron’s smile deepened.

A bead of sweat slid down her temple as she felt the evil of his soul begin to sap her strength. She just hoped she could keep him caged long enough for her backup to arrive. There was no way she could harvest him on her own. Too bad she’d done the best she could to shake the demons hunting her…Samael would fry her ass for trying to ditch her new partners, but damn it, she didn’t want a new partner, let alone two. She sure as hell didn’t want a fully bonded Demon’s Triad, and that was what Samael had in mind for her. He’d already shuffled her last partner off into that kind of sexual bond with a couple of demon operatives. Fucking matchmaker.

Norris’s shrieks grew louder, the unholy sound pounding against Maron’s skull, and her mental distractions exploded into shards that sliced through her control. Where were those two? She couldn’t hold on much longer. Her muscles began to quake in helpless shudders as her powers dragged at her physical strength. The flames around Norris began to waver and die down. He’d be able to escape soon. No! Shit, shit, shit.

She tried to hang on, poured everything she could into the fire surround him, but the weaker she grew, the more overwhelming the evil emanating from him became. It drained her faster. If she pushed herself much harder, she might not be able to pull back at all. Disaster. Letting him go would be a slightly smaller disaster, but one she’d be livid over for a good long while. Her legs cramped and she locked her knees to remain upright, but it was a losing battle. The world faded in front of her, tilting sideways, and she knew she was falling. She was failing.

“Got you.” A strong set of arms wrapped tight around her, pulled her back against a wall of muscle.

“Kobal,” she rasped.

The fire before her roared higher as he added his power to hers, the red flames turning to a brilliant blue. The hottest part of the flame, the heart. “You were expecting someone else, love?”

“Where’s Raum? We won’t be able to bring this one in without him.” She shivered as a small connection snapped between them and Kobal’s energy flowed over her, which made the pain knifing through her brain fade. The relief had her sagging against him, but she forced herself to straighten away from him. No need to encourage his and Raum’s designs on her.

“He’ll be along, don’t you worry.”

Contest: Which hero would you want more--a less than perfect angel, or a not so evil demon? One commenter has the chance to win an ebook copy of Demon's Caress or one of the ebooks in the Unbelievable series. Angels or demons, your choice!

Crystal's contest will close at midnight tonight and her winner will be announced tomorrow on this thread.

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Angelic Movies

Just as they make great subjects for books, angels have also been major characters in many wonderful films over the years. From It's a Wonderful Life in 1946 to Legion in 2010, from guardian angels to fallen angels, there's no shortage of angelic movies to suit most tastes.

Here are a few of my favourites, plus a couple I've missed and would like to track down.

Well, everyone loves James Stewart in It's a Wonderful Life, and I'm no exception :). It's the feel good movie extraordinaire, with James Srewart's guardian angel preventing his Chirstmas Eve suicide by reminding him of the good things in his life and the wonderful things he's done.

Of the older films, I also have a soft spot for David Niven and Cary Grant in The Bishop's Wife. Cary Grant is the suave, charming angel sent to help the work-obsessed Bishop, his flock and his unhappy, neglected wife. It's a fun film with just a hint of bitter-sweet in the ending.

City of Angels with Nicholas Cage and Meg Ryan is one I really enjoyed - an atmospheric tale of an angel in Los Angeles, who collects the spirits of the dead. He falls in love with the doctor who saved the life of the soul he'd come to collect and decides to "fall" in order to live a mortal life with her. However, I HATED the ending :).

And on a completely different note, Dogma, with Ben Afleck and Matt Damon, managed to capture my attention one night when I stumbled across it by accident half way through. I didn't even know what it was called, but I finally managed to track it down and watch the whole thing. It's a fascinating, darkly funny and moving story of two fallen angels who find a loophole to get back into heaven. I loved their encounters along the way with all the other legendary/biblical entities.

And the ones that have somehow escaped me that I still want to see - Meet Joe Black. I suppose he counts as the angel of death :). I'm not normally a fan of Brad Pitt, but I always liked the sound of this film and have never managed to watch it!. I'd also quite like to see Legion, although I believe the critics hated it...

What about you? I'd love to hear your favourite angel movies - recommendations always gratefully received!


Welcome K.A. M'Lady!

Today's guest of honour is the picturesquely named and uniquely talented K.A. M'Lady who's currently delighting readers with the build up of her exciting series of stories surrounding demon huntress, Faith Savage. Welcome to the party, K!

Do You Believe In Angels & Demons?  God Does… Got Faith?
By K.A. M'Lady

In every religion, culture and society throughout time angels and demons have been among us.  From mankind’s first breath they have stood as witnesses and watchers.  The Slavonic Book of Enoch (I Enoch; Dev. R 5) describes Gabriel and Michael as witnesses to the wedding of Adam and Eve.  They are the original watchers and, as their name describes; angel – coming from the Greek word aggelos, and the Hebrew word mal’ak, meaning messenger.  They have, according to Judeo-Christian belief been the harbingers of the Word of God, bringing forth the plight of mankind’s future and, in some instances, the beginning of end.

In the Christian Bible angels are mentioned approximately 108 times in the Old Testament and 165 times in the New Testament.  According to the books of Job and Luke however, (Job 1:14, Luke 7:24, 9:52) angels are ordinary people who carry messages.  But what is the message they bring?

To answer a portion of this question you must first ask yourself when did the angels fall?  The Book of Revelations (Re. 12:7) states, “Now war arose in heaven, Michael and his angels fighting against the dragon.  And the dragon and his angels fought back, but he was defeated, and there was no longer a place for them in heaven.  And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world – he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him.”

In 1273 Pope John XXI, then the Bishop of Tusculum estimated that there were a total of 133,306,668 angels who sided with Satan in his revolt against God.  Hundreds of thousands of demons that, according to the books of Mathew, Peter, Jude and Ephesians, are under the leadership of Satan.  And in their deceit, rebellion and evil will stop at nothing to gain victory by subtlety.

It is here in this darkness that mankind will find Faith.

Faith Savage – A Demon Huntress Novel Series by K.A. M’Lady
Mojocastle Press

“Yum! I am in love with your series.  I just went to Mojocastle and purchased the rest of your books!  I had to…Thank you for the immense pleasure given to me as I read your tale.”
Amy J. Ramsey ~ Ramsey’s Book Reviews

This angel/demon world K.A. M’Lady has made is very addictive and is a great start to a great series.

Steph – Bitten By Books

Exciting, Scary, Sexy

I read all the Faith Savage stories at once and I’m so glad I did.  If I’d had to wait to read the next on in the series, I don’t know what I would have done.  Faith is feisty, strong, vulnerable as she fight the forces of Hell.  Lots of demon action in the stories, lots of scary stuff, and some hot sex.  If you like supernatural thrillers, you’ll love the Faith Savage stories.  And who knew angels and demons were so sexy?

Cara Marsi – Author
Faith Savage – A Demon Huntress Novel Series
K.A. M’Lady

In the beginning God created the Heavens, the Earth…and Angels.  No one is certain when the war started – when the Angels went astray.  All that is clear is that war erupted in Heaven and the Angels fell from Grace.  Today that war continues.

My name is Faith Savage and I hunt demons.  Some say that God has a master plan for all of us – from an Angel’s first brath to mankind’s final death.  Somewhere in between lays the battle for salvation.

Excerpt: (from Book 4 ~ When Angels Fall – A Faith Savage Demon Huntress Novel)

I crossed the street with a shuddering breath, the whisper of my fears fogging against the night’s chill, damp air. Father Daniel was a hard thought at my heels when we met the officer standing guard at the yellow tape.

“Ma’am, sir. I’m sorry, but I’m going to have to ask you to step back away from the scene.” Water dripped from the plastic wrap that covered his police cap. His jacket shimmered with speckles that collected stray hews of crimson light off the bookstore’s sign. Even his badge glowed dark chartreuse in the night’s subdued light beneath the clean-shaven face of a pasty white boy, mid-twenties. But the hard edge of one too many drunks on the roadways or two-too many domestic batteries and a few random, senseless murders rode the rim of his once hopeful light green eyes.

Life weary, some called it. And at such a young age. Seemed such a waste if you asked me. Of course, nobody was.

“I’m Father Daniel. Your Inspector called me,” Father Daniel told him.

His voice sounded so soothing, calm and reassuring amidst the fear that hid in the shadows. You could feel the stain of repressed violence creep along your flesh. Death and violence were out here in the rain-soaked night, watching each of us. Waiting to slither up our spines and whisper their dark magic in our ears. Waiting to tell us our most worrisome fears have come to life while they cackled on the wind like the deceivers that they were.

But Father Daniel, his was the voice of reason in this darkness. The voice carrying the power of God, come to settle peace among his flock. A voice Heaven sent to make sure that the poor unfortunate soul that had passed just beyond our view had been set free to join Him in eternal peace in Heaven. It was a voice that whispered comfort and peace and helped to chase away that darkness.

“Let him pass.”

Just like that my thoughts of turmoil then happiness faded and I was left blinking away my visions as another voice from the darkness sent chills coursing down my spine. Memories of the flesh encompassed me. Need and temptation, want and hunger roared through my mind like straight-line winds.

I felt my spine stiffen. My breath catch. Only dread and darkness washes the Light from your mind like that.

“Ma’am?” the officer questioned, turning those pale green eyes, now filled with concern, down to stare at me as though he could peer into the depths of my soul and see my darkness rising.

“Faith? Child, are you all right?” Father Daniel reached for me, and where he touched steamed in the cool night air.

My throat had become a hard knot. My heart thumped so loudly I could hear its rumble pulsing in my eardrums. Yet, I couldn’t make myself move. I couldn’t think beyond the voice from the darkness. It beckoned me. Slave, ye shall be. Eternity is waiting. The darkness calls.

It had Inspector Barry’s gruff baritone down to a T, but the foreboding that followed on the silence frightened me. I knew what was in the darkness and it seldom frightened me. This time I was truly afraid.

“Faith? Faith? Faith!” Barry’s yell finally managed to break through the torment that had invaded me like my worst childhood nightmare come back to life. I finally took a breath and felt the burn seep past my throat and into my lungs. Then I looked up, blinking into the pale blue of distressed, angry cop eyes.

“What in all the Saint’s name are you doing here? I thought after your most recent escapade you’d still be
home, asleep. Safe, which is where you belong. What are you doing at my crime scene?”

I looked at him, really looked at him, mouth agape, shoulders ram-rod stiff. What the hell was he talking about? Jeez, sleep with a man and he thinks he owns you.

“Can I have a word with you?” Aggravation oozed from every word as I stepped away from the police tape and Father Daniel.

“Faith, I don’t have time for this.”

I turned and glared at him saying, “I don’t give a shit what you have time for, Inspector. You have two seconds to trot your ass over here before I make a scene.”

The anger levels were extremely high. Which led me to believe that whatever had done-in Angeline was still lingering. The infestation of darkness was upping the angst. Motivating tempers. Stirring the madness.

“Look, Faith,” Barry began when we stepped away from the crowd to lean against the side of the nearest building, hidden amidst the shadows. “I know I shouldn’t have left you the way I did, but I really didn’t have a choice. We should have finished our talk,” he stated, reaching for my hand, “I had to check in with my Captain. And now we’ve had three homicides in a row.”

“What?” My voice had risen with my uncertainty. “What are you talking about, three homicides? And when exactly did you leave?”

“What do you mean, ‘When did I leave?”

“I mean, at what point during the night did you leave me, Barry? Was it before or after you had sex with me?”

His pale blue eyes were wide, his mouth making a perfect O. My stomach clenched in fear. Eight million horrific thoughts spun through my mind like a swarm of mosquitoes across a hot South Dakota roadway. Except this whirlwind was trapped inside me and each thought was sucking the life from within me.

I stared at him, like a hard thought would make him spill all of his innermost secrets. The world around us seemed to pause; the rain and the night held its breath waiting for him respond. There was nothing beyond the circle of us. Just two people in the dark, his hand connected to mine.

“We never had sex,” he whispered.

There it was, like a slap. If I hadn’t felt his pulse shudder and watched the small flicker of a shadow flash across the blue of his eyes I’d have missed it. Barry was lying. The question was, why?

He turned, began to release my hand and started to walk away. I yanked him back towards me.

“You’re a liar,” I growled. Irritation seeped through my teeth like venom, but I didn’t care. “There is a dead girl spiked to a light pole like a crucified whore just a few feet beyond us. Evil and darkness are filling this entire street like a mad-hatter with an empty pot and a ready plate anxious for its second course meal and you, Ian Barry, are a fucking liar. I may not remember all of the details of our little journey back from Hell,” I told him poking him in the chest. “But I do know this, there is a war going on between the Light and the darkness and for some unknown reason, I’ve been marked as a prize.

“What the hell you have to do with that is completely beyond me at the moment, but whatever it is I will find out and when I do, if you’re on the side of darkness, you’re going down right along with the rest of them.” I was fuming, my anger so intense that it bubbled in my gut until my stomach hurt. “So,” I continued, “unless you’re going to be straight with me, get out of my way, because I need to find out why the hooker I cast a demon from is hanging in this alley.”

I then shoved him away from me. So hard, in fact that he stumbled into the building. I didn’t care and I didn’t bother to check to see if he was all right, but instead kept walking. Father Daniel and the officer of the crime tape were still keeping guard over the scene.

“Let’s get on with this,” I said, trying without much luck to sound civil. Crime Tape Officer just lifted the tape and let us proceed. Father Daniel knew me well enough by now to not even bother to say a word.

“Faith, wait,” Barry shouted from the darkness behind me.

“I don’t have time for this, Inspector,” I snarkly returned as I kept walking down the alley, puddles
splashing with the force of each movement. The alley was now pretty much cleared out of beat cops and lab techs that had walked its murky road. Now they were just waiting for us to look over the scene, advise the Inspector of our professional opinions on death magic, ritual killings, the evil and the damned and then allow them to remove the body.

“Faith, you don’t understand,” Barry stated, his voice so close I could feel the heat of it against the back of my neck. His concern and misery were coiled together, each a touchable, palpable thing.

“Why don’t you explain it to her, Inspector Ian Barry,” Angeline sagely whispered from the darkness beyond.

My spine stiffened as the temperature dropped about thirty degrees. Rain froze on windows panes like cracked spectacles of snowflakes past. The ground fast became black ice steeped with blood that had apparently dripped from the victim. Blood that now hung in shards of icy crimson from the pierced hands of a not-so-innocent dead girl.

I stood there with my breath held tightly in my lungs, paralyzed with awe, watching as Angeline’s breath plumed before her. I watched while her head rose from slumped shoulders and cold, dead, black eyes stared back at us gleefully.

“Holy Mother of God,” I finally uttered.

“Fucking whore on a stake,” it laughed in reply.

Also Available Now in the Faith Savage Series at Mojocastle Press, Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Are

Faith Savage – Faith’s Temptation ~ Bonus Story
Faith Savage – Book 1 ~ Glow
Faith Savage – Book 2 ~ Fear No Evil
Faith Savage – Book 3 ~ Transgressions
Faith Savage – Book 4 ~ When Angels Fall
Faith Savage – Book 5 ~ The Ash Collector
Faith Savage – Book 6 ~ Wicked’s Kiss
Faith Savage – Book 7 ~ Sinner
Faith Savage – Book 8 ~ Messenger – Coming Soon

K.A. M’Lady
Fantasy Romance Kissed With Dark Sensuality

Today, K is very generously giving away the first four stories in her Faith Savage series to one lucky winner who answers this question: What does K spend her days doing - besides writing? (Hint: check out the bio on her website :) ). Her contest will close at midnight tonight, and her winner will be announced tomorrow on this thread.

Monday, 20 February 2012

Angel or Demon? Demon Lover...

Today, I thought I'd introduce you to a different kind of demon. In fact he isn't really a demon at all, but because he inhabits a very different, underground world and has very different values to those who live on the surface, he appears to be a demon.

Which is another point - how do you recognize the angels and demons who might be walking among us? And is it always clear which is which? In Demon Lover, the Fairytale Fantasy I co-wrote with Bonnie Dee for Samhain, the hero, Ragnorak, appears to our heroine in both guises - the angel who helps her and the demon who steals her and her child away to his underground kingdom.

Here's the opening scene from Demon Lover - which is, in fact, a re-imagining of the Rumpelstiltskin tale we've all known since childhood.

Available Now from Samhain Publishing in Print and Ebook.

Rumplestiltskin is NOT his name and this hunk’s no gnarled old goblin.

Fairytale Fantasies, Book 2

In his quest to land her a rich husband, Gwyneth’s father has gone one step too far and bragged to the king’s steward. Now she faces an impossible task: spin a room full of straw into gold by morning, or their lives are forfeit. She despairs, until a black-garbed figure offers to solve her problem for a price. One kiss.

He returns the second night, and the third. With each sensual encounter, the stakes escalate along with her attraction to her mysterious visitor. Then he claims the ultimate price—her child—and she realizes too late she’s made a deal with the king of the Underworld.

From the moment he kisses her, Ragnorak knows Gwyneth’s child will be a worthy heir for his kingdom. But with each touch, he wants more. He wants her to be queen of his strangely beautiful world—and for her to want to stay. But that will mean giving her the ultimate weapon—the power of his name.

Gwyneth has only three chances to drive her demon lover over the edge of bliss. But when the stakes suddenly shift, it’s Ragnorak who stands to lose everything…


“Is your name Charles? Oliver? Harold?” Gwyneth’s pulse pounded, and she shivered despite the fact she held the precious trump card up her sleeve. Her husband King Midas, the courtiers and soldiers all looked on, frozen as they had been from the moment the devil arrived in a thunderclap and a puff of sulfurous black smoke. Literally frozen by some magic force that thickened the air around them.

“No.” The evil being’s deep voice reverberated through the room, sending a chill down her spine and making the hair on her nape prickle. As menacing as a towering black thunderhead threaded with crackling lightning, the dark-shrouded figure dominated the throne room of the castle. Gwyneth longed to throw back his hood and behold his face just once.

“Brandon? Sylvester? Archibald? James?”

Why was she playing this dangerous game when her child’s very life was at stake? She should simply spit out the horrid name her spy had overheard and win Brea’s freedom. A demon from hell couldn’t break a deal, could he? Surely he was bound by his word.

“No. Are you prepared to concede, to pay me what you owe?” A cool voice came from the dark depths of the hood.

Gwyneth exhaled slowly, trying to rein in her racing heart. The warmth of victory swelled through her, but she willed herself not to show it with a smug smile. No point in angering her enemy.

“Is your name perhaps”—she paused and licked her lips—“Rumplestiltskin?”

There was dead silence in the room for the space of three heartbeats. Brea stirred in her cradle and gave a soft gurgle. Gwyneth glanced from the hooded figure to her husband, whose frightened gaze was riveted on the intruder.

Gwyneth knew she was correct. She’d received an eyewitness account of this cloaked demon waltzing around a campfire, gloating over her inability to guess his ridiculous name.

“Is your name Rumplestiltskin?” she repeated.

The dark being strode forward, stopping only a few paces from her and the cradle.

“No. It is not.” He reached for the baby.

For a moment, Queen Gwyneth froze, unable to fathom his answer, then she darted between him and the cradle, intercepting his black-gloved hands as they reached for her precious daughter. She snatched up Brea and clutched the baby to her breast too tightly, making the infant squawk in indignation.

“You lie! I know that’s your name. I won’t let you take my baby.”

“Madam, I never lie, and the child is mine.” He moved closer.

Gwyneth caught the familiar scent of smoke and earth that permeated his clothes. The odor should’ve turned her stomach, made her gut clench in fear, yet it instantly brought back memories of several long, dark, mysterious nights when he’d talked to her and…touched her while she spun straw into gold.

“I won’t harm her. I wish to raise her as my own.” His fingers tightened in the baby’s blanket.

“Begone, demon! I’ll never let you take her.” Gwyneth pushed away his hand.

“I would not be accused of separating a child from its mother,” he drawled. “You’re welcome to come to the underworld with us, lovely Gwyneth. If you dare to give up your wealth and title.”

“No!” Midas cried. Maybe he cared for Gwyneth and Brea more than she’d thought. More likely he feared losing the source of his riches—not that she could’ve spun one golden thread if it weren’t for the magical creature who now claimed their child in payment.

“Guards, seize him!” The king yelled quite futilely as everyone in the room, except, apparently, Gwyneth, was still frozen in place.

The black figure loomed over the queen and her child. His cloak seemed to billow in an unseen wind, and the air around them was charged as if from an approaching storm.

Gwyneth clutched Brea and stared into the depths of the hood, trying to glimpse a pair of eyes, trying to make a connection as she begged for mercy, but it was like trying to look down a well. A person might catch a glimmer of water at the bottom, but it was simply too dark to see anything clearly.

“Please, sir, leave my baby alone. I will come with you if that is what you desire, but this poor, innocent child has done nothing. Why should she pay for my unholy bargain?”

“Unholy?” A harsh bark of laughter came from the figure. “You think me some kind of devil? Well, maybe I am, but I’m not the one who was willing to give up her baby in exchange for a pile of gold.”

Neither was I. It wasn’t my fault. I was trying to save my life. Gwyneth wanted to protest and explain her actions, but excuses would not move him. She gripped his wrist, solid and strong beneath the black gloves—not an incorporeal spirit, but a demon of flesh and blood, as she well knew. She stared into the hood, searching for the face she couldn’t see, and made her offer again.

“I will come with you. I will do anything you want. Anything.”

Hope you enjoyed it!


Welcome Michele Lang!

As our first guest of honour at the Angels and Demons Party, I'm delighted to welcome back my old friend Michele Lang, whose sequel to the haunting historical fantasy, Lady Lazarus, has just been released. Here's Michele to tell us about her angels, demons and Dark Victory.

Do You Believe? By Michele Lang

Hi Marie and everybody!  Thanks so much for having me J

In gearing up to celebrate here, I've been thinking about angels some more (since they roam in my LADY LAZARUS series, that's nothing new!).  I believe in angels. 

Not just the angels of our better nature, the impulse for people to help each other and to be there for each other.  I don't mean to minimize the powerful human force for good, because other people have saved my life countless times.

But I mean the celestial beings.  Part of this belief is inherited from my family, because my mother only survived the war in Europe by the slightest of chances, and if you count only upon the odds it seems impossible that she survived at all.  Some of it was certainly chance, but numerous times my grandmother received guidance that I can only call celestial, for it led to her survival and my mother's.

Many times I have been nudged in the right direction, given a moment of pure inspiration, and have had dreams that suggested a pathway out of trouble.  Maybe all of these interventions came from my subconscious mind, maybe just a funky chemical synapse.

But these moments had a *personality.* Especially when I go along a wrong path, I get a distinct sense of frustration along with the encouragement, a real nudge!  And that is why I believe that these moments come from somewhere outside my conscious mind.

And that leads my imagination down some pretty entertaining and thought-provoking paths.  What if angels manifest on earth, actually walk among us?  What if they nudge us more particularly, in human disguise?

I make things up for a living, so my hold on reality is rather tenuous! J But maybe they do…it's a fabulous thought!

What do you think of angels?  Do you believe?

In my LADY LAZARUS series, the existence of angels (and demons, too) is never in question -- Magda Lazarus, a young witch living in Budapest in 1939, has called upon her family's guardian, Raziel, in an effort to forestall the beginning of the world war.  And now, in DARK VICTORY, Magda and Raziel seek to master Hitler's captive demon, Asmodel.

Here's more about the LADY LAZARUS series:

DARK VICTORY: The thrilling sequel to the historical urban fantasy Lady Lazarus!

''Michele Lang's Dark Victory is the best entry yet in a
groundbreaking, rich, enthralling series that combines the darkest
days of World War II with magic, very human characters, and stakes
that couldn't be higher. A tour de force!"
        New York Times bestselling author Rachel Caine

Magda Lazarus assumed the mantle of her family’s ancient powers only under the dire threat of the Nazi Reich’s supernatural war machine.  But though this young Jewish witch fought off SS werewolves and Hitler’s personal demon, she could not prevent the outbreak of war.

She knows there is still hope of victory as long as she can summon spirits.  Her family’s guardian angel, Raziel, joins her in the battle, and they marshal their own army, a supernatural force that will battle Hitler’s minions to the death…and beyond.

Dark Victory is awesome. Lang just gets better and better.” – Kat Richardson, bestselling author of the Greywalker series

“Lang crafts a creative and tense story as all of Europe awaits the September invasion of Poland. Lang is a writer to watch and is sure to have wide appeal to fans of Jim Butcher, Kat Richardson, and other urban fantasy A-listers.” – Booklist (starred review) on Lady Lazarus

“An absolutely unique protagonist in an engaging tale set against the backdrop of the greatest clash of good and evil in human history.  What’s not to love about Lady Lazarus?” - #1 New York Times bestselling author Jim Butcher

Download the LADY LAZARUS books!

Book 1: Lady Lazarus
From Amazon  

Book 2: Dark Victory

From Amazon 

"The Magic of Fabulous" A novella set in the world of LADY LAZARUS

From Amazon

"The World of LADY LAZARUS"
A FREE nonfiction companion to the series!

From Amazon 

From Smashwords 

Here is the beginning of DARK VICTORY, the second book in the series.  Magda has indeed captured Asmodel, but the ancient demon causes mayhem even trapped inside a tin of paprika!

Hope you enjoy this abbreviated excerpt from the beginning of DARK VICTORY:


August 30, 1939
Dohány Street
Budapest, Hungary
11 a.m.

My doom was trapped inside a tin of Hungarian paprika.
I rolled the thin metal canister between my fingers and almost dropped it; the tin was hot enough to burn my skin.  In the silence of my dusty little kitchen on Dohány Street, in Budapest’s Seventh District, my pulse pounded in my ears.  I knew that if I could not control the demon I had captured, Hitler would invade Poland.  And the world would explode.
The situation was just that simple and difficult.  I had captured Hitler’s personal demon.  But I didn’t know how to use him.
We simply didn’t have any time left.  Hitler was going to invade Poland in two days, on September 1st, 1939.  As a Jewish witch, I was in mortal danger. 
And on this hot and over-bright August morning losing my own life was the least of my problems.  My breath caught in my throat, and I longed to put the tin down, curl up on my cot, and hide from the demon in dreams.
But I could not rest – not with war so close.  I had warned the diplomats of the Polish embassy of the imminent war.  I also had sent word to the Zionists through my best friend, Eva Farkas, who had joined their number.  But now I had to put this demon, Asmodel, under my power, somehow.
I licked my lips and forced myself to breathe.  It was time to call forth the bound and hidden Asmodel – only he could tell me what September first would truly bring.  Only he could stop Hitler before he unleashed the war.
I had the strength to bind him, but I had to find out whether I had enough magic to compel him to my will.
My little sister Gisele had begged me not to take Asmodel out of the tin; my beloved Raziel, once an angel but now a man for my sake, only shook his head and laughed when I told him I meant to challenge my captive spirit. 
            I sat at my place at the kitchen table and cupped the paprika tin in my hands, my fingertips dancing over the hot metal. Raziel stood behind me, and I was grateful that I could not see the expression on his face.  Only a day or two before, the demon had fought Raziel, an angel of the Lord, hand to hand, and Raziel could only stop him by sacrificing his very place in Heaven…
            The vehemence of his roar rattled me. I rocked back, clutching the tin to keep it from wriggling out of my grasp altogether. We wrestled for a few minutes and I stood up to brace the tin better against the table.
            The white metal grew even hotter in my hands, and his low growl rose from between my fingers.  "See if I speak right, bitch, then know your end is foreordained. Hitler will orchestrate a provocation. He is staging a supposed act of terrorism by Poles on the border, at the radio station in Gleiwitz. Every detail has been arranged. They will dress the corpses in partisan costumes, though the dead men are concentration camp prisoners. . .”
            The demon spoke faster and faster, a litany of overwhelming destruction and misery, echoing like gunshots.   
He unfolded a grim picture of the war to come, Hitler’s plan to crush Poland, to buy time with guns and lies until he could turn his sights to further conquest, richer prizes to both the west and the east.
            Asmodel finished his litany of curses and bellowed with laughter. "You little fool.  It is too late for you to avert the destiny of the world.  You struggle like a fish already on the hook. You are already caught. And every twist and turn only brings you closer to the fishermen's deck. You are already dead!"
I needed to converse face to face with my nemesis.  “Asmodel,” I whispered, “Come forth, still bound by spell, but in your chosen guise.”
Asmodel materialized on the splintery wooden surface of the round kitchen table, in the form of a breathtakingly beautiful youth, completely naked, curled up like a fern frond on the mossy, slippery banks of a hidden stream in Eden. Slowly he lifted his head, and his enormous almond eyes met my gaze.  The breath caught in my throat.
"This is my true aspect, Magduska," he said, in a soft, warm baritone.  So changed, so transformed, yet I recognized him in this guise.
His beauty threw me off-balance, and I struggled to maintain my self-possession.  "Don't say Magduska," I shot back. "Only those who love me may call me that."
His smile was gentle. "You invoke love?  I know of love. Your Raziel fell from heaven the same way as did I, for love of a woman. Naamah was as beautiful as you, her kisses were as sweet as yours. We had many hours of bliss, lying together and knowing love when the world was young and such things were common."
My cheeks burned. In ways of magic, I had few illusions left, but I was still a novice at the sorcery of the love a man and a woman might share.
Raziel drew closer to the back of my chair, and his mere presence cut through the confusion of Asmodel’s words.
"You lie," Raziel said, and though he spoke bitter words, his voice remained kind.  "Brother, you descend not to help humankind in their exile, but to grind them into the dust. You want the earth and all its dominion for yourself."
The demon’s honeyed smile grew jaded.  "What of it? That is no secret, not like your blessed secrets, the secrets of your blasted Book with its elemental magic."
...I returned to Asmodel, my heart cold, an extinguished candle flame.  "What is it like to be so very old?" I said, allowing my thoughts to take flight into words. "Killing humans must be like swatting gnats."
Asmodel sighed in bliss and closed his eyes. "Entertaining and useful gnats. Foolish gnats, with the power to choose the way of the world."
"Do we really? Choose anything?"
The demon's eyes opened and he pierced me with his gaze, speared me. "You could make this world a paradise with your choices, Magduska."
This time I let him get away with the endearment. It was my turn to be silent and consider his words. I was listening, really listening.
"Come with me as I restore the garden," he said, his voice low and beseeching. "You could be the one to do it. The Book of Raziel was first inscribed in the sapphire, its wisdom encased in the structure of the gem. The Book exists, it is a lost treasure, but it is real. We lost it when the Temple was destroyed, but we have our theories of its location, do we not, my brother Raziel?"
"Why do you need the Book, copy or sapphire?" I asked. "You seem to exert your dominion quite well without it."
"Nonsense.  I am in chains, dear sorceress," he murmured. "My dominion has ended -- I went from the great Fϋhrer to nothing, nobody, my prison an old tin of paprika."
"But how did you conquer Hitler in the first place?"
"I already told you before, Magduska, and I do not lie. He invited me in, to augment his puny mortal powers. Had we only preserved the Book of Raziel as it had been transcribed, retained the original geography of the gemstones, no one could have stopped me."
"Not even Hitler himself," I remarked, more to myself than to him.
Asmodel shrugged and, like a cat, relaxed bit by bit against my forearm, the stubble of his cheek scratching through the flimsy cotton shirt that I wore.  Abruptly I remembered his nakedness, and my cheeks flushed with shame. 
The demon pretended not to notice my mortification. "Hitler wanted me to own him. How could he live a thousand years, otherwise?"
"Could you give him a thousand years, demon?" I asked.  My head throbbed and I was shrouded in weariness, dragged into the grave by the hands of despair.
I sat perfectly still, unwilling to betray my weakness.  But I feared that Asmodel somehow sensed it anyway. 
"What does it matter?  There is nothing more to say, my beautiful one," he murmured. “Let me in. Raziel and I will share you, and you will experience such pleasure as you cannot comprehend. Together we will find the gemstone – you will learn to call it from its hidden place. And you would vanquish both Hitler and Stalin, stop this messy war and perfect the fellowship of mankind. You know I do not lie."
Not in the words themselves, but in the totality of their meaning, did Asmodel twist the truth. I tore my gaze away from the demon’s nakedness, his deep, warm, amber eyes, and I looked again to Raziel.
Raziel had cast his lot with me, with Gisele, with all the rest of us cursed by fate to fight and die in the terrible year of 1939.  He would stay with me, even if I chose wrong -- especially if I chose wrong. And he would not rob from me the choice only I could make…
I imagined the cold touch of Asmodel inside my body, possessing my flesh, and I shuddered. 
"I don't have the strength to use him,” I confessed in a whisper.  “And I don’t have time to find that gem he speaks of, not before Hitler invades.  We will have to find another way, at least for now.  Gisele could hold him and not be tempted, but just holding him is not enough."
            I looked deep into Asmodel’s amber eyes, and I could not afford to hesitate any longer. "Go back into the darkness," I said, even as Asmodel’s face fell.
To spare us both another struggle I summoned a cone of silence to descend over the tin like a glass dome over a cake. The white tin with the red lettering looked sepia now, like a newsreel, and Asmodel gave me one last, despairing glance as he disappeared through the sifter into the darkness of his prison.
            The sudden silence thundered in my ears.  I sat at the kitchen table, drenched in sweat, sick with exhaustion, the tin again scorching hot, clenched in my fingers. Asmodel again was trapped inside, the stalemate still between us. 
The demon was bound, certainly.  Unlike most of my countrymen, I knew the time and place that Hitler would strike.
I had tried my best to bend Asmodel’s will to my purposes, as sages and kings had done in ancient time.  But I was no sage.  I had failed. 
It was Asmodel, from inside his tin prison, who maintained the upper hand.

Book 1: Lady Lazarus

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Book 2: Dark Victory

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"The Magic of Fabulous" A novella set in the world of LADY LAZARUS

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"The World of LADY LAZARUS"
A FREE nonfiction companion to the series!

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Today, Michele and Tor Publishing are kindly giving away THREE copies of Dark Victory! To enter the draw, answer Michele's question above: What do you think of angels?  Do you believe? The contest will close at midnight tonight, and the winners will be announced tomorrow on this thread.