Monday, January 7, 2013
Christmas, Take Two!
Today is a particularly appropriate day for me to post, as it’s Russian Orthodox Christmas (in the Julian calendar), and my demons and angels are thoroughly Russian. So as an Orthodox Christmas present (which you can win even if you aren’t Orthodox or Christian…I’m not! ;) ), I’m giving away a set of signed copies of Books One and Two of The House of Arkhangel’sk.
You can enter via the Rafflecopter at the end; the giveaway will run until Russian Old New Year (January 14). This giveaway is international.
The excerpt below takes place on the Winter Solstice, but it seemed appropriate for the day anyway:
The wind was still high, but the sky had cleared. As I climbed beneath my covers, I saw a strange light over the horizon. The illumination danced above the trees and colored the snow with a lurid green phosphorescence. It rippled upward across the atmosphere like the radiance of a firespirit so powerful it encompassed the sky.
Shivering, I crept to the window to be sure I wasn’t dreaming and watched in awe while the light flickered and expanded, winking out and then surging forth again, the stars muted by its magnificence. Tears rolled down my cheeks and I didn’t know why. I suddenly felt tiny and insignificant in this vast world, far from home and Heaven, and yet my heart was captivated and humbled as if I alone had been chosen to see this wonder.
I padded in my tapochki and flannel nightshirt to Vasily’s room to see if he was awake. He lay in bed, his eyes closed, but they opened when I hesitated in his doorway.
“What is it?” He sat up. “Are you all right?”
“The sky,” I whispered.
He put on his spectacles and looked. “The Aurora Borealis.” He saw me shivering and pulled back his covers for me to climb in. “The Northern Lights. I’ve only seen it once before.”
Beneath his blankets, I curled against his chest for warmth. “What are they? Not seraphic?”
“No. The phenomenon belongs solely to the world of Man. I don’t know what causes it. Something purely mundane, I understand.” He wrapped his bare arms around me and watched over his shoulder. He was dressed only in a sleeveless undershirt and a pair of briefs.
“Aren’t you cold?” I asked. “Don’t you wear a nightshirt to bed?”
He shrugged. “I’m a firespirit.” His body was warm, almost flushed compared to mine. I rested my head against his chest and watched the lights, listening to the wind rattling at the window and to the steady beating of his heart.
“Do you miss him?” I whispered.
“Always.” There was a universe of longing in that single word.
I looked up at him, overwhelmed by the urge to protect him from the pain Belphagor had caused him, to comfort him as I had when he’d wept in my arms. With the strength and heat of his body against me, I realized comfort wasn’t my only urge. My virtue had been carefully preserved for a political match that would bring heirs to some far-corner duchy of Heaven, an unappealing eventuality I’d intended to prolong as long as possible. But the stringency of duty and honor had drained away into the aether with my family’s blood. Of what use was virtue when my world had ended? I had an ardent, urgent desire for this demon as I’d wanted nothing in my life.
He caught me looking at him and his eyes widened in surprise. I hadn’t meant to act on this sudden revelation of awakened need, hadn’t meant to throw caution—and my virtue—to the luminous arctic wind, but the answering hunger in his eyes loosed my impetuous tongue.
“What happens,” I breathed, “when a firespirit and a waterspirit come together?”
He pressed his fingers to my lips as if to be sure I was speaking, and a spark of wavering violet danced on his hand. I sought his mouth with mine and at the meeting of our lips, the light surged around us like our own aurora.
Heaven can go to hell.
Until her cousin slaughtered the supernal family, Anazakia’s father ruled the Heavens, governing noble Host and Fallen peasants alike. Now Anazakia is the last grand duchess of the House of Arkhangel’sk, and all she wants is to stay alive.
Hunted by Seraph assassins, Anazakia flees Heaven with two Fallen thieves—fire demon Vasily and air demon Belphagor, each with their own nefarious agenda—who hide her in the world of Man. The line between vice and virtue soon blurs, and when Belphagor is imprisoned, the unexpected passion of Vasily warms her through the Russian winter.
Heaven seems a distant dream, but when Anazakia learns the truth behind the celestial coup, she will have to return to fight for the throne—even if it means saving the man who murdered everyone she loved.
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Jane Kindred is the author of the Harlequin Nocturne series, Sisters in Sin, and the epic fantasy series The House of Arkhangel’sk, Demons of Elysium, and Looking Glass Gods. She spent her formative years ruining her eyes reading romance novels in the Tucson sun and watching Star Trek marathons in the dark. She now writes to the sound of San Francisco foghorns while two cats slowly but surely edge her off the side of the bed.