S is for Soldiers of the Sun, which is both the umbrella title for the series and the name of the novel. On the surface you’d look at this novel and wonder did she try to find a genre mash-up that would be impossible to sell? Honestly no, but as this is an urban fantasy historical novel with a polyamorous trio of main characters I can see how you’d think so. It would have a small group of people who’d be interested in it and it’s not served well by being listed as romance when it really isn’t. The paranormal/urban fantasy action-adventure part of it is the main plot.
It opens around Christmas 1931 where the group of demon hunters, Caleb, Agni and Temple are dealing with the loss of Temple’s lover, Li (see The Darkest Midnight in December to see Li alive nad in action) and their new reality of being in a three-way relationship. Add into that Temple’s new partner who turns out to be their general’s niece, a prince of hell terrorizing the city and a wave of French Knights Templar hot on the heels of that devil, Templars who just so happen to be Temple’s relatives.
I had enormous fun working on this novel. I really enjoy the character dynamics between the foursome (including Jo, Temple’s new partner in tahat). I didn’t know tremendously much about the 1930s beyond the obvious and I wanted to know more as this is the time period of my grandparents as they were just starting out in married life (or just a bit earlier, in their young adulthood). In fact, my maternal grandmother makes a cameo appearance with her girlfriends in the scene inside of Phipps conservatory. She was tickled pink about that. The ghosts of the 1930s can still be seen haunting the streets of Pittsburgh and uncovering what they looked like in their hey day was a blast.
In this novel I got to deal with real life themes such as surviving child sexual abuse and the effects of class inequality and the greed of those in power who want even more power. There is, of course, hints of prejudiced based on skin color, gender, religion and sexual orientation as it was the 1930s after all. Mixed into all of that is the paranormal demon hunting stuff ala Buffy or Supernatural.
I can’t remember exactly why I called them Soldiers of the Sun, other than they represented light in the darkness. I didn’t want them to be the Knights Templar (who are in this universe, who survived the attempts to wipe them out which they didn’t quite manage in the real world), mostly because the Templars are so religiously oriented. The Soldiers aren’t anti-religious in the least but they are secular. I wanted a group that would be inclusive of women, of other religions and ethnic backgrounds and of homosexuals because in a fight against demons it made sense to be all hands on deck (that and I’m all for inclusivity). I couldn’t see the Templars being that (and in the novel, they are not, drawing a strong contrast to the Soldiers. It’s why Temple ran away to join the Soldiers). I’ve created many demon fighting groups because I love writing these kinds of stories but man it’s getting harder and harder to think of sensible names for them!
I hope that maybe this interests you and you might want to take a look at the Soldiers’ stories.
You can find their stories here. (Yes they’re in a series but they can be read as stand alones because hey 1930s demon hunters, right?).
Soldiers of the Sun. (novel)
And check out Paul Richmond’s cover for this. I have been so lucky in covers.
Blurb for Soldiers of the Sun Caleb Davies and Agni Pradesh are worried about their teammate and lover, Temple Chevalier. Not only has he lost his long-time partner, Fu Li, but he nearly died fighting a demon himself. Also, Temple isn’t sure he’s ready for a new teammate after Li. Caleb and Agni are even more concerned that their three-way relationship with Temple exists less because he loves them and more because he’s hiding from the pain of Li’s loss.
1932 shapes up to be a terrible year for the Soldiers as they welcome the New Year fighting demons and then end up investigating a case that pairs them up with the Knights Templar. This would normally be a good thing, but it forces Temple to face his painful past. Worse yet, the case leads right to Astaroth, a Prince of Hell, who might prove to be an unbeatable foe.