Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Heart of Flame - excerpt

Yes, it's out today! Heart of Flame is now available in a range of electronic formats (including Adobe and  Mobipocket/Kindle) from Samhain Publishing, for $3.85.

Am I happy? Yes I am! This is my first publication through Samhain, and it's also my first adventure-romance novel. Yes, that's right: it's not erotica. Which means, for those of you who are familiar with my other work, it's not wall-to-wall sex scenes. I mean, there is still quite a bit of sex, and that sex is hot, but there's also much more room for plot. And frantic running around the Middle East, trying to stay alive and get to the next bit of the plot. And monsters.  

There are many monsters. That makes me happy.

I wrote this book imagining how it would look if it were filmed in a good old-fashioned Thief of Baghdad style, with awesome Technicolor matte scenery, and stop-motion effects by Ray Harryhausen :-D

And yes, because it's one of my romances, the heroes and heroines get the stuffing kicked out of them on a regular basis. But it's rather more upbeat than The King's Viper, in case you were worrying!

So here's an excerpt from near the beginning of the book. Taqla the Sorceress has just fallen in with handsome merchant-traveller Rafiq, whilst wandering through the bazaar in Damascus. They get into a brawl with some of Rafiq's rivals and she helps him, before they flee together over the rooftops. The thing is, Taqla is in magical disguise as a man. Rafiq doesn't know who she really is, and can't be allowed to find out.

Nobody can ever be allowed to find out...

“Where—where now?” A glance told her that this was a big building they were on, square in form but hollowed around a central courtyard. There was no obvious stair down. And their pursuers had not given up. The head of their leader bobbed into view over the first roof.

Rafiq didn’t answer. He just went to the edge overlooking the central courtyard, squinted down, then turned and dropped to his belly and slid his legs over into the void. He hung there for a moment, lurched down until he was hanging by his hands, then disappeared from sight.

What? Taqla mouthed, aghast. Is this normal? she wanted to demand—Did every Dimashqan man take to scrambling over the rooftops like an ape at the slightest provocation? Was she just supposed to follow him?

She didn’t have much choice. Gritting her teeth, she did as Rafiq had done—and found, below the roofline,  complex decorative piercework in wood, which allowed her to swing down onto the upper-storey balcony below. She nearly pulled her arms from their sockets doing it, and she cursed her sheltered upbringing.

“Quick.” Rafiq signalled her into a doorway and they plunged into the building’s interior. The shuttered rooms were in darkness and filled with sagging baskets and dusty bales, the finely tiled walls not making up for the reek of rat urine. Taqla knew what was going on—there were many grand old houses like this in the city nowadays. When the seat of the caliphate was moved from Dimashq to Baghdad, many of the wealthiest families had abandoned the city, locking up their houses and leaving them to decay under the care of a lone watchman. Squatters had moved into some buildings, others were used as storage spaces or stables. This one looked and smelled like it was full of sheep’s fleeces all quietly rotting away in the gloom.

Voices and scuffling suggested their pursuers were not far behind. Rafiq drew his scimitar.

“No!” breathed Taqla warningly.

“No witnesses here,” he whispered. But he relented with a shrug and pushed her into the angle behind a cupboard door in a dark corner, backing in after her as the voices grew louder. It was almost pitch black, to Taqla’s discomfort, and a shelf dug into her spine. Worse, it was an extremely confined space. As Rafiq squeezed in after her with his scimitar held at the ready, his back pressed up against her chest, radiating heat. She could smell his skin and his sweat over the general miasma of dry rot, and it smelled good in a way she was not ready for—hauntingly, disconcertingly good. She could feel the movement of his muscles through his clothes and it made her own muscles quiver and clench. She shrank away desperately, trying to minimise contact, but it was too late, her panicked mental efforts were not enough. Even as they both held their breath and as footfalls echoed in the chamber outside, the spell of shaping cracked into a thousand pieces and the form of Zahir abd-Umar dissolved into her own. The pain in her ear vanished. Bones shortened. Male muscle softened to feminine curves. Her bare nipples pressed against his shirt and she felt them pucker and harden at the contact.

Taqla prayed that Rafiq wouldn't notice.

Copyright © 2011 Janine Ashbless

Another excerpt is available on the Samhain site too.


Jennifer Denys said...

CONGRATS on new book out! Hope it sells well, and congrats on venturing into new genre.


Janine Ashbless said...

Thanks Jennifer!
It is something a bit different for me, doing a fantasy-adventure-romance, but I loved writing it. It was like going on holiday somewhere really exotic!

Now, back to the smut...

Craig Sorensen said...

Awesome excerpt. Congrats!

It was like going on holiday somewhere really exotic!

I understand that feeling. My first love, writing wise, is my own particular take on an ancient world fantasy. There is nothing like the feeling of creating worlds, is there?

I hope your book does great things!

Janine Ashbless said...

Thank you Craig!

There is nothing like the feeling of creating worlds, is there?

You said it. That's why I write fantasy erotica - I get the world-building fun as well as the sex!