Sunday, 30 November 2014

"An intense, engaging, grandly imagined, intelligent, entertainingly well-paced and very—very—sexy story; erotic romance writ large."

Edward Burne-Jones (1833-1898): The Days of Creation
It's the last week of my month-long blog-tour for Cover Him with Darkness, and I'm dizzy with both delight and exhaustion. It's had a great reception with many wonderful reviews from magazines and bloggers. Thank you everyone who has shared a link or bought a book or uploaded a post or review!

Erotica for the Big Brain gets a special Ashbless thank you (and the headline quote) for enthusiastically reviewing not just Cover Him, but Fierce Enchantments at the same time!

"I hesitate to draw the obvious comparison here. Ashbless’ tale of ancient texts and ruthless churchmen at first seems of a piece with some Dan Brown thriller, though Ashbless is a much better writer—certainly far more intelligent and imaginative than the purveyor of The Da Vinci Code. A more apt comparison might be early Anne Rice; in scale and pacing this novel is pleasingly reminiscent of books like Queen of the Damned, without the tiresome existential inner monologues or cloying narrative excess."

Omni Lust reiterates a common complaint - I'm ruining readers' sleep patterns:

"Janine Ashbless does an amazing job combining innocence and darkness in this story. Cover Him With Darkness is the perfect combination of romance, erotica, suspense, and action. It had me up all night reading. The extra coffee needed in the mornings was well worth it."

Buffy's Ramblings thinks I'm just not cheerful and romantic enough. Guilty as charged, Buffy :-)
"The prose is beautiful. I thought the book was very well written. I love the mystery of who the prisoner is before it’s revealed and the lore surrounding it. The story is very compelling and unpredictable... While this is considered a romance, it’s not terribly romantic."

 F dot Leonora on the other hand, loves that!
"It exceeded everything I could have wanted. Reading the novel was like being consumed. I am not exaggerating, there were times I lifted my head from it and I was gasping for air. It is that intense."
She also, btw, asked me specifically about my Mr Hero Egan - check it out if you were wondering what the hell he was up to.

Sex in Words, in contrast, wanted to ask me questions about eroticizing angels and possible reader backlash. Eeek!

And Lily Harlem posted the "Ten Things I Learned Writing Cover Him with Darkness."

Finally, if you fancy a longish excerpt, there's one over at Bookingly Yours.

And now I must sleep!

Friday, 28 November 2014

Phenology - November

Dull November brings the blast,
Then the leaves go whirling past.

Well, I've really got to apologise for November here, folks. Whilst other places in the world were suffering 8ft of snow, flash floods, and hailstones the size of golfballs this month, here in Land of Mud we got mostly this:

Option 1: dank

And this:

Option 2: dull

It's actually been unseasonably mild in my opinion (I was expecting to capture the first frost of winter, but no - we've not even had that). Just dreary. The daylight is fading by 3pm and we're not even near the solstice! 

But the one good thing about November is that on that rare day when it's not cloudy for once, and the light comes in low and gold from a dying sun ... everything shines like a jewel. 

The grey squirrels come out in packs, stuffing their little faces:

The hawthorn berries on the leafless bushes look like Xmas decorations:

And the warm earth breathes Hammer-Horror-style ground mist into the chill air:

The zombies are coming! Run!!
It almost makes the rest of the month worthwhile :-)

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

The Scapegoat

William Holman Hunt: The Scapegoat (1854)
Today's pre-Raphaelite painting is more cruel than kinky, but it does link to fallen angels, and Cover Him with Darkness. 

A scapegoat is someone who gets the blame for everyone else's misdeeds. The word comes from Leviticus 16 where the ritual for the Israelite Day of Atonement is set down:

And Aaron shall cast lots upon the two goats; one lot for the Lord, and the other lot for the scapegoat.

21 And Aaron shall lay both his hands upon the head of the live goat, and confess over him all the iniquities of the children of Israel, and all their transgressions in all their sins, putting them upon the head of the goat, and shall send him away by the hand of a fit man into the wilderness:
22 And the goat shall bear upon him all their iniquities unto a land not inhabited: and he shall let go the goat in the wilderness.

We owe the word itself to William Tyndale's 1530 translation from the Latin Vulgate. Scapegoat means "escape-goat" - the one that is sent away, as opposed to the one that is sacrificed for a sin-offering.

But modern translations direct from the Hebrew don't use the "scapegoat" word at all. They say say something like this:
and Aaron shall cast lots on the two goats, one lot for the Lord and the other lot for Azazel. Aaron shall present the goat on which the lot fell for the Lord, and offer it as a sin offering; 10 but the goat on which the lot fell for Azazel shall be presented alive before the Lord to make atonement over it, that it may be sent away into the wilderness to Azazel
Azazel is identified in extra-Biblical Jewish tradition as one of the fallen angels. (And he's identified by me as the (anti-)hero of Cover Him with Darkness.)

Of course, the association of goats and fallen angels turns up repeatedly...

Goats are symbols of iniquity (remember how Jesus in parable divides the righteous sheep from the wicked goats) and in particular - because of the way billy-goats go for it with enthusiasm - of lust. Lust, for example, is a prime attribute of the goatish pagan nature-god Pan, who is arguably one of the root sources of the way we picture the Devil:

He's got wood ... statue of Pan and Daphnis from Pompeii

It just gets worse ... statue from Villa of the Papyri, Herculaneum
I think I can pretty much guarantee, though, that my version of Azazel will not be caught in flagrante with any goats. It just doesn't go down well in Romance circles... :-)

Monday, 24 November 2014

Blue Monday

Every Monday I post a naughty excerpt for your entertainment. Between October (when it came out as an e-book) and December (when it comes out in paperback), those excerpts will be from the stories in my new collection Fierce Enchantments.

Story 5: Sycorax

This story is a retelling of Shakespeare's The Tempest, from the wicked and thoroughly reprehensible point of view of the monster Caliban's witchy mother.  As she points out, there were many factual inaccuracies in the famous play...

No, there was no trust between Prospero and Miranda his daughter.

Little girls grow up into young women. Women want certain things. And she—this perfect child of Nature, unspoilt by the sins and coquetry of civilisation—she took what she wanted without remorse or guilt. Nature is not tender; Nature is not good. It is human society that teaches law, and restraint, and shame.

Oh, it would have done you good to see the girl. She ran about the Island barefoot in whatever rags took her fancy, her knees scraped and her hair a tangled fleece. Her cheeks were not roses but brown as beech-mast, her eyes like the pale hazel eyes of a wild hare. Her long legs would flash, bare as the limbs of a hind, as she ran. And those breasts—so sweetly ripe, so brown, so berry-tipped like the very bounty of autumn! She would climb trees to rob the birds’ nests and crack their stolen eggs into her mouth, licking her wet pink lips. She swam in the turquoise waters and caught fish in her quicksilver hands. She danced naked upon the yellow sands with the half-seen get of Ariel.

They taught her many things, my airy children. With touches and tickles, and with caresses soft and light, they burnished that tanned skin and brought her to giggling and sighing and shivering with pleasure. Autumnal fruits swelled with juices nigh unto bursting; berry-nipples flushed and stood proud upon ripe and quivering breasts. She was a cornucopia-maiden; a harvest begging to be brought in; a feast aching to be eaten.

Poor Caliban, prowling at a distance, did not know what to make of such a morsel. He wanted with all his heart to be close to her, this beautiful nymph, but he hardly dared. He knew that Ariel would most likely be watching, invisible, and that any hurt he did Miranda would be most sternly punished. They had grown to adulthood together, and she had never shown any fear of her father’s strange pet—how was she to know any better?—but he had been trained by diverse tortures to restrain his great strength about her. He scarcely dared approach her, even when she summoned him to help her climb a crag or move a log.

So when she took to lifting her ragged skirts and flashing her rosy cunt lips at him, he did nothing but watch, bubbling miserably, feeling his great member swell painfully fat. She liked to make water while he was in the vicinity, lifting her dress right up around her waist to reveal her bottom and squatting with thighs apart, smiling slyly at him over her shoulder as she let go and pissed into the dry earth. She could lead him anywhere, all over the Isle, and he would follow mutely at a distance, his cock so engorged that its tip trailed in the dirt between his feet.

What, my sweetling—haven’t you seen his prick? Well I’m sure you will, sooner or later. It is not an easy thing to hide, being so big as it is, and more like the limb of a great octopus than the pizzle of a land-beast: tapered and rubbery. Miranda would giggle at it when it rose, questing toward her. She liked the way it responded to the sight of her pert bottom or her furry slit. She liked the way Caliban could not take his eyes off her, could not stay away; and his swollen cock was the testament to his discomfort.

John William Waterhouse: Miranda - The Tempest (1916)

One day she beckoned my Caliban to follow her down onto the beach at low tide, and into a sea-cave exposed there. The light inside was dim and the rock walls smelled of salt and weed, which lifted the poor monster’s spirits. Seeking Miranda out in the gloom—he opens more of his eyes as the lack of light demands it—he found her sitting on the damp and silvery sand, her knees raised and spread wide. Between her thighs glistened the wet patch of her sex, pointing straight at him, and she was stroking it gently, holding her labia open with spread fingers.

‘Have you seen one of these anywhere else on the Isle, Caliban?’ she asked. ‘Do you like it?’

‘It is beautiful,’ said he, poor simple thing, as his member crept toward her across the sandy floor like a sea-snake. Indeed, he could not imagine anything more bewitching than that secret pout, coral-hued as some treasure of the reefs. With all his being he longed for it.

‘Look closer,’ she told him. And he, simpleton that he was, crouched down and crawled until he was between her ankles. His great nostrils flared and dripped, catching her wild and musky scent, and his breath gusted on her thighs. Shouldn’t she have been afraid of that maw, those teeth? Yet she did not so much as tremble. ‘Does it smell nice?’ she wondered.

‘It is the best smell in the whole world,’ said the monster who knew nothing of the world. He was drooling now: thick viscid ropes of slime.

‘Kiss it,’ she ordered.

‘I … I cannot kiss, Miranda.’ His lips were not designed for such delicacies.

‘Then you may lick it. You know how to do that.’

So he obeyed, and at the first lap of his tongue—big enough to cover the whole of her wanton sex—Miranda sighed and arched and closed her eyes. Encouraged, and dizzy with daring, he repeated the action. Each slippery lick seemed to send her further and further into her trance of delight, and as far as my son was concerned, each mouthful tasted of the nectar of Heaven. Soon he had her writhing at every touch, and clawing at the smooth skin of her thighs, and panting Yes Yes Oh Yes like one of Prospero’s chanted spells. Then she bucked and squealed and thrashed, pulling away from him in spasmodic twitches and then sprawling to the sand with her chest heaving.

He’s not overly bright, my Caliban, but knew he had not drawn blood, and he guessed that she must have experienced something like the gush of release he felt when he wrestled his own length, alone in his kennel. His need for release was very strong now—nearly overwhelming. He rolled the girl from her side onto her back, and when she spread her legs his member rose waving. Quickly, he pulled her dress off over her head. He wanted to see her naked; all of her. Those soft breasts, that narrow waist—she was slender as spring and ripe as autumn all at once, and the wanting of her drove him out of his wits. Hunching over her, he stooped and licked her from sex to throat, lavishing his tongue upon her breasts. The girl groaned with pleasure. And the slim tip of Caliban’s cock inched forward into the tight wet embrace of her cunt, almost unnoticed at first … until it began to swell.

A shadow crossed the mouth of the cave then—perhaps no more than a gull in flight. Caliban, who would have normally flinched, did not look up, did not care.

You understand: Ariel, all a-quiver with malice, had brought news to the master that he must come see—and when he did come see, it was Miranda and Caliban writhing together in a sand-floored cave, the girl’s ankles about her ears as the monster plundered her narrow slot with a glistening prick that one would have sworn was too bulky to fit in that virgin hole. Pulse after pulse of thick swell surged up its length, quite visible to the onlookers, and soup-thick seed squirted out around its girth with each wave, blue-grey and pearlescent, from a vessel already filled to overflowing. And all the while the girl sobbed encouragement.

Amazon UK : Amazon US 

Sunday, 23 November 2014

"A dark and gritty story that keeps you turning pages long after you should have turned out the lights and gone to sleep."

St Sebastian and the Angel,  Gustav Moreau (1826-1898)
Cover Him with Darkness has once again been messing up people's schedules and sleep patterns! The title quote above is from a review by Horny Geek Girl, who added: "As soon as I finished it I was eager to find out when sequels will be forthcoming." 

You and me both, Horny Geek Girl!
"WOW, it had me enthralled from beginning to end. Read it in one sitting instead of doing chores on a holiday weekend" said  3 Chicks after Dark.

I'm sorry ... well, no, not really ... I'm delighted!

Reading ... Dreaming is full of warnings too:
Cover Him With Darkness is a sexy, dark, intense and powerful story ... good doses of sexiness, danger, action all packed in a book that you won't be able to put down.
 Eroticism is always present. The author creates an atmosphere that is almost toxic. The attraction between Milja and Azazel is almost too much for moments.

I can't ask for a more wonderful warning!

But there is more - Sacchi Green wants to see it as a movie ... but then has second thoughts:
"On further reflection, while it’s true that the book (or books) would (and maybe will) make a great movie if some producer and director could be trusted to do the project justice, don’t wait for that. For one thing, no mainstream movie is likely to dare to do full justice to the erotic aspects, sometimes grimly harsh, sometimes tender, often complex, always ecstatic in their way, and always compellingly arousing. For true sense surround, read the book.
And search out Janine Ashbless’s writing wherever you can find it."
If all that hasn't frightened you off, you might dare the interview over at Malin James' blog, where she asks me the, *ahem*, easy questions like What is it that connects sex and religion?

And Jacqueline Brocker is on my case too, wanting to know what it is with angels and bondage!

After all that, you might want to nip in and grab a last-minute chance at a free copy of the book over at Rafflecopter.  But only if you dare ignore all those warnings ;-)

Friday, 21 November 2014

I Heart Eva Green

Is it just me or is it hot in here? I have a new star crush, folks: Eva Green.

I first noticed her when she starred in 300: Rise of an Empire, when she rampaged around the set kicking ass, chewing up scenery, and fucking seven bells out of whoever-that-nothing-actor-who-was-supposed-to-be-the-hero-seriously-I-can't-even-be-bothered-to-look-him-up-he-was-so-bland was.

She is also, you may have noticed, not afraid to get her extremely wonderful boobs out on screen. This is probably because she is French. Her mamelles certainly caused controversy on the poster for Sin City 2:

But it's not (just) her breasts I adore her for. It's how scary she is in-character. She's currently one of the leads in Victorian paranormal series Penny Dreadful, and she has the ability to go from prim

to pitiful

to horrific

at the speed of light. The episode where she was possessed was one of the most powerful and sustained feats of acting I've seen in years - just shocking.

She's a beautiful woman

who can look really ugly when she wants to.

Look at those eyes!

No - those eyes:

She could kill you in a heartbeat and walk away smirking.

And in real life she's a self-described nerdy introvert who collects skulls and insects.

I am in love :-)

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Even my characters shout at me

THIS: This is what Milja looks like, in my head. Emina Cunmulaj.

Back in October I interviewed the (anti)hero of Cover Him with Darkness, fallen angel Azazel. It went kinda badly, it must be said. Well, this week on Brit Babes, I interview my heroine Milja!

It went, to be honest, even worse. Clearly I have a talent for winding my characters up by asking the wrong questions.

Janine: So you set him free?

Milja: Eventually. If I’d been braver, I would have done it years earlier.

Janine: There are those who have said that wasn’t really the smartest move in the world to let loose a major demon … just because you had a crush on him.
Read the interview here

Monday, 17 November 2014

Blue Monday

Every Monday I post a naughty excerpt for your entertainment. Between October (when it came out as an e-book) and December (when it comes out in paperback), those excerpts will be from the stories in my new collection Fierce Enchantments.

Story 4: The Last Thing She Needs

After last week's historical drama, we're back to the present day for this story - but a present day in which vampires are preying on the urban populations. Two vampire hunters, both thoroughly messed up by the horror and strain of their work, are trying to work out their mental baggage via some serious BDSM...

I release her, pulling the long belt free. My hand on her ass has encountered a problem: with those black shorts of hers, brief though they are, I won’t be able to see where I’m hitting.

I could pull them down … But something tells me that’s a step too far, too soon. Too intimate. I signed up to hurt her, not strip her. So I take the soft cotton-lycra and I pull the panties up higher, right into her crotch, like I’m giving her a wedgie. Then I run my fingers round the hems, front and back, ease them up as high toward her hips as they will go, bunching the fabric into the grip of her ass-cleft, baring only the twin orbs of her bum-cheeks.

That sight takes my breath away. Her ass is so beautiful I want to cup and kiss it—but that’s not in the contract. I take a step back.

‘Arch your back,’ I order, folding the belt up in my hand again. I want a short, controllable length for what I’m about to do. ‘Ass out.’

She flexes, just as she’s told, and my cock surges. The blood is draining southward from my brain so fast that I’m in danger of losing control. I have to hit her. I have to hit her with the belt now, or God knows what I’ll do.

So I do. The tongue of leather snaps out and slaps her right ass cheek, back-handed, with a crack like something breaking. It is the most beautiful, pure sound, followed almost before I can savour it by Shanna inhaling noisily through gritted teeth. And that noise—oh, that high-pitched quavering yelp—wraps itself round my guts. I want to hold it trembling in my hands. I want to cherish and soothe it into peace. I want to make it happen again. And again. And again.

The strap leaves a pink stripe across her smooth butt, and then I swing the other way and lay down a matching line on the other cheek. The pistol-crack of skin on quaking skin is just as cold and keen this side, and my heart leaps.

She tries not to scream. She’s proud, is Shanna. She squeaks and whimpers, she jerks and writhes, but she tries not to scream, at first. And I’m fairly gentle, at first, because I’m not sure what sort of punishment she can truly take. I’ve never done this. I’ve never hit a woman. Not even a vampire, except maybe in last resort when it’s someone’s life on the line. This is new to me, and I’m groping in the dark, my path lit only by burning, smoky need. But as I gradually pick up tempo and force, Shanna’s cries become wilder, rising to shrieks. There are gabbled incoherent words in there too; words of protest, perhaps. It doesn’t matter. I ignore them. It is her hands I have to keep an eye on; the white clench of her knuckles and then the spasming flex and furl of her fingers, spreading wide as if to thrust the pain away. Sometimes one splayed palm leaps off the bar: she is barely holding on. I know then to drop it down a notch, to slow my blows and eke out my cruelty.

That’s how I reduce her to gasping and blaspheming and begging for mercy, crying, ‘Oh God no! No! No!’ even as her ass thrashes from side to side. That’s how she keeps me going, my desire focused into a lightning bolt of incandescent force that flashes down my arm, over and over, to earth in her soft flesh.

In the end it’s me that quits first, because my hand’s shaking so much that I’m starting to worry about my aim. But it’s not muscle strain; it’s adrenaline. I take a step back, panting hard, sweat running down my back, and I look at her. Shanna’s still clinging to the bars, ass still out-thrust. There are crimson stripes criss-crossed down her long thighs, and her beautiful ass is scarlet and swollen. Any redder and that glistening skin would shine on a visible wavelength. She’s making a soft keening sound, in and out on her breath. I can’t believe she’s still standing.

My admiration does not alter the fact that I want to break her.

Nor does it make up for the discomfort of my turgid erection, trapped down the trouser leg of my leathers. I pop the waist button and slip my hand in, easing my thick length to the vertical where it nests behind my fly, and adjusting my rucked ballsack so it’s not being ground by the crotch seam. I can feel the cum seething in my nuts.

‘Get those legs apart,’ I remind her with a growl, as I reduce the coiled belt to a lash less than a foot long. I close in to put one hand on her ass, rubbing my palm harshly over the tender flesh. She’s burning like a furnace. I picture Appentak’s poisons pulsing in her capillaries, making her crazy with need. You could heat the room with that ass. You could warm yourself through a Russian winter.
It’s absolutely the most beautiful thing I’ve ever had my hands on.

She whimpers and complies. Legs open, shaking. The hot smell of her sex rising.

I hit upward, without warning. The leather belt-tip snaps up against her pussy, and all the shorts in the world couldn’t save her from the sting on her clit. She screams. One hit and her legs buckle; two and she goes down, sobbing. Her hips jerk.

She’s coming. She’s actually coming. Fuck me, that is an incredible sight.

I have so much wood right now I could stake a goddamn vampire through the heart with it.

Yet she still hasn’t let go. She’s hanging at arms’ length from the bars. I’m glad she can’t see my face; she probably imagines my expression’s stern and masterful. Far from it, Shanna. I’m fighting to control my breath.

I scoop her up bodily with one arm, pulling her back and her ass against me. Her toes barely touch the floor. ‘You can let go,’ I whisper in her ear, dropping the belt with an ostentatious flourish.
She wriggles. The scrape of my fly teeth and buttons must be agonising on her whipped ass. Her hands stay locked on the horizontal bars.

Oh Christ … I shouldn’t have touched my cock. This is killing me. I have definitely stepped over the line now. I press my lips to her temple and slide my free hand around her throat, quieting her sobs. The bite-marks have long-since faded, healing with that unnatural quickness we know so well, so that her throat is slender and smooth and horribly vulnerable. Her weight is nothing in my arms. That ass of hers is a fucking miracle, yielding to the jut of my cock. And my need is a furnace, its roar filling my head.

‘This,’ I growl, the words spilling from my lips as I rub my stiff cock against her: ‘this is why I don’t stake female vampires.’

And there. She knows. She knows my dirtiest, darkest secret.

Amazon UK (only £ 2.39 on Kindle!) : Amazon US (only $3.84!)

Sunday, 16 November 2014

"It kept me reading deep into the night. Totally worth lost sleep."

This week's blog-tour roundup:

Interviews go way better with alcohol
Well, there's nothing that cheers the week up more than a surprise rave review from Romantic Times!
"Drawing on the Book of Enoch and biblical references, Ashbless creates an unlikely love story built into a tale of action, adventure and deceit. Be prepared for some rough, unorthodox sex in this page-turner. The ending to this wonderful book is a shocker, promising more to come. Be warned: Some readers may find this book sacrilegious." 4.5 STARS
And Kissin Blue Karen said:
"This book had the right amount of action, romance, erotica, mythology, and religion. It kept me reading deep into the night. Totally worth lost sleep. This story ended with the notion that more was coming. Yes! I am thrilled that this is part of a series. Bring it Janine! I can hardly wait to see what happens next."
 With Ian Smith  (who interviewed me last week) adding on Amazon:
"Wow, this book really caught my attention. Imaginative, engaging, engrossing and very well written. I loved the imaginative storyline and all its twists and turns, most of which totally came out of the blue for me."
Infamous author and fellow bubbly-drinker Kristina Lloyd ran an interview in which she asked if her copy of my book was haunted :-) (Of course it isn't. It's possessed.)

While The Pen & Muse nearly broke the admin at Cleis Press by hosting both an interview and a short guest piece on the Lure of Love Triangles ... which got surprisingly dark  ;-)

Long and Short Reviews asked me about my ideal writing space. I had one once ... it was very bad for me!

And finally, Networking Witches is running a giveaway - get in there, my beauties!

Friday, 14 November 2014

Dirty Sexy Words - and pics

Some of my favourite pics from Tuesday night at the Dirty Sexy Words reading slam in Croydon ...

I've never seen my photo behind a bar before! And oh what a pretty bar too!

Zak Jane Keir was the Svengali behind it all:

There were readings from Jillian Boyd:

Sorry, not quite in focus.

... and the dramatically-lit K D Grace:

... as well as myself:

It was, you will be pleased to know, a particularly blasphemous passage from Cover Him with Darkness. So this guy approved:


Wednesday, 12 November 2014

"Uncommonly literary in tone and original in ideas ... a superbly creative story that is just impossible to put down."

The uncommonly literary Ashbless ;-)

I'm running late with this blog-tour roundup because Blogger is being an ARSE about uploading - but the title line above comes from the august pages of the Portland Book Review. I'm chuffed to bits! They said:

"Cover Him With Darkness is uncommonly literary in tone and original in ideas. Janine Ashbless brings to the tired paranormal genre an exhilarating world wherein the creatures of Judeo-Christian faith are brought to life and written into contemporary times. This new world, which Milja has lived her entire life without really seeing, is both seductive and horrifying. No longer innocent, Milja will survive her brutal awakening, but the author offers no reassurances for Milja’s future with Azazel, or for the future of humanity. Sexy, dark, and suspenseful, Cover Him With Darkness is a superbly creative story that is just impossible to put down."

PBR also hosted a guest post from me spilling the full story on how Cover Him came to be written.

I've been writing a whole bunch of interviews this week - and I really like it when interviewers ask impertinent and dangerous questions that make me worry I've said too much!

Here's my interview on Ian Smith's blog, for example...
There's a gentler interview on Home is where the Wine Is (love that title!)

Reading Between the Wines Book Club (am I spotting a theme here?) hosted a guest post on how I ended up on an emergency research tour in Montenegro.

And Beck and her Kinks is hosting a BOOK GIVEAWAY (with excerpt) - get your name in the hat!

Monday, 10 November 2014

Blue Monday

Every Monday I post a naughty excerpt for your entertainment. Between October (when it came out as an e-book) and December (when it comes out in paperback), those excerpts will be from the stories in my new collection Fierce Enchantments.

Story 3: The King in the Wood
Plot: Set just outside Rome in the 1st century A.D: Valeria, a respectable Roman wife, has travelled to the sacred grove at Lake Nemi in order to conceive a child with the help of the gods ... and search for Thoas, an ex-slave of her family...

Then a man stepped up from behind and put his arms about her.

Valeria shrieked, but the sound of her shock was trapped by a callused hand that clamped firmly over her mouth. She tasted wood-smoke and dirt on her tongue and she struggled frantically, but his grip only tightened, pulling her almost off her feet; the torso to which she was clutched was rock-solid, the two bare arms wrapped around her like bands of iron. Her sandalled toes kicking helplessly at the dead leaves. He pulled her head back and to the side, exposing her throat, and then he inhaled the scent of her hair and pressed his lips to her cheek and licked at her neck, his mouth burning.

“Pretty,” he breathed. “A pretty little doe has wandered into my wood.” Valeria moaned in fear as the hand not pinning her head slid up to grope her breast, squeezing hard. “She didn’t know the hunter would be waiting for her, did she? She didn’t know she’d have to run for her life.” His fingers slid under the linen to capture her nipple. “Can you run, little deer? Can you outrun me?” He caught her earlobe in his teeth, savouring the yielding drag of skin. “Meat always tastes better after a chase.”

He let her go quite suddenly, and Valeria caught her breath as she fell forward. Whatever her intentions—speak to him, turn and see for herself—they disappeared as his hand descended on her rump with an almighty crack.

“Run!” he hissed.

She panicked. It was the unexpected pain; she couldn’t think past the pain and the shock that flashed through her blood. She staggered away and began to run, and the gradient of the hillside caught her and pulled her onward, through brambles and under branches, twigs whipping her face and her raised hands, thorns scratching her bare legs. She ran because she couldn’t slow without falling, and because her feet were tripping beneath her and because at her back she could hear his hoarse laughter as he followed. He was close behind her, always. She could hear his tread. He was right on her heels, keeping pace.

She stumbled. A hand caught the back of her stola as she went down and hauled her right off her feet, spinning her onto hands and knees. Seams tore as she wrenched out of his grasp and tried to crawl up the bank, her hands digging into leaf-mould and grass. For a moment she thought she was clear, and then he gripped her ankle and pulled her roughly back down onto him, capturing her in his arms again.

It was over. Valeria had no more strength left to fight; she just gasped for air and sobbed with fear. The King of the Grove wasn’t even out of breath. He pinned her to his shoulder again with a single hand as she sat in his lap—but this time he didn’t cover her mouth, he just held her chin up tight, forcing her head back. She caught glimpses of long dark hair as he stooped over her; it fell in her eyes.

“Hey hey hey,” he murmured: “Hush.”

“Plea—” was all she could splutter.

“Quiet now.” His other hand moved to stroke her breasts as if she were an animal that needed gentling, and she thought of the sacrificial sheep being held for the knife. “I’m not going to hurt you, little deer,” he said, and somehow that promise was more darkly menacing than his previous threats. “I’m just going to …”

The hand slipped from her breasts to her legs. Her short skirt was no barrier. He lifted it aside as he stroked up the inside of her splayed thighs, searching her out. She was wet with sweat about her belly and thighs and groin. His fingers slithered on the shaven silk of her mons veneris, then parted her smooth cleft to delve into the heat within.

Valeria moaned then, and writhed in his grip. He shifted against her, tightening his hold, and she was left in no doubt that he’d enjoyed the chase very much: his erect penis was hard as a wooden rod and shoving painfully into the soft muscle of her rear.

“Oh yes,” he said, almost to himself. His curled fingers invaded her, greedy for her heat and emptiness. He played with her wetness and she heard the noises he made there, like moist kisses. “That’s nice.” He spread two fingers, opening her. “I like that. I like that a lot,” he groaned in her ear. Then he circled her clitoris with his callused fingertips, using her own moisture to smooth the path. There was a lot of wet to use. “And you do too, don’t you?”

She whimpered. She could hardly speak, so tightly was her jaw held, so starved were her lungs after her running. But she could hear, now that he wasn’t whispering. Hear the foreign vowel-shapes.

“Now, little deer, I’m going to …” he said, and humped her forward onto hands and knees so that he could lift her skirt at the back and set his aim, before pulling her back down into his lap—and onto the cock angled there like a spearpoint. She felt its blunt head surge through her outer defences and realised he was far thicker of girth than her husband, and that he was going to demand things of her that she’d never had to give before.

“Thoas,” she gasped.

“What?” He was finding her tight: his focus was on the next thrust as he squeezed her down onto his thighs, impaling her further.

“Thoas!” It was a squeal by now.

He heard her that time.

John Robert Cozens: Lake Nemi,(1788)

For a moment he froze, and then everything changed. He pulled out of her, dropped her forward on the sloping bank and rolled her over onto her back, pinning her there with his hand on her breastbone. As he loomed over her Valeria saw his face for the first time, through her blurring tears.

It was Thoas, but he was almost unrecognisable. Valeria’s heart banged against her breastbone. The last time she’d seen him, he’d been clean-shaven with decently short hair, but now that hair, looking like it hadn’t been combed in weeks, hung down to his shoulders and his face was swarthy with stubble. His skin was weathered dark and lined around his eyes and the corners of his mouth. He was wearing a worn tunic that was splotched and faded to the colour of autumn leaves, and a sword belt that hung diagonally across his chest: the thin fabric of the tunic didn’t disguise the corded muscle that packed his frame. The old vertical scar down his cheek had now been joined by one on his upper lip and a nose that had been broken out of its true alignment. He looked like a barbarian. He looked terrifying. And he looked older—quite considerably older—and it showed most around his eyes, which were undershadowed by patches black as blood-blisters and seemed almost unfocused, the pupils dilated wildly.

He searched her face for a long long time.

“Valeria Prisca Secunda,” he said at last.

She nodded, and reached to touch his chest, like a plea for clemency. Her heart was pounding.

“You’ve changed.”

“Not so much as you,” she whispered. Was this even the man she’d come in search of, or just someone wearing his mask?

He nodded slowly. For the first time a faint smile tried to pull at the corners of his mouth. “Little Valeria, the pretty girl with the crush on me.”

She inhaled sharply and her chest heaved. “You didn’t know that!”

“Didn’t I?” His gazed dropped from her face to her torso. The torn and twisted dress had been rent open when he rolled her, and one of her breasts was bared, her pink nipple pointing at the heavens. He lifted the hand holding her in place and ran it lightly down her body. As Valeria’s gaze followed his she realised that he was kneeling over her spread thighs still, and that his erection, interrupted in its mission, was still standing from under the hem of his tunic, glossy and solid, sticky with her honey. And bigger than she’d remembered: Valeria’s assessment of her own husband’s equipment underwent a sudden terrifying downgrading.

“Are you married?” he asked, as if he’d heard her thoughts. His fingertips brushed the juicy slit he’d so recently assailed, and without being able to help herself she tilted her hips, moving her clitoris under his teasing touch.

“Yes,” she said, trying to catch his wrist in her hand and stop him even as her vulva yielded to his exploration.

“Congratulations, Domina.” His fingers gave her the caress she wanted, not for a moment believing her protesting hand. “And tell your husband from me he’s a lucky man, whoever he is.”

“Quintus Didius Messor,” she whimpered.

"Ah. I remember. So are you childless—or just frustrated? What did you come here for, Valeria?”

Her eyes widened as his fingers stirred her fire, and she caught her lip in her teeth, but the words burst out anyway: “A child.”

“Well,” he said, moving over her and easing between her thighs, his prick nudging into the slippery path of her sex as his fingers bit into her skin. “I can give you that.”

“Thoas!” she sobbed.

“What? Is this not what you were expecting?” His eyes were so glazed he seemed almost blind, but his cock was sure of the way. “Were you hoping for a little conversation, Domina—a little nostalgic reminiscence—before … this?”

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Friday, 7 November 2014

Two-day Eventing

Just to plug a couple of events I'm going to in the next week ...

The third Dirty Sexy Words erotica slam is on at the Bad Apple pub in Croydon on Tuesday Night KD Grace, LC Wilkinson, Zak Jane Keir, Jillian Boyd and one mystery guest, as well as myself, are in the line-up so far. Entry is FREE and open to all!

Smut Manchester is a one-day get-together on Saturday 15th, with workshops and readings and the infamous Erotic Tombola ... :-)  More details here, including a promo code for a discount on the £10 ticket. Again, all welcome!

Hope to see y'all soon!

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Phenology - October

Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness - John Keats: To Autumn

Yes, October is the month that we start getting morning mists again. Leaves begin to fall in earnest: autumn is undeniably here.

So too falls the ripened beech mast, which in medieval times was a vital source of food for the pigs that would be slaughtered in November and keep the populace alive through winter. No one does anything with beech-mast these days.

And of course this is the season for collecting conkers!

Every year on the second Sunday in October, the World Conker Championships is held in Northamptonshire, but the sport actually goes back before the introduction of horse chestnuts to England (around the 1600s), when it used to be played with hazel nuts and snail shells.

The glossy colour of a fresh conker is one of my favourite things in the world
Other things start to appear mysteriously in October - spiders are suddenly all over the place:

Including inside the house!

And so are the fruiting bodies of many fungi:

Shaggy ink cap

Common ink cap - poisonous IF TAKEN WITH ALCOHOL

I was was delighted when I learned that genetically speaking, mushrooms are closer to humans than they are to plants!

Talking of plants, it's time for them to put on their autumnal bling:

Actually, this year October has been extraordinarily mild - we had record-breaking high temperatures on Hallowe'en! What that means, perversely, is that the autumnal colouration has been a little drab. For widespread fierce colours you need sunny days followed by cold still nights.

But some plants still try their best:

The unseasonably warm weather means that there are still wasps around. In fact Mr Ashbless got stung by one! 

The wasps are glutting themselves on the ivy flowers - something I'd never noticed until this year