Friday, January 13, 2012

Heart of Flame Book Tour

A Goddess Fish Promotions Book Tour

Book Blurb: And on the One-Thousand-and-Second night, Scheherazade told this story…

By day, Taqla uses her forbidden sorcery to move freely about the city of Damascus in the guise of an old sage. Her true identity known only by her faithful servant woman, Taqla is content with the comfortable, if restrictive, life that keeps her safe from the control of any man. Until she lays eyes on a handsome merchant-traveler. Suddenly her magical disguise doesn’t rest so easily on her shoulders.

When long-time widower, Rafiq, hears that the Amir’s beautiful daughter has been kidnapped by a scheming djinni—and that she will be given in marriage to her rescuer—he seeks the help of “Umar the Wise” to ensure he will be that man. Yet as he and the disguised Taqla set off, he senses that his prickly male companion is hiding something.

In a moment of dire peril, all of Taqla’s secrets are stripped bare—her fears, her sorcery and, worst of all, her love for Rafiq. Yet the princess’s life hangs in the balance, and there is no running away or turning back. Even though passion may yet betray them all...

Warning: Scary monsters and creepy ruins in the desert—check. Pagan gods that demand blood-sacrifices—double check. A handsome hero who looks good in a robe and even better out of it—oh yeah. Check, check and check. That’s worth a heroine dropping a veil or two.

Guest post: The Allure of Fantasy

“And as you turned away from the window you suddenly caught sight of that sea or that valley, all over again, in that looking glass. And the sea in the mirror, or the valley in the mirror, were in one sense just the same as the real ones: yet at the same time they were somehow different – deeper, more wonderful ... every rock and flower and blade of grass looked as if it meant more.”    - C.S. Lewis: The Last Battle

Fantasy – sword and sorcery – has a huge appeal. In every literate society, in various guises, people want to read about heroes and heroines on perilous quests, about magic and monsters and the intrusion of gods into the mortal world, about some Ultimate Evil that must be withstood and about ancient secrets reawakening. And about magic swords.

The appeal, I suppose, has to do with the way it paints its imaginative pictures larger and brighter than life. Fantasy deals with universal experiences and problems. Good and bad, and how to define them. Love, and how it messes with your mind and your life. Gender relationships. Loyalty. Responsibility. Betrayal. Justice and revenge. The desire for wider horizons. Our instinct for the numinous. The search for purpose in an arbitrary world. Perhaps above all - Power: its abuse, how to get it, the pitfalls and the cost of getting it.

All this stuff crops up in the real world, but in fantasy worlds it's brighter, sharper, clearer. It's in High Definition 3D. It’s Game of Thrones instead of the real Wars of the Roses. The stakes are immediate and vertiginously high. Why should I read about the humdrum detail of corporate politicking when I can read about people who will literally cut each other's throats for advancement? Why should I read about the dramatic struggle of some underdog baseball team against a higher-ranked team (Sorry, but I'm British. We don't play baseball), when I could read about the heroic last defence of a fort by a tiny handful of warriors in the face of a whole army? I don't know the rules of baseball, and I don't see why I should care who wins a match one way or another, but I sure as hell understand the fear of being killed, or seeing my friends die. That's universal.

Um ... I'll leave it to Freud to explain the bit about the magic swords.

In Heart of Flame my heroine, Taqla, has a lot of emotional baggage and plays for high stakes. She has many secrets. She's a sorceress, and if that came to the notice of the authorities she could be executed. She's female, but in public life she pretends to be male. She's fallen in love, but she doesn't know whether that man can be trusted. When she was very small, she unwittingly betrayed her mother's marital infidelity, and saw her father take a truly cruel revenge. In consequence, she is terrified of allowing any man power over her. She pays for her independence with loneliness and isolation and sexual frustration. And now she's doing all sorts of reckless things out of passion for a man who doesn't even know she wants him, and can't be allowed to guess...

How does she work that lot out?

Well, against a background of ruined temples, magical horses, battling djinn, crazed mystics, desert sandstorms, undead kings, towering palaces, mythical beasts, cannibalistic ghouls, bloodthirsty pagan idols, avenging angels and wicked viziers. Of course!

Janine Ashbless

An excerpt from Heart of Flame
Belatedly she plucked the jabbayah headscarf she wore around her shoulders and pulled it over her head, wrapping it to veil her lower face. Because, of course, the word that had revealed the true form of the ghouls had torn her magical disguise to shreds too.

Rafiq uttered a harsh laugh. “Why bother with that?”

“Don’t look at me.” She averted her face.

“Not a man at all then. A witch.”

Taqla clenched her teeth.

He laughed. “I knew, you realize. I’ve known—I’ve guessed—for a couple of days.”


“You talk in your sleep, you know. With a woman’s voice.”

Taqla’s jaw dropped. How was she supposed to have guessed she did that? “What did I say?” she stammered.

He gave her a guarded look. “Nothing clear enough to make out. But your voice is female. And once I noticed that…well, there were other things that catch the attention. You don’t make eye-contact when you talk, you don’t like to stand too close—and no offense, but you fight very dirty, like a woman does.” His eyes were as hard as a sword-edge. “I took you to the bath-house to make sure, but after that I thought that if it’s a disguise, it’s a very good one. Magic.” He said the word like it stained his mouth.

Taqla bit her lip.

“You’re the girl from the empty house, aren’t you? The watchman’s trull. I recognize that glare.”

Author Bio: Janine Ashbless is a multi-published author of erotic romance and erotica. Her first book was published in 2000 by Black Lace and she currently writes for Samhain and Ellora's Cave among others. She’s always used elements of fantasy, mythology and folklore in her writing, with occasional forays into horror.

Janine loves goatee beards, ancient ruins, minotaurs, trees, mummies, having her cake and eating it, holidaying in countries with really bad public sewerage, and any movie or TV series featuring men in very few clothes beating hell out of each other. She’s a roleplaying geek and can still sometimes be found running round in the woods hitting other geeks with a rubber sword. It is unlikely she will grow up anytime soon.

Janine lives in Yorkshire, England, with her husband and two rescued greyhounds, and is trying hard to overcome her addiction to semicolons.  

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Giveaway: Janine will be giving away a PDF copy of her previous fantasy/erotic romance novella, "The King's Viper" to one randomly drawn commenter and a special sweet treat to the tour host with the most comments.

Follow the tour and comment; the more you comment, the better your chances of winning. The tour dates can be found here.

We thank Janine Ashbless and Goddess Fish Promotions. My review will be posted soon.


  1. Hey Reader Girls!
    Thanks for having me on your blog! I've been a fantasy fan since very young ... since I first read "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe" to be precise. I don't have time to read so much of it nowadays (the books have got so much bigger, haven't they?!) but I love to write in the genre, even when I'm supposed to be concentrating on the erotica or the romance. It just adds that extra dimension and colour :-)

  2. Sounds like a really good fantasy/adventure/romance. The author posting about fantasy and excerpt was really good too.

  3. This book sounds very interesting. I'm looking forward to reading it.


  4. I've added this to my must have list; I can't wait to read it.

    Tracey D
    booklover0226 at gmail dot com