Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Guest Post & Giveaway: Janine Ashbless - HEART OF FLAME

Hi Everyone. Please help me welcome Janine Ashbless to the blog today! She is here to promote her new fantasy romance, Heart of Flame. Today Janine is going to talk about the setting from the novel. 

Heart of Flame – The setting:

Heart of Flame is set in the world of the Arabian Nights. We all know that setting from the written 1001 Nights and its TV adaptations, from movies like Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger and The Thief of Baghdad and Disney’s Aladdin, and from games like Prince of Persia. It's a setting that embraces wonderful cities full of luxury and intrigue, forgotten temples of pre-Islamic gods, wicked viziers, heroic travellers, thieves and storytellers, camels and date palms and oases in the desert.

It's not the real 9th Century Arabia, of course. For a start there are the monsters: rocs soaring over the mountains, ghouls lurking among the desert ruins, birds that talk and giant fish that'll swallow you whole. And there's magic. Sometimes good, sometimes evil, always full of wonder and mystery. Statues that come to life, carpets that fly, rings of invisibility, caves that appear at an “Open Sesame!” This is an exotic fantasy Arabia of the mind, and especially the Western mind. The Arabia of Victorian orientalist painters. Romanticised, scrubbed-up, and simplified.

When I wrote Heart of Flame I did my research. My primary text was Philip Hitti's wonderful History of the Arabs, first published in the 1930s and a treasure trove of evocative detail, dramatic incident and scurrilous asides. But in writing my novel, whenever real history clashed with Arabian Nights mythology, the mythological version won out.

Scimitars for example – where would my hero be without his curved scimitar, as he fights off monsters or palace guards? But according to the Osprey books on arms and armaments, curved blades were a Turkish introduction which came in later on, with the ascension of the Ottoman dynasty. In the 9th Century, warriors carried straight swords. But oh, that would look so wrong! And what about water-pipes, and merchants serving tiny cups of intense black coffee? They're part of our mental picture of medieval Baghdad, though in fact they came in centuries later (tobacco from post-Columbian America, hubble-bubble pipes from India. Coffee originated in Yemen, yes, but probably got no further afield that early).

I couldn't leave that sort of thing out. The Arabian Nights just wouldn't be the same. Scimitars are as essential as djinn!
Oh yes, there are djinn. How could I forget to mention that? The story begins with a djinni abducting the most beautiful young woman in all the Caliphate...

Janine Ashbless

Heart of Flame
by Janine Ashbless
Release Date: December 20, 2011

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. 


A thin, high wail cut into their ears. They both froze, and Rafiq lifted his head. Taqla saw the color drain from his face.

“What’s that?” she asked.

“I think it’s the djinni killing Ahleme,” said he.

There was another noise, a roar, like a lion upon a desert horizon. Snow sifted down from the steep walls of the ravine at its note. Then a howl harsher than a falcon’s made Taqla’s blood curdle. The two, roar and howl, rose together in a cacophony.

“And that?” she gasped.

“That’ll be the other djinni.”

“There are two?” She struggled from beneath him into a sitting position.

“Apparently so.” Rafiq knelt up. “One wanting to sire his children on her, one wanting to stop it.”

The first thin scream echoed out again.

 “They’ll tear her in half.” Taqla scrambled to her feet. “Come on. We have to try and save her, at least.”

He sucked his cheeks, but nodded and joined her standing. “How do we get there?”

“Like this,” she said, gritting her teeth and stepping away to give herself room. Then she changed shape. Not smaller than her own form, this time, but much bigger. It didn’t hurt so much as shrinking herself, but it hurt enough to make her cry out. The sound was musical as it left her throat. She shook out her copper-colored feathers and clawed at the snow, a perfect facsimile of the Senmurw-bird.

“In the name of God!”

“Get up on my back,” she fluted, “and hold tight.”

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.




Janine will be giving away a PDF copy of her previous fantasy/erotic romance novella, "The King's Viper" to one randomly drawn commenter.The more comments you leave the better your chances of winning.
To Enter:
Leave a comment or question for Janine and include your email address.
Be sure to visit the other blogs on this tour. Click on the tour button below for a list of participating blogs.


  1. Heya Monique!
    Thanks for letting me hang out here on your blog! I'm actually starting a new short story today, and all it's about a djinni. I may have finished "Heart of Flame" but the themes carry on rippling through my work...

    1. Thanks for stopping by, Janine. Good luck with the short story.

  2. Great excerpt. Also great cover. Have following along with the tour. This book looks great and would love to win and read. Thanks for the chance to win.

  3. Hi, Janine.

    I love Heart of Flame's cover. Did you work closely with the artist in creating it?

    Tracey D
    booklover0226 at gmail dot com

  4. Thanks for the giveaway. This book sounds really great. Please enter me in contest.

  5. Re: the book cover - I had to fill in a very detailed Samhain cover art questionnaire (including what sort of font, colours etc I wanted, and a synopsis),plus sample photos of the sort of look I saw for the hero/heroine/setting, and we got to this version by about the 4th attempt. My editor also had input to the art department. So yes, plenty of effort and consultation went into the cover!

  6. I’m a writer, book lover, and your newest blog follower! My blog is Life of Lois Feel free to stop on by.



Thank you for stopping by my blog! I appreciate all of your comments.

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