Why Angels? Janine Ashbless Discusses Her New Release, In Bonds of the Earth

In Bonds of the EarthIt’s an absolute pleasure to have one of my favourite writers on my blog today. Please welcome Janine Ashbless as she talks about her new release, In Bonds of the Earth, the 2nd instalment of her Book of the Watchers trilogy. I asked Janine why she chose to write about angels, and here’s what she had to say.

Why Angels?

Janine Ashbless

“The story as I know it isn’t told from the point of view of the guys in the white hats. Azazel is one of the damned. Which means, I guess, that I am too.”

— In Bonds of the Earth

I’m no stranger to using mythology in my erotica and erotic romance. I’ve taken inspiration from Celtic, Greek, Islamic, Hindu, French, Persian, East European and Ancient Sumerian myths and folklore lore … and that’s just off the top of my head.

And since my first Medusa story in my very first collection back in 2000, my subtext has been “The gods are a right bunch of bastards.”

But with my Book of the Watchers trilogy about fallen angels, I got to grips for the first time with Judeo-Christian mythology. Now I come from a born-again Protestant family background myself, so in many ways I was familiar with the tropes – but I also discovered I had a lot to learn.

And it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born unto them, that the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose. – Genesis 6: 1-2

Now isn’t that just crying out for an erotic novel spin-off?!

Angels (the “sons of God,”) are intermediaries and messengers between God and humanity. We are made, according to the writers of Psalms and Hebrews, “a little lower than the angels.” So they’re presumably better than us, or more powerful, or both. They can appear in naturalistic human form (like they did to visit Lot in the city of Sodom) but according to Ezekiel’s crazy visions of heaven, and The Revelation of St. John, they’re not naturally humanoid – they’re described in terms of wings and eyes and wheels turning within wheels, flames and chimerical animals.

Yet clearly, when human, they’re capable of human lust. Now that is a writer’s dream – the warring instincts of the spiritual and the physical; obedience to God versus personal desires; the fraught relationship between angel masters and human wives and children; the whole question of free will and original sin. In fact, Biblically, angels have a pretty poor track record of obedience (just like humans!). Since Satan is held in Christian belief to be a former angel, clearly they are capable of rebellion. He’s supposed to have led legions into the Fall from Heaven!

Now that’s really interesting.

Imagine you’re an angel. You’ve been in the actual presence of God and know all its manifold joys. You know first hand His omniscience, His glory, His justice, all the infinite riches of Heaven. And yet, despite having no hope of winning any fight with Almighty God, you choose to rebel.

You. Choose. To Rebel. Anyway.

Why?

That’s fascinating, from a writer’s point of view. Characters with complex backgrounds, conflicting desires and warring motivations are irresistible. Add to that the theme of angels and humans engaged in sexual relationships and trying to understand each other despite all their differences, and well… I may have found my perfect subject matter.

(Also, when I’m looking for inspiration, this sort of thing doesn’t hurt )

 

 

Xxx

Janine

 

Would you defy God, for love?

 

Broad at the shoulders and lean at the hips, six foot-and-then-something of ropey muscle, he looks like a Spartan god who got lost in a thrift store. He moves like ink through water. And his eyes, when you get a good look at them, are silver. Not gray. Silver. You might take their inhuman shine for fancy contact lenses. Youd be wrong.

 

Janine Ashbless is back with the second in her paranormal erotic romance Book of the Watchers trilogy: In Bonds of the Earth.

 

Unafraid to tackle the more complex issues surrounding good and evil in mainstream religion, Janine has created a thought-provoking and immersive novel which sets a new standard for paranormal erotic romance. The first in the series, Cover Him With Darkness, was released in 2014 by Cleis Press and received outstanding reviews.

 

In Bonds of the Earth is published by Sinful Press and is due for release on March 1st, 2017.

 

In Bonds of the Earth Blurb:

“I will free them all.”

 

When Milja Petak released the fallen angel Azazel from five thousand years of imprisonment, she did it out of love and pity. She found herself in a passionate sexual relationship beyond her imagining and control – the beloved plaything of a dark and furious demon who takes what he wants, when he wants, and submits to no restraint. But what she hasn’t bargained on is being drawn into his plan to free all his incarcerated brothers and wage a war against the Powers of Heaven.

As Azazel drags Milja across the globe in search of his fellow rebel angels, Milja fights to hold her own in a situation where every decision has dire consequences. Pursued by the loyal Archangels, she is forced to make alliances with those she cannot trust: the mysterious Roshana Veisi, who has designs of her own upon Azazel; and Egan Kansky, special forces agent of the Vatican – the man who once saved then betrayed her, who loves her, and who will do anything he can to imprison Azazel for all eternity.

 

Torn every way by love, by conflicting loyalties and by her own passions, Milja finds that she too is changing – and that she must do things she could not previously have dreamt of in order to save those who matter to her.

 

In Bonds of the Earth is the second in the Book of the Watchers trilogy and the sequel to Cover Him With Darkness.

 

 

In Bonds of the Earth Excerpt:

 

I was giving my long-dreaded presentation on the anniversary footbridge to Misters Ellis, Singh, Constanzo and Mackenzie…when Azazel walked in.

Oh hell.

“Excuse me, gentlemen,” I said loudly, lurching around from behind my desk, grabbing Azazel’s arm and spinning him back to face the door. “Not here, come on, please,” I implored through clenched teeth.

If there was one thing I’d learned by then, it was to not ignore warning dreams. If I’d paid them more attention from the start, things between me and Egan might have gone very differently back in Montenegro…

No, better not to think of Egan, not when Azazel was around. One guy at a time was quite enough to wrap my head around. Especially this guy.

He humored me though, this time, letting me pull him out of the meeting room and through the open plan office without resistance. We attracted a lot of stares, but there was nothing I could do about that except hold my head high.

“Where are we going?” he asked.

“Out. Anywhere.”

“You’re so impetuous.”

I didn’t need to glance up at his wicked smirk. I could feel it burning its way into my breast.

Bryce, the beardy guy in my new team who’d shown me the ropes of the job and seemed just a tiny bit too eager to talk every morning, stood up from his cubicle to intercept us. “Milja, is everything okay?”

“It’s just fine,” I rasped, towing Azazel faster.

“She’s insatiable,” my demon lover confided with a helpless shrug to my colleague as we swept past.

Bryce stared, mouth open.

“Goddamnit,” I muttered, and Azazel chuckled.

Sometimes it was hard to remember that he’d risked everything to save me.

We reached the doors at the end of the room and I pushed through, past the lobby with the elevators and into the concrete stairwell of the emergency stairs beyond. The only people who came here were smokers on their way to the roof, and it looked empty for now. My panicky momentum fizzled away and I swung to face him.

“What are you doing here?”

“What do you think?” he countered, taking my face in his hands.

“Azazel—” But he cut off my protests with his hungry kiss; a kiss that lanced through me all the way to my core. I gave up resisting, and speaking, and almost breathing, as his lust rolled over me in a hot wet wave. I slid my hands around his neck and tangled my fingers in his messy hair, pulling myself into his embrace. His body was hard as rock, his hands heavy on my waist and hips. The yearning for his touch that smoldered in my flesh day and night woke to a roaring heat.

I’d missed him. His skin, his smile, the peppery scent and salt taste of him. The sweetness of his lips and the harsh rasp of his stubbled chin. I’d missed him so much—like an addict missing her hit.

 

Buy In Bonds of the Earth Here:

Ebook:

Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Bonds-Earth-Book-Watchers-ebook/dp/B01N6W7EL4

Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/Bonds-Earth-Book-Watchers-ebook/dp/B01N6W7EL4

Apple: https://itunes.apple.com/gb/book/in-bonds-of-the-earth/id1201654085?mt=11

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/gb/en/ebook/in-bonds-of-the-earth

 

Print:

Sinful Press: https://sinfulpress.co.uk/product/in-bonds-of-the-earth-by-janine-ashbless/

Waterstones: https://www.waterstones.com/book/in-bonds-of-the-earth/janine-ashbless/9781910908082

Barnes and Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/in-bonds-of-the-earth-janine-ashbless/1125264279?ean=9781910908082

Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Bonds-Earth-Book-Watchers/dp/1910908088

 

In Bonds of the Earth will be available from all major online bookstores in both digital and print. Please contact Lisa Jenkins at admin@sinfulpress.co.uk for any further information.

 

About Janine:

Janine AshblessJanine Ashbless is a writer of fantasy erotica and steamy romantic adventure. She likes to write about magic and myth and mystery, dangerous power dynamics, borderline terror, and the not-quite-human.

 

Janine has been seeing her books in print ever since 2000. She’s also had numerous short stories published by Black Lace, Nexus, Cleis Press, Ravenous Romance, Harlequin Spice, Storm Moon, Xcite, Mischief Books, and Ellora’s Cave among others. She is co-editor of the nerd erotica anthology ‘Geek Love’.

 

Born in Wales, Janine now lives in the North of England with her husband and two rescued greyhounds. She has worked as a cleaner, library assistant, computer programmer, local government tree officer, and – for five years of muddy feet and shouting – as a full-time costumed Viking. Janine loves goatee beards, ancient ruins, minotaurs, trees, mummies, having her cake and eating it, and holidaying in countries with really bad public sewerage.

 

Her work has been described as:

“Hardcore and literate” (Madeline Moore) and “Vivid and tempestuous and dangerous, and bursting with sacrifice, death and love.” (Portia Da Costa)

 

Find Janine Here:

Janine Ashbless website: http://www.janineashbless.com/

Janine Ashbless blog: http://janineashbless.blogspot.co.uk/

Janine Ashbless on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/janineashbless

Sinful Press website: https://www.sinfulpress.co.uk

 

 

Celebrate Our Latest Releases with Kay Jaybee & Me at Sh! Women’s Store

 

 

I’m very excited to invite all of you, to celebrate with Kay Jaybee and me as we launch our latest novellas. We’ll be celebrating the release of Kay’s Wednesday on Thursday and my Toys for Boys. And what better venue for a celebration than one of our favourite places on the planet, Sh! Women’s Store! It feels like coming home.

 

You’re all invited along to party with us and enjoy a glass of fizz while we read titillating tidbits from our latest, answer questions  and recall some of the insane adventures we’ve shared on the wild ride of writing erotica. And don’t worry, we’ll make sure you have plenty of time for some shopping and browsing in this gorgeous, deliciously naughty shop. That’s half the fun of partying at Sh!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Date: Friday 24th March

 

Time: 6.30-8pm

 

Address: Sh! 57 Hoxton Square, London N1 6PB

 

Price: FREE

 

Book your ticket here: Eventbrite

 

Spaces are limited so make sure you book today and celebrate with us.

 

 

 

 

Oh! The Views!

I was neither born in Britain nor raised here, but I’m lucky enough to call it my home now, a home that I love. The fact that I’m a late comer means that the stories I set in the UK choose me rather than the other way around. That being the case, it’s no wonder that I set so many stories in the Lake District, and it’s no wonder that the Lake District chose me the very first time I set foot on the fells. Being born and raised in the mountains, it’s the place in Britain where I feel most at home, the place I know the best and love the most. That being the case, it’s not any real surprise that my boys, Will and Doc’s story, Toys for Boys, is a delicious walk across England – the first five days of that walk spent in the Lake District. Love of a place is one of the sexiest, most romantic ways I know of to connect, and how could it be any better than al fresco on the Lakeland Fells?

 

The photo below was tweeted several years ago by Canadian astronaut, Chris Hadfield from on board the International Space Station,. Commander Hadfield was a flight engineer on Expedition 34 on the station and gained popularity on Twitter by sharing stunning photos of space and his views of Earth as the International Space Station orbited roughly 200 miles above the planet, moving at over 17,000 miles per hour. I’ve shared it before, and I’ll no doubt share it again. It’s too good not to. It’s one of those images I can’t get enough of. With Toys for Boys newly re-released, now seemed like the perfect time to share it again.

 

 

I can’t help wondering what Alfred Wainwright would have thought if he could see his beloved Lakeland in such a view from above? His incredibly detailed drawings and descriptions of the Lakeland Fells are among the most accurate, most lovely, most poetic ever recorded. I can’t count the number of times I’ve sat in the Twa Dogs Inn in Keswick, the night before climbing a fell I’d never walked before, drinking Cumberland Ale while reading through Wainwright’s notes and studying the maps and drawings from his Pictorial Guides of the Lakeland Fells. The beauty in the minute detail of his work is now reflected in a stunning overview from space. How could anyone not be moved by that? And how can I not keep coming back to such a place over and over again to set my stories?

I’m so glad it was clear the day Commander Hadfield took this picture. I can’t stop looking at it. I love the fact that I’m somehow connected to that place and all the stories it evokes – not just mine, but everyone else’s – all those poets and walkers and writers and photographers and artists – past, present and yet to come — who have found Lakeland as powerful and as moving as I have. I’m connected to all of them, and by that connection, to all of those who read the writings and look at the works of art inspired by that tiny, rugged piece of land that’s just as exquisite when seen from 200 miles above as it is when explored slowly, painstakingly, one footstep at a time, Like Will and Doc do.

 

 

Surely there is no other place in this whole world quite like Lakeland … no other so exquisitely lovely, no other so charming, no other that calls so insistently across a gulf of distance. All who truly love Lakeland are exiles when they are away from it.

Alfred Wainwright

 

Toys for Boys Blurb:

 

Alpha nerd Will Charles teams up with Caridoc ‘Doc’ Jones in a coast to coast walk across England reviewing outdoor gift suggestions for the Christmas edition of Toys for Boys—an online magazine dedicated to the latest gadgets to tickle a man’s fancy. Will is recording their adventures with the latest smart phone technology. Doc is reviewing the latest outdoor gear. The two quickly discover the great outdoors provides even better toys for boys, toys best shared al fresco, toys that, in spite of Will’s great camera work, will never be reviewed in Toys for Boys.

 

Note: Toys for Boys has been previously published as part of the Brit Boys: With Toys boxed set.

 

Toys for Boys Excerpt:

 

“I really am sorry, lads,” the proprietress at the Keld Lodge said, “but I’ve only a tiny single room available which, due to health and safety, I can’t rent as a double.”

 

“God, I really don’t want to spend another night in that leaky tent,” the dark-haired bloke was barely understandable between chattering teeth. “There must be something else close by.”

 

“Not within easy walking distance,” the proprietress said. “I can let you put up the tent around the back,” she offered. “You can even use the showers and the drying room for your wet gear. Of course stay inside by the fire as long as you like.”

 

The weather had been abysmal when I arrived the night before on a short writing and walking retreat. It was worse today, so I’d spent my time ensconced in the pub’s restaurant at a table by the window looking out onto the misty Yorkshire Dales. It was mid afternoon when the two drenched, bedraggled lads slogged through the door, bringing with them a gust of icy, wet wind. I had just come to the bar to order a pot of tea and, as I stood quietly in the queue behind them, I noticed the blond casting worried glances at his shivering companion.

 

“Walking the Coast to Coast?” I asked.

 

“We are,” the dark-haired bloke replied. “Though I’m pretty sure we swam most of it today.”

 

“You taking the high level route through the mining ruins tomorrow?” I asked.

 

They both nodded. “Supposed to be sunny,” the blond replied. “Three days of bad weather and last night the tent sprung a leak. We were hoping for a hot meal and a real bed tonight.”

 

“I’m truly sorry, lads,” the proprietress said. “I wish I could help.”

 

I’m not sure what inspired me to make the offer, perhaps memories of the times I’d walked cold and wet, but more than likely it was simply because I’m a hopeless romantic and I recognised that the two men were more than just mates out for an adventure.

 

“Look, why don’t you take my room for the night? I’m on my own and I have a nice double until the end of the week. I can take the single, and then we can switch back tomorrow. Wouldn’t that work?” I asked the proprietress.

 

“I don’t see why not,” came the reply. “I’ll sort it with housekeeping, and you can work out the details among yourselves.”

 

“It has a bath and lots of hot water,” I said, recalling what a pleasure an actual bathtub was after a long, cold walk.

 

“Oh God, you’re a saint,” the dark-haired one said, offering me a blinding smile between chattering teeth.

 

Still thanking me profusely, they introduced themselves as Will Charles—the dark-haired lad with the bluest eyes I’d ever seen, and Doc Jones—the blond with a lovely Welsh lilt in his rich, baritone voice. They helped me switch my meager belongings to the smaller room. Then I returned to my table and my tea. I couldn’t help wondering what their story was and just what they might get up to in that deep tub and on that nice bouncy bed. Quite the coincidence that I was here because I had agreed to write a story for the Brit Boys: With Toys anthology and, with the deadline bearing down on me, I was still drawing a blank, but with Doc and Will’s arrival, I suddenly felt inspired.

 

 

Sex and Ritual

As I work on the final draft of Blind-Sided — the second of the Mesusa’s Consortium novels, I’ve been thinking a
lot about sex and ritual. Here are a few thoughts on the topic in this post from the archives. 

 

Carl Jung saw symbols and rituals as containers for numinous power. It’s a small step from our need for ritual to the idea of sex as ritual. It infiltrates our myths, it permeates our literature and it fills our fantasies. Many of the earliest religious rites were fertility rites involving either the sacred prostitute or the sacred couple whose sexual union insured abundant crops, cattle and children for another season. Certainly it’s not hard to see the ritualistic aspect of sex in the natural world. We’ve all watched birds or badgers or elephants going at it on nature programs. There are often complex courtship rituals before actual copulation.

 

Jung’s definition of ritual as a container for power intrigues me. The power contained in sex is astounding. It’s the power to pass on life. It gives us the ‘little death’ and the out of body experience. It elevates us to the level of heaven while bringing us back to our most primitive animal nature.

 

Sex is the ultimate mystical experience. The closest we can get to a power beyond ourselves is the power within ourselves. There’s a reason I chose to write my very first novel, The Initiation of Ms Holly as a modern day retelling of the Psyche and Eros story. In the Greek myth, Psyche must undergo ritualistic tasks before she is allowed to be with her lover Eros. In achieving these impossible tasks, Psyche so impresses the gods that they not only allow her to be with her lover, but grant her divinity as well.

 

In Greek mythology sex usually involves one of the gods, most often Zeus, coming down to earth and ‘seducing’ a mortal female, who then gives birth to a child destined to do great things. Sex as the representation of the creative force permeates the Greek myths. It permeates the paranormal world as well, but what else are vampires and shifters but the modern representation of the mythical gods? It’s there in the Christian myth as well, the child of divinity and humanity destined to save the world. Tragically the power of sex is most of the time omitted from the Christian myth. Oh it’s there all right, but you just have to look a little harder to find it. When I wrote In The Flesh, one of my favorite scenes is Susan’s research into the sexual relationships between gods and humans. Here’s a snippet to illustrate what I mean:

I had little enthusiasm for the handbag sale, nor for lingering at the make-up counter. Instead I found myself back at the Starbucks, Mac open, researching God’s love life, which turned out to be a long history of seducing humans.

Zeus visited Danae in a shower of gold. He seduced Leda in the form of a swan. Eros came to Psyche in the dead of night forbidding her to look upon his face. Hades dragged Persephone down to the Underworld. The Virgin Mary was impregnated by the god of the Bible. In the New Testament, Christ is the bridegroom, and the church his bride. And the list went on and on. Perhaps even the indwelling of the Holy Spirit was just another way for divinity to experience flesh.

 

More than a procreative force, sex is a creative force. Its ritual act allows us contact with the power, contact we can have no other way. But who controls the ritual? We’ve all seen lories transporting heavily reinforced tankers bearing CAUTION: HAZARDOUS MATERIALS signs in big red letters. We know a breech of containment would be disastrous. The purpose of ritual is to keep the power contained so we mortals can interact with it safely. Religions have always tried to control the rituals involving sex, to dictate with whom the act may occur, how, and even when it may take place. Property and inheritance rights depended on controlling women’s sexuality.

 

These days the ritual containers set in place by religious superstition and prejudice are being breeched. Those vessels can no longer contain and control sexuality in all its vibrant varied guises. The ritual is being taken out of the hands of institutions and reclaimed on a more individual, more personal level. That means the creative force of our sexuality is being freed in ways we could have hardly imagined a few years ago.

 

The container for the ritual has changed drastically in recent years. In some cases it no longer exists at all, and we’re struggling to find safe containers, safe places to learn about, understand and explore all aspects of our sexuality. The ritual of sex is being reinvented to something vibrant and alive and open, and translating that into story a part of what makes our job a pleasure, whether we write contemporary erotic romance, historic, sex in space, paranormal romance, the container is new with each story we tell. How can that not be exciting?

 

Side Effects of a Good Read

I’ve spent the last week dragging around with a brutal cold. I’m very seldom ill, and almost never ill enough to take to bed. But this time, without full brain function, it seemed the expedient thing to do — lousy timing or not. While I groused and grumbled between sniffles and sneezes, aches and pains, I also made a discovery. I did have enough brainpower to lose myself in a good read. Since I wasn’t sleeping well for the first couple of nights, I took full advantage, binge reading Pippa DaCosta’s wonderful Veil series while snuffling and coughing and feeling sorry for myself.

 

I’m on the mend now. Though I’m still dragging, still dealing with the after effects. But here’s the thing. Being forced to take some down time and fully indulge in the pleasure of a good read was worth every sniffle and ache. It’s not that I don’t do my best to make sure there’s reading time in my schedule. It’s just that it’s often the first thing to go when that schedule gets tight. It’s sad that it takes a nasty bug to remind me that reading is far more than just my duty as a writer. It’s far more than just a frivolous pleasure; it’s a priming of the pump, a feeding of the creativity, a grounding for the storyteller in me.

 

Creativity cultivates creativity, and being inspired by the works of other people’s imaginations is one of the best ways I know of to be more productive and more creative myself. Sadly that fact is one of the easiest things for a busy writer to forget. I’m willing to bet it’s one of the easiest things for most of us to forget, whether we write or not.

 

I used to read every novel with the idea of learning how to be a better writer – whether the novel was a good one or not. Now I’m way less likely to even finish a poorly written novel. Time is too valuable. More often now I hold out for the really good novels, and I read them for the sheer pleasure of being drawn outside myself into another world, into another person, into an experience far different from my own. Coming off a good read, I’m reminded just exactly why the ancient storytellers in some cultures sat with kings and queens as their equals.

 

It’s far too easy to pick up all of our information in bits and pieces off social media and the Internet. We’re connected in ways we could have never imagined even twenty years ago. But while all the information we could ever want and, in some cases WAY too much,is available at our fingertips, the magic, the real magic, only happens when we slow down, back away and let the storytellers enthrall us.

 
© 2017 K D Grace
The Romance Reviews

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