I had the great pleasure of reading the first book in Janine Ashbless's angel series, Cover Him With Darkness, and was blown away by it. Now, at long last, the second book of the series has been released: In Bonds of the Earth!
The book is sitting here, on my desk, just waiting for me to finish what I'm reading now so I can begin. I am so looking forward to it. I highly recommend the series, and really, anything by Janine Ashbless! Here's a kick ass excerpt.
Wrapping the cheap cotton throw from the foot of the bed
around my bare body, I padded through to the doorway. The Archangel Michael
stood in the middle of my small apartment, looking about him at the book
shelves and the pictures. A paperback copy of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo slipped from his hand back onto the
“Hello, Milja. Nice place. Has he moved his toothbrush in
It was like waking to find a giant bird of prey in my tiny
living room; he looked wildly unsuited to a domestic setting and way too big
for it, even with wings furled. In fact, with that Roman nose and those
unblinking amber eyes, there was something distinctly golden eagle-like about
him. If he stretched out he could knock over walls, I thought.
“What do you think you’re doing?” I asked. “This is my home.
You can’t just come barging in!”
“You’re right,” he said, looking startled. “I have to have
your permission. No, hold on, wait…that’s vampires. Shame.”
I pursed my lips. “Well, God certainly did not hold back on
the sarcasm when he made you guys.”
He smirked. If you’re that good-looking, even a
less-than-warm smile can be a weapon of devastating charm. Turning to the
couch, he sat down with arms draped over the back and knees spread. It was not
so much an invitation as a claiming of territory.
“What do you want?” I kept my voice hard, even as I thought
of the icon of Saint Michael that had stood guard over the key in my father’s
church. That holy painting had always made me feel nervous as a child, and he
was no less intimidating in the flesh. His piercing gaze rested lightly upon
me, with all the gentleness of a sword-point.
His rigger boots were caked in dried mud, I noticed, and
flaking on my rug. I wished he would blink. It still creeped me out, even
though Azazel should have inured me to it. “Angels aren’t supposed to lie. What
are you doing here?”
“So, what…you’re sitting guard over me until Azazel comes
back? Is that your plan?”
“He’s too much of a coward to face me. Runs every time.”
“If that’s the way you want to call it.”
He looked at the kitchen door. “I see you have a kettle. You
got any tea? I like that Earl Grey stuff. Tastes like flowers.”
“I know the rules, you know. You can’t actually do anything
“True enough. And I’m not stopping you leaving, if that’s
“I can move out. Get a new place.”
“That’s fine, I’ll find you. This apartment’s a bit small
for the two of us, to be honest.”
I clenched my jaw, weighing my options. “Okay,” I said, and
dropped my wrap to reveal my naked body, in all its post-coital salty glow.
That wiped the smile off his lips. “Don’t play those games,”
he growled, sitting up and looking away from me.
Love is Azazel’s weak spot. Shame is theirs. They’re
terrified of their own human flesh.
“What? Does this make you uncomfortable? That’s a pity,
seeing as how it’s my house and I like to walk around it naked.”
“You are shameless.” His gaze was sliding all over the
place, not daring to settle on me.
“I’ve got nothing to be ashamed of.” I hefted my breasts and
jiggled them. “They’re my tits. In my apartment. If you don’t want to see,
“Put your robe back on,” he rasped.
“Oops,” I said. “Did I drop it?” Turning my back to him, I
spread my feet and, straight-legged, bent over to pick the fabric up again.
Nice and slow…
He moved so fast he’d launched me across the room and onto
my bed before I even realized he was out of his seat. The abused mattress
twanged in alarm. It knocked the wind out of me—and more than that, shocked me
half to death. I wasn’t in the least bit hurt, not even bruised, but I hadn’t
expected him to touch me at all, under the rules. Maybe the Boatman sailed
closer to the wind than I’d bargained for.
“Don’t do that, whore!” he barked, leaning into my face. He
looked furious. I knew why. It takes a human decades to learn how to deal with
all the things that come with an adult body—all those hormones and
instincts—without losing control. Angels never had the advantage of a gradual
I had two choices: surrender or fight. I bared my teeth and
snarled right back at him, matching his rage and contempt. “Or what? You’re
going to rape me? ’Cause I think that
might just count as a fall from Grace, don’t you? And then you’d be royally fucked, Mister Michael.”
He recoiled, drawing himself up in undisguised horror. I
took advantage of the gap between us to roll over and pull the drawer of my
bedside cabinet open, pulling out the silicon rabbit sex toy I’d been given at
my graduation party. I hadn’t used it in months, I couldn’t even remember if
there were any batteries in it, but I wasn’t going to let that stop me.
“Wanna watch?” I asked, spreading my legs wide. “Because
that’s what us girls do when we’re home alone these modern days. You can go into
the other room if it squicks you out to see. Then you’ll only have to listen to
the noises I make.”
He turned on his heel and stomped away, slamming his hands
into the doorframe hard enough to crack the wood. But he didn’t leave
altogether. He was just that bit too stubborn.
Janine 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
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)
And now, for the most important part!
Photo by: David Woolfall