Flames of Desire by M.J. Deer (France Books, 1963)
I have a number of titles from France Books here, that I will be looking at over the forthcoming months.
France seems to have been a part of the Hollywood-Los Angeles-vased American Art Enterprises, that had a number of imprints like Boudoi, Epic, Pillow, and later reprinted Midwood books under new titles and pen names when they acquired Harry Shorten’s inventory, because he owed them money, and American Art was known to have mob-ties — you don’t owe the mob money without having problems. The Mafia had its hands in the sleaze book biz by the end of the 1960s and in the 70s, responsible for some really bad, trashy books.
The curious thing about France is that the book neverlist the author on the cover or spine, only on the ttle page. Some of the photo model covrs also folded out, showing more of the women.
This particular book, Flames of Desire, is a grand example of a cover that has nothing whatsoever with the text. The cover, as you can see, shows a man and woman going at in a convertible — a common image for sleaze books, but the back cover copy tells something else:
The Ancients of the 20th Century, with their Ten Days’ War, had left the western country a bleak, radioactive desolation through which the Princess Yolande had led her hill people for years, in search of the fabled Tri-Cities of the Imperials.
The Princess dared not lose herself in the arms of any man lest she lose her power over him at the same time. But her servant-girls were lush and lovely, eager and willing, so that the lack of men to love was not a critical problem.
Flames of Desire is a post-Apocalyptic tale set in the ruins of culture after being nuked. People ride on horseback, not in 50s cars. There is also a strong BDSM element with royalty and slaves, a la Gor.
Falmore, the smith, had been in bed only a few minutes when he heard a noise at the outside door. “Who is it?” he called, reaching for the knife that lay in its scabbard beside his bed.
The door opened slowly and he relaxed as he saw the shadow of a girl outlined against the bright moonlight. She shut the door behind her and Falmore quickly lit the lamp beside his bed and looked her over.
She was a stranger to him, not from Jacksboro at all, but very good to look upon. She was blonde and plump with a creamy complexion, rosy cheeks and cherry red lips. Her breasts pushed against her blouse as though eager to get free.
“Who are you?” he asked.
The girl smiled provocatively and made a small curtsy. “I am called Jessica, sir,” she said.
Falmore smiled back at her, noting that her clothes were of better grade material than was usually seen in this part of the world. “You are a very pretty girl, Jessica, but what are you doing in my room?”
“You do not like me, my lord?” she pouted, her large brown eyes clouding.
“Yes, I like you, Jessica,” Falmore said, tilting his head to one side and letting his eye run over her pink and white plumpness with pleasure. “In fact, I should say you are the prettiest little morsel I have seen in many a day.”
“Thank you, sir.”
“But you haven’t answered my question. What are you doing in my room?”
“Yolande sent me, sir.”
“And who is Yolande?”
“Why, Yolande is… Yolande,” Jessica said, fluttering her lashes and coming closer.
“That tells me nothing,” Falmore said. “I know no one by that name.”
“But she knows you—or at least knows of you, and because she means you well, she has sent you a present.”
Falmore was startled. “A present? What kind of present?’
“My unworthy self,” the girl said, blushing faintly. (pp. 22-23)
M.J. Deer? A pen name, who also typed another France book, A Place Named Hell. Bookseller Graham Holyrod has both listed, somewhat pricey. I procured my copy of Flames ten years ago for fifty cents in a used bookstore — and even that was a waste of money, as the writing is truly horrible.
So why am I listing it? To show a funny example of an SF novel packaged as something else, a la Kilgore Trout perhaps.
And to post some other France covers. We’ll see if these other books are bad or good…