The Importance of Kisses
by Jessa Slade

All first kisses are important, but as a writer, sometimes I feel that the first kisses in romance novels are more fraught even than real-life first kisses, and that’s saying something. A first kiss is all magic and tension and exploration and panic and fear and desire and sweetness and sass and and and. Yikes! That’s a lot of weight for two pairs of lips to bear.

The only thing more fraught than first kisses? Second kisses.

An accidental first kiss might be excusable. Remember the first kiss from The Lady and the Tramp? Falling into each other’s lips happens sometimes. But by the second kiss, the “oops” factor is harder to justify. In a second kiss, there is an implicit promise of more kisses to follow, and nothing will ever be the same again.

In my latest Marked Souls novel, DARKNESS UNDONE, amnesiac Alyce Carver has been existing like a feral creature in Chicago, knowing she isn’t quite “right,” but unaware she is a talya — a human possessed by a repentant demon, fated to battle against evil for the rest of her immortal life. When she inadvertently saves British demon researcher Sidney Westerbrook from an attack by decidedly NOT repentant demons, she begins to learn about her own destiny…and about the pleasures she has been missing in her solitary wanderings.

Their first kiss was a bit of a cheat since Sid was unconscious for the start of it, due to loss of blood after his first Chicago demon fight. (You can read that kiss in Chapter 1 at Lucky for Sid, Alyce is a quick learner despite her years of running wild. While she might not know her own past, she knows what she wants now: him.

So soft—his lips were every bit as soft as she’d remembered from that first fleeting kiss. And wonderfully warm, they curved around hers, like a secret smile she could feel but not see—a smile only for her.

“My Sidney,” she whispered against his mouth. Or she meant to. What came out of her was a moan, even softer than his lips.

She reached up to sink her fingers into his hair. The russet locks were just long enough to tickle the backs of her hands and send delightful shivers through her. Then she remembered the rest of his hair, the light sift of curls on his chest, and tighter lower down, and she wondered where else that might tickle her, so she let her fingers trip over his breastbone and down his belly. Ah, rougher than the silk of his hair, but every bit as pleasing to her touch.

His fingers wrapped around her upper arms. Good, or she might have fallen as her knees weakened. Mouth to mouth, their breath swirled and merged, a close, sultry mingling that promised deeper intimacy if they just—

He pulled away, and their lips parted. “Wait.” He locked his elbows and his grip on her arms kept her from stepping back into his embrace. “Alyce, wait.” His grasp wasn’t really strong enough to stop her—and shook slightly besides—but she waited because he’d asked. “What are we doing?”

“I know the answer to this one,” she said quickly.

Alyce has been hunting demons for literally longer than she can remember. Why one slightly uptight British bookworm thinks he can escape her is anyone’s guess. Of course, whether they can fight through to their happy ending depends less on their bravery against the demons hunting them and more on their courage facing their own feelings.

Your turn! Tell us about your favorite kiss? Was it a movie or book kiss, or one of your own? Was it the first or second, or the one just this morning? And today, there’s an extra prize for the commenter who comes up with the best euphemism for “tongue,” because let me tell ya, there are only so many ways to describe tongue.

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Leave a comment answering Jessa’s question for your chance to win a signed copy of DARKNESS UNDONE, a set of Marked Souls Romance Trading Cards, a music download card with the album containing the Marked Souls theme song, and a pair of earrings inspired by the storyworld.

And everyone who stops by today can download a free copy of her science fiction romance novella, “Enslaved By Starlight,” in the HOTTER ON THE EDGE anthology! Just go to and use coupon code UW37U, or download at Amazon, and other ebook retailers for 99¢. Thank you for reading!

*Giveaway open Internationally, and will close for entries at 12:01 am EST March 13, 2012. Winner will be notified within 48 hours of the giveaway close. Please be certain to leave a valid email address so that I can get in touch with the winners. Giveaway generously sponsored by Jessa Slade.

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The war between good and evil has raged for millennia,

and as a powerful new enemy ascends,

the Marked Souls are pushed to the ragged edge…

Sidney Westerbrook has always studied darkness and damnation from a sensible distance. Now, to earn his place as a league Bookkeeper, he must discover why Chicago is such a battleground of soul-linked warriors. But the research becomes personal when he finds himself over his head and under attack — and at the mercy of a waif with demon-lit eyes and a deep yearning in her heart.

Alyce Carver has been alone longer than she can remember, battered by the living nightmares that haunt her city. Cornered by yet another gang of demons, she unwittingly joins forces with a handsome scholar who can salvage her past, and she in turn may be the key to his investigations. But she won’t let him go until he shows her everything she’s been missing.

What begins as an experiment in possession becomes a trial by desire so powerful it threatens both their lives, even as it binds their souls.

“Slade’s plot packs plenty of action…in a group of forceful personalities.”
– Publishers Weekly

“[A] fish-out-of-water story that keeps a rapid pace, delivering a strong plot, enjoyable characters and a stunning world.”
–RT Book Reviews, 4 Stars

Read Chapter 1 of DARKNESS UNDONE and find links to favorite bookstores at:

Read the first chapters of all the Marked Souls novels at

You can find Jessa online at: