Guest Author: Jessa Slade & Giveaway!

I have an awesome guest blogger with me today–acclaimed Urban Fantasy romance writer, Jessa Slade.  Jessa writes the Marked Souls Series, which has received many wonderful accolades from heavy-weight reviewers like Publisher’s Weekly and RT Book Reviews.  I’m turning the blog right over to Jessa, so she can tell us about her latest book in the series.

First off, thank you, Vanessa, for giving me a chance to share my new story. My usual haunts have had enough of me 😉

Even though I write urban fantasy romance, which might seem like a far cry from Vanessa’s sizzling historical romances, EVERY character has a history. Moody broody bad boy wounded alpha male heroes often have more of a history than most. And since my heroes are immortal warriors whose long-ago sins left them vulnerable to possession by repentant demons… Yeah, they have a LOT of history.

In my first Marked Souls novel, SEDUCED BY SHADOWS, the hero, Archer, was possessed during the Civil War. In FORGED OF SHADOWS, Liam (no relation to Liam Neeson, except for the accent) fell to his dark burden shortly after the Irish Potato Famine. And in VOWED IN SHADOWS, ex-missionary Jonah walked out of early 20th century Africa minus his faith and plus one demon. In every time period, these men fought their darkness…and lost. Now they are battling for their chance at redemption.

In my latest Marked Souls novel, DARKNESS UNDONE, Sidney Westerbrook is a modern-day man, but as a demon researcher, he knows all about the history of evil, maybe even more than the men who lived it. The half-feral demon-possessed waif he finds wandering Chicago, however, has forgotten everything about her past. It’s a match made in… well, heaven or hell, pick one 🙂

As I research all the different time periods, looking for good times for men to fall prey to bad things, I bet you’re not surprised that every epoch has its darkness. What I find interesting, though, is that different times tend to have different flavors of darkness, and yet somehow the overall patina is very similar. It’s sort of like adding soy sauce to a stir fry; at first the tofu was white, the peapods were crispy, and the broccoli was stinky. After you add the soy sauce, then the disparate elements become one dish: demonic stir fry.

Maybe it’s because, really, despite the passing of centuries, men don’t change. And by “men,” of course, I mean “men.” 🙂 Pesky testosterone hasn’t altered its biochemical signature in a very long time. A moody broody bad boy is the same whether he is a duke or demon-ridden!

On the positive side, the struggle against darkness also continues unabated, and I’ll make sure my heroes never, ever give up the fight.

If you had to pick a time period to live in, which would it be? Medieval might eliminate hot showers (definitely an evil) but you do get real knights in shining armor. If you jumped forward, you’d have to battle death stars, but you’d do it with a hot spaceship captain at your side!

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Leave a comment 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 my science fiction romance novella, “Enslaved By Starlight,” in the HOTTER ON THE EDGE anthology. Just go to Smashwords and use coupon code UW37U, or download at Amazon, and other ebook retailers for 99¢. Thank you for reading!

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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.

Read the first chapters of all the Marked Souls novels at

You can find Jessa online at:

Vanessa, here.  Wonderful post, Jessa!  And readers, talk about generous–great prizes Jessa is handing out today!  So be sure to answer her question, and also check out the free download for her novella or find it at other e-tailers for only 99 cents!


With Grateful Thanks On Memorial Day

May 30th is Memorial Day in the United States, the day we honor all those who fell in battle over the years to protect our rights and freedom.  It’s not a day of joyous celebration, but rather one of somber reflection on the many heart-wrenching sacrifices made by ordinary men and women during the course of our history.  It’s not about department store sales or sporting events or pounding back the brewskies.  It’s about this:

The exact origins of Memorial Day vary, but it’s clear the holiday came into being as a result of local tributes to the fallen soldiers of the Civil War.  The local citizens of many communities visited cemetaries in the spring in order to decorate graves and pay tribute.  In 1868 the head of an organization of former Union sailors and soldiers designated a special day as a time to decorate the graves of the war dead throughout the United States.  Major General John Logan declared May 30th as Decoration Day, and a large observance was held that year at Arlington Cemetary.

By the end of the 19th Century, ceremonies were being held around the nation on May 3oth of each year.  After World War I, the day was expanded to honor those who died in all American Wars.  In 1971 Memorial Day was declared a holiday by an act of Congress, to be held on the last Monday in May.

Historians note that these types of observances reach far back into antiquity.  Pericles paid tribute to the fallen soldiers of the Peloponnesian War by saying:   “not only are they commemorated by columns and inscriptions, but there dwells also an unwritten memorial of them, graven not on stone but in the hearts of men.”

It has always been thus.

To all those who made the ultimate sacrifice we offer our thanks and gratitude.  And to their families, may peace and comfort be yours.


Regency Friday Fun (not really) and Giveaway

Earlier this week we made a visit to Fort Clinch, a well preserved military installation in a beautiful state park on Amelia Island, just on the border of Florida and Georgia.  Throughout it’s long history, Amelia Island has been under the governance of eight flags, and was first settled by the French in 1562.  For the next few hundred years, the island passed back and forth between the French, the British, and the Spanish, finally falling into American hands in 1821.  My laughably brief history doesn’t even cover the period during the Regency when Amelia Island was under the control of pirates and smugglers – I’ll cover that in another Regency Friday Fun post in the next few weeks.

As you can tell, Amelia Island had a tumultuous history and was considered by all its occupiers to have great strategic importance.  In 1842, the U.S. government purchased a tract of land on the northern tip of the island, on which to build a military installation to guard the mouth of the St. Mary’s River and to defend the deepwater port of Amelia’s thriving town, Fernandina.  Construction began on the fort in 1847, but was as yet uncompleted by the start of the Civil War.  With no federal garrison on site, the Confederate Army claimed it until 1862, when federal gunboats and troops moved in to reestablish Union control.  Units of Army engineers than began a push to complete the fort.

Today, Fort Clinch is preserved as it was during the Civil War and its occupation by the 1st New York Volunteer Engineers.  The guides are trained reenactors, much like those in Williamsburg, Virginia.  They do a great job showcasing life at the fort during the Civil War.

The fort itself is a large set of fortifications on the beach, with some of the rooms built right into the massive walls.  As you can see from the picture at the top of the page, it was a cold and gloomy day when we visited.  We scuttled over the Officer’s Kitchen, which had a fire going and was the warmest room at the fort.  The kitchen also served as the dining room, and held a degree of elegance since the table was set with linen and proper china and cutlery.

Also in the kitchen was an impressive display of pots and pans.

The Guard Rooms, where the off-duty guard contingent stayed, also felt pretty cozy on a blustery day, and the men stationed there clearly tried to make the room something more than a utilitarian bunkhouse.

The clock is beautiful, and the presence of the chess board on the mantelpiece indicates how the men passed their time.  But make no mistake – this was a working fort, with a pretty spare way of living, especially for the enlisted men.  Here are their barracks, complete with rifle rack to store their weapons.

Here’s a closeup of the rifle rack, which gives you an idea of how many men probably shared the same living space.

You’ll no doubt be shocked to hear that the officers didn’t reside at the fort but in town, living in the beautiful Victorian houses that lined the streets of Fernandina.

But the men at the fort obviously preferred it that way.  After all, they were doing all the work, while the officers just mucked things up and made life difficult.  According to our guide, the soldiers and engineers breathed a collective sigh of relief on the days when the officers stayed in town.  It’s amazing how some things never change.

I have lots more pictures of Fort Clinch, but I’ll save those for another post.  And since it’s Friday, I’m doing a book giveaway.  It’s  a copy of Lord Of The Isles, a paranormal Highland historical by my very talented friend, Debbie Mazzuca.  All you have to do to win is tell me what’s your favorite historical site or park to visit.  Fort Clinch is certainly one of my favorites, and well worth the visit.