Sunday, November 4, 2018

KISS ME AT CHRISTMAS by Valerie Bowman

Price: $7.99 Publication 
Date: October 30, 2018
ISBN-13: 978-1-250-14752-3 
St. Martin’s Paperbacks 

“Memorable characters, rich sensuality, and mystery will entice readers from the very first page.” —Publishers Weekly 
Kiss Me at Christmas

A Playful Brides Novel Valerie Bowman

Not every leading lady finds love, gets married and sustains a domestic life. What about the ladies who were never swept off their feet? Do they take matters into their own hands? In the delightful addition to Valerie Bowman’s Regency-set Playful Brides series, Regina has written off the prospect of marriage, but she still would very much like a pleasurable distraction in her life. KISS ME AT CHRISTMAS (St. Martin’s Paperbacks, October 30, 2018, $7.99), connects a headstrong spinster and a noble Bow Street Runner tasked with protecting her during Christmas time in London. 

Bow Street Runner Daffin Oakleaf abhors Christmas. Caroling and holiday cheer only remind him of a dark time. When a close friend calls on him for help, Daffin is happy to capitalize on the
distraction. But when he learns the lovely Lady Regina is the one in danger, he’s to become bodyguard to the captivating woman...

Regina has one mission: to find a night of passion in the arms of a gentleman. Considered firmly on the shelf, Regina has given up on marriage—but that doesn’t mean she wants to be denied the pleasure married ladies experience. Daffin has long captured her attention…and when a threat calls him to her side, the sparks between them ignite. But how can a hired bodyguard find his way into Regina’s reserved heart?

Chapter Excerpt  

CHAPTER ONE London, December 1818
Lady Regina Haversham’s thirtieth birthday was precisely one month away, which  didn’t leave her much time to lose her virginity. Not that she wanted it lost. She wanted to know where it went and choose to whom she gave the dratted  thing. Her coach came to a stop in front of the offices of the Bow Street Runners in central London, and she drew in a deep, unsteady breath. She pressed her hands deeper into the white fur muff that sat atop her lap and willed her pounding heart to slow its ner vous beat. Christmastide was her favorite time of year. She was in high spirits, but she was also as ner vous as a young lady making her debut on her way to see the queen. This par tic u lar outing had  every chance to end in disaster. She glanced out the win dow. She prob ably should have hired a hackney. It would have been less con spic u ous than her  uncle’s resplendent coach.  There  were already several onlookers staring up at the black- lacquered conveyance with
2 Valerie Bowman
the Duke of Colchester’s seal on the side. She glanced down at her clothing. No doubt her ensemble was too elegant for marching into the offices of the best private investigative team in London, but she had no other clothing to wear, and this par tic u lar message was best delivered in person. She
 didn’t know Daffin Oakleaf’s home address, and she hardly thought a note to him for what she had in mind would be appropriate. No. Regardless of the stares, she had to see him in person. Regina had settled on the perfect birthday gift to herself. She would spend the night with a man. Not just any man. The finest candidate. One who had the face and body of a Greek god. Thirty years old. Tall, fit, and handsome. Blond hair and green eyes that held a twinkle she found irresistible.
 She’d met him last summer at her  uncle’s estate. Her  family had been gathered  there for the unfortunate purpose of her cousin, the marquess’s, funeral. John had been murdered, and inappropriate or not, the man Regina had come to covet was the Bow Street Runner who’d helped investigate his murder. She  hadn’t seen Daffin since he’d left the estate that hot July day taking away the two murderers in shackles. Rarely a day passed since that Regina  didn’t think of him.  She’d read about him in the paper, too. Lately,  there’d been a series of articles in the Times focusing on his exploits. He’d caught criminal  after criminal and, according to her cousin Nicole, made hefty bounties  doing it. Now that Regina’s period of mourning was over and her  uncle was forcing the issue of her marriage, Regina was  here to ask Daffin Oakleaf, legendary Bow Street Runner, to make mad, passionate love to her. Her stomach performed a somersault. Could nerves make
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one physically ill? She suspected they could. Suspected hers would. She winced. It  wouldn’t do to cast up her accounts in front of the man. That certainly  wouldn’t attract him. She glanced at her maid, who sat on the seat facing her, back ramrod straight. If the proper young  woman knew what Regina was thinking, no doubt  she’d be scandalized. Precisely why Regina had said as  little as pos si ble about their outing  today. Genevieve  hadn’t asked many questions. Thank heavens. The coachman opened the door and Regina took one more deep breath. “Wait  here,” she said to Genevieve. “I  shouldn’t be long.”
 After all, how long could an indecent proposal possibly take?

Daffin Oakleaf pushed himself away from his office desk and scrubbed both hands across his face. He was tired. Bone tired. He hated Christmastide. He’d been  running himself ragged chasing a particularly nasty thief across London for the last fortnight. Daffin had nearly had him, or so he thought, when a clue he’d been pursuing had turned to nothing. He was back to the start of his investigation, and severely out of sorts. Daffin loved his work. It was perfect for him, and it had made him a wealthy man, but days like this  were frustrating as hell. He much preferred to be taking down criminals and delivering them to gaol, instead of pacing his office with  little to go on while they roamed  free. He was obsessed with each one of his cases, but this one kept him up at night. This case made his blood boil. A child had been injured by the bloody thief, and if  there was one
 thing Daffin  couldn’t countenance, it was a grown man being
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violent with a child. He would track down this monster if it was the last  thing he did. Most of Daffin’s investigations  were done with the promise of a hefty purse at the end, but he was  doing this one for
 free. He always took on a case or two for charity at Christmastide. It was the least he could do. Not to mention it kept his mind from the blasted season. Focusing on his cases made the holiday easier to ignore. Easier to forget. He pulled a notebook from his inner coat pocket and scanned the words he’d written on the case so far. Perhaps he’d missed something, some detail that would fi nally lead him down the right path to Henry Vickery. “Oakleaf!” came the voice of Paul, the secretary, who sat out in the offices’ main room and fielded inquiries from
 people who came in off the street. “I’m busy,” Daffin called back, not in any mood to be taken away from his case. It was prob ably someone  else who’d read about him in the paper and wanted to make his acquaintance. The papers hounded him of late. One reporter in partic u lar. Mr. H. J. Hancock. The man seemed obsessed with following Daffin’s cases. Week  after week, for months now Daffin had been mentioned in his articles. The stories made him sound like a bloody hero. They described how he chased down bad men in the dark of night, vaulting over walls, climbing up to rooftops, and taking more than one bullet. He’d never have answered the reporter’s bloody questions if he’d known the man would go and write  things like that. Being a hero  wasn’t Daffin’s purpose. Never had been. He did his work to put the scum of society  behind bars. To get evil  people off the street. To spare their  future victims.


 VALERIE BOWMAN grew up in Illinois with six sisters (she’s number seven) and a huge supply of historical romance novels. After a cold and snowy stint earning a degree in English with a minor in history at Smith College, she moved to Florida the first chance she got. Valerie now lives in Jacksonville with her family including her mini-schnauzer, Huckleberry. When she’s not writing, she keeps busy reading, traveling, or vacillating between watching crazy reality TV and PBS. She is the author of the Secret Brides series and the Playful Brides series.

My Review
5 Stars
KISS ME AT CHRISTMAS by Valerie Bowman is book 10 in the Playful Brides series.  This is the story of Regina and Daffin. I feel this can be a standalone book if you wish to do so.
Regina is nearing 30 years old and headed to the 'shelf' although her Uncle wishes her to marry a neighbor to benefit him.  Daffin has been attracted to Regina from first site but knows that him being a Bow Street Runner puts him out of her class.  But Regina finds him attractive too and wishes to know what passion is before its to late for her.  So when her life becomes in danger and Daffin is the man to help save her...their feelings start to take off.
I am such a fan of Ms. Bowman's so I know I am getting a great story when I see her name on a book.  Just loved this one! 

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