Spotlight on Kiss Me at Christmas by Valerie Bowman – Review, Excerpt, and Giveaway

About the Book:

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

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 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?

Click on title below for direct Amazon buy link:                                                 Kiss Me at Christmas: Playful Brides

About the Author:

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.

Read an Excerpt:

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 nervous beat. Christmastide was her favorite time
of year. She was in high spirits, but she was also as nervous
as a young lady making her debut on her way to see the
queen. This particular outing had every chance to end in
disaster.
She glanced out the window. She probably should have
hired a hackney. It would have been less conspicuous than
her uncle’s resplendent coach. There were already several onlookers staring up at the black-lacquered conveyance with
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 particular 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
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 possible 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?

My Review:                       

I received a complimentary copy of this book.

In thirty days, Lady Regina Haversham will turn thirty years old.  She’s never married, never been in love, and now her guardian uncle insists that she marry the Earl of Dryden.  Dryden has long sought her for his wife, lusting not so much for her, but the property she would bring to their marriage.  Resenting her lack of control over her own life, Regina decides to take a lover before she is forced to marry, and it will be a man of her own choosing.  The ideal candidate is the handsome Bow Street Runner she met last year, as he investigated the unfortunate murder of her cousin.

Daffin Oakleaf is surprised when Regina shows up at his office – and he’s shocked when she nervously makes her proposition.  When they met last year, they had a friendly and flirtatious relationship, but nothing beyond that.  Daffin firmly refuses Regina, telling her that he’s not for sale, and she is mortified at her clumsy request.  She hurries home, hoping to never run into Daffin again.

On the way home, Regina’s carriage has a near miss with another carriage, the second such incident that has happened recently.  Coincidence?  Regina’s cousin, Mark, doesn’t think so, and calls on his friend, Daffin, to protect Regina while he has to be out of town.  With Daffin living in the same house, Regina knows she has to apologize and clear the air, or life will be unbearable.  Daffin accepts her heartfelt apology, and they easily slip back into their friendly relationship.

I love the connection between Daffin and Regina.  He is working class, and she is an aristocrat, yet they treat each other as equals.  Their interactions are fun, honest, flirty, and they genuinely talk to one another, even able to now joke about her proposition.  When Regina honestly explains how trapped a woman is, Daffin understands how she would have longed to break free and make her own choice.  It’s not long before some lovely kisses are exchanged, and they begin to have strong feelings for one another.  When the would-be murderer shows up and makes another attempt, Daffin realizes just how deep his feelings run.  He’s not of her class, but he has an even deeper secret, one that surely makes any future together impossible.

I adore both Daffin and Regina.  She is strong and smart and doesn’t believe she’s superior just because of the circumstances of her birth.  Daffin is confident of his abilities, and is determined to be honorable and not ruin Regina.  I love how compliments from Regina truly warmed his whole world.  He had a sad childhood, and despite his fame and notoriety as a successful runner, he lives a very lonely existence.  Can this star-crossed couple find a way to be together?  That is, if Regina even survives.

Daffin and Regina have an amazing sexual chemistry, but when they finally give in to their passion, I felt that the handcuff element took away from, rather than added to the intimacy.  I believe that this was meant to show trust between them, as well as show their adventurousness, but it didn’t totally work for me.  The whole previous story showcased their closeness and intimacy just by their conversations and interactions.  Overall, KISS ME AT CHRISTMAS is a fun, romantic, steamy, and entertaining read, with a bit of adventure.  I felt the strong connection and love between Daffin and Regina, and I cheered as they found the way to happy ever after.

Enter the Giveaway:                                                                       One commentor (U.S. only) will receive a print copy of Kiss Me at Christmas.  Just tell me your favorite Christmas food, snack, or beverage.

 

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