ARC Reviews


Kiss Me At Christmas (Playful Brides) by Valerie Bowman. Historical Romance Release & Excerpt.

A spirited lady facing spinsterhood. A common man with a noble mission. And a surprise that just might be waiting for them under the mistletoe. . .

Bow Street Runner Daffin Oakleaf abhors Christmas. Carol singing 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 noble heart?

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 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 prob ably 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?


Valerie Bowman is an award-winning author who writes Regency-set historical romance novels aka Racy Regency Romps!

Valerie’s debut novel was published in 2012. Since then, her books have received starred reviews from Publisher’s Weekly, Booklist, and Kirkus. She’s been an RT Reviewers’ Choice nominee for Best First Historical Romance and Best Historical Romance Love and Laughter. Two of her books have been nominated for the Kirkus Prize for fiction.

Valerie 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 Language and Literature 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 rascally dogs. When she’s not writing, she keeps busy reading, travelling, or vacillating between watching crazy reality TV and PBS.

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