Kiss Me at Christmas: Playful Brides

Kiss Me at Christmas: Playful Brides

by Valerie Bowman

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Overview

“Merry, intelligent, and wholly satisfying.”—USA Today

"Sizzles with sensuality." - Publishers Weekly

“Delicious and suspenseful.” —Kirkus Reviews

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 in Kiss Me At Christmas by Valerie Bowman.

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?

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781250147523
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Publication date: 10/30/2018
Series: Playful Brides Series , #10
Pages: 320
Sales rank: 119,299
Product dimensions: 4.10(w) x 6.60(h) x 0.90(d)

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-schnauzers, Huckleberry and Violet. When she’s not writing, she keeps busy reading, traveling, or vacillating between watching crazy reality TV and PBS.

Valerie is the author of the Playful Brides series, including The Untamed Earl and Never Trust a Pirate.

Read an Excerpt

CHAPTER 1

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 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?

CHAPTER 2

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 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 finally 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 probably 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 particular. 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.

Daffin had entertained Hancock's interrogation thinking it might help bring in tips if the public read about his work. Instead, the articles made him sound like a blasted knight in shining armor. They embarrassed the hell out of him. Ladies came traipsing into the office in search of a glimpse of him; men sought his company to ask him idiotic questions. Daffin had quickly reached the end of his patience for such things. His life's work was not a novelty, and he was not an animal in a zoological garden.

"I think ye're gonna wanna take this one, Oakleaf," came Paul's chipper reply from the common room.

"Damn it," Daffin muttered under his breath, flipping closed his notebook and shoving it back into his pocket. Paul found the scores of ladies coming to fawn over Daffin endlessly amusing. No doubt the younger man was merely ribbing him again.

Daffin stood, ran his hand down his red vest to straighten it, and strode out his office door and down the short corridor to the common room. He would curtly and firmly dismiss whoever it was and get back to the business of reading his notes.

He stepped into the common room, a cavernous area that smelled like a mixture of lemon polish and old papers, with high ceilings and wood beams. He scanned the space. Empty. "I'm not amused," he said to the secretary. "Interrupt me again and I'll have your hide."

He turned on his heel to return to his office when a soft female voice caught his attention. "Daffin."

He froze.

He recognized that voice.

Slowly, he turned back around, his heart thumping beneath his vest.

She stepped from behind one of the large wooden columns near Paul's desk. She wore an emerald-green velvet pelisse with white fur at the collar and wrists, and her hands were tucked into a white fur muff. Her hair was hidden beneath a green velvet hat that also had white fur trim, but he knew her hair was glossy and the color of black ink. Her eyes, blinking at him from beneath the brim of her expensive hat, were bright blue. A smile that had haunted his dreams for many a night rested on her ruby lips.

Lady Regina Haversham. The powerful Duke of Colchester's niece, and the cousin of his good friend Mark Grimaldi. A gorgeous, rich lady of the ton. One with whom he'd flirted outrageously when he'd met her in Surrey last summer. They'd been drawn to each other, could barely take their eyes from each other when they shared the same space, a fact that was entirely inappropriate because at the time the woman had been in mourning for her cousin.

Lady Regina had worked with Daffin and Grimaldi, along with Grimaldi's wife, Nicole, to discover the murderers and bring them to justice. Then Daffin had left. Paid handsomely by the duke for his assistance in solving his only son's murder, Daffin had gone back to his life in London chasing down criminals, and left Lady Regina Haversham to dwell in her countryside mansion with her happy, loving family, fancy servants, and gobs of money.

There may have been an instant connection between them, but Lady Regina was strictly off-limits. Not only was she far above him in class and breeding, but she was his good friend's cousin. Daffin highly doubted that Mark Grimaldi, the newly minted Marquess of Coleford and the Secretary of the Home Office, would look kindly on his blueblood cousin being courted by a Bow Street Runner. He and Grim might be friends, but their friendship didn't make up for the impossible gulf between their social ranks. It never would.

Daffin's flirting with Lady Regina had been harmless, however, and quickly over. In the months since, he had tried not to think of her, albeit unsuccessfully. Now here she was, standing in his offices on Bow Street as if he'd conjured her from his imagination. She smelled like apples. He would never forget her scent. It wafted across the space to him, and he briefly closed his eyes as he breathed it in.

Lady Regina cleared her throat and glanced self-consciously at Paul. "I mean ... Mr. Oakleaf."

Paul turned to Daffin with eyebrows lifted.

Daffin glared at the lad before reverting his attention to the lady. He offered her a formal bow. "To what do I owe the pleasure, my lady?"

Her eyes darted about the room. She bit her lip. "I need to ... I ... have a proposal for you." Was it his imagination, or did her voice shake?

Daffin rubbed the back of his neck. He had an idea what her "proposal" would be. Like her cousin Nicole, who'd worked with him years ago, perhaps the lady had taken it in her head to become the next female Bow Street Runner, if unofficially. Nicole had mentioned to him a time or two that Lady Regina expressed interest in the work.

He shook his head. "My apologies, my lady, but we're not hiring at the moment."

Lady Regina cocked her head to the side. Her lips twitched. "I'm sorry to hear that, Mr. Oakleaf, but that is not why I'm here."

He frowned. "It's not?"

"No." She shook her head again, and he was captivated by the blue glimmer in her eyes. Something about the way she looked at him made him feel ... wanted ... admired. He remembered that feeling from Surrey, as if they were both in on the same jest.

"Then ... why are you here?" he asked. She'd surprised him. His voice was more curt than he'd meant it to be.

"As I said, I have a proposal for you, but I'd prefer to share the details with you ... privately."

"Privately?" Daffin echoed, rubbing the back of his neck again. It prickled with something akin to suspicion. Something about the way she spoke, the way she looked at him, told him he should be on his guard. Years of dealing with criminals and liars had taught him how to accurately read a person's movements and gestures, and Lady Regina's were telling him loudly that he should be prepared for trouble. Just what sort of trouble remained to be seen.

He took a deep breath and decided to invite trouble back to his office.

CHAPTER 3

Regina watched the look on Daffin's face go from slightly annoyed to confused to suspicious. The man had absolutely no idea what she intended to say. Good. Precisely the way she wanted it. The less he knew, the more honest a reaction she would get from him.

He looked as decadently handsome as he had the last time they'd met. His broad shoulders were encased in a crisp white shirt behind his dark red vest, his light hair was slicked back, his green eyes glimmered with intelligence. There was always a smile lurking near his lips, but she'd got the distinct impression that the ubiquitous smile was a veneer. His devil-may-care attitude hid something darker beneath. Something she wanted to discover.

"Yes ... privately." She glanced at the young man behind the desk, who seemed entranced by her exchange with Daffin. The clerk's dark eyes darted back and forth between the two of them as he followed every word. All the more reason to speak with Daffin alone.

"By all means." Daffin waved his hand in the direction from which he'd come. Excellent. He was inviting her to his office. She hoped it had a door. A nice, big, thick one.

She preceded him down a short corridor before he guided her to a room that did indeed have a door. She entered and waited for Daffin to follow her inside, before pulling the door shut behind them. She glanced around. The office housed a large desk that occupied the center of the space with a dark brown leather chair in front of it. It smelled like him in here. A mix of soap and spice that made her want to bury her nose in his cravat. There was a map of London on the wall behind the desk and a mug filled with what looked to be black coffee on the desk next to a set of neatly stacked papers, a magnifying glass, and a ... dear God, was that a pistol?

"May I take your coat?" Daffin offered.

"No, I cannot stay long." Regina glanced toward the door. "My maid is waiting in the coach."

"Of course. Please, sit." He waited for her to lower herself to the chair before he walked around the large desk and took his own seat. He slid the pistol off the desk and into a drawer. "Hazard of the job."

"I understand," she replied with a nod.

Daffin searched her face. "I'd offer you a drink, but I'm afraid I don't have any tea."

"Do you have brandy?" she replied, her voice wavering slightly again.

His eyes widened, which made her smile. "You'd like a brandy?"

She sat up straight and cleared her throat. "Yes, please." Regina didn't know whether she cared for brandy, but Nicole drank it from time to time, and Regina had decided to be bold today. She might as well be bold in every way.

Daffin stood again and made his way to the sideboard in the corner, where he splashed brandy into two glasses. "I have a feeling I may need one as well," he said as he returned and handed her one of the snifters.

She slid one of her gloved hands out of the fur muff and took the glass from him, eyeing it carefully.

He went to sit behind the desk again and took a healthy sip from his own glass. His slightly stern visage gave nothing away. "It's good to see you, my lady."

Ah, small talk. Something at which she excelled. "Yes, it's been several months. It's good to see you, too." And then, "Please call me Regina as you did in Surrey."

He grinned at her and nodded. "I've heard your uncle's health has improved."

"Slightly, yes. We're thankful for every day we have with him." Uncle Edward had suffered from a disease of the lungs for many years. The fact that he was still alive was nothing short of a miracle. One she was grateful for, even though the older man was currently making her life miserable. The duke's ultimatum was part of the reason she was here today.

"How is your grandmother?" Daffin asked next.

Regina's grandmother, Lady Harriet, was a feisty old woman who said and did outrageous things, usually while waving her ubiquitous handkerchief in the air. She knew Regina fancied Daffin. However, she had no idea the lengths her granddaughter was willing to go to get him. "She is quite well, thank you." This time, Regina cleared her throat. "I've been reading about you in the paper."

An annoyed look flashed across Daffin's face. He took another drink. He didn't care for his publicity, apparently. Interesting, but not surprising. No doubt people with secrets disliked reporters nosing around in their affairs, and Regina suspected Daffin had a great many secrets. That was why he fascinated her so thoroughly. His ridiculous good looks didn't hurt, either.

"You said you have a proposal for me," he said finally, leveling a look at her that said he'd dispensed with the chitchat.

(Continues…)


Excerpted from "Kiss Me at Christmas"
by .
Copyright © 2018 June Third Enterprises, LLC.
Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Kiss Me at Christmas: Playful Brides 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 39 reviews.
bookchelle More than 1 year ago
I am on a huge historical romance kick. As we near the holidays, there is something about reading love during this time period that makes my heart warm. And Valerie Bowman's latest, Kiss Me at Christmas is an exceptional example of that warm love. I haven't read the Playful Bride series since the first two books: The Unexpected Duchess and The Accidental Countess. Before I began reading Kiss Me at Christmas, I couldn't remember much of this world, (older brain) but I did remember the characters, the writing style, and the feeling that I enjoyed it. Lady Regina's time for finding true love, and now her uncle has set a match. But before the year of freedom is over, she wants to approach a man of her choosing to ignite the sparks for a once-in-a-lifetime, and a one-night-only, deal. She has chosen her champion of this passionate night, and it's none other than Bow Street Runner, Daffin Oakleaf. I thoroughly enjoyed Lady Regina! She is such a fun character, all with romanticized ideas of true love. Given her upbringing and her past, I yearn for her passions and desires. But beyond that, I love how she views Daffin. The one scene that made me fall in love with this story is her indecent, and very awkward, proposal! Daffin is a good and stable character. He is a good balance of stoic and enigmatic, but he goes well with Regina. This was not exactly an opposites attract trope, but more fitting as a friends-to-lovers trope. Their relationship is fun and flirty. I also appreciate seeing past characters in this book, even for brief moments at a time. This world is filled with action, spies, mystery, intrigue, with lovely romance. The overall world stayed true to the theme of the other books in this series. And while there are hints of the previous characters of the series,  there was a very specific goal evident in this story.  Overall, I enjoyed the story, and I want to read more in this world. Did I just buy all the other books in this series? I sure did. Thank you to St. Martin's Paperbacks for providing me an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.
Charlotte Pawson More than 1 year ago
Lady Regina Haversham will very soon be 30. Her uncle the Duke of Colchester would like to see her settled with the Earl of Dryden. She decides she would like one last passionate night with Bow Street Runner Daffin Oakleaf a man she had met the previous year at the murder of her cousin. She had a irresistible response to him and now wants to take that passion further. Before she can wear Daffin down Regina becomes involved in a threat to her life. This is a story that shows the difficulty that Ladies had to be in control of their own lives, or as many found , it was set from birth which class you married into. The story comes to life in the second half of the book where Daffin has to confront his past to help save Regina. I was given an ARC of this book by Netgalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Hfowler More than 1 year ago
This was a cute holiday story with adventure, a kidnapping, an indecent proposal, love and hope, and two characters that are strong on their own but unstoppable together. I liked the story. The romance was good; the passion and emotional tension was great. I liked Daffin and Regina a lot. They were strong characters and I enjoyed their interactions with each other and I’m glad that they got their happily ever after.
MugsyMae More than 1 year ago
Kiss Me at Christmas is the latest in the Playful Brides series from Valerie Bowman. Like other stories in this series, there's a mystery to be solved that will keep you guessing, and a sizzling romance with obstacles to overcome. Daffin Oakleaf is a Bow Street Runner super detective, and Regina, who is about to turn 30, is the niece of a Duke. They met briefly before and enjoyed flirting with each other, but they are from different classes and a lasting relationship is impossible. The characters are well-developed and likeable, and the plot is wonderful, suspenseful, and funny, making it a pleasure to read. Looking forward to the rest of this series!
CathyGeha More than 1 year ago
Kiss Me at Christmas by Valerie Bowman Playful Brides #10 Lady Regina Haversham is nearing thirty and would like to divest herself of her virginity before being married off to someone she does not love. She has someone in mind to do relieve her of her V-card so heads off to his office to proposition him. Things do not go as planned but it is what it is and she feels she may have to live the life of her peers without getting the birthday gift she would like to give herself. Well, suddenly there is need of a bodyguard and who should her cousin and his wife call in to take that job than Daffin Oakleaf – the man she propositioned. As they unravel who wants to do her harm and spend time together under the same roof they get to know one another and share and care and eventually one thing leads to another BUT… Will they find out why her life is being threatened? Will they find the person intent on murder? Will Daffin’s secret be exposed? AND, Will they find the person threatening her life? This was a well written story that had me guessing the answers till the very end. I thoroughly enjoyed this addition to the series and look forward to reading whatever the author writes next. Thank you to NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press for the ARC – This is my honest review. 4-5 Stars
def618 More than 1 year ago
Lady Regina is almost 30 and would like Daffin Oakleaf to make love to her before her uncle marries her off to a neighboring Earl who wants her land. Her uncle is not mean, he is ill and wants her settled before he dies. Daffin makes a good living being a Bow Street Runner, but he believes she off limits as a lady and his best friend is her cousin Mark. Mark Grimaldi is working with Daffin on a possible police force for London. His wife, Nicole, has also helped with solving cases. However, Nicole thinks Regina and Daffin would make a wonderful couple and wants to help her cousin. Recently, Regina and Nicole have had 2 near misses when a carriage nearly ran them off the road. Mark wants them to return to the country estate while he is away on business, but they don’t agree. So, he hires his friend Daffin to stay with them in London, then closer to Christmas, escort them to the country estate. They are not sure which of the ladies is the target, so both must be protected. After another shooting incident, they agree to have Daffin take them to the country estate where he hopes they’ll be safer. However, the estate is not safe either. At this point, I will not spoil the rest of this wonderful story. Regina is still in danger but from whom? Read this wonderful book to get the answers. Of course, there is a HEA, but getting there is a very enjoyable read. I can easily recommend this one.
charlo721 More than 1 year ago
I love this series!! Lady Regina is firmly on the shelf. She will turn 30 in a month and wants to experience passion on her terms. Daffin Oakleaf is a famous Bow Street Runner. It will be Christmas soon and he needs to stay busy. Lady Regina and Daffin met at her uncle's estate back in the summer. Hardly a day goes by that she doesn't think about him. When danger threatens Lady Regina, Daffin will use all his skills to keep her safe. Lady Regina and Daffin definitely have chemistry, can she convince him to teach her passion? I received an ARC from the author for a honest review.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I adored the characters. Daffin is so dang honorable that I just wanted him to loosen up a little bit. Regina has grown up and would rather stay ‘on the shelf’ than marry a man that is more interested in her money and land than herself. These two had so much in common for being born on two completely different sides of society. I liked their sense of humor through out the book. Very charming and funny. I liked the spy/mystery aspect as well. It kept me guessing at who could possible want her dead! I simply do not have anything bad to say about this book. It was a cute romance and such a fun Christmas time read. I am someone that likes to read to be entertained and this one did the trick!
momof3boysj More than 1 year ago
Regina offers Daffin an indecent proposal which he, as a gentleman, refuses. But she's in danger, and her cousin hires Daffin, a Bow Street Runner, to guard her and find the culprit. Spending time together makes their passions ignite, but they fight the desire. They have similar pasts in losing parents young and this seems to unite their interest and trust in one another. Daffin knows her family will never allow a marriage between them--he holds a secret about his past which prevents the match--he was born on the wrong side of the blanket. Knowing this, he gives her a special night. Regina is kidnapped and Daffin will do anything to save her. But saving her won't be enough to overcome the obstacles between them. Will they find a way to ignore society and find a love that's true before it's too late? Another wonderful book in the series. A delightful Christmas story I highly recommend! **received an ARC from NetGalley**
Crystal61 More than 1 year ago
Regina and Daffin were a wonderful, hot couple. She accepted the fact that she would have a loveless marriage dictated by family. I loved her determination to find some control to her life and to help end the danger she was in. Daffin was a man who wanted to protect Regina and resist her as best he could. Secrets could keep them apart, but their honesty with each other led the way to love. I recommend this story. I received an ARC of this story through Netgalley, and this is my unsolicited review.
PegC51 More than 1 year ago
Kiss Me At Christmas is a story full of action, mystery, danger, romance and humor. Regina and Daffin are wonderful characters and make a great couple. Regina Haversham, a feisty lady approaching her thirtieth birthday, wishes to have one night of passion (lose her virginity) before she faces spinsterhood or worse, a forced arranged marriage. She has chosen Daffin OakLeaf, a handsome and brilliant Bow Street Runner who helped to solve her cousin’s murder, to fulfill her wish. For a number of reasons, he declines the honor. When he is hired to guard Regina against attempts on her life, the attraction between them becomes increasingly harder to fight. The danger to Regina and the villains involved are quite a surprise. The stories, the mystery and the romance, capture and keep your attention from the beginning to an ending you will absolutely love. I enjoyed this one and recommend it. If you like some mystery and danger with your romance, you’ll love it. I received a free copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley and volunteered to review it.
Lynne Ernst More than 1 year ago
Kept me up reading good!! Loved the intrigue/mystery and romance of this historical book. While characters from previous books did appear this book definitely stands alone.
mscountrylace More than 1 year ago
Sparks fly like you've never read before with these two. I couldn't put it down from the start with her plan and the meeting in his office. No one could deny what was between them and wanted them to be happy.  The passion between them just kept building as time went on. The added mystery of who was trying to kill Regina does not disappoint and I thought I had it figured out twice and was completely wrong. I absolutely loved how her family was especially her grandmother. No one cared about his past and it brought them closer. I laughed at the ending when the women set in on her uncle. Regina is tired of not being able to make her decisions and she was going to make one big one before her birthday. She was not an ordinary girl hid from danger, she took it on and didn't let fear take over. I loved how she got him to open up and didn't even blink at the news story about him.  Daffin has a tragic reason for hating Christmas, but he will do anything for his friends that are like family. Just when I thought I had him figured out something else about him would surprise me. He has something special about him that captures you and makes you want to know him. I could just picture him when he said: "Please give me a reason to pull this trigger." when he crashed into that room. This is the first time a blonde hero has become a favorite. This is one of those where you can picture everything. Copy provided for an honest and voluntary review
Historical_Romance_Lover More than 1 year ago
I've been waiting for Daffin and Regina's story since the last book in the series. Bowman didn't disappoint, I loved it!! Daffin has been attracted to Regina since meeting her. But with her being the granddaughter of a duke and he a lowly Runner, he knows he can never pursue her. When Regina approaches Daffon about taking her virginity, he is taken aback. He wants her, but doesn't feel right about being with her when she will soon be engaged. Regina is resigned to marry the man her grandfather has picked out for her, but wants something of her own before she does. That thing is Daffin in her bed. If she must marry without love, she wants some memories to take with her. Daffin has vowed to stay away from Regina so that he is not tempted to give into her request. But when someone tries to kill Regina, he is tasked to protecting her. As they spend more and more time together, Daffin finds it harder to deny their attraction. Can Daffin protect Regina without getting his heart broken? Love, love, loved it!! I loved watching these two together. They were the perfect match for each other! I'm really looking forward to the next book in the series, No Other Duke But You, which stars Delilah and Huntly!!
DebDiem More than 1 year ago
Kiss Me At Christmas is a fun historical romance by Valerie Bowman. Ms. Bowman has provided readers with an outstanding holiday read inside this well-written book. The characters are stellar, kudos to Ms. Bowman for such a fabulous cast of characters. Lady Regina is being pushed into a marriage, but before that happens she wants to give her virginity to a man of her choice. Daffin is a Bow Street Runner and turns down Regina's request. Daffin and Regina's story is loaded with drama, humor, sizzle, action and suspense. Their story held me hostage from start to finish. I loved this book and look forward to reading more from Valerie Bowman in the future. Kiss Me At Christmas is book 10 of the Playful Brides Series but can easily be read as a standalone. This is a complete book, not a cliff-hanger. I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book that I received from NetGalley. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
Brownac101 More than 1 year ago
We first meet Lady Rachael and Daffin Oakleaf where they met during an investigation into her cousin’s murder and they both enjoyed a little flirtation in A Duke Like No Other. After the murder was solved they both went their separate ways, but neither has forgotten the other. Rachel is quite on the shelf and nearing thirty when her uncle the Duke decides she needs to marry before he dies and informs her of a forthcoming marriage contract unless she can find someone to marry by Christmas. She decides to ask the one man who has ever held her interest to take her virginity and give her one night of passion before she marries, Bow Street Runner Daffin Oakleaf. Daffin is quite surprised and tempted, but he refuses her proposal since he’s such good friends with her cousin, Mark Grimaldi. Daffin abhors Christmas and his case solved when his good friend Grimaldi asks him to protect his wife and his couisin Lady Rachel. What’s a friend to do but except the duty and challenge to watch his wife and the very sexy Lady Rachel whose proposal he can’t get out of his mind. Rachel is so embarrassed by her proposal to Daffin and offering to pay for his services that all she wants to do is avoid him at all costs. A captivating story I love these two characters they so perfect for each other if only they realize it before it’s too late. This is my honest opinions after I voluntarily read a copy of this book that was provided to me with no requirements for a review.
Lashea677 More than 1 year ago
A bruised heart and a raging libido make for an enchanting Christmas. Bowman puts the temptation back in romance with these two lonely hearts. Kiss Me at Christmas brings the heart full circle with a meeting of souls. Regina and Daffin are in a class all their own. Between arranged marriages, social prejudice and hidden danger, the odds are slim to none that love can win, but Christmas is the season of miracles. When the hearts involved anything is possible. An intriguing dance of charming emotion.
Jolie More than 1 year ago
Regina is determined to lose her virginity. At 30, she is considered on the shelf and has limited options for marriage. She wants to experience one night of passion. One night where she can experience what married women experience. She decides that Daffin Oakleaf would be more than able to fulfill her fantasy. Set back by his refusal, Regina soon finds herself back in his orbit when she becomes the target of an assassin. Can Daffin protect Regina from whoever is trying to kill her? Will he agree to be her lover for one night? I am going to start this review off with the cover. Look at it. It shows Daffin and Regina’s chemistry off. What I also liked was the male model looked exactly how I thought Daffin would look. It is rarely I can say “Hey, look at this awesome cover. The models look like how I imagined.” So, yeah, the cover was a huge hit with me. I was excited when I saw that Daffin was getting his own story. He caught my eye in A Duke Like No Other. I wanted to know his backstory and man, was it a sad one. I couldn’t even begin to imagine living through what he did and at such a young age. I liked how he fought his growing feelings for Regina. I loved him. He was everything that a romance novel hero should be. I loved Regina. She was a woman who knew what she wanted. She put herself on the shelf because she couldn’t find a man who she couldn’t live without. But, she was going to marry the Earl of Dryden if she couldn’t find someone by the end of Christmas. Her reaction to Daffin’s explanation about why he hated Christmas was telling. She was unconventional. She was one of the more real romance characters I have read in a while. The chemistry/sexual attraction that Regina and Daffin had been insane. I had noticed it when they were introduced in A Duke Like No Other. The author did a great job of carrying it over into this book. The fact that he could get turned on by her scent was awesome. As with her when she was in his presence. That chemistry they had led to some hot sex scenes. Talk about fanning myself after a few of those scenes. Holy moly. I liked that the author wasn’t afraid to have Regina know what she liked. Such as Daffin’s handcuffs. I was a little disappointed with the plotline about who was trying to kill Regina. Let me rephrase that. I was disappointed by the ending of it. It was left hanging. We know who it was and the reason (which was silly). But no resolution. I am hoping that it gets resolved in book 11 (yes, 11!!!) The end of Kiss Me at Christmas was exactly what I hoped it would be. I was so mad at Regina’s great-uncle. I was whispering (because I was in bed) not so nice words when he did what he did. But, Regina set that straight when she found out. Oh boy, did she. The author did a great job of wrapping up all the secondary plotlines. The main plotline, not so much (see above). There was some foreshadowing about who the next book will be about. **I chose to leave this review after reading an advance reader copy**
Darlene491 More than 1 year ago
My, my. I just finished Kiss Me At Christmas by Valerie Bowman and I'm impressed. I'd been waiting, it seemed like forever, for this couples story and whoop, whoop! Ms. Bowman has gotten a little frisky this time and I like it. While not 50 Shades Of Grey it's at least 10. Daffin Oakleaf, yummy Bow Street Runner, is our hero. He's described as blond haired, green-eyed and resembling a Greek God. My pulse rate increased. We get a lot of tall, dark and handsome so Daffin is a treat. He met our heroine in the last book, A Duke Like No Other, and they had a ton of sparks. He's worked with that couple, Mark and Nicole, for some time and considers them friends as well as coworkers. While Mark is out of town on business Daffin agrees to look after the ladies and keep them safe. He's a good guy to have on your side and in your bed. 'Nuff said. Lady Regina Haversham is Mark's cousin, wildly attracted to Daffin and about to turn 30 years old (gasp! spinster!) She's looked and waited for true love and finally given up. Her uncle, the Duke, has convinced her to marry their next door neighbor, a real snore-bore. Her virginity seems to be the only thing in her life she has control over and she decides that Daffin should be her first lover, before marring snore-bore. Daffin is shocked, and tempted, by her proposition but won't accommodate her birthday wish. A bigger problem pops up when someone keeps trying to run the family carriage off the road. Nicole sets up the Daffin/bodyguard scenario to put our couple in close quarters for a few weeks. She's a pretty good spy and matchmaker. To find out which of the ladies is the target they plan an outing and right in front of Gunter's a shot rings out. Poor Daffin takes a bullet for our team. We still don't know who's the target but they're getting out of London. Trouble follows our characters to the countryside and eventually Regina is kidnapped. A ransom note arrives but something seems off. Daffin, Nicole and Mark work to find Regina and figure out who the villain is, still a mystery. Our Regina is resourceful and finds a way to save herself, she didn't want her friends walking into a trap. I like a lady who doesn't faint (a swoon is fine) or just scream for help. The story of Regina and the villain is very good so I won't spoil it. Red herrings, distractions, anger, fear, hot kisses, handcuffs and old issues make it worth the read. As always, this is a romance and must have a happy ending. It's a nice one, our hero gets told what is what by the men of this series, as has happened in every story. This book has several deviations from a standard plot so I think it's worth your time. I'm thrilled to know another book is on it's way. It has such possibility. Don't leave me hanging too long, please? Receiving a free book ARC is a true privilege and one I certainly enjoy. Being able to provide my opinion is a pleasure and doesn't cost a thing. Happy reading.
Joana_Varela More than 1 year ago
I’ve received an eARC in exchange for an honest review. 4.5* I have to admit first and foremost, I love Christmas stories. So, just for that it gains a few points. Not that it needed the extra points – it’s a great story on its own. Daffin Oakleaf is a Bow Street Runner, which makes him a bit of an unconventional hero. I loved learning about his past, who he really is, and why he abhorred Christmas. He’s a good man, with a troubled past, which does not stop him from helping others – on the contrary. That’s how he met Regina, in a previous book. Regina wants to do something for herself, and since she liked Daffin, she decides he is the one to whom she will lose her virginity – if he’ll take her. Regina is strong willed, amazing woman who respects herself. And her uncle has chosen a man whom she is to marry (a bad choice, of course), so decides she deserves at least a little adventure – and to be cherished before that happens. And since sparks had flown with Daffin in a previous book, he was the one. And even when her proposal doesn’t really work, it’s okay. Because it allows us to see their romance build up, becoming more than just a fling. All in a Christmas ambience. It does have some mystery and an action-driven plot, so it’s a book that will make you want to discover what is happening as soon as possible, so it will be hard to put it down. I really enjoyed this book full of romance and action. Definitely a recommendation for all lovers of romances.
tsmb02 More than 1 year ago
We met Lady Regina Haversham in A Duke Like No Other....she is Mark Grimaldi's cousin. During Mark's story, Regina was very attracted to Bow Street Runner Daffin Oakleaf. So much so that she decides that she wants to lose her virginity to some one of her choosing before her 30th birthday when she will be forced to marry the Earl of Dryden. Of course Daffin turns her down even though he is attracted to her. Skip forward and it appears that someone is out to harm Lady Regina so Mark calls on his good friend Daffin asking if he would be Regina's bodyguard while he is out of town. Daffin reluctantly agrees even though this means he will be staying under the same roof as Regina.....now the sparks can ignite! While trying to figure out who is after Regina, Daffin and Regina spend a lot of time together making their chemistry combustible! Just as things heat up, all hell breaks loose. Now they just need a Christmastide miracle to get these two love shy people to open up their eyes and see what is right in front of them. When all the dust settles, Daffin and Regina will finally get their happy ending! I loved these two characters. They both had such sad events happen in their childhood which had left both of them fairly jaded. Together they brought out the best in each other. Overall I really loved this story!
Aquamarine1951 More than 1 year ago
As a fan of Ms. Bowman’s books you probably read “A Duke Like No Other” which is book nine in Valerie Bowman’s Playful Brides series. In that book there are two secondary characters Bow Street Runner, Daffin Oakleaf and niece to a the Duke ,Lady Regina. I loved their flirting and their chemistry in that story and to my pleasant surprise Ms. Bowman made them the central figures in “Kiss Me At Christmas” Lady Regina always wanted to marry for love but approaching her 30th birthday her uncle wants her to marry an Earl she deems “nice” but has no romantic feelings for him. Daffin is a commoner with secrets and feels he is not good enough for Lady Regina though he is attracted to her. There are a number of twists and surprises in this story as well as a mystery to solve. Ms. Bowman’s impeccable writing creates a captivating romance as both Daf and Regina struggle with their feelings and regency society norms. In many regency romances it is the titled gentleman who falls for the commoner. Here the author gives us insight into the reverse as the titled Lady falls in love with the commoner and the reader wonders how her unconventional plot will play out to their HEA. Ms. Bowman is a masterful storyteller and Christmas is a magical time. In that spirit need I say more! You can tell that I loved this story. I never go into specific plot details because I want readers to savor her books. I highly recommend this book and the series. I received an advanced readers copy from the Publisher through NetGalley for my honest opinion. It was a pleasure to read and review this book.
grammyx3 More than 1 year ago
"I know this is a big mistake. No, it's not a mistake. I know what I want and I want to lose my virginity to Daffin Oakleaf." Lady Regina Haversham's thoughts are swirling crazily in her head as she exits her uncle's coach outside of The Bow Street Runners offices. She is about to turn thirty and her beloved uncle, the ailing Duke of Colchester wants to see her settled so is pressing her to accept the proposal of marriage from the Earl of Dryden. But Regina doesn't love the Earl of Dryden and he doesn't care for her beyond the land her dowry would bring him. Regina met the Bow Street Runner, Daffin Oakleaf the previous summer and greatly enjoyed their flirtation and time together. Too bad they are not of the same social standing. Regina is a very independent young lady and feels she must enjoy her independence while she can. Thus the plan to lose her virginity to someone she likes and admires. Too bad Daffin turns her down. How embarrassing! Unfortunately she won't be able to avoid him much in the future as he is great friends with her cousin Marquess Mark Grimaldi and his wife Nicole.The meeting becomes unavoidable when the Marquess hires Daffin to protect his wife Nicole and Regina after a series of suspicious accidents occur. Will having Daffin as a bodyguard with daily interaction make a diffenerce in their affection for each other? What about these suspicious accidents? Readers will enjoy learning the answers in this fun Christmas romance when they pick up this book. I know I sure did.
gromine49 More than 1 year ago
This book is a delightful holiday story. Engaging with the reader, it takes a person back in history. Well written and a fast read.
gromine49 More than 1 year ago
This book is a delightful holiday story. Engaging with the reader, it takes a person back in history. Well written and a fast read.