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?
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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.
Series: Playful Brides, #10
Release: October 30, 2018
Tracy’s rating: 4 of 5 stars
Lady Regina Haversham is turning 30 and with the prospect of an unwanted marriage looming, she decides that she wants to make her own choice of who she gives her virginity to and she has selected the perfect man for the job, Bow Street Runner, Daffin Oakleaf. She met him over the summer when he helped her cousin Mark investigate the murder of their cousin John. They flirted and she has not been able to forget him and has been following his exploits in the Times. Her mind made up, she goes to see him at Bow Street.
Daffin Oakleaf hates Christmas, he keeps busy during the season to ward off the bad memories Christmas brings. He is shocked to learn that Lady Regina is calling on him and agrees to see her. He is floored by her bumbling proposal and refuses. She is horrified, she not only did she embarrass herself, she inadvertently insulted him. Humiliated, she returns home, grateful that their paths will not cross again. But as she leaves her carriage is almost run off the road – this is the second incident and she knows she has to tell Mark and Nicole.
She tells Nicole about her meeting and the incident with the carriage – Nicole hatches a plan. When Mark learns of the threats, he says he will cancel his trip, but Nicole suggests that he hire Daffin to protect them. Mark thinks this is a wonderful idea and rushes out to hire him.
After a briefly awkward reunion, Regina apologizes and Daffin is gracious and perhaps a bit flirty. They talk and start to get to know each other better, some kisses ensue and they grow closer, even while trying to uncover the threat that is clearly against Regina. When Daffin is shot while with Regina, they decide they will return to the country estate with her uncle to wait for Mark’s return,
The more time they spend together, the more they share and the more they realize all they have in common and all that stands between them. Daffin doesn’t tell Regina everything about his past and that past comes back to torment them.
This was a nice story with likable leads, characters from the previous books, secrets, relatives with good intentions, unwanted suitors, kidnapping, steamy love scenes, a baffling mystery and finally a hard won HEA. So why not 5 stars? Well, the threat against Regina was a bit far fetched and ultimately the person responsible gets away with no punishment at all, there were also some title errors and way too many “Merry Christmases” for a book set in England. But this was a really good read and I am eagerly awaiting the next installment!
*I am voluntarily leaving a review for an eARC that was provided to me by NetGalley and the publisher.*