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? 

Titles in the Playful Brides series include:  The Unexpected Duchess – The Accidental Countess – The Unlikely Lady – The Irresistible Rogue – The Unforgettable Hero – The Untamed Earl – The Legendary Lord – Never Trust A Pirate – The Right Kind of Rogue – A Duke Like No Other – Kiss Me At Christmas – No Other Duke But You –

Title:  Kiss Me at Christmas
Series:  Playful Brides #10
Author:  Valerie Bowman
Genre:  Regency Romance, Christmas Romance
Published:  October 30, 2018
Publisher:  St. Martin’s Press
My Rating:  4.5 stars

It is always such a pleasure for me to slip, once again, back into one of Valerie Bowman’s worlds – this time into the next story in the Playful Brides series.  One of the many reasons that I love falling into Valerie Bowman’s worlds is that we never, ever truly leave old friends from previous stories in the series behind.  There are always short appearances from people who have moved this series forward, and if you look closely, also an introduction (however light) of the next couple we will meet.  That continuity in a series adds a deeper level of involvement for me, and it is something that I always look forward to in her current story.

Regina is a strong woman who knows her own mind and desires.  As she approaches her thirtieth birthday she is firmly in the spinster category in her own mind.  However, her dying uncle has an arranged marriage planned for Regina whether she wishes it or not.  Since Regina has turned down many a proposal over the years it’s easy to think that she’s stubborn and headstrong – while that might be true in some areas, the fact is very simple… Regina had hoped to marry for love.  Since that dream has been denied her, then she is at least going to experience true passion before she ties herself into a  loveless marriage.  The perfect man for that passionate encounter is Daffin Oakleaf… if only he’d step off of his high horse and admit his attraction to her as well.

Daffin did indeed have a passionate attraction to Regina, which is why he initially turned her down.  Their social status was not on an equal level, and there was no way that Daffin could have Regina for one night and then simply let her go.  When unusual accidents begin to happen around Regina and her family, Daffin’s close friend asked the Bow Street Runner to turn his hand to bodyguard for Regina, not being overly aware of the sparks flying between them.  While it might be one of the most difficult favors Daffin has ever done for a friend, he will not let Regina be harmed.  What they both discover is a dangerous mystery where someone is truly out to harm, if not kill Regina.  It’s up to Daffin and Regina to discover the truth and uncover the villain.  If, along the way, they discover that the sparks turn to passion, and the passion turns to love … well, would that truly be such a horrible thing.

Kiss Me at Christmas is a delightful romance, a compelling mystery with a charming touch of Christmas in the background.  I enjoyed myself so much in this story that the added touches of an historical Christmas were simply a bonus to the heart of Regina and Daffin’s story.  There is always a way, if you search for it, for love to triumph in the end.  Understanding why Daffin has such a dislike of the Christmas season was emotional, yet also watching him open up to Regina was such a tender experience.   I liked this couple, through embarrassment, passion, danger and on into love I complexly believed in this couple and certainly was rooting for their happy ending together in their future.  This is a story you could enjoy any time of the year for the Christmas touches are in the background not the main pull of the story.  I happen to love a good red herring tossed in, and I was not disappointed.  If you not only love a good Romance but enjoy a Mystery, a bit of Suspense and adore anything Christmas… then you’ll find everything you’re looking for in Kiss Me at Christmas.  I would highly recommend this story to any Historical Romance reader who enjoys a good solid story, believable characters, a passionate couple and a mystery to solve.

*I received an e-ARC of this novel from the publisher via NetGalley. That does not change what I think of this story. It is my choice to leave a review giving my personal opinion about this book.*

Available for the Kindle