Happy Hump Day Holidays! I’ve been thinking about this weeks feature novel allll week! It is so fun and flirty and inviting, not to mention full of saucy, seductive delight! I’ve been a super fan of Valerie Bowman’s ever since I came across The Unexpected Duchess. Bowman’s easy and beguiling writing style was instantly sold on me and I am ecstatic that ten books in, she continues to raise the bar and deliver tales of amazing heroines and the Dukes, Captains, Pirates, Rakes and Lords who find themselves ensnared by them. The Playful Brides series is hysterical historical gold and is the first series that comes to mind when I recommend novels in this genre. These delightful stories are wonderful stand alones but are utterly enjoyable as a series.
Book ten, Kiss Me at Christmas features a shelved heroine, Regina, who suddenly finds herself facing a doomed impending marriage. A union that she is uninterested in, given her intended is completely not her type. Poor Regina deftly dodges his most unwanted proposal, but he’s persistent and she’s running out of time. Resigning herself to a marriage that isn’t at all a love match, in her final act of defiance, she is determined to steal her own joy and revel in her own desires before settling down with a man she doesn’t love. Her plan- have a night of passion with the only man who gives her butterflies, Bow Street Runner, Daffin Oakleaf. Only, Daffin isn’t some stud for hire and while he is lustfully attracted to Regina, he also cares for her, her reputation and his friendship with her protective cousin, let alone secrets from his past that haunt him constantly. How can he possibly have Regina for one night and see her married off?! Not on this private detective’s watch!
Regina and Daffin’s clumsy and flirtatious endeavors were a riot. I loved them both and adored the plot. Kiss Me at Christmas is just what you need if you are looking for a historical romance to enjoy.
Tis the season for Love!
“Happy Birthday, Regina.” He pulled a small green velvet box from his coat pocket and presented it to her.
“What’s that?” she asked, glancing at the box.
“A gift. For you. Open it and find out.” She tossed the rest of the licorice into the snow, grabbed the box, and flipped it open to reveal a large oval sapphire ring set amidst smaller diamonds. Daffin lowered himself to one knee, crunching through the snow on the ground.
“You’ll get your breeches wet,” she warned, tears in her eyes.
“I don’t care.”
“It’s gorgeous,” she said, covering her mouth with her mitten.
“It reminded me of your eyes,” he said. “Say yes?”
“You want to marry me?” she breathed.
“I do.” Daffin jumped to his feet and wrapped his gloved hands over her shoulders. “If you’ll have me, that is.”
She nodded tearily. “But why, why do you want to marry me?”
“For the best reason,” he continued… He lifted her chin with one finger. “Because I cannot live without you.”
She dashed away the tears with her mitten.
“I can only hope you feel the same about me,” Daffin continued.
“I do.” She nodded, cradling the ring box to her chest. “I will marry you. I don’t care about your past. I’m only sorry you had to go through all of that. But if you hadn’t I wouldn’t have you here to love, to be my husband.”
Daffin pulled her into his arms. “I don’t deserve you, Regina, but I promise I’ll spend the rest of my life trying to make you happy.”
“I will be, Daffin. As long as I’m with you.” She gave him a tearful smile. He returned her smile.
“I love you, Regina Haversham, with all my heart.”
“And I love you, Daffin Oakleaf, with all of mine.”
Tis (also) the season for Lust!
She lifted her knee and curled a leg around his hips, her gown falling down to her thigh. He didn’t want to stop. At least not yet. “Regina,” he breathed. “Are you all right?”
“Yes, please don’t stop.”
His hand made its way down her body, skimming her hip and flat belly before he pulled up her gown to find the perfect spot between her legs. He skimmed his fingers along the seam of her sex and parted her lips to slowly dip a finger inside her… He withdrew his finger and slid it back in again, mimicking a motion his hips were desperate for. Her eyes widened. Her head thrashed against the sheets. He leaned over her to watch her face while his finger moved inside of her.
“Daffin,” she moaned. “I want you.”
He leaned down to cover her mouth with his…There was something else he could offer her, something unbearably intimate and delightful. Shifting to his knees, he tossed her gown over her thighs and slid down to position his head between her legs. Then, meeting her wide gaze a final time, and finding arousal instead of trepidation, he slowly lowered his mouth to her. The first taste of her was like heaven. He licked her deeply, while she gasped.
Instead of clamping her legs together and pushing him away like he’d guessed she might, she spread her legs wide and grasped his head. “More,” she called in a throaty voice. He smiled against her flesh, and kissed the silken skin of her inner thigh, before drawing his tongue languidly over the heart of her. Even in the midst of lovemaking, she surprised him. Damn it. He was so hard he ached. He ground a little against the mattress, knowing this time wasn’t for him and trying to keep the sweet, primal drive at bay. Driven by the taste of her, desperate to claim her and knowing only one way to leave her fulfilled and yet whole, he plied her with his tongue, explored her tight warmth with the slow, inexorable thrust of his finger, until her hips rose to drive against his every caress. Then he found the little nub at the top of her sex and lightly sucked it into his mouth. Regina cried out. Her fingers tightened in his hair, her thighs quaked. Her spine arched off the mattress with the force of her release. Daffin didn’t relent until she breathed his name and fell back against the pillows. He straightened, breathing hard, as his gaze anxiously searched her face.
Daffin pushed himself up to lie at her side and drew her night rail down to cover her. He remained silent while her breathing evened out. He lay on his back and stared at the canopy overhead, willing his own desire back to a manageable place. Finally he pulled her tightly against him and kissed her ear. “What do you think?”
He would give anything to bury himself inside of her, but this would be as far as they ever went. Perhaps he shouldn’t have waited so long to do this. He’d been able to pleasure her without ruining her. The perfect compromise between her wish and his unworthiness.
“That was the most extraordinary thing that has ever happened to my body.”
He grinned, brought her hand to his mouth, and kissed the back of it. “My pleasure, my lady.”
“It was my pleasure.” He laughed and brushed a dark curl away from her cheek.
“Was it what you expected?” Curiosity spurred him to ask.
“No.” She shook her head. “It was better than what I expected. Much better.” He rubbed a knuckle across her cheekbone.
“Don’t make me arrogant.”
“You should be arrogant after that.”
He leaned up on an elbow and searched her face, becoming entirely serious. “Regina, you must agree, we cannot do more than that and we must not allow it to happen ever again.” She rose on her elbow too and stared right back at him.
“I agree to no such thing.”
Kiss Me at Christmas is available now!