Tag: Valerie Bowman

Sunday Spotlight: Kiss Me at Christmas by Valerie Bowman

Posted November 25, 2018 by Holly in Features | 3 Comments

Sunday Spotlight is a feature we began in 2016. This year we’re spotlighting our favorite books, old and new. We’ll be raving about the books we love and being total fangirls. You’ve been warned. 🙂

Sunday Spotlight

Sunday Spotlight: Kiss Me at Christmas by Valerie BowmanKiss Me at Christmas (Playful Brides, #10) by Valerie Bowman
Series: Playful Brides #10
Also in this series: The Right Kind of Rogue
Publisher: St. Martin's Paperbacks
Publication Date: October 30, 2018
Point-of-View: Alternating Third
Genres: Historical Romance
Pages: 299
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Goodreads

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?

I’m generally anti-Christmas until after American Thanksgiving, but I make an exception every year for holiday romances. I start stockpiling them in October. I’m a sucker for them. This is book 10 in the series, but I’m told it can stand alone well. There’s something really satisfying about historical holiday romances, don’t you think?

Order the Book:

AMAZON || BARNES AND NOBLE || KOBO

Excerpt

CHAPTER TWENTY-FOUR

“But Daffin, it’s been days and there’s been no sign of anyone,” Nicole insisted the next morning. She was lying on the sofa in the middle of the green salon, her hand resting on her forehead, one foot rocking back & forth. “I cannot stay inside a moment longer or I’ll go mad. I merely want to have a short jaunt around the meadow on my horse. I need some fresh air. Desperately. Please, it’s Christmas Eve.”

Regina sat across from Daffin, nodding vigorously. “Yes, I agree. Please, may we go for a ride?”

“Should you be riding in your condition?” Daffin countered, addressing Nicole. His booted foot was crossed over his knee and he was eyeing her with a mixture of suspicion and tolerance.

“Racing, no,” Nicole replied, her voice still pleading. “But a quick jaunt will hardly hurt me, and Atalanta is a perfectly trained horse.”

“Grimaldi wouldn’t want either of you to go,” Daffin replied.

Regina paused and set the embroidery in her lap. She contemplated the question for a moment. “Yes, but in all these days, you’ve found no evidence we were followed here. I say it’s safe to believe the man who tried to hurt me is still in London.”

Daffin groaned and rubbed a hand across his face. His gaze bounced between the two ladies. “I have a feeling I’m going to regret this, but very well. I insist upon accompanying you, however.”

“I never doubted it,” Nicole said with a smug smile. She hoisted herself from the sofa and headed toward the door. “I’m off to dress in my riding habit.”

Less than an hour later, outfitted in his own riding gear, Daffin accompanied Regina and Nicole out the back of the manor house. As they set out on the path to the stables, Daffin glanced around uneasily. He didn’t like the idea of Regina being out in the open. It was true that he had seen no evidence of an intruder since they’d been here, but he didn’t like to take chances.

Nicole spun in a circle and sucked in lungsful of air. “It’s so good to be outside. I don’t even care that it’s so cold.”

Regina laughed. “I agree. It’s been positively stifling in that house.”

He was barely listening. He was focused on keeping his eyes and ears sharp, attuned to any noise or movement. The usual servants bustled about. He’d got to know them all over the last several days. Nothing appeared out of the ordinary.

“Honestly, Daffin, you cannot think the shooter could be here of all places. We’d see him coming a field’s length away,” Nicole said.

Daffin continued to scan the countryside. The meadow was clear and packed with untouched snow. Beyond it, a copse of trees. Nicole was right. No one could approach the house without being seen, and he’d had the footmen and groomsmen on watch round the clock. He stood watch daily himself. “Until we have a better idea who he is, I don’t know what he’s capable of, which means if you’re outside, you’re potentially in danger.”

They entered the stables and the smell of fresh hay, leather, and horses met their nostrils. Nicole waved to one of the groomsmen. “Good morning, Jacob. Did you saddle Atalanta?” They’d sent a footman to ask the groomsman to saddle the horses.

“Yes, my lady,” the groomsman replied. “She’s right there in the stall.”

“And Excalibur?” Regina added.

Daffin’s head snapped to the side to face her. He arched a brow. “Your horse is named Excalibur?”

“And she’s a girl,” Regina said with a nod. “I was a bit grandiose as a child.”

Daffin shook his head and grinned at her.

“Let me go greet my girl,” Regina said, on her way toward the stall. “I’ve missed her so much.”

Now that they were in the confines of the stable, Daffin relaxed a bit, but his guard remained up. They were about to ride through open fields, and that would be dangerous. Jacob should come with them for added protection. It couldn’t hurt to have another set of eyes. He turned to speak to the groomsman.

A gasp from Regina made him swivel. She stood by her horse’s stall, her hand over her mouth.

“What is it?” Daffin asked, quickly making his way to join her.

Regina pointed toward the saddle. Daffin turned his gaze in the direction she’d indicated. He narrowed his eyes. There was a small card sticking up between the saddle and the horse’s back.

He leaned closer and snatched up the card. Only five words were scrawled on it in a messy hand.

I’m watching you, Lady Regina.

Playful Brides

Giveaway Alert

We’re giving one lucky winner their choice of one of our Sunday Spotlight books. Use the Gleam widget below to enter for one of this month’s features.

Sunday Spotlight: November 2018

Are you as excited for this release as we are? Let us know how excited you are and what other books you’re looking forward to this year!

About Valerie Bowman

Valerie Bowman Headshot

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


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Guest Review: The Right Kind of Rogue by Valerie Bowman

Posted November 2, 2017 by Tracy in Reviews | 0 Comments

Guest Review: The Right Kind of Rogue by Valerie BowmanReviewer: Tracy
The Right Kind of Rogue by Valerie Bowman
Series: Playful Brides #8
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Publication Date: October 31st 2017
Format: eARC
Genres: Historical Romance
Pages: 320
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
Goodreads
three-stars

Can two star-crossed lovers come together―until death do they part?

Viscount Hart Highgate has decided to put his rakish ways behind him and finally get married. He may adore a good brandy or a high-speed carriage race, but he takes his duties as heir to the earldom seriously. Now all he has to do is find the right kind of woman to be his bride―ideally, one who’s also well-connected and well-funded. . .

Meg Timmons has loved Hart, the brother of her best friend, ever since she was an awkward, blushing schoolgirl. If only she had a large dowry―or anything to her name at all. Instead, she’s from a family that’s been locked in a bitter feud with Hart’s for years. And now she’s approaching her third London season, Meg’s chances with him are slim to none. Unless a surprise encounter on a deep, dark night could be enough to spark a rebellious romance. . .for all time?

Meg has been in love with Hart since she was 16 years old.  She wants nothing more than to be with him but she knows it’s hopeless.  Their parents are enemies and barely tolerate Meg’s friendship with Hart’s sister, Sarah.  Also, Meg is a wallflower with no dowry as her father has gambled it away.  She’s good ton but has no money.

Meg finds out from Sarah that Hart is planning on searching the marriage mart for a wife so Meg enlists her friend, Lucy (a duchess), to help her.  Lucy is ruthless but believes that Meg truly loves Hart so she helps her.   After dressing Meg in stunning gowns Hart can’t help but notice Meg but he knows he can never do more than admire her – although he does steal a kiss or two.  Though Hart likes Meg he knows he can’t be with her and is frustrated that he even thinks about being with her.

When Meg finds out that her family is to move to Spain to try and outrun her father’s creditors Lucy knows she has to step up her game. Unfortunately Hart is only half-thrilled with the outcome and both Hart and Meg may end up miserable in the end.

This was a historical romance that I really enjoyed reading.  Meg was a great heroine and I liked so much about her.  Her parents were horrible people but she had turned out to be such a nice person.  I really couldn’t see how she was friends with the ever-scheming Lucy but their friendship worked.

Hart was more than a bit of a rogue but he was a nice man underneath it all.  I liked how he treated Meg before the shit hit the fan and even after that I knew that his feelings had been hurt.  He came off as angry but I would have been too (no, I can’t tell you what happened ‘cuz that will just ruin it!). Just take it from me – he was a good guy.

This is apparently book 8 in a series but I hadn’t read any of the others in the series and didn’t feel lost at all, which was nice.  It was a decent story and I had fun reading it.

Rating: 3 out of 5

three-stars


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Guest Review: Secrets of a Runaway Bride by Valerie Bowman

Posted July 12, 2013 by Tracy in Reviews | 1 Comment

Guest Review: Secrets of a Runaway Bride by Valerie BowmanReviewer: Rowena
Secrets of a Runaway Bride (Secret Brides, #2) by Valerie Bowman
Publisher: St. Martin's Paperbacks
Publication Date: March 26th 2013
Genres: Historical Romance
Pages: 384
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
Goodreads
three-half-stars

The Thrill Of Escape

Miss Annie Andrews is finally free to marry the man she loves. With her overprotective sister out of the country on her honeymoon, nothing can prevent her flight to Gretna Green—nothing, that is, but an abduction by the wrong gentleman.

The Sweetness Of Surrender

When Jordan Holloway, the Earl of Ashbourne, promised to look after his best friend's sister-in-law, he didn’t realize she would prove so difficult. But when he spirits her away to his country house to prevent her elopement, he discovers that the tempting beauty knows how to put up a fight. To make matters worse, he’s stuck playing the role of honorable protector...when what he really wants is to run away with her himself.

http://us.macmillan.com/secretsofarun...

Anne Andrews has pretty much been left on her own in London. Her sister Lily is on her honeymoon and her chaperone for the month is her aunt by marriage, Aunt Clarissa. Aunt Clarissa is a bit of a lush so she’s really not all that much of a chaperone. Since Anne thinks herself in love with a man named Arthur Eggleston, and about six months ago had tried to marry him by heading off to Gretna Green. She was stopped then but she’s determined to get Arthur to marry her. Unfortunately Arthur’s not exactly coming up to snuff. Anne is kind of making a fool of herself trying to get Arthur’s attention and it falls to Lily’s friend Jordan Holloway, the Earl of Ashbourne, to try to keep her reputation pristine and Anne out of trouble. Unfortunately Anne is proving to be a royal pain in the ass.

Jordan saves Anne from herself time and time again and even saves her from yet another attempt to get to Gretna Green with Arthur. Jordan decides he’s had enough and drags Anne, her maid and Aunt Clarissa to his manor in Surrey to keep Anne out of trouble. While in Surrey Jordan tries to find an eligible bachelor for Anne to marry but when it comes down to it she decides she wants Jordan. He, however, decided about 6 years before that he would never marry.

This was a good little read. Anne was a bit of a pain in the ass but she was sweet and really had good intentions with everything she did. She had self-esteem issues as her sister is extremely beautiful and her father once told her that she was unremarkable. I couldn’t blame her for thinking that she wasn’t all that pretty as it had been drilled into her head, that’s for sure. I did think she was in love for love. I don’t know, she really seemed kind of finicky in the book and seemed to go from Arthur to Jordan pretty quickly. She did realize pretty quickly that Arthur wasn’t what she wanted but still – it was a bit frustrating.

Jordan was supposedly a rake but we really didn’t see that except for him with his mistress once. He really was an upstanding man and I liked him a whole hell of a lot. He tried to be honorable time and again when it came to Anne but she really made it difficult for him. He tried! LOL

Overall it was a decent story with some fun parts to it. I certainly liked it much better than book 1 and after reading an excerpt of book 3 I’m definitely interested.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

The Series:
Book Cover Book Cover

You can read more from Tracy at Tracy’s Place.

This book is available from St. Martin’s Paperbacks. You can buy it here or here in e-format. This book was provided by the publisher for an honest review.

three-half-stars


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What I Read Last Week

Posted June 17, 2013 by Tracy in Features | 2 Comments

“It’s just another manic Monday. Wowo wowo” (Starting with a little Bangles music from 1986.)

Actually I think the Monday so far is going alright but I’m still manic from this past weekend. On Saturday we helped some friends move and that was tiring of course. Then on Sunday morning I helped, with 3 other parent, run a youth group car wash fundraiser in the church parking lot. The adults moved cars and the youth group washed and dried while the car owners were in church. The wash was free we just asked for donations. We ended up raising over $1,000.00 so we were exhausted afterwards but quite excited. The money will help pay for the mission trip the youth will be on at the end of the month. They’re headed to the Diocese of Navaholand to help out. I think it will be great. My oldest is going – hopefully she’ll have a good time.

After I got home from car wash I wound down a bit and then my youngest asked the hubby and I to rearrange her room and add the bookshelf that’s been sitting in the garage forever. She’d asked before but the weekend schedule just never left enough time. Well it was mostly the Tracy show with the hubby coming in when he needed to muscle things around but it finally got done and looks great. It should after spending 5 hours moving, trashing and reorganizing the place! lol  Needless to say there wasn’t much time this weekend for reading but I did get some done this past week:

So, what did I read last week? 

I started the week with The Secrets of a Runaway Bride by Valerie Bowman. This is book 2 in the Secrets Brides series and I have to say I liked this one much better than book one. In this story we have Annie or Anne who is love with a complete milktoast man who can’t seem to keep his own opinion. He’s always going with what others. If he’s with his father he goes with his pov. When he’s with Anne, he goes with her pov. Frustrating. Anne is making a bit of a mess of things as she can’t seem to leave Arthur alone and she’s pursuing him so that he’ll propose once again. They were stopped from getting to Gretna Green in the last book but that was 6 months before and she’s ready for the relationship to go to the next level. Her sister is on her honeymoon but before she left she asked a friend, Jordan Holloway, to look after Anne. He gets frustrated as well as he’s constantly trying to save Anne from herself but then falls in love with her himself. It was a very cute book and an enjoyable read. A bit predictable but fun, nonetheless. 3.5 out of 5 (read for Book Binge) 

Next up was Flirting With Disaster by Ruthie Knox. This story is about Katie who took off with her boyfriend when she was just out of high school and got married but he eventually took off leaving her high and dry. She’s back in her hometown of Camelot and her brother has gotten her off the couch and into the office in his security firm. He lets her take a case along with one of his security guys, Sean, who has liked Katie since he was in high school. He has a stutter though so tries to refrain from speaking as he’s sure he’ll much it up. They eventually work together on the case as well as in the bed but they both get more involved in each other than they planned. This was a good read as well. I liked that Sean stuttered and Knox didn’t have him magically saved by the end of the book. He was who he was and I loved it. You can read more of my thoughts here. 3.75 out of 5 

My next read was Damned if You Do: The Complete Collection by JL Merrow. This is the story of a male succubus and a police officer with the Paranormal Enforcement agency who meet and can’t keep their hands off each other. There are 4 novellas/stories in this m/m collection and they’re all very entertaining and sexy. I’ll post my review for this one later this week. 4 out of 5 

The Secrets of Mia Danvers by Robyn DeHart is about a woman who is blind. She lives in a cottage at the corner of a Duke’s property but was abandoned by her family and the ton was lead to believe she was dead. When she witnesses a murder she heads to the Duke’s home and from there the duke and Mia become friends and then so much more. I really like blind heroines as they give a level of depth in a story that might not otherwise be there. Things get heated, especially when Mia thinks that the killer might be the duke’s brother. 3.75 out of 5 (read for Book Binge) 

Last for the week was Life of the Party by Kate Davies. This is the 3rd and final story in the Girls Most Likely to… series. This story was Tess’s and it’s about her friend and kind of co-worker, Luke, getting together. She has self-esteem issues and he’s been burned by previous girlfriends due to his American Indian heritage. It was a good story and a good way to pass the time but nothing made it really stand out. 3 out of 5

My Book Binge reviews that posted last week:
Unforgiven by Anne Calhoun
Ellie’s Gentleman by Georgiana Louis

Happy Reading!!


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Guest Review: Secrets of a Wedding Night by Valerie Bowman

Posted January 10, 2013 by Tracy in Reviews | 3 Comments

Tracy’s review of Secrets of a Wedding Night (Secret Brides #1) by Valerie Bowman 

How to Stop a Wedding
Young, widowed, and penniless, Lily Andrews, the Countess of Merrill,has strong opinions on marriage. When she spots a certain engagement announcement in The Times, she decides to take action. She will not allow another hapless girl to fall prey to a man—particularly the scoundrel who broke her heart five years ago. Anonymously she writes and distributes a pamphlet entitled “Secrets of a Wedding Night,” knowing it will find its way into his intended’s innocent hands…

How to Seduce a Widow

Devon Morgan, the Marquis of Colton, desires a good wife and mother to his son—someone completely unlike Lily Andrews, the heartless beauty who led him on a merry chase five years ago only to reject him. When Devon’s new fiancée cries off after reading a certain scandalous pamphlet, he vows to track down the author and make her pay. But when he learns it’s his former fiancée Lily, he issues a challenge: write a retraction or prepare to be seduced—to find out how wonderful a wedding night can be…

Our book begins with widow Lily Andrews attempting to find money in her account books that don’t exist. Lily, her sister Anne, their butler and one maid have lived off of 10 pounds a year for the past 5 years and the money is just not enough. Lily’s good friend James Medford is sponsoring Anne’s debut ball but they still need money to eat! The ironic thing is that everyone in the ton is under the impression that she’s rich. Not soon after the book begins Lily is visited by her old beau, Devon Morgan. Devon is pissed off that Lily wrote a pamphlet called Secrets of a Wedding Night and because of its content it has caused his fiance to call off the wedding. Devon doesn’t actually know for sure that Lily wrote it but that’s the rumor. I have no idea how that rumor is started or why anyone would think it was Lily but there you have it. Lily denies it but Devon is pissed and wants a retraction written. When Lily refuses Devon swears revenge. He assures Lily that since she wrote about the horrors of the wedding night that she just hadn’t been with a man who knew what he was doing. He tells her that he intends to seduce her and prove to her how wrong her pamphlet is. Right away I knew that the characters in this book were going to be overly dramatic. It didn’t bode well for the rest of the book but I read on.
The couple tends to ebb and flow in their love and hate for each other. They don’t trust each other, they don’t believe in each other – it doesn’t set things up for a solid HEA. Five years ago they were in love but she received a note on the morning that she was to elope with him saying he was crying off. He received basically the same note. For the last five years they’ve believed the worst about each other and for all of the conversations that are had over the course of the story they don’t clear that up until the end of the book. Why, oh why, did we have to wait? The story could have gone on had they known that info earlier! *sigh* She’s destitute but he just lets everyone think that he’s poor but he’s really quite wealthy. I understood this to a point but after all was said and done it just didn’t make that much difference in the story even though it was brought up constantly.
Anyway, Lily is shy and quiet one minute and saucy and provocative the next. It was a bit disconcerting going into each chapter not knowing what to expect. At times I really liked the couple but most of the time I found them childish and not all that likable. The heroine was controlling and manipulative and so was the hero in his own way.
When I finished the book and Lily and Devon had had their happily ever after I can’t say I was all that satisfied. The story is filled with dishonesty, rumors, innuendos and not so witty banter. I found the book to be frustrating and in the end just an ok read.
Oh…and an aside…see the man on the cover?  Is he wearing a corset?  I swear at first I thought it was her sleeve but when you look closely it’s black and very, uh, corset-like.  Opinion???
 
Rating: 2 out of 5 

You can read more from Tracy at Tracy’s Place
This book is available from St. Martin’s Paperbacks. You can buy it here or here in e-format. This book was provided by the publisher for an honest review.


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