Kiss Me at Christmas

Valerie Bowman. St. Martin’s, $7.99 mass market (320p) ISBN 978-1-250-14752-3

Bowman’s 10th Playful Brides Regency (after A Duke like No Other) sizzles with sensuality and mystery. Determined to experience one night of passion with the man of her choice, Lady Regina Haversham propositions Bow Street Runner Daffin Oakleaf, begging him to take her virginity before she is forced to wed the Earl of Dryden. Though attracted to Regina, Daffin turns her down because of her impending engagement and his friendship with her cousin, Mark Grimaldi, who’s both Marquess of Coleford and the Secretary of the Home Office. Mark is alarmed when Regina and his wife, Nicole, are separately involved in carriage accidents, and hires Daffin to protect the women. The magnetic attraction between Regina and Daffin heats up as they spend more time in close quarters, and their friendship and romance blossom, but the class difference means a future together is unlikely. Memorable characters, rich sensuality, and mystery will entice readers from the very first page. Agent: Kevan Lyon, Marsal Lyon Literary. (Nov.)