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Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Caught Under the Mistletoe...with Valerie Bowman and Giveaway

Caught Under the Mistletoe on Christmas Eve - Valerie Bowman

Valerie Bowman is an award-winning author who writes Regency-set historical romance novels with a focus on sharp dialogue, engaging story lines, and heroines who take matters into their own hands!

Valerie's first Regency series from St. Martin's Press has garnered acclaim including a nomination for Best First Historical from RT Book Reviews, a BookList starred review, and a Publishers Weekly starred review. Her work has been called "Too delightful to miss" by New York Times bestselling author, Lisa Kleypas and "Everything a romance should be" by New York Times bestselling author, Sarah MacLean.

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 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 rascally rescue dog, Roo. When she's not writing, she keeps busy reading, traveling, or vacillating between watching crazy reality TV and PBS. Valerie loves to hear from readers.

Places to find Valerie:
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Caught Under the Mistletoe on Christmas Eve

When Oliver Townsende escapes to his friend’s house for a Christmas party, he intends to avoid the hordes of marriage-minded misses who have been dogging his steps in London ever since he inherited a dukedom. He soon learns a bit of Yuletide peace and quiet is too much to ask for. When he encounters Miss Cerian Blake, who’s dodging her own unwanted set of admirers, the two decide to join forces and fake an infatuation to keep their suitors at bay. But when a bough of mistletoe becomes involved, will their Christmastime prank turn into a love to last all seasons?


They’d all been playing draughts, innocently playing draughts, when Lady Selina suggested they change the game. Cerian should have known at the first indication of that young lady’s pink cheeks and tittering laughter that something else was afoot. Of course it took her all of a half a minute to realize what Lady Selina was up to.

“It’s time for our first Christmastide game. Miss Cosgrove and I have hidden special boughs of mistletoe throughout the manor house. We shall each go on a hunt for them. When a lady finds a bough, she must kiss the first gentleman who happens along.”

Cerian let out a breath. Draughts had been so much less dramatic. Why couldn’t they simply continue to play nice, safe draughts? And kissing a gentleman who found you with a bough of mistletoe seemed a bit scandalous even for the fast Lady Selina. Where was that girl’s mother? Hmm. Standing back while her daughter roped in a duke, no doubt.

Lady Selina’s giggles were quite getting the best of her. Cerian briefly wondered if she would choke. But even that would interrupt her draughts game. There was no help for it. Either way she wasn’t playing draughts anymore this afternoon.

“The gentlemen shall begin at the west end of the house and the ladies, the east,” Lady Selina explained.

Cerian glanced over at the duke. He arched a dark brow and gave her a comical look that made her guess he was thinking exactly what she was, that Lady S didn’t know her right from her left. Let alone the east from the west. This game was clearly set up.

Lady Selina was busily ushering everyone into two lines, one for gentlemen, the other for ladies. Cerian dutifully stepped into line behind the Davis twins. The poor young women looked horrified at the prospect of finding a bit of mistletoe and being forced to kiss a gentleman. Cerian leaned forward and whispered, “Remember ladies, just because you find it, needn’t mean you must admit it.” She smiled at them both and the two sisters exchanged relieved looks.

Cerian nodded. The gentlemen’s queue was quickly forming to her right, and she glanced up to see Oliver step into line beside her. His grin was unrepentant. “Are you thinking what I’m thinking?” he asked, shoving both hands inside his pockets.

Cerian gave him a sideways smile. “That Lady Selina knows exactly where every sprig of mistletoe lies and intends to trap you with it like a hare?”

He coughed lightly into his hand, hiding a laugh. “Something like that.”

“Yes, well, one can only wonder how she has worked out how to catch you first. I expect a catfight in the dining room within minutes.”

Oliver shuddered. “I intend to stay far away from the dining room.”

“So do I,” Cerian agreed.

The queues moved then, as the ladies shuffled out the door to the left and the men, the right. Cerian swallowed a horrified giggle. “What’ll I do if I find a bough?”

Oliver wore a frown on his face. He nodded toward Lord Esterbrooke and Sir Gilliam who were craning their necks to see Cerian. “I expect you’ll have quite a bit of company,” he warned.

Cerian wrinkled her nose. “Ugh.”

She and Oliver were the next to part. They stepped toward the door and Oliver leaned over and whispered, “We might as well begin to put our plan into action. Meet me in the library. It’s directly in the middle.”

Plan? Into action? Oh, that’s right. She had agreed to the duke’s tempting offer, hadn’t she?

Before Cerian had a chance to answer, Lady Selina quickly stepped between them and pointed in their respective directions while giving Oliver a bright smile. She completely ignored Cerian.

Cerian halfheartedly followed the Davis twins down the corridor until those two decided to take off into one of the drawing rooms. Cerian briefly considered sneaking up to her room to retrieve her book. Surely reading was a more noble pursuit than this outlandish game, but every time she remembered Oliver whispering ‘meet me in the library’, gooseflesh popped out along her arm. She quickly walked down the corridor in pursuit of that large room, taking the time to pause along the way in an attempt to pretend to be searching for the elusive sprigs of mistletoe.

The closer she got to the library, the more quickly she walked. She’d probably gone too fast. There were no young ladies behind her any longer and no gentlemen appeared to be approaching from the opposite direction. She was lost. That’s what she was. She spun in a circle, completely unsure of the location of the library. She turned back in the direction in which she’d come.

Sitting in the middle of the corridor, staring at Cerian as if she hadn’t just appeared out of nowhere, was the cat.

That same gray cat she’d met in the silver closet. Only this time, the cat had a sprig of holly tied loosely around her neck. Quite a jaunty Christmastide cat, Cerian had to admit.

She bent down and held out a hand. The cat walked directly toward her, passed her by, ignoring her hand, and kept walking, swishing her bushy tail as if to say, ‘follow me.’ Cerian plunked her hands on her hips and watched the cat go. She’d never met such a bold cat. Cats, in her experience, were mostly concerned with staying out of the way and avoiding people they didn’t know; this cat seemed to relish attention. It marched down the corridor. When the cat stopped about twenty paces away and turned back to give her a doleful look, Cerian realized the animal did indeed intend for her to follow.

Her brow furrowed and shaking her head, Cerian rapidly fell in line behind the cat. The feline plodded along, making three turns, bypassing several rooms, and finally coming to stop in front of two large ornately carved wooden doors. Cerian followed the entire way, though not without questioning her sanity for being led about by a household pet. Finally, she glanced up at the doors and blinked. The library. Why, that ever-so-helpful cat had led her directly to the library.

Cerian slipped through the doors holding her breath. The cat happily trotted in behind her. That cat was unique, no doubt about it. Cerian watched the animal prance past Oliver who was standing next to a large desk, his legs crossed at the ankles. The cat bobbed past him, the sprig of holly hugging its neck like a jolly little Christmas decoration.

Cerian looked up at Oliver. A brace of candles sat on the desk behind him and he appeared to be staring at something on the ceiling.

Cerian glanced up.

“Behold the errant mistletoe,” he said with a laugh.

And there it was, fastened over the settee, hanging from the chandelier.

Cerian made her way over to where Oliver stood. “How did you know there would be mistletoe in here?”

“Merely an educated guess. Stood to reason since this is one of the first rooms both the ladies and the gentlemen will stumble upon together.”

“Ah, so I expect we’ll have company soon, then.”

“No doubt,” he replied.

Cerian twisted her fingers together and concentrated on keeping her foot from tapping. “’Twill be interesting to see who it is, actually.”

He laughed at that.

“My money is on Lady Selina,” Cerian added.

“I think that would be a safe bet, my dear Miss Blake.”

Cerian swallowed. Ooh, the way he said, ‘My dear Miss Blake’ made her tingle inside.

She crossed her arms over her chest to quell her nerves and took a few steps over to the settee to stare up at the mistletoe. “Seems a bit of a letdown, really.” She sighed. “The mistletoe wasn’t the least bit difficult to find.”

“I have a feeling the ladies in charge of this particular charade intended ease of locating the mistletoe to be of the utmost importance.”

Cerian nodded. “No doubt.”

“What should we do with it?” he asked, his question hanging in the air like the spicy scent of mulled wine. “Now that we’ve found it?”

For a moment Cerian wondered if he meant . . . If he meant . . . No, he couldn’t mean that. Cerian gulped this time. Then she snapped her fingers. “We should hide it,” she announced, a mischievous smile on her face.

“Hide it?” The duke blinked twice.

“Yes. Won’t that be the most fun? Then when Lady Selina comes rushing in, we can pretend we know nothing about it.”

He regarded her with something akin to admiration alight in his eyes. “Miss Blake, I like the way you think.”

Cerian couldn’t tamp down her answering smile. “Thank you, your grace.” She executed a perfect sweeping curtsy. “Now if you’ll just…” She righted herself and stepped upon the settee. “Help me up.”

The duke offered her his hand, and she stepped up and reached for the bough of mistletoe. She pulled it down, tripped over her skirts, and fell into his arms, just as the door to the library opened and Lady Selina, Lord Esterbrooke, and Sir Gilliam came rushing inside.

Cerian’s feet barely touched the ground, before the duke cleared his throat, straightened his shoulders, and announced to the room at large, “Miss Blake, I believe you owe me a kiss.”

Can happily ever after begin with one Christmas kiss?

It Happened Under the Mistletoe is a brand-new holiday novella from award-winning author Valerie Bowman!

When Oliver Townsende escapes to his friend’s house for a Christmas party, he intends to avoid the hordes of marriage-minded misses who have been dogging his steps in London ever since he inherited a dukedom. He soon learns a bit of Yuletide peace and quiet is too much to ask for. When he encounters Miss Cerian Blake, who’s dodging her own unwanted set of admirers, the two decide to join forces and fake an infatuation to keep their suitors at bay. But when a bough of mistletoe becomes involved, will their Christmastime prank turn into a love to last all seasons?

Purchase: | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iTunes |

Check out the Secret Brides series:
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 Check out what's up for grabs.

Up For Grabs:
  • 1 eBook copy of It Happened Under the Mistletoe

To Enter: 
  • Please leave a comment or question for Valerie.
  • Please fill out the Rafflecopter form.

**Don't forget to enter the grand prize giveaway!

Good Luck! 

Special thanks to Valerie Bowman for sponsoring this giveaway.
a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. Hi, Valerie. I already read it, but thought I'd stop by. Merry Christmas!

  2. Hi, Valerie! Yet another one of your delightful novels that I cannot wait to read! Fingers crossed. Congratulations on all of your wonderful successes. :-)

  3. Great Excerpt! :) What a good story!

  4. Hello, Valerie! I LOVE "The Secret Brides Series"! Two more books left to read and then I wait for "The Unexpected Duchess". I have a Q: The Unexpected Duchess is the next book in the series but I think I saw that it's also the first book in the "World’s a Stage"/ "Playful Brides" series?
    Thank you for the giveaway and I wish you all the best for the upcoming holidays!

    1. Hi Ivana,
      The Unexpected Duchess is not part of Secret Brides. It's the first in the new Playful Brides series. Thanks for the comment and question!

    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

    3. Thank you, Valerie! I look forward to the new series!

  5. Hi Valerie! I love the book blurb--I can't wait to read the rest of it!

  6. This story seems filled with mischief!

  7. Love the excerpt; sounds like such a great read!

  8. What a fun story!! Thanks for sharing :)

  9. So, is the cat magical or just smart? LOL!

  10. The book looks really good.
    Wow 6 sisters. What was your favorite thing about Christmas growing up?

    1. Hi Lori,
      In my family we "hid" from Santa on Christmas Eve and after he left, we all ran downstairs to see what he brought us. Really fun!

  11. I can't wait to read this. It sounds like such a great read for the holidays.
    Thanks :)

  12. I love Valerie's books and own all the Tantor audio versions. Can't wait to read this one too. Merry Christmas!

    1. Ooh, don't you love Justine Eyre's voice, Molly?

  13. This sounds like a great Christmas read. Thank you for sharing.

  14. This one sounds really good! Thanks for the giveaway.

  15. Yet another great excerpt! I'm loving how involved the cat is in the story! Thanks, Valerie!

    1. I based the cat on my neighbor's cat who came into my house once through the dog door. He's a total snarf.

  16. I love Christmas stories, so Caught Under the Mistletoe sounds delightful.

  17. The excerpt was so cute. Thanks for the contest!

  18. I love Christmas books, thanks for the great reads.

  19. Excellent excerpt, makes me eager to read it. It's the perfect book to get you into the holiday spirit. I love the covers to, really beautiful.

    1. You know, I haven't read it since last summer, Steph. I need to read it again to get ME into the holiday spirit too! ha!

  20. Love excerpt! This sounds really good! Can't wait to read it!

  21. New book sounds great! Valerie is such a sweet person!

  22. Great excerpt; I'll definitely have to read the book.

  23. Love the mischief! Definitely a book I plan on reading over the holidays. Thanks for sharing the excerpt!

  24. Had already read this story , and loved it, but glad to re-live it so soon!

  25. Already won this book from Valerie. It's awesome, love the humor in it.

  26. Ah, Valerie, I love Christmas stories! I also like the tradition of mistletoe and am hanging a mistletoe ball myself this Christmas--for the first time! Our youngest son is bringing a girlfriend with him to our home and perhaps they will take advantage of it! :-) Thanks for the post.

  27. Hi Valerie -

    Christmas is my favorite holiday because it means I can use the excuse of the snow falling to stay inside and curl up in my favorite chair in front of the fireplace and read your wonderful stories! I've already asked Santa for a gift card in my stocking so I can pre-order The Unexpected Duchess coming out in April! As the family Christmas Elf I think it's only fitting that I put a copy of It Happened Under the Mistletoe in everyone's stocking!

  28. Thanks for the excerpt and the chance to win!
    Happy Holidays!

  29. This sounds like a wonderful Christmas read - my favorite.

  30. Sounds like a great Christmas novella

  31. I loved the excerpt. The humor was amazing. I loved the feeling of the conspiracy on both sides of the line. This is going a read I am going to enjoy. Thanks for the chance to enter this giveaway.

  32. Having already read this, I would say read it to those that haven't. It's short but sweet and it makes me giggly at some moments along. I think that is just me because of their little ruse

  33. This looks fiercely romantic! I can't wait to read it!

  34. This book looks like it has all the things I like in a Holiday read. Christmas traditions, mischief and fun. I can't wait to read it.
    Thanks, Sharon

  35. I've read and loved It Happened Under the Mistletoe, but I must say that I particularly enjoyed the cat lol

  36. Thanks for sharing the excerpt. Looks fiercely romantic! I can't wait to read it! :)

  37. Beautiful book cover and very interesting description of the story.

  38. What a cliffhanger! That's a devious way to pique our interest and make us want to read more!

  39. Oh that scene!!!! Another one of my favorites beside the closet! :D

  40. thanks for the giveaway chance!

  41. Hi, Valerie! Loved Cerian's and Oliver's story. Thanks for the giveaway!

    Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

  42. Thanks for the giveaway! Thanks for sharing the excerpt.

    Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!