eBook Details

Love is a Battlefield

Series: Games of Love , Book 1.0
By: Tamara Morgan | Other books by Tamara Morgan
Published By: Samhain Publishing, Ltd.
Published: Feb 14, 2012
ISBN # 9781609287634
Word Count: 90,695
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Available in: Adobe Acrobat, HTML, Mobipocket (.mobi), Rocket, Epub

Categories: Romance>Contemporary

Description
It takes a real man to wear a kilt. And a real woman to charm him out of it.

Games of Love, Book 1

It might be modern times, but Kate Simmons isn’t willing to live a life without at least the illusion of the perfect English romance. A proud member of the Jane Austen Regency Re-Enactment Society, Kate fulfills her passion for courtliness and high-waisted gowns in the company of a few women who share her love of all things heaving.

Then she encounters Julian Wallace, a professional Highland Games athlete who could have stepped right off the covers of her favorite novels. He’s everything brooding, masculine, and, well, heaving. The perfect example of a man who knows just how to wear his high sense of honor—and his kilt.

Confronted with a beautiful woman with a tongue as sharp as his sgian dubh, Julian and his band of merry men aren’t about to simply step aside and let Kate and her gaggle of tea-sippers use his land for their annual convention. Never mind that “his land” is a state park—Julian was here first, and he never backs down from a challenge.

Unless that challenge is a woman unafraid to fight for what she wants...and whose wants are suddenly the only thing he can think about.

Warning: The historical re-enactments in this story contain very little actual history. Battle chess and ninja stars may apply.
 
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Excerpt:
Copyright © 2012 Tamara Morgan
All rights reserved — a Samhain Publishing, Ltd. publication

At first glance, Cornwall Park was a plot of land undeserving of its title, not much more than an expanse of tall weeds marking a gravel parking lot. As she stepped out of the car, Kate could see nothing even remotely appealing about it. There were no trails, no children’s play areas, not even a patch of grass for an impromptu picnic.

“Oh, Kate, this is the best park ever,” Jada murmured.

Kate turned and followed the path of Jada’s gaze, which was riveted on a pair of figures in the distance.

Two massive, hulking figures.

Two massive, hulking figures about to—

“Jada, watch out!” Kate cried. She ducked behind her friend, using the taller woman’s size as a shield against a giant sledgehammer that was suddenly whistling through the air, metal and wood flying in a perfect arc of attack.

They were going to be killed. In the middle of the park. On a beautiful, sunny day.

Except the weapon whirled in a few complete rotations before landing a hundred feet away from them, and there was a span of about thirty seconds in which a more intelligent woman might have taken an opportunity to flee. But Jada hadn’t flinched—not even to bat an eyelash.

Kate stood up, looking around with quick, furtive glances that made her think of the way her cat, Gretna, reacted after a particularly spectacular fall.

“Did you use me as a human shield?” Jada cried.

Kate had always imagined she was the type of person who would be a survivor, the one person to get out of a burning building in time or find something to eat in all the post-apocalypse debris. She’d just never realized cowardice was going to be her path there. She laughed. “You’re so much taller than me, Jada. I can’t help it. I look to you for protection.”

“Protection, my a—wait. Never mind.” Jada cut herself off and nudged Kate with her hip, indicating their would-be assailants. “Two of the finest specimens of manhood I’ve ever seen are heading this way. Why the hell didn’t we fix your hair before we got out of the car?”

Kate ignored the remark and narrowed her eyes as the figures approached them. Jada was right—this pair could only be described with a word like “manhood”, though the term might be more appropriate when combined with adjectives of a pulsating nature. They walked with slow, confident steps and all the latent masculinity of farmhands of a bygone era. One of the men still held a sledgehammer, which he’d tossed casually over his shoulder as Jada might her long black hair. The other one looked bowlegged, a misplaced cowboy in the Inland Northwest.

“What are they doing?”

Jada straightened and stuck out her chest, her breasts a beacon for the men to follow in case they got lost along the way. “Who cares?”

Kate opened her mouth to retort, but as the figure with the sledgehammer drew closer, she found herself echoing the sentiment.

They were standing before sex come to life. The man in front of them was contained within a solid mass of muscles so tight and so taut, he looked like he might break out of his skin at any moment, his body molded as though he’d stepped off the covers of a romance novel only to spring to six foot, throbbing life.

Except this man left any number of barrel-chested cover models in his dust. Short, dark hair, dark eyes, a rich skin tone that hinted at an Asian heritage—it was a powerful combination even without the muscle definition. His face was full of smooth lines and perfect symmetry, the high slopes of his cheekbones set off by a close-cropped head that only accentuated his features. He had a rough patch of stubble all along his jaw and chin—a testament to the masculinity that pounded through every part of his body.

He wore a pair of black athletic pants and a fitted gray T-shirt that skimmed plane after plane of muscular flesh. From where she stood, Kate could see he sported a tattoo of black stripes extending across his biceps and up into the sleeve of his shirt, an alternating series of zigzag lines and dots.

And those forearms.

Kate almost swooned. There was something about a solid pair of forearms, muscles intertwined with ropy veins, flexing and twisting with each twitch of the fingers, that made her want to rub herself all over a man.

“Well, hello,” Jada cooed, her own thoughts obviously taking a similar course. “We’re so sorry—we didn’t mean to interrupt you.”

“This area is clearly marked,” the man said, dropping the hammer to the ground with a heavy thud. He pointed to a perimeter set up with rope and a few stakes. It was hardly the stuff of high-security enforcement, but Kate got the message. The man with the hammer makes the rules.

His friend, a scruffy blond whose neck was the same width as his head, came up behind him and interrupted with an easy smile. “Don’t you mind Julian here. I just killed him in the hammer throw, and it always makes him pissy when he loses.”

As if to punctuate his statement, he slapped a meaty hand on his friend’s back.

Although the blow could have felled a tree, the man named Julian didn’t even sway, his gaze unwavering from where Kate stood. She cursed inwardly. Why hadn’t they done something with her hair?

“Is there something we can help you with?” Julian asked.

“We don’t normally get a lot of visitors,” the blond man offered, his exuberance almost palpable. He offered them a wink. “And you’re certainly not dressed for normal park activities—you know, running, jumping jacks, yoga…”

“Throwing giant weapons through the air?” Jada interjected, her head tilted.

“It’s the hammer throw,” the blond explained. He puffed up as he spoke, his chest filling with air and adding a visible swell to a body already heaped with them. “Next to the caber toss, it’s my strongest competition. I promise you’ve never seen a real man in action until you’ve seen him hurl a tree across an open field using nothing but the strength God gave him.”

“God and a few well-placed anabolic steroids, you mean,” Jada teased, perfectly at ease with herself even in the face of such a behemoth of a man. Kate had yet to even find her tongue. Or air.

“Not at all,” Julian said firmly. “The SHS is strictly regulated—our guys don’t use any performance enhancers. We just work hard.”

“I’ll bet you do,” Jada said. Julian looked at her with a quizzical expression, as if he didn’t quite understand the degree to which she was turning on the charm.

“So what does SHS stand for, anyway?” Jada added. “Slow, handsome savages? Super-human strength?”

“Scottish Highland Society,” Julian offered, his smile forced.

“The hammer throw,” Kate said aloud, realization dawning. She’d seen the Scottish Games on television before. All those men in plaid skirts, flexing muscles and showing more leg than she would on a third date—it was an incredible sight.

Jada laughed out loud. “You’re kidding me, right? You’re the least Scottish-looking man I’ve ever seen.”

With his features and tribal tattoo, Kate was inclined to agree, but she kept her mouth shut. The way he stared indicated it wasn’t a topic he took lightly.

“There’s more to it than an accent and red hair,” the man’s friend offered in a warm tone, calling their attention back to him. “Now, since no one intends to do any introducing around here, allow me. The name’s Michael. Michael O’Leary. I’m not a Scot, either, so if that’s a problem, we can go ahead and settle it the old-fashioned way.”

“The old-fashioned way? I sure would love to hear more about that.” Jada moved forward like her body was propelled by a series of coils.

“Well, now, that’s top secret,” Michael confided, leaning forward until his eyes were almost parallel with Jada’s chest. “But I can tell you it involves a pile of hay, a fifth of whisky and a willing woman.”

Love is a Battlefield

By: Tamara Morgan
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