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Review: Love is a Battlefield

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Love is a Battlefield
Author: Tamara Morgan 
Release Date: Feb. 14, 2012
Publisher: Samhain Publishing
Games of Love #1
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Format(s):  e-book
Book Source: Author
About the book:
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. 
What VampBards talking about:
Before I begin my actual review, I just wanted to comment on the author’s website.  For an awesome time-killer, check out her tab for the Julian Wallace Virtual Paper Doll.  MmmHmmm.  Playing with a man in a kilt.  Very clever!  If I said I only dressed (and undressed) the paper doll of Highlander Julian Wallace once, I’d be lying…
Love is a Battlefield, the first book in debut author Tamara Morgan’s Games of Love series, is definitely a unique and awesome exercise in character development, rising action, and inner conflict.  Throughout the duration of this novel, the reader is kept on the edge-of-their-seat with the rising tension and conflict between hero Julian and heroine Kate.  
Ms. Morgan keeps her readers engaged throughout the story by continuing to ratchet the tension and conflict.  While the basic source of the conflict is the need for both Kate and Julian to utilize one piece of land, Cornwall Park, for their events the same weekend, in reality the conflict is their respective inner conflict to reach resolution of the land issue in order to allow themselves to broach the subject of their feelings for one another.  
Kate presents as the prim-and-proper Regency era woman, stuck in present-day.  As a member of the local Jane Austin Regency Re-Enactment Society (JARRS), she is charged with planning and finding the ‘perfect’ place for the Fauxhall Garden event, the group’s annual fundraiser, because of a major faux pas by her friend, Jada, at another JARRS event.  While I understand the premise of charging Kate with planning the event, the author states it is somewhat a punishment for the unexpected visitors at the first JARRS event in the book.  I was a bit confused by the administrative team’s ‘punishment’ for Kate, because it seemed like the Fauxhall event was quite important, and if she were ‘responsible’ for Jada and her antics, I (personally) cannot imagine placing such a person responsible for a task of that enormity without serious oversight.  It appeared as though Kate didn’t have much oversight, although the ‘higher-ups’ in the Society were included in several briefings throughout the story.  This is really the only piece of the puzzle (a.k.a. The Plot) that didn’t jive for me.  Trivial, as I got into the story further.  Kate was so much more than the party planner, however.  It was interesting to see Kate’s character evolve throughout the course of this title.  She began as an easily controlled, proper, lady.  By the end of the story, she was a confident, empowered woman.  I really enjoyed watching Kate’s transformation.
Julian, our hero, was quite complex.  As this year’s president of the local chapter of the Scottish Highland Society (SHS), he was charged with planning this year’s Highland Games.  We found out that Julian had more at stake than just ego and bragging rights for winning the hammer toss (his best event) at these Games.  A coveted sponsorship by a local whisky company was his ultimate prize, or so he thought, which would provide him and his family with a comfortable life.  He had hopes and dreams that he felt he couldn’t move past without attaining this opportunity.  In the last third of the book, we found out a few things about Julian’s perception of his childhood, as well as his stepfather.  While the information wasn’t truly negative in nature, it did shatter some of Julian’s illusions as well as the reason he believed that he NEEDED to win this year’s Games.  Julian appeared to be an inexperienced male when it came to matters of the heart.  It appeared that he never had a meaningful relationship, and he seemed to flounder and battle with himself about his feelings for Kate.  Julian DEFINITELY became the knight in shining armor at the conclusion of the story.  I think that because he was portrayed as such, he ended up being the ultimate winner in the story.
The characters, with which the reader could easily identify, made Love is a Battlefield a story for readers to make connections and immerse themselves.  The well-crafted plots and characters brought the somewhat unfamiliar Regency and Highland periods alive in modern-day settings and situations for this reviewer.  I can’t wait to see what the second installment of Ms. Morgan’s Games of Love series brings to the table!
VampBards Rating:
Loved it – enthusiastically recommend (A)
Purchase Info:
Love is a Battlefield: Games of Love, Book 1

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