Requested-Review: THE WORLD IS A STAGE by Tamara Morgan

Danger comes packaged in bulging muscles…and a codpiece.

Highland Games athlete Michael O’Leary is famous for his ability to charm a woman right out of her pants. Maybe a little too famous. When he’s sidelined with a knee injury, his wingman pounces on the chance to take full advantage of Michael’s idle time.

Trying out for the local adult-themed Shakespearean production seems simple, but there’s a catch. Michael must woo the notoriously demanding lead actress, Rachel Hewitt, thereby freeing his friend to pursue a courtship of Rachel’s sister.

Rachel hates the thought of handing over the lead role in her admittedly scandalous troupe to someone so wholly uneducated in the ways of the Great Bard. But she’s in a bind, and the only one who can step up is a man who looks way too good in a codpiece – and knows it.

To add insult to injury, he refuses to take the role until she agrees to take his place in some barbaric warrior race. She’ll do it, but not with a smile. Unfortunately, the hardest part isn’t antagonizing her Scottish foes. It’s resisting the one man who seems determined to line and cue her heart – forever.

Warning: This book’s half-naked Shakespearean actors are not approved of or acknowledged by people with actual literary merit. Neither are the dirty limericks.

Title: THE WORLD IS A STAGE
Author: Tamara Morgan
Series: Games of Love, book 2
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Publisher: Samhain Publishing
Year of release: 2012, June 5
Format: eBook
Source: Received an e-ARC from the author for review

First line:
“That is the third woman tonight who has taken one look at me and run for the hills.” Michael O’Leary dropped onto the stool and pretended to examine his reflection in the shellacked wood-grain surface of the bar.

Last line:
He was Michael O’Leary. He wore a skirt, and he smiled in the face of the woman he loved. He stood by his friends, and they stood by him too. These were the things he knew to be true.

Memorable Scenes:
– the tractor race and kiss in the mud > loved that scene as it was like a turning point in the romance
– Rachel’s and Mike’s breakfast on opening day > talk about sublime sexual tension and Rachel finally opening up and going for what she wants
– Rachel’s round of apologies > heart wrenching

Rachel Hewitt is bitchy, broody, rude and overprotective of her little sister. Anger comes through in her every fiber but she’s also passionate and driven. She really wasn’t likeable at first but slowly you get why she is the way she is. Even though I have to say I didn’t like her calling Mike names (The Mule, stupid, disgusting, revolting) but she definitely grew on me when she stopped doing that.

Michael O’Leary is a very funny man with a great sense of humor. I was hoping for a book with him as the hero from the moment he appeared in the first book of this series. The news that his book was up next made me very happy. Mike is a little cocky, always the clown and ready to help his friends but deep inside he wants people to see him as more as the happy-go-lucky life of the party, always ready to help. The false front cracks a bit more, the more time he spends with Rachel.

There was a nice cast of secondary characters. Some familiar from the first book, like Julian, Kate and Eric. Others, mainly surrounding Rachel, were new. I loved them all though Rachel’s mom did get on my nerves a bit at some point. I definitely liked this second book better than the first book as it had a more contemporary feel to it.

What I loved the most about this book was the humor. It was present in all sorts: sarcastic, aggressive, subtle, laugh-out-loud funny and witty banter. It brought the book alive for me. I also really liked the multiple threads of storylines throughout the book (Michael’s bummed knee, Molly and Eric’s relationship and the family stuff with Rachel and her mom) but I definitely would have liked more romance in the first 2 thirds of the book.

The first part of the book was mainly used to set up de back-stories and secondary storylines. And to establish that there is an attraction between Rachel and Michael. Also the author made me wait a long time for the first real sex scene. But I have to say it was worth the wait as it was a very sexy scene that paid off on the sexual tension that had been building up for many chapters.

All in all I really enjoyed THE WORLD IS A STAGE. I think Tamara Morgan has a knack for witty contemporary romance. She combines humor with complex characterization effortlessly and excellently. I’m looking forward to the next Games of Love book.

Favorite Quotes:

He was Michael O’Leary. He wore a skirt, and he smiled in the face of hostility. He stood by his friends through Shakespearean zombies and hissing she-bats.

And that was it. The clincher. The sealing of the deal. The superglue between the ass cheeks. Molly thought he could tame her sister.

“Well, the point is, I thought about how you might react to such news and said no. I hate to cause a lady’s head to explode. It’s one of my Ten Rules to Live By. Do you want to hear the other nine?”
He held up one finger. “Rule Number One. A gentleman always sleeps on the wet spot. Rule Number Two. A really good gentleman does his best to ensure that there are, in fact, nothing but wet spots. If you know what I mean.”

“You don’t get to just swoop in and make me fix broken children and walk away,” she said feebly.
“Watch me.” He grinned. “Thanks, by the way. Who’d have thought you’d be the one with a real knack for kids? I think it’s because you don’t talk down to them like you do to adults. It’s a nice change.”
“I hate you.” It was all Rachel could think to say.
“Aw, shucks,” he said, grinning. “You know how to make a guy feel like a hundred dollars all wrapped up in a glittery thong. Will I see you at rehearsal next week?”

Her heart, a traitorous, fickle thing, went crazy. She was not imagining the ways in which a man like Michael could exact payment for services rendered. She was not envisioning him pushing her to the bed and using his big, oh-so-manly hands to keep her there until she gave in to every single one of his testosterone-fueled impulses, inappropriate and debased to the core.

She couldn’t stop staring at his ass. Every step Michael O’Leary took across the stage was a swagger, a combination of manliness and purpose that worked on her as some sort of hypnosis. He moved his hips like a silver-screen cowboy, a Clint Eastwood daguerreotype in a short leather-plated skirt and nothing else. How on earth was she supposed to remember all her lines?

People didn’t love Rachel Hewitt. They accepted her and they admired her talents. They wanted things from her, whether it was sex or a chance to meet the elusive Indira Longfellow or an audition on one of her shows. Love was one of those soft, fragile sentiments that belonged to soft, fragile women—women who were willing to love back, regardless of the consequences.

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