The World is a Stage

Games of Love, Book 2

Michael O’Leary is just what he appears to be, friendly, outgoing and willing to help a friend. He’s also a kilt wearing lentil farmer who happens to participate in highland games. He’s known for attracting women so when his good friend, Peterson asks for his help distracting his girlfriend’s older sister, Michael agrees to help.

Rachel Hewitt has always watched over her sister, Molly. She knows Molly doesn’t make good choices, especially about men. The last boyfriend Molly had put her in the hospital and caused the premature birth of her daughter. Rachel will do everything she can to keep Molly safe.

Rachel and Molly work at a local theater performing Shakespeare. It’s a non-traditional Shakespeare; more like Shakespeare porn. When Michael and Peterson get thrown out for being disruptive, Rachel is positive that they are bad news and neither woman should have anything to do with either of them. However, both men are determined. Who will win?

You would think that should be enough pf a storyline for a romance novel but there is much more to this story than a simple storyline. Michael’s world revolves around him participating in the highland games. However, his knee doesn’t agree and the doctor has said that she can no longer fix it enough for him to participate. This rocks Michael’s view of his world and of himself. He’s not sure how to handle this blow and how to fill this void. Rachel sees her world in a distant remote way. She doesn’t want emotional entanglements. She’s seen her mother’s emotional roller coaster and wants nothing to do with that type of life. If she doesn’t care, she can’t be hurt. Her unheard of attraction to Michael has her scared but she’s going to have to face some truths she doesn’t want to see before she can have any type of relationship. If she doesn’t, she can loose not only Michael but Molly!

The characters in this story are as complex and interesting as the story itself. Michael appears to be just want he shows the world but his family history is one that should have defeated him. His parent sent him to a distant cousin when he was 12 because they just didn’t want to deal with him. He wasn’t the best student in school. He never went to college. There is a lot to Michael that isn’t’ readily apparent and as he develops, he becomes even more lovable. Rachel has built a wall that she doesn’t want broken or climbed over or cracked. She thinks this is the best way to live and she’s pushing this life on her sister, even if she doesn’t want it. However, Michael is able to put cracks in that wall showing the real Rachel who has never had anyone say they loved her. He’s also found that Rachel is very competitive which can get her into trouble.

As with any complex story, there are lots of emotions that come out. This story has a bit of humor and you can’t help but laugh when the tiny theater bouncer comes over to remove two large muscular men from the theater due to them making overly loud comments. Plus, Michael knows how to work a kilt, much to Rachel’s dismay when he ends up playing skirt wearing Antony to her Cleopatra. Offsetting the humor are some sad notes. Rachel and Molly visit Baby Hewitt’s grave and reflect on the life she could have had. They are also dealing with a mother who has an alcohol problem and who keeps living in her past glories.

Family is a theme that flows through this story. Peterson and Rachel would do anything for their siblings but what happens when protecting their sibling may get them in trouble with the law. Michael’s family is a distant cousin but it’s also the guys he practices with. They care about each other and would do anything they could to help each other. Family doesn’t necessarily mean blood; it means love which is something Rachel needs to learn.

I really enjoyed this book. It wasn’t what I expected when I started it but once I got into the story I realized that it was more than I anticipated. There are so many layers to this story that it’s almost impossible to say that it’s this or that. It’s more than a love story, though that is in there. It’s a finding yourself story or finding your purpose in life type of story but it’s also wrapped up in the importance of friends and family. Though written for entertainment, it may also have you reflecting about your own life.

Humor, love, men in kilts, muddy games and emotional pulls are only some of the outstanding aspects of this story. It’s hard not to love happy go lucky Michael though it does take a while to figure out what he sees in Rachel. Yet, unwrapping her insecurities makes finding the Rachel Michael sees interesting and fun.

This is the second book of a series but it is not necessary to read the first book to thoroughly enjoy this one. However, you may want to go back to get the first one. And, if you are like me, you will be looking forward to the next one.

Book Blurb for The World is a Stage

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.

Night Owl Reviews Jun, 2012 4.00