On Battle Chess
I have a confession. I love all things chess.
I love the intensity of it. I love the musical of the same name (Tim Rice and ABBA!). I love the idea of the hot, tortured chess grandmaster sweating over pawns for his country.
And since the rule of All The Things is that life is cooler with costumes and weaponry, live action battle chess is obviously my most favorite thing of all. Which is why it plays such a prominent role in my upcoming book, Love is a Battlefield, and why I’ll defend it to the death as the sexiest game of all time.
This wasn’t always so.
When my husband and I first started dating, we were freshmen living in a cute college town north of Seattle. As is custom, the ratio of coffee shops to students in said college town was roughly 1:2, and we quickly established our favorite hangout spot at one of them. I liked it because they had a bookshelf stocked with the pretentious philosophical books I pretended to read back then. My husband liked it because they had a chessboard.
Now, there was only one other couple who used that chessboard, and they were the height of all my husband’s romantic fantasies. They sat there, hour after hour, playing chess and smack-talking one another until I was pretty sure they were going to end things between them once and for all.
They never did. As soon as their game ended, they shared a secret smile and probably went out to do something nasty in the woodshed.
Then it was our turn. Of course, I know how to play chess, but I’ve never been very good at thinking five or six moves in advance, so I rarely win. My husband, on the other hand, considers himself a master of logic, so instead of fun smack-talk, he would critique each move I made and point out exactly where I went wrong. Needless to say, the whole chess-as-foreplay thing didn’t work for us. By the time the game would come to an end, I was ready to smash him over the head with the chess board and shove the rook up a questionable part of his anatomy.
In a word, dear readers, it seemed our relationship wasn’t going to make it.
And then we discovered battle chess.
Okay, so we didn’t exactly suit up in chainmail or carry battleaxes over our shoulders when we played, but I’ll have you know there were some very good battle chess computer games out in the early 2000s. I learned to like watching my characters fall down in a fiery blaze, and he learned to let go of his dream of us matching wits over those 64 squares of alternating black and white.
And every year, when we go to the Renaissance Fair, we watch the live action battle chess match and remember the cute little coffee shop, hoping that couple has been together as long as we have.
And then we go home and play Scrabble. Because that one I can actually win.
* * *
It takes a real man to wear a kilt. And a real woman to charm him out of it.
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.
About Tamara Morgan
Tamara Morgan is a romance writer and unabashed lover of historical reenactments—the more elaborate and geeky the costume requirements, the better. In her quest for modern-day history and intrigue, she has taken fencing classes, forced her child into Highland dancing, and, of course, journeyed annually to the local Renaissance Fair. These feats are matched by a universal love of men in tights, of both the superhero and codpiece variety.
You can find her on Twitter,Facebook, and Goodreads.