All The Books I Can Read

1 girl….2 many books!

Review: Well Met by Jen DeLuca

on September 21, 2020

Well Met (Well Met #1)
Jen DeLuca
Berkley
2019, 336p
Purchased personal copy

Blurb {from the publisher/Goodreads.com}:

All’s faire in love and war for two sworn enemies who indulge in a harmless flirtation in a laugh-out-loud rom-com from debut author, Jen DeLuca.

Emily knew there would be strings attached when she relocated to the small town of Willow Creek, Maryland, for the summer to help her sister recover from an accident, but who could anticipate getting roped into volunteering for the local Renaissance Faire alongside her teenaged niece? Or that the irritating and inscrutable schoolteacher in charge of the volunteers would be so annoying that she finds it impossible to stop thinking about him?

The faire is Simon’s family legacy and from the start he makes clear he doesn’t have time for Emily’s lighthearted approach to life, her oddball Shakespeare conspiracy theories, or her endless suggestions for new acts to shake things up. Yet on the faire grounds he becomes a different person, flirting freely with Emily when she’s in her revealing wench’s costume. But is this attraction real, or just part of the characters they’re portraying?

This summer was only ever supposed to be a pit stop on the way to somewhere else for Emily, but soon she can’t seem to shake the fantasy of establishing something more with Simon, or a permanent home of her own in Willow Creek.

This was another book suggested in a thread on the romance subreddit which asked for grumpy heroes falling in love with sunflower heroines. It was also on sale on iBooks so I snapped up a copy and was ready to break up the somewhat heavy/serious/crime types of novels I have left on my TBR for the month. But the heart wants what it wants and it wanted to read this book!

Emily was at a low point when her sister, 12 years her senior, was involved in a serious accident. A single mother, Emily’s sister April needed a lot of care and someone also had to help with her daughter, 14yo Caitlin. Emily packed up her life and moved to just outside Baltimore Maryland in order to be that person for both her sister and her niece. And when Cait wants to join the local Renaissance Faire, Emily is told that an adult must volunteer with her as well, so Emily is roped into being involved. She clashes with Simon, the high school English teacher in charge of the volunteers (and seemingly, everything else as well). Emily finds Simon’s rigid attitude towards the faire oppressive and he can’t deal with her casual flippancy towards it, frustrated when she’s on her phone during meetings. It isn’t until Emily meets Simon’s ‘alter-ego’ (his faire character) really, that the two of them seem to find a bit of common ground.

This has all the hallmarks of a book for me and I absolutely did enjoy huge parts of it. I don’t really know anything about Renaissance Faires but it seemed like a bit of fun. The participants are encouraged to stay in character for a lot of the time and they dress in fun costumes. Although it’s also super hard work and Emily is fitting in her volunteering between ferrying her sister and niece to their various medical appointments and extra-curricular activities. For Emily, this was something she had to do for her niece and although it’s fun, she doesn’t approach it in the same way Simon does. And she resents Simon for a bit until she realises just why Simon has this attitude about it and how much it’s taking a toll on him.

I really enjoyed the banter between Simon and Emily’s alter-egos, the pirate and tavern wench. It was a good way to develop things between them but also give both characters an excuse to retreat or think that it’s just part of the game/role play of the faire. Emily’s self esteem has recently taken quite a battering and she has a tendency to immediately assume that someone doesn’t really value her or want her in anyway, even when she gets a part time job in the small town, she assumes that she doesn’t have anything to offer long term and it won’t be long before she’s replaced.

But there’s no denying that at times I felt the animosity in the beginning was underdeveloped and seemed too advanced for the pretty limited interactions they’d had with each other. It does seem to more be on Emily’s side, Simon’s is a product of his intensity and responsibility I think (which later in the book, is well explored and easy to understand). And the conflict towards the end of the novel felt a bit weak too, but I did enjoy the way in which it was resolved.

Overall this was a fun read – definitely a good way to pass a few hours and it’s the first in a series as well, focused around the Ren Faire. The next book features Stacey, Emily’s fellow tavern wench who befriends her in this book and there was a brief excerpt at the end of my copy of Well Met which made it sound fun.That book comes out tomorrow actually, so I think I’ll definitely read it.

7/10

Book #185 of 2020


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