Week Twelve: Well Met

I had so many plans for this week, y’all. I was going to review the Graham Moore book The Holdout, but then I got approved for an arc and they want that review October 1, so I had to put Graham on the back burner for a minute. And then LIFE interfered as well, and I did not get The Holdout finished in time to write about it this week. Spoiler for next week—it’s great. He’s just a delicious writer.

Anyway, lucky for me that I read so many books, cause that means there’s always something to talk about. And that brings us to Well Met.

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.

It’s interesting that I have read so many romance novels this year. Since I was 18, I probably haven’t read one a year, if that. I kind of thought that I had my fill of them when I was a teenager, plus there was the crushing realization that all those HEA endings were crap. Life is brutal and short, and it does not turn out the way that the romance industry is selling.

Huh. That got dark.

My point is that in my thirties, I read mysteries like I was getting paid to solve them, and then I kind of fell in love with Urban Fantasy in my late forties, and I’ve been giving some carefully-curated sci-fi a spin in my fifties. But I just didn’t read romance.

And then there was a global pandemic, and suddenly, I really needed some fake happy endings. Really needed them. So, here we are in 2021, and I would bet you that I’ve read 50 or 60 this year…maybe more.

And this one makes the top ten easily. First, it’s the first book in a (so-far) trilogy, but it’s one of those trilogies that doesn’t continue the main story, but continues the stories of secondary characters that were featured in the original story…which is a complicated way of saying that there is no cliffhanger to worry about here. Simon and Emily’s story is neatly wrapped up, as one would expect.

The chemistry of the leads is palpable, and the secondary characters feel real in a way that you don’t always get. And then there is the most important secondary character of all—The Faire.

Jen DeLuca used to spend summers volunteering as a bar wench at a RenFaire, and it shows in the meticulous detail the faire is rendered in. The sights, the smells, the sounds. The turkey legs, the kilts, the vendors. I feel like I spent the summer there, and those kinds of books, the ones that truly transport me to somewhere I would not get to experience…I love those books the best.

So, yes. If you like light romance (steamy, but not embarrassing to read on a train), with a side of family and comedy, then you should give this one a spin. It’s delightful.

Couple steamy scenes. Not too graphic.

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