by Jen DeLuca
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.
A rom-com set at a Ren Faire is what’s been missing from my life, and if this book was a movie I’d put it on whenever I needed a pick-me-up.
Emily, recently out of a five-year relationship with a douchebag, has moved in with her older sister, April, and niece, Caitlin, in the small town of Willow Creek, following a car accident that left her sister with a broken leg. With no idea what she’s doing with her life, she devotes her time to helping her sister out, and finds herself roped into the town’s summer Renaissance Faire when her niece wants to volunteer and can’t unless she has an adult to volunteer with. Luckily for Caitlin, Emily is a fan of the works of Shakespeare, and doesn’t mind stepping back into the Renaissance for her niece’s sake. She does mind Simon, however, the faire organiser whom she soon butts heads with. When the pair of them are in character during the Ren Faire, though, sparks fly.
I was hoping Well Met was going to be a five star read – I’m a complete history nerd, so a Ren Faire setting is literally the perfect rom-com setting for me – but I was hoping for a little more banter between Simon and Emily when they were playing the roles of Captain Ian Blackthorn and Emma the tavern wench. For me, Emily fell into her ‘wow Simon’s really hot and I suddenly care what he thinks of me’ mood a little too quickly, and what I wanted most out of this book was witty banter and the two of them winding each other up throughout the summer.
That small disappointment aside, this was still just the book I needed. I sped through it, as I pretty much always do when I read romance, and while it didn’t quite play out how I expected, I did still end up really liking Emily and Simon as characters, and I especially liked that Emily called Simon out when he was an unnecessary pain in the backside. There’s a little miscommunication, as there always is in a rom-com, but the two of them are good at talking things through and voicing their feelings when it matters, and while it was a little difficult to imagine them being interested in each other at first I did believe their chemistry by the end of the novel.
There’s also plenty of time for Emily to develop relationships with other characters. She strikes up friendships with other locals in the town, all of whom make her feel welcome, and she gets the chance to have a proper relationship with her sister, too, after their 12-year age gap left them not really getting a chance to know each other in their younger years.
The setting is definitely what I loved most about this book, though, and how DeLuca explores all the good things about small towns and how these communities so often pull together when it really matters. That another book, following one of the side characters in this novel, is due to be released in the autumn has me so excited – there’s no way I’m going to say no to a romance series centred around a Ren Faire. Give me more, please!