Title: Well Met
Author: Jen DeLuca
Summary: Emily knew there would be strings attached when she relocated to small-town Maryland 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 he makes clear that 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—but is this attraction real, or just part of the characters they’re both portraying? The summer was only ever supposed to be a pit stop on the way to somewhere else, but soon Emily can’t seem to shake the fantasy of establishing something more with Simon and a permanent home of her own in Willow Creek.
Note: an eARC of this title was acquired via NetGalley.
Here’s the thing about Well Met: it was really good. Like, Read For Two Hours In A Row good. Curse The Fact That You Have Plans And Can’t Keep Reading good. Finish The Book On Your Phone Because You Literally Cannot Wait Until You Get Home good. It was Laugh Out Loud good. Curl Your Toes And Sigh good. Maybe I Should Read This Again It Was So Good good.
On the surface, Well Met is a romantic comedy set amongst a renaissance fair—featuring our disagreeable protagonists Emily and Simon, who are pushed into roleplaying a summer romance for their fair characters, wench Emma and pirate Captain Blackthorne—but it is also so much more than that, too. Both Emily and Simon find a sense of self and individual agency through their participation in the fair as well as from their eventual relationship. Jen DeLuca also fully utilizes the small-town setting, Emily’s sister and niece, and the fair to further beef up the plot. It would be so easy to focus on just Emily and Simon and neglect everything else, but where’s the fun in that? Having a rich background and fully developed secondary characters only makes the central plot more vibrant.
I don’t know what I expected from Well Met before I started reading, but I’m sure the bar was pretty low—and that’s a shame. It was an uber-cute contemporary romance and y’all better not make the same mistake I did. Looks can be deceiving.