Monday 12 July 2021

Well Met and Well Played by Jen DeLuca!

Warning! You'll want to run away to a Renaissance Fair after reading these books... You can't say you haven't been told! I just warned ya!

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 book is utterly delightful!! The definition of joy in a book... I absolutely loved it! The Renaissance Fair setting, the characters, the family dynamics, the friendships... All awesome.The romance? Top notch.

Simon freaking ruled! Okay, I could be 100% biased on this point because I cannot think of this book, and Simon, without picturing Hook from Once Upon a Time but that's irrelevant: Simon was a good dude but his Captain Blackthorne alter-ego stole the show! Did Simon annoy me at times? Yes. Did his ren-fair control-freakery make me stabby sometimes? Yes. Do I care? Nope! Give me that pirate!
His relationship with Emily was gold and had me smiling - and laughing - like an eejit.

Emily was super endearing. I loved how she found her home in that quirky little town (and fell in love with the pirate English teacher... Did I mention the pirate yet?!) She'd had a tough time of it and it was wonderful seeing her find her purpose and her tribe.
It was all just adorable. I read it through in one sitting (I seriously don't think I stopped to even get a drink) and I loved it. I didn't want it to end and jumped straight onto the next one in the series.
Highly recommend it (especially if you love a sultry, flirty (non) pirate!)

Stacey is jolted when her friends Simon and Emily get engaged. She knew she was putting her life on hold when she stayed in Willow Creek to care for her sick mother, but it's been years now, and even though Stacey loves spending her summers pouring drinks and flirting with patrons at the local Renaissance Faire, she wants more out of life. Stacey vows to have her life figured out by the time her friends get hitched at Faire next summer. Maybe she'll even find The One.

When Stacey imagined "The One," it never occurred to her that her summertime Faire fling, Dex MacLean, might fit the bill. While Dex is easy on the eyes onstage with his band The Dueling Kilts, Stacey has never felt an emotional connection with him. So when she receives a tender email from the typically monosyllabic hunk, she's not sure what to make of it.

Faire returns to Willow Creek, and Stacey comes face-to-face with the man with whom she’s exchanged hundreds of online messages over the past nine months. To Stacey's shock, it isn't Dex—she's been falling in love with a man she barely knows.

After devouring book one, Well Met, I dove headfirst straight into this one. I did not stop, pass go, nor collect two hundred pounds. (Otherwise known as pop to the loo, grab a drink and have a snack...) I just clicked on the book and off I went!

We met Stacey in book one and I adored her. She was just so friendly and kind. This girl lives and breathes the ren-fair but beyond that, I feel like I knew little about her so it was a pleasure getting to know Stacey outside of the Fair, from her family to her cat, in this book. Her reasons for still being in town, how alone and left behind she felt... You just wanted good things for her so it made the Dex/Daniel thing infuriating.

I knew going into this book that it would give me Don Quixote vibes but I wasn't prepared for how conflicted I'd feel about it all playing out. Daniel is so likeable and he genuinely cares about Stacey (unlike Dex!) but I cannot reconcile that with him not telling her who she was actually talking to for so long... On the other hand, when confronted, he was a big boy about it. He didn't lie, he didn't hide, he owned it and he and Stacey worked through it like sensible adults! Imagine that! People actually talking things out like rational hooman beans... Unusual to say the least when most authors would have rolled with the drama.

The ups and downs in Stacey and Daniel's relationship were understandable. How everything played out made perfect sense... And I adored the ending! However, I feel like this one lacked a little bit of the sparkle that made Well Met shine so brightly. I enjoyed Well Played immensely but it was missing a certain something... (And no, I'm not talking about a certain pirate - he crops up!) Regardless, it's well worth a read and I cannot wait to read more in this series! Just keep 'em coming!



  1. Yes! The Captain was pretty amazing. I felt like you about the "conflict" in book 2. I know a lot readers were mad about the catfishing, but it was brief and like you said, he owned up to it. Glad you are enjoying the series.

    1. I'm mad at myself for not reading it sooner!

  2. I enjoyed Well Met and am currently listening to Well Played. I agree we didn't know Staci very well from the first book and I am glad to know her better as this one progresses. I have Well Matched in my ARCs coming up next.

    Fabulous reviews!

    Anne - Books of My Heart

    1. Slightly jealous that you have an ARC of Well Matched, lol, but I hope you enjoy it! I'm super excited to hear what people think. :)

  3. I just adored Well Met and ate it up like ice cream. Simon and Emily were so endearing! I struggled a bit with Well Played and felt like it didn't have the same charm as Well Met, but I still mostly enjoyed it overall.

    1. Well Played was definitely missing something but was still a hit for me. I'm SUPER excited for Well Matched later this year... I'm desperate to run away to the ren-faire!

  4. I agree that Well Played was missing something. It just made me more antsy for April and Mitch!

    1. I'm super excited for April and Mitch!

  5. I loved Well Met. It was such a great read. I haven't read Well Played yet but I am looking forward to reading it and Well Matched.


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