Author: Jen DeLuca
Narrator: Brittany Pressley
Audiobook Length: 9 hours 46 minutes
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.
Well Met is the first novel in the series of the same name, which centers on a Renaissance Faire in Willow Creek, Maryland. Each novel is set in the same small town with a new couple featured every time. This novel has been on my TBR for a while (maybe early 2020) after I came across it in a bookstore and the sequels have been popular online. Since the third novel was just published this year and the fourth will be released in 2022, I figured I would try it. I have a few ebooks that I am working on currently, so I went with the audiobook version. This was a very cute enemies to lovers story with a dash of the close proximity trope mixed into the novel. Not only does this novel provide an entertaining romance story, it also mixes in the wonder of Faires.
The story jumps right into the main character, Emily’s story. Originally, the reader sees her going to help a 14-years-old Caitlin to go to the Renaissance Faire in Willow Creek, Maryland. Here the reader, and Emily, meet the quirky cast of characters that make up this annual event, including the love interest, Simon. Emily is 25-years-old and in Willow Creek to assist her sister, April, who is recovering from an accident and helping with her niece. She is currently unemployed after relocating to Willow Creek, but she was previously a bartender. She dropped out of college after majoring in English with an additional interest in history in order to support her boyfriend, Jake. The two of them met in their sophomore (second) year of college where Jake was studying law. After Jake broke her heart, she has a difficult time trusting others and herself to find love again. Now that she is in Willow Creek and wants to help her niece, she is roped into being a tavern wench named Emma for the Faire.
Simon is a 27-years-old AP and Honors English teacher and he runs the Faire. During the Faire, he plays Captain Blackthrone, a pirate. He is overworked with the amount of time and effort needed to run the faire and he just wants everything to run smoothly. There is a lot of hidden emotion that Simon goes through in this story, including grief for his brother, which is explored in the story. He originally is presented as rigid, which is not Emily’s cup of tea. While I love the enemies to lovers trope and it is one of my favorites, this one felt a little forced. Simon and Emily do get off on the wrong foot, but it seemed that Emily’s hated was unwarranted most of the time. While Emily is having a difficult time with her self-confidence, there were times when it was too much. This comes into play during multiple parts of the story where she would think negatively about herself or Simon, whether he was directly interacting or not.
Simon and Emily share entertaining banter and great chemistry. As Emily has a difficult time distinguishing between the real Simon and the Faire version of Simon, it creates an interesting tension in the story. As Simon is going through his emotional baggage and Emily is dealing with her rocky past, it made me question if this was the best foundation for a relationship. Even though they both go through a lot of growth and emotions in this story, it just did not seem the best idea to have two characters come together when neither is in a good place. It seemed a little rushed considering where they each are at the beginning of the story and how fast they move forward to reach their potential HEA. Despite my uncertainties about many aspects of this story, it is amazing when taken at face value. Two characters coming together in a very fun setting with multiple quirky and wonderful secondary characters made for a quick and enjoyable novel.
Although there is a very nice epilogue, I would have liked to see some wrap-up to Emily’s education storyline. It is mentioned multiple times throughout the story as she was about a year away from finishing her degree, so it would be nice to know if she is okay not going back again or if she had plans to complete it in the future. This novel was a sweet romance with a lot of witty banter and a fun start to the series. I will definitely check out Well Played (#2), which features Stacey and Dex, Well Matched (#3), which features April and Mitch and eventually Well Traveled (#4), Lulu’s story. With the number of couples formed in this small town Renaissance Faire, apparently, if you are searching for romance this is the place to be!