Sunday, November 24, 2019

Well Met by Jen DeLuca

Rating: ★★★★ | 9 hours 45 minutes | Contemporary | Berkley | Release Date: 9/3/2019
There is apparently still 14-year-old inside of me who wants nothing more than to be one of the quirky theatre kids

And she loved this book.

Going into this book I didn’t realize renaissance faires are kind of like interactive theater and I was fascinated watching the characters transform into their faire personas and put on a show. This book definitely had some issues with building stakes and conflict development but I was honestly too into it to care.

When a bad breakup leaves her humiliated, homeless and jobless, 25-year-old Emily Parker moves to small-town Willow Creek, Maryland to care for her recently injured sister and 14-year-old niece. Within the first few weeks, she finds herself roped into spending the summer as a tavern wench at the town’s renaissance faire--which wouldn’t be so bad if it weren't for Simon Graham, the faire organizer who seems to have it out for her for no reason.

This is one of those first-person single POV narratives that kind of straddles the women’s fiction line because you could almost take the HEA/romance out of it and still have a complete story. I’ve complained about those kinds of books before but this one worked for me because I was fully invested in Emily’s growth. She’s learning to re-build her self-esteem through the community and opportunities she finds in Willow Creek.

The romance aspect felt lukewarm at best. I have a hard time with enemies-to-lovers in general but especially in a book like this when it's not clear to the heroine (and because of the POV the reader too) why the hero hates her so much. Straight-laced-English teacher Simon just read like a jerk most of the time and I was resistant to his redemption. It was fun how for the faire Simon takes on the persona of the pirate Captain Ian Blackthorne that gave me some serious Killian Jones vibes. I was not at all surprised to see him show up on DeLuca’s Instagram.

The audiobook is narrated wonderfully by Brittany Pressley. IDK why I am just now discovering her because she’s got a fairly prolific backlist.

Speaking of Pressley, the last audiobook I Iistetned to by her was the YA book Hot Dog Girl, which has kind of a similar setting to Well Met. It got me thinking that Well Met would make an excellent gateway romance for older teens looking to get into the genre. There are a few sex jokes and one on-page sex scene but it’s not explicit.

Well Met
is a slightly nerdy and enchanting journey of one woman finding a home where she least expects it. I’m excited to see what DeLuca does next!

This book has one of my favorite illustrated cover designs I like how the figures have body language and how their clothing is modern with hints of renaissance so people don’t confuse it as historical.

In 2005 Katie McAllister published a renaissance romance so I’m curious to try this out!

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