Well Met by Jen DeLuca

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Well Met by Jen DeLuca

DeLuca, Jen. Well Met. Berkley, 2019. 336 pp. ISBN 978-1984805386 $16.00

*****

A new-to-Ren-Faire girl falls for the pirate alter-ego of Faire-obsessed local English teacher when Emily relocates to cozy small town Willow Creek to care for her niece and older sister. Chores unexpectedly extend from chauffeuring and housework to shadowing fourteen-year-old Caitlin through the tenth season of the high school’s summer fundraiser, a renaissance faire. Emily gets roped in as a volunteer because minors under age sixteen have to be accompanied by a parent or guardian. She is met with disdain right away for not filling out her application correctly by an uptight man who turns out to be in charge of the whole shebang. Emily isn’t quite sure why she rubs Simon the wrong way, and sets her sights instead on buff Mitch, lured by his sunny attitude and the promise of glimpsing him in a kilt. Before she knows it, Emily is deep in Elizabethan boot camp learning drinking songs, chest squeezed into a bodacious bodiced bosom, as she develops her persona of serving wench Emma.

The cosplay allows her to get to know a tight knit group of friends, including friendly and bubbly Ren Faire veteran Stacey, and Emily begins to set down roots, getting a job at a local used bookstore. Family, both by blood and by interest and proximity, is a strong theme; her stay with her sister allows them to bond in a way they never have, as April is twelve years older. Emily’s grappling with a lot of loss as she grows into her new role: a recent breakup with her long-term boyfriend lead to a subsequent loss of her apartment, so the timing for moving in with April and Caitlyn couldn’t have come at a better time.

The character development is wonderful, the writing funny, insightful and hot. I don’t generally like enemies to lovers romances but the characters are so clearly misunderstanding one another, versus simply being mean. The Ren Faire culture is vibrant and authentic with deep fried turkey legs, battle chess, madrigals, vendors, and dust. Literary allusions abound, as Emily was an English major and shares a love of Shakespeare with Simon–even as she cannot resist needling him about the multiple authors theory (conspiracy?)

Don’t miss book two, Well Played, which features Emily’s wedding and her best friend Stacey’s romance, and book three, Well Matched, which focuses on Emily’s sister April and Mitch. The fourth book, Well Traveled, featuring Mitch’s favorite cousin, comes out in December 2023.

2 responses »

  1. Pingback: Well Matched by Jen DeLuca | Hip Librarians Book Blog

  2. Pingback: Well Played by Jen DeLuca | Hip Librarians Book Blog

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