Review: Well Met by Jen DeLuca

well met.jpgWell Met

Author: Jen DeLuca
Publisher: Berkley (September 3, 2019)
Paperback, 336 pages
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Summary
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.

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Rating: 5 stars

Review
I am trying to gather my thoughts to write a real review, but I basically just want to bang out a billion heart emojis and grin in the afterglow of reading this book. YOU GUYS.

A while back, Jen posted a reply to a Twitter meme to post the plot of your book written like a Reddit /r/relationships post, and she posted “I’m (25F) working the local Ren Faire, but the guy (27M) in charge is an uptight dick who wears a lot of vests. It’s the first day of Faire, & said dick is now a pirate in disturbingly hot leather pants. He’s flirting with me! Should I go for it, or is he probably still a dick?” I, in a total reading slump, went YES PLEASE and then realized I had a copy of this book already on my Kindle, waiting for me! Less than 24 hours later I’m reeling from a book hangover and seriously thinking just flipping back to page 1 and starting the book again.

Well Met is written in the first person past tense from Emily’s POV. I marked this as both fake relationship and forced proximity, because it’s a bit of those tropes but not in the way you typically see either trope. I love the twist Jen DeLuca takes on these two tropes. Emily is volunteering for the summer with her niece at the Renaissance Faire that Simon helps organize, and it’s pretty much enemies at first sight for them when he reminds her of her jerky ex-boyfriend. But it’s a small town and they’re all working on the upcoming Ren Faire together, so they’re forced into proximity every weekend. And then the Faire actually starts and HOLY HANNAH, Simon in his persona as Captain Ian Blackthorne is basically sex in leather pants. Emily, in her Faire persona as Emma, is tossed into a “showmance” with him and as her character falls for his, Emily wonders how much is real and what’s for show. I AM SO HERE FOR IT. It’s also definitely full on hate-to-love, so if that’s your jam then READ THIS BOOK.

If you’ve read other reviews by me, you know that romances with strong growth storylines are a big must for me. Simon and Emily both have major baggage from their pasts, the fallout of which causes a lot of their bumps and misunderstandings from both sides. And Lord help me, but I love an insecure hero/heroine. (Possibly because I am a messy ball of insecurities myself? Who knows!) While I love the romantic storyline between Emily and Simon, Emily also goes through some amazing personal growth, in her relationship with her sister, the friends she makes in Willow Creek, and really learning to believe that she is enough and deserves all the good things. There’s one part in the book where she asks her big sis, “Am I worth it?” and it damn near broke my heart right in two. I want to hug Emily, and Simon, and also Stacey and Mitch and April and just be bestest buddies with the whole gang.

Well Met is a stand alone contemporary romance, though I really hope we’ll get books for Stacey and for Mitch from Jen DeLuca in the future!

An ARC of this book was provided by the publisher via NetGalley for review. All opinions are unbiased and my own.

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