Book Review: Well Played by Jen DeLuca

Book Review: Well Played by Jen DeLuca

Well Played

Author: Jen DeLuca
Series: Well Met, book 2
Publisher: Berkley (September 22, 2020)
Paperback, 336 pages
Romance, Adult Romance, Contemporary Romance
Goodreads

Summary

Another laugh-out-loud romantic comedy featuring kilted musicians, Renaissance Faire tavern wenches, and an unlikely love story.

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.

Review

Rating: 4 out of 5.

I am so thankful to have had this chance to return to Willow Creek and get to know Stacey, who is a side character in Well Met, so much better. There’s not a whole lot to her character in the first book in this series, so it was great to get her story. Also this book has one of my favorite tropes – mistaken identities. It’s an online romance with a Cyrano-ish vibe – which I was TICKLED PINK to have the characters bring up as well! I knew I needed to be best friends with Emily, she knows my favorite play! Which clearly means I need to be best friends with Jen DeLuca now.

Stacey’s reactions didn’t really sit well with me at several points, mostly when she’s upset about the truth coming out about who is really emailing her and how he handles it. (I am trying to avoid spoilers here!) She is extremely upset (as she has a right to be) and then is over it but still puts on a show of being upset because she wants him to … grovel? woo her back? chase after her? Basically she brings on a lot of her own heartbreak. And then she has to do basically ALL the emotional heavy lifting of making their relationship work. Also, the big reveal comes at about the 50% mark, which had me going “HOO BOY and uh oh, what the heck happens in the second half of this book?”

Regardless of my dislike of the way Stacey handles things, it didn’t feel like poor writing so much as a part of how Stacey is as a person. She forces a smile onto her face so she can be the happy, bubble, upbeat cheerleader one – even when she’s not happy at all. And then there’s [redacted], her love interest. Ohhhhhh, [redacted]. I liked him SO MUCH, except there were some key points where he needed to be a Romance Novel Hero and fight for love and he just… doesn’t. It kind of made me like him less overall.

I loved the exchanges between Stacey and [redacted] – the witty banter, the sweet sentiments, the serious bearings of the soul. There’s so much there. Also, the identity of who was writing to her was super obvious, but JUST IN CASE I’m not putting it in this review. 😉 You’ll have to read it for yourself.

This is the second book in the Well Met series, and while it could technically be read as a stand alone there are some spoilers from book 1, Well Met, and you’re really just better off reading the whole series anyway because it’s AMAZING, so you may as well read them in order. That’s my 2 cents. Also! The third book, Well Matched, is Mitch and April’s book and I CAN NOT WAIT.

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

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