by Jen DeLuca
Published by Berkley
Release Date: September 3rd 2019
Genres: Adult, Contemporary Romance, Humor, Romance
Format Read: ARC, eBook
Buy on Amazon
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.
I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Good ‘Morrow and Well Met, My Lords and Ladies! Allow me the distinct honor and privilege of introducing to your acquaintance this charming debut novel featuring wit, humor, romance, swashbuckling pirates, and daring Highlanders.
Can you tell that I enjoy a bit of theater with my reading? Add in the fact that I’m a history buff and that my first job EVER was working at the Arizona Renaissance Faire, and you might be able to grasp just how excited I have been about this new release! Why, I nearly swooned from excitement when I saw the ARC awaiting me like a chivalrous suitor.
Alas, my thoughts have run away with me! Let us begin, shall we?
This book was by far one of the most charming novels I’ve read this year. I’ve definitely been in a Summer-Rom-Com kind of way for the last few weeks, and this was just light and fluffy enough to keep a smile perpetually on my face. While definitely a standalone, I fully appreciated the delightfully colorful cast of characters in a small town – it definitely gave me some Gilmore Girls/Stars Hollow vibes (though not nearly as quirky).
Our main character, Emily, was a protagonist that I found myself relating to more than I originally thought I would. A young woman fresh out of a series of bad luck, she feels a bit lost in the sauce of life, and decides that helping out her older sister and niece while said older sister recovers from a broken leg is best use of her quarter-life crisis.
I loved the family themes in this book, not only amongst Emily, her older sister, April, and April’s teenage daughter, Caitlin, but also between Simon, our resident High School English teacher and part-time Pirate, and his brother, Sean. Family relationships are usually complicated, messy, and confusing, but I enjoyed watching Emily and Simon navigate the precarious balance of who they were individually, as well as who they are within their respective family units.
Speaking of Simon…
I am a straight-up sucker for an enemies-to-lovers romance, and this was spot on! Simon was such a straight-laced, serious person that it was inevitable that he clash with Emily, who can appreciate the times for humor and levity on a regular basis. The verbal sparring between the two had me anxiously waiting for them to just KISS ALREADY and I loved the torture and build-up. Especially once the Faire was underway, and Simon’s Pirate Captain pulled out all the flirtatious stops for the Serving Wench Emma.
The actual setting of the Faire was, I felt, well-done and familiar to any and all those who have ever attended a Renaissance Faire or Festival before. The shows, performers, costumes, and food evoked a very clear picture in my mind, and even brought on a round of solid nostalgia from a former employee of a Faire (shout out to my Serving Wenches!).
With all that being said, there were a few issues that I had in terms of character and plot that kept this from being a higher rating. The first issue I had was regarding a small bit of Emily’s character that I felt was a little unbelievable and that detracted from her overall. It was a bit mystifying that a woman with a background in English Literature, in addition to a slight Shakespeare obsession, wouldn’t have known about period dress and clothing at all. This is a woman who knows exactly when Twelfth Night was written, but didn’t know what a chemise was? I feel like it was the author’s way of describing the intricate layers of Renaissance dress to an audience that might not be as familiar with terminology, but I feel like there were other ways and opportunities to do this without it affecting the knowledge of Emily.
The second issue I had was in terms of conflict – I found it a little difficult to believe that two people who love talking (it’s even mentioned in the novel itself how this is the case) could allow miscommunication to come between them. They both had valid points in their argument, but I feel like if they’d taken a few minutes to calm down and actually communicate, the conflict itself would’ve never been a conflict – it just felt a little too convenient.
Overall, this novel was fun, flirty, and charming, with a dash of romance that was sweet rather than spicy. It was a fantastic read for those summer days and made me anxious for my next trip to the Renaissance Faire.
I cannot wait to see what this author comes out with next, as I’m sure it will just be as delightful as Well Met. I consider myself to have been properly wooed.
A brief snapshot into everything you need to know about me: I’m a 25 year old Ravenclaw living in the Deserts of Arizona (but, hey, it’s a dry heat, right?). I’m 90% water and 10% caffeine, and I proudly declare myself both a Sassenach and Queen in the North. In addition to reading practically anything and everything I can get my hands on, I graduated with a degree in European History and a full-out obsession with Hamilton and Disney. I’m fluent in English, Sarcasm, and Movie Quotes (there’s French in there as well) and am that friend of a friend who will run off on tangents about the most random topics. I hope you enjoy my reviews and I can’t wait to discuss with you all!