There have been a lot of romantic comedies coming out this year, and to find one that stands out from the rest is no easy task. “Well Met” by Jen DeLuca was a delight to read, and I have no doubt this debut author has a long career ahead of her. It did not just stand out, it exceeded all expectations.
Emily knew there would be strings attached when she relocated to the small town of Willow Creek, Md., 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 teenage 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.
There is so much more to this lovely story than romance.
First, who doesn’t love a good Renaissance faire? I am pretty sure I have never read a book that took place during a Renaissance faire that was original, entertaining and charming. “Well Met” deserves 5 stars for originality alone.
There was also a strong focus on family and friendship, the unconditional love between siblings and family in general. Emily was there for her sister when she needed it most, and her sister was there for her when she needed it later on.
The sense of community and friendship made all characters likable and relatable. It made me want to read the next book and learn more about each and every one of them.
And then of course we have the two main characters. Emily is a delight, always ready to help and with a smile on her face. No wonder her niece adores her.
Simon is a little too serious for his own good, but he has his reasons. And once you learn them, it is hard to fault him for it. As the story progresses, he changes and grows into a fun, lovable character.
Their story truly is one of haters-to-
lovers romance. It developed and changed slowly into something more, and even toward the end things still moved at a good and, most importantly, believable pace.
All in all, this was a fantastic debut novel and I can’t wait to see what the author comes up with next!
• “Well Met” by Jen DeLuca was published by Berkley in September. It retails for $15.
• Anne Zastrow works for Inklings Bookshop. She and other Inklings staffers review books in this space every week.