I was so hesitant to read this book simply because of the premise – love at a Renaissance fair. I know nothing about Renaissance fairs, really, and it seemed pretty specific and niche to me. I was pleasantly surprised by DeLuca’s approach, and the genuine-ness of the characters that came out of it!
Emily Parker has just left behind a bad breakup in order to take care of her sister and niece in small town Willow Creek. Her sister, April, has been in a bad car accident, and now needs someone to help her and her daughter Caitlin get through day to day life. Emily sees this as the perfect opportunity to get away: until she’s made to sign up for a Renaissance fair that Caitlin wants to participate in, and she’s forced to deal with the cranky and brooding Simon.
Simon feels an obligation to the Ren fair – his brother started it ten years ago, and he must keep it running exactly as is. But it’s not fun anymore…until he meets Emily. Soon their Renaissance characters Captain Blackthorne and Emma are endlessly flirting, and Emily doesn’t know what’s real anymore.
After reading Well Met I can assure you the Ren fair backdrop is not a plot ruiner. In fact, I found it real fun and unique, giving the story’s plot a major hand but also adding to the whimsy of it all. I’ll even admit, it kind of made me want to go to one. 😉
Simon and Emily had a lot of that good enemies-to-lovers tension. I really liked their relationship and interactions in the way that they clearly cared about one another, but were letting their biases stand in the way of having a positive relationship. Through their ren fair characters, they were really able to open up, pretending there wasn’t barriers to being with one another – the characters they played were merely sub-parts of themselves, but when they let out these positive, unflawed personalities, their relationship blossomed. That’s why it became really difficult for Simon and Emily to understand where the line was drawn for Emma and Captain Blackthorne – where did they end and Simon and Emily begin?
I loved the backdrop of Emily’s life as well. As she’s growing from her breakup and taking care of her sister, she’s forming bonds with April and Caitlin (who are wonderful and supportive additions to this cast that made me smile!), making new friends with the Ren fair cast, growing as an employee when taking a job at the bookstore, and learning to call Willow Creek home. It was a feel good plot line for someone who clearly had a lot of growing to do after her past, and for her story alone, this book is worth the read.
What really kept me from loving this book to a five-star rating was Simon and Emily’s fight – the climax of this story. All romances have these points where the new relationship is being tested – either by an outside force they have to weather together or by a fight internally. It’s the story arc of the genre, but I almost didn’t think Well Met was going to have one! I kept seeing the progress on my Kindle creep closer toward the end and they still hadn’t fought. I thought I was in the clear: they have the perfect relationship! They were tested by overcoming their disdain for each other in the beginning! Everything is good now!
Not so much. Their blowup was a rough one. Some may say, irredeemable (it’s me. I’m “some”). I just couldn’t get over some of the things that were said during this climax, even after it seems as though they come to a resolution at the end with apologies (is it really a spoiler if we all know it’s going to happen?), I wasn’t left satisfied. Both of their points were so valid, I didn’t think they were a good match anymore. All it did was reveal some of the problems in their relationship, with no noticeable fix.
All in all, I would still tell any contemporary romance reader to pick up a copy of Well Met when it’s released next week. You’re going to love it. 😉
An advance copy of this book was provided to me by the publisher through NetGalley. Well Met will be released on September 3, 2019!