BWW Review: WELL MET by Jen Deluca
Well met, dear readers! Are you looking for a fun, engaging read to end your summer and bring you into fall? Pick up brand-new release WELL MET by Jen Deluca this Tuesday! With Ren Faire season in full swing, the release of this book is timed perfectly. Whether you're a Ren Faire junkie, a casual fan, or know nothing about them, this book will keep you turning pages and becoming invested in the lives of all the characters.
Small town life isn't for everyone. Emily's sister April detests the way everyone knows everything about everyone else and keeps to herself as much as possible. When Emily comes to spend the summer taking care of her and April's daughter Caitlin, she doesn't realize that this town will become everything to her. She thought she'd get in and get out, spend some time recovering from a horrible break-up, and move on. Instead, her love becomes irrevocably changed by the Ren Faire she never wanted to do in the first place.
While April recovers, Emily is Caitlin's pseudo-guardian, forced to sign up for the town Ren Faire as Caitlin's chaperone. She plays the role of a tavern wench and goes from thinking the part will be ludicrous to having more fun than she ever thought possible. She quickly befriends fellow tavern wench Stacey, Ren Faire Queen and town bookstore owner Chris, and a gorgeously-toned, kilt-wearing teacher named Mitch. She's instantly at odds, however, with Simon, a swashbuckling pirate who knows how to push all her buttons. She thinks she can have a summer fling with Mitch and move on, but instead finds herself becoming more and more intrigued by Simon as the summer wears on. Can Emily leave and return to her former life as summer comes to a close and her sister no longer needs her help, or have the new connections she's made grounded her somewhere new?
Oftentimes, it's easy to fall in love with a book's main characters. It's harder to become as enamored with the supporting cast. Deluca fleshes out small time life and its residents in a way that will have readers caring for everyone in Willow Creek as deeply as they did for the inhabitants of Stars Hollow when Gilmore Girls was still on the air. I could read books about these characters forever. I want more novels where they become main characters in their own rights and we see reoccurring faces that bring back the nostalgia of earlier books. I want a sequel where April and Mitch get together because of a scene towards the end where they'd just be so gosh-darn-good-together. I want to see something pan out between Emily's friend Stacey and a mysterious date she won't talk about. I would even love to see a book starring Chris (Plus, books about books and bookstores are the best). I would even love a YA or New Adult title starring Emily's niece Caitlin when she's a little older. And of course, this bucket list includes as many of these tales as possible taking place during Ren Faire season become the setting is too delicious not to return to, even if it's only as a cameo.
What are secondary characters, however, without a strong lead and love interest? One of my favorite tropes when it comes to relationships is hate to love. The chemistry has to be spot-on and really ignore that slow-burn sensation, or it doesn't work. Emily and Simon are at odds from the day they meet. Simon is stand-offish with Emily when she drops off an application for the Ren Faire not really caring about her role in it, only wanting to help out her niece. The Ren Faire, however, is deeply important to Simon, and he doesn't like that she isn't going to take the summer seriously. They begin on uneven footing, but forced to work together in close proximity during rehearsals and the launch of the Ren Faire itself, grow closer and slowly form a connection. I couldn't get enough of these two and looked forward to each new scene they had together. I already want to go back and revisit this book because I miss this duo so much!
It is rare for me to fall so deeply for a contemporary novel, as I read more fantasy than I do anything else, but when the writing and characters are strong, I fall hard and fast and the book becomes an instant favorite. WELL MET is some of the most fun I've had reading a contemporary in a while, and I am actively looking forward to more novels from Deluca. Unfortunately for me, this is her debut, so I can't dive into her backlist, but happily, since her career is still young, she'll have many more books to come. Hopefully there will be many more books set in this world with these characters, but I would also welcome something brand-new. Deluca is definitely on my auto-read radar now, knowing nothing about her future books, because I enjoyed this one so very much. Definitely pick up WELL MET when it releases this month and meet your next reading obsession!