Published by Berkley on September 3, 2019
Tropes: enemies-to-lovers, small-town romance Format: eARC
Source: Berkley, Netgalley
Buy on Amazon, Buy on Audible
Narrator: Brittany Pressley
Length: 9 hrs and 45 mins
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.
by Jen DeLuca
Not gonna lie, the cute cover was what made me pick this one up. That’s always a bit of a risk, especially since these illustrated covers have become so popular and are used for stories outside of the RomCom subgenre. Anyhoo…for this book the cover is totally on par with my expectations.
Emily isn’t a small town girl and only moved from Boston into her sister’s home in Willow Creek because April was in a car accident and now needs a caregiver and someone who takes care of her daughter Caitlin. And then there is the not unimportant fact that Em’s ungrateful jerk of a fiance dumped her, she had to move out of their apartment and all her plans for the future came to a screeching halt. I totally loved the Renaissance Faire setting which Emily is kinda, sorta forced to volunteer at because for her niece to attend she needs an attending adult. And the guy who runs the show? Total jerk.
Admittedly, the romance doesn’t take off until after more than half of the book. Simon comes across as a judgmental douche and he isn’t all that likable. Sometimes he makes Emily feel small and I was wondering how the author would make me fall in love with him. But damn did I ever. When I learned why Simon had such a stick up his butt and was such a stickler for (his self-made) rules I felt nothing but compassion.
I wanted to crawl into him, become part of him so he would never feel alone again.
He had always been in his brother’s shadow and for the first time someone forced him move out of that shadow and on from the past and be his own person. His loneliness made me ache and so, so sad. Simon really grew on me and showed a sweetness I totally didn’t expect. He became a real dreamboat!
Emily was an endearing heroine who only wanted to belong, putting her roots down and be enough for someone, something she missed in her former relationship. It’s what she found in Willow Creek and I was really happy for her. I also loved that she stood up for herself and didn’t repeat mistakes she made in the past and for the first time put herself first.
“I can’t compete with a memory. I already spent five years being someone’s lower priority.”
WELL MET was a lovely surprise – I laughed, my throat got tight a little now and again, and I totally enjoyed Simon and Emily’s slow-burn love story. Jen DeLuca is debut author and totally knocked it out of the park. There are some side characters in this world I would love to read about. For now Ms. DeLuca has a new fan. I’m looking forward to seeing her grow.
“We have in our midst a woman named Emma. She is a tavern wench of great beauty, whose smile lights up the day like the sun, and the night like the moon. She has absolutely stolen my heart, but I do not mind in the least. In fact, if she would agree to keep my heart and take good care of it, I would never want it back.”