Book Review: Well Played by Jen DeLuca

well played by jen deluca book cover

well played by jen deluca book coverA review copy was generously provided by Berkley Publishing Group.

Last summer, Well Met by Jen DeLuca had me wanting to pack a corset and head to the nearest renaissance fair. After doing a little happy dance that I received an early copy of the new sequel, Well Played (thanks Berkley!), I dove into it and read it over the course of two days. Well Played is an excellent follow up to Well Met – fans of the first book get to see the continued story of Emily and Simon, while discovering who Stacey (Emily’s friend from the first novel) is outside of the Faire and her character as a bar maiden.

Stacey is jolted when her friends Simon and Emily get engaged. She knew she was putting her life on hold when she stayed in Willow Creek to care for her sick mother, but it’s been years now, and even though Stacey loves spending her summers pouring drinks and flirting with patrons at the local Renaissance Faire, she wants more out of life. Stacey vows to have her life figured out by the time her friends get hitched at Faire next summer. Maybe she’ll even find The One.

When Stacey imagined “The One,” it never occurred to her that her summertime Faire fling, Dex MacLean, might fit the bill. While Dex is easy on the eyes onstage with his band The Dueling Kilts, Stacey has never felt an emotional connection with him. So when she receives a tender email from the typically monosyllabic hunk, she’s not sure what to make of it.

Faire returns to Willow Creek, and Stacey comes face-to-face with the man with whom she’s exchanged hundreds of online messages over the past nine months. To Stacey’s shock, it isn’t Dex—she’s been falling in love with a man she barely knows.

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Well Met by Jen DeLuca

This was my August Book of the Month – and yet another hit for my monthly choice. Honestly, if you’re in a reading rut or have a hard time choosing books, give Book of the Month a shot. I was initially a little hesitant about this book, with the ultra cute cover and title. I went in expecting a light, cutesy read, but was surprised by this books depth and quality of story. One side note, the fact that this book wasn’t titled All’s Faire is a real lost opportunity.

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.

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