Well Met by Jen DeLuca is a fantastic enemies-to-lovers rom-com debut and is the first in a new series.
Note: this review was originally posted August 29, 2019 on curlybookowl.com.
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.
Full disclosure: I was initially skeptical about this book because it centers on a renaissance faire. I mean absolutely no disrespect to renaissance faires or the folks who enjoy them, it’s just not my thing. But I am so glad I didn’t let my initial reluctance deter me because this was an absolute delight and is definitely going on my list of favorite rom-coms.
Well Met follows Emily who has just moved in with her sister to help her and her niece after they were in a serious car accident. She signs up for the town’s faire so that her niece can also participate, not knowing how big of a deal the faire is to the town. Her ignorance is not received well by Simon, the head organizer, for whom the faire holds special significance.
I love enemies-to-lovers; it’s one of my favorite tropes and Well Met is an excellent addition to the genre. Watching Emily and Simon—as their faire characters, Emma the tavern wench and Captain Ian Blackthorn the pirate—warm up to each other was a real treat.
I also loved the underlying story of Emily finding her place to put down roots. At the beginning of Well Met, Emily is newly single, unemployed, and feeling unsure about her own self worth and place in the world. Watching her find connections, not just with the other folks in Willow Creek but also with her sister and niece, gave the story a lovely, but not overly sentimental, emotional depth.
If you love enemies-to-lovers, flirty banter, and a small town setting, Well Met is a must-read.