In Jen DeLuca’s debut novel Well Met, Emily moves to a small town to help her sister, who was in a car accident. However, her niece soon ropes her into volunteering at the local Renaissance faire, where Emily meets Simon, one of the no-nonsense, buttoned-up heads of Faire. The two don’t like each other, but when the festivities begin, Simon begins flirting with Emily in his pirate persona. Emily doesn’t know if it’s real, nor does she know if her flustered attraction to this new side of Simon is all part of the fun, or something real.
I really like the leads of this story. Emily is sassy, Simon is witty, and their conversations have a rather Much Ado About Nothing feel to them at times, which I adore. Their mutual love of Shakespeare is fun, and the gradual evolution of their relationship is fantastic to witness. They’re a pair who have a lot of chemistry, as well as a satisfying ability to communicate—mostly—with openness. I really liked them!
The other characters, like Mitch, Caitlin, Chris, April, and Stacey, are all great supporting characters. They have distinct voices and personalities, and I love that their roles don’t simply revolve around the core relationship between Emily and Simon. Sometimes in books, particularly debut novels, the side characters tend to exist only as plot devices, but these characters feel as if they have lives of their own when not on the page.
The setting of a small town Renaissance faire is delightful. I love going to Ren faires and medieval faires, though this year my local one was cancelled due to the pandemic. So reading this was a wonderful substitute! The setting is vivid and alive, clearly written from extensive experience and brought to life excellently.
More than the lighthearted enjoyment of the faire, though, this is a book about new connections and new beginnings. The scenes that deal with the loss of Simon’s brother, and Emily’s history of self-sacrificing service to others are handled perfectly, with lots of realism and emotion, without feeling cliche. The messages about planning for the future without turning back entirely on the past, as well as being confident in one’s own worth, were beautiful to see come to life.
In the end, Well Met is a highly enjoyable debut novel! Splendid protagonists, a charming setting, and a sweet and engaging romance make this a brilliant book. It’s a great light summer read, and I’d love to see what else DeLuca has in store, both in this series and in other future works.
Overall rating: 8.7/10