In Well Played by Jen DeLuca, the sequel to Well Met, Stacey feels that her life has gone nowhere. After university, she stayed home to care for her mother after she had a heart attack, and hasn’t left her small town since. Now, years later, she wishes for change. So when she begins emailing Dex MacLean, one of the traveling performers who comes to her local Renaissance Faire every year, she finds unexpected depth and connection. Soon, their online relationship blossoms. When Faire comes back around, she is thrilled to come face to face with him once again. But to her surprise, it isn’t Dex she’s been falling for after all.
After reading the charming romcom Well Met, I was interested in seeing what more was in store for the characters who populate Willow Creek. And it was fun to revisit it—Simon and Emily, the protagonists of the first novel, are still prominent but no longer center stage. Rather, Stacey, the bubbly friend, is in the spotlight. And she’s a good protagonist: she’s sweet and witty but also full of doubts and insecurities about her purpose and worth. After spending so long in one place, she feels she has squandered any potential and stagnated. This is something many people can relate to and makes her relatable. She isn’t the most complex character I’ve ever seen, but she isn’t bad.
The other characters aren’t very rounded, but they’re all distinct in terms of personalities and voices. I still quite like Mitch, Simon, and Emily especially. As for the other main character, Daniel, he was fine. However, I don’t know that his relationship with Stacey was as developed as it could have been. I got the sense that I didn’t know him as well as DeLuca, or Stacey, did. I didn’t dislike him, I just felt that my sense of his personality was wanting.
That said, I enjoyed seeing Stacey discover what she truly wants, seeing her fall in love with not only someone but also with her life, and seeing more shenanigans at the Ren Faire. I actually wish we could have gotten more of that, since the faire is the best part of the story, and this time around, there was more focus on life online or outside the faire. That’s not necessarily a bad thing; this is just a personal preference on my part.
In the end, Well Played is entertaining enough. It’s a heartfelt romcom, with a bit of drama but not too much unnecessary soap opera–like nonsense. The characters are funny, the love story is sweet, and the Renaissance Faire elements (though not as prominent as I wanted) are vivid and great. It’s not a perfect book, and honestly the first book in this series is better, but if you’re in the mood for a light story about finding the person you love and what your purpose is, check this out.
Overall rating: 8/10