In Well Matched, we return to Willow Creek, where April is facing several changes. She’s just turned forty, she’s about to become an empty nester, and is planning to leave this small town at last. However, then her friend Mitch asks her to pretend to be his girlfriend at an upcoming gathering to get his family off his back. And all of a sudden, April’s reclusive life might be more stifling than comfortable. And the many years of being single suddenly might be challenged in the face of Mitch and the kilt he wears at the Renaissance Faire. So as he and April get thrown together more and more often, April will have to question everything she thought she knew about herself.
I enjoyed seeing more of April, who up until now has been a side character—albeit a well written, likeable one. Getting a glimpse into her stubborn independence and very sweet bond with her only daughter was a lot of fun and gave her some more complexity. And of course, seeing more of Mitch’s personality was a delight. He’s always been a favorite of mine, besides April’s sister Emily and her partner Simon. The other characters, old and new, rounded out this fun cast.
The “fake dating” trope, always an enjoyable one, is well executed here. DeLuca does a good job not going over the top with it, portraying April and Mitch’s falsified relationship as fond but still a little more awkward than a real couple would be. And their attraction is believable too, as is their doubt that what the other might be feeling is real, given the situation. The emotions are genuine and fairly touching.
However, I wish we could have gotten a little more depth in both Mitch’s character and in their relationship in general. I feel like there could have been more shown in terms of what Mitch and Emily really have in common, besides an ability to banter. While their attraction was obvious, I didn’t see enough to really believe it when they confessed their love. I guess I’m trying to say that their physical chemistry was palpable, but their emotional chemistry could have been showcased to a greater extent.
That aside, the best part of this book was easily the Renaissance Faire. I’ve always loved this aspect of these books, and I liked the twist here. April isn’t interested in participating in anything, let alone something like this that involves low cut dresses and bodices, so seeing this setting from a slightly cynical outsider’s eyes was entertaining. Especially since she does come around and recognize the fun in it all. Honestly, if these books took place entirely at the Faire, I’d be happy.
In the end, Well Matched is a charming installment in this universe, with more than decent leads and a sweet (if slightly lacking in depth) romance. The dialogue is great, the tropes are such fun, and the settings well portrayed. If you’re looking for an easy read to bring some lightness to your life as winter sets in (at least it is where I live), give this book, or this series, a try!
Overall rating: 8.5/10
Content warning: There are a couple of scenes involving sex, but I don’t know that they’d be more than PG-13. Maybe borderline R? Anyway, this is definitely for adults.