“I didn’t choose the wench life. The wench life chose me.” Rarely have I related to the opening lines of a book more than this superb start to Well Met by Jen DeLuca. An adult romantic comedy that takes place at a Ren Faire, it’s almost as if this book was written just for me.
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.
So a quick backstory: my husband & I not only attend our local Ren Faire every year, but a couple years ago, we actually started volunteering — and yes, in full period garb. So not only am I a Ren Faire geek, but I’ve been on the front lines of working the Faire, as well. And obviously, I love it, or I wouldn’t keep doing it. But this year, a few weeks before Faire began, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to volunteer this year. I’ve had a lot going on in my personal life the last two years, and I’m tired. Part of me just wanted to take a break. Skip a year, maybe just attend, but not volunteer.
Then I read Well Met, and within minutes of finishing the book, I was eagerly texting my volunteer coordinator to count me in for this year. Well Met made me fall in love with Ren Faire all over again, and reminded me why I love working it every year, even though it’s almost always insanely hot (summer temps + period costumes = sweat central), kind of dirty, and ridiculously exhausting. I love getting to dress up, step back in time, and take on this other persona — and in doing so, help guests escape reality for a few hours and feel like they’re in another time and place. Sure, it’s hot as balls out in Oregon — but once they step through those gates, it’s 16th century Scotland, and the Queen herself has arrived for a visit!
One of the themes I loved most about this book was the idea of “becoming someone else,” and in doing so, finding your truest self. Simon, in particular, has a hard time breaking free of the role he’s taken on in life — but finds freedom in taking on his Faire persona. And it’s when he’s in this role, that he feels free enough to flirt shamelessly with Emily and truly let the spark he feels fly.
The romance is utterly divine, and I love how it plays out within the Ren Faire setting. Emily and Simon are such nerds, and I love seeing them fall in lust and in love, and the tangled web they weave during a summer of Ren Faire and romance. Plus, DeLuca has fleshed out their story with a fully realized cast of supporting characters, who are just begging for their own spin-off stories. To which I not only say, “Yes please,” but resounding Faire-worthy “HUZZAH!” Give me all the Ren Faire romances.
Well Met is the delightful Ren Faire romance you didn’t know you needed, but oh, you definitely need it. Costumes (& turkey legs) may be optional, but you’ll certainly swoon for Simon & Emily. Well Met is in stores now.