All's faire in love and war for two sworn enemies who indulge in a harmless flirtation in a laugh-out-loud rom-com from debut author Jen DeLuca.
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.
DeLuca shows a strong familiarity with Renaissance faire culture but a shallow comprehension of relationship dynamics in this humorous but thin debut romance. Recently dumped Emily Parker is living with her older sister, April, and niece, Caitlyn, in Willow Creek, Md. After a car crash takes April temporarily out of commission, Emily is roped into tavern wenching at the local faire. She immediately dislikes micromanaging, pedantic killjoy Simon Graham, who has run the faire since his brother died three years earlier. But when Simon's pirate character, Capt. Ian Blackthorn, takes to dramatically wooing Emily's Emma as part of the show, that energy seeps into real life. In-character banter with the whole ensemble and Emily's heart-to-heart chats with the queen (bookstore owner Christine Donovan) flow naturally with warmth and wit, and setting details will resonate with those familiar with Faire while remaining comprehensible to other readers. But the love-hate energy between Simon and Emily is both overstated and lukewarm, and it's hard to believe their romance will last beyond August. Anyone who's not deeply into Ren faires or nostalgic for costumed summers past should give this a miss.
Easy and cheesy
This is an easy turn paging read. That being said it is definitely cheesy in a romantic kind of way. Worth the read when you want something light to read.
Cute and Sweet Debut
3.5 - 4 stars
This was a really cute and sweet read. It had a nice enemies to lovers vibe, but also stressed the importance of putting yourself first and knowing your worth. It started a bit slowly for me, but I loved the Renaissance Faire backdrop and small town location. I had no idea how much work and preparation went into putting on this kind of event. Though very interesting, sometimes I found myself overwhelmed by all the details and descriptions of the Faire itself. I would have loved to have more time spent with the colorful cast of characters interacting in the space with each other.
I liked Emily and Simon, but I'm not sure I really felt the connection that got them from point A to B. Things were very sweet between them once it all came together (the wooing!), but I think a little more time in the enemies zone would have built up more tension and anticipation for me. I really enjoyed them as Emma and Captain Blackthorne though, and those interactions really made me smile and swoon.
I appreciated how family dynamics, sibling relationships, and familial/societal obligations were explored in this book. The difference between doing something you think you should do versus something you choose to do. The ending and epilogue were adorable and left me with a goofy grin on my face. Well Met had some emotional surprises I wasn't expecting, but I really enjoyed this debut novel by Jen DeLuca. I'm hoping we see stories for Stacey and April (maybe with Kilty ;)) in the future.
*I voluntarily read an advance review copy of this book*
A must read
It is so good. I cried it was amazing