Title: Well Played
Author: Jen DeLuca
Series: Well Met #2
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Length: 336 pages
Release Date: September 22, 2020
Recommended for fans of: Romance & Renaissance Faires
Another laugh-out-loud romantic comedy featuring kilted musicians, Renaissance Faire tavern wenches, and an unlikely love story.
Stacey is jolted when her friends Simon and Emily get engaged. She knew she was putting her life on hold when she stayed in Willow Creek to care for her sick mother, but it’s been years now, and even though Stacey loves spending her summers pouring drinks and flirting with patrons at the local Renaissance Faire, she wants more out of life. Stacey vows to have her life figured out by the time her friends get hitched at Faire next summer. Maybe she’ll even find The One.
When Stacey imagined “The One,” it never occurred to her that her summertime Faire fling, Dex MacLean, might fit the bill. While Dex is easy on the eyes onstage with his band The Dueling Kilts, Stacey has never felt an emotional connection with him. So when she receives a tender email from the typically monosyllabic hunk, she’s not sure what to make of it.
Faire returns to Willow Creek, and Stacey comes face-to-face with the man with whom she’s exchanged hundreds of online messages over the past nine months. To Stacey’s shock, it isn’t Dex—she’s been falling in love with a man she barely knows.
Really cute romance! Stacey was almost TOO relatable of a narrator as a 27-year-old who feels stuck and directionless–living adjacent to her parents, not passionate about work, seeking validation on social media, drinking pumpkin spice lattes, and wanting more from life.
The build was a little slow and I had some issues with the pacing of the relationship development. While I enjoyed reading the email and text exchanges throughout the year and they laid an important foundation for the relationship, the next Renaissance Faire and the core conflict didn’t happen until about halfway through the story, so the actual in-person relationship felt rushed. Additionally, Daniel’s deceit was not incredibly impactful since it’s mentioned in the synopsis, so it could’ve been revealed earlier in the book.
I preferred the enemies to lover vibe in Well Met, and I’m so glad Well Played featured Emily and Simon’s happy ending. That being said, I really enjoyed the romance in Well Played, but I especially enjoyed Stacey’s journey of self-discovery as she finally found the motivation she needed to take the reins in her life and go after what she wanted.
Thank you to Berkley and Netgally for the eARC in exchange for an honest review.