This series from Jen DeLuca has absolutely charmed everyone here at Funk-N-Fiction. The setting, the characters, the adventures (and misadventures)… we just love all of it. Dolorianne gets to be the one to share her thoughts for book two, WELL PLAYED.
Author: Jen DeLuca
Series: Willow Creek Renaissance Faire Series, #2
Release Date: September 22, 2020
Review Copy: own
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.
I listened to and enjoyed the first book in the series, so I already knew I liked the author’s writing style. I wasn’t immediately sure of Stacey as a main character, though. My overall impression of her from Well Met was that she was “pleasant”, which is fine for a supporting character, but doesn’t scream main character. I’m trusting in the author’s vision to change my mind.
What I Loved:
Well Played was a great follow-up! I may have even liked it more than Well Met. Stacey was a much more complex character than I initially gave her credit for. Her commitment to her family and friends was admirable, as well as her tendency to look for silver linings before assuming the worst. I appreciated her confidence despite being described as larger than the average book heroine. She struggled to find the balance between what she wanted and what was expected of her, but I was thrilled for her when she figured it out.
I was a little worried about the conflict part of the story due to my own horrible second-hand embarrassment. I kept waiting for the reveal to be painful or awkward or filled with drama and it just … wasn’t. The origin of the mistake was understandable, so I’m glad they were able to talk things through and also appreciated the additional hiccups after the reveal. It was more realistic to see that things weren’t magically okay after one conversation.
The Renaissance Faire was as charming as ever. Kids are growing up, couples are getting married, and the community thrives.
What I Didn’t Love:
The case of mistaken identity could have been solved almost immediately had either one of them picked up the phone. While the story hinged on that not happening until later, I did find myself frustrated in parts. Stacey overlooked things that should have tipped her off sooner than the reveal, but Daniel knew the truth almost immediately. The fact that he left her to carry so much of the clean up was disappointing.
Everyone was so sweet (mostly ;-P ), which made for a feel-good book all around.