It’s release day for book three in a series that everyone here at Funk-N-Fiction absolutely adores!! Love and (mis)adventures at a local renaissance faire = check! Characters we all feel like we know and love = check! Here are some thoughts from Crystal about the newest addition in the series, WELL MATCHED.
Author: Jen DeLuca
Series: Willow Creek Renaissance Faire Series, #3
Release Date: October 19, 2021
Review Copy: NetGalley*
A pretend relationship gives two friends more than they bargained for in a Renaissance Faire rom com filled with flower crowns, kilts, corsets, and sword fights.
Single mother April Parker has lived in Willow Creek for twelve years with a wall around her heart. On the verge of being an empty nester, she’s decided to move on from her quaint little town, and asks her friend Mitch for his help with some home improvement projects to get her house ready to sell.
Mitch Malone is known for being the life of every party, but mostly for the attire he wears to the local Renaissance Faire–a kilt (and not much else) that shows off his muscled form to perfection. While he agrees to help April, he needs a favor too: she’ll pretend to be his girlfriend at an upcoming family dinner, so that he can avoid the lectures about settling down and having a more “serious” career than high school coach and gym teacher. April reluctantly agrees, but when dinner turns into a weekend trip, it becomes hard to tell what’s real and what’s been just for show. But when the weekend ends, so must their fake relationship.
As summer begins, Faire returns to Willow Creek, and April volunteers for the first time. When Mitch’s family shows up unexpectedly, April pretends to be Mitch’s girlfriend again…and it doesn’t feel so fake anymore. Despite their obvious connection, April insists they’ve just been putting on an act. But when there’s the chance for something real, she has to decide whether to change her plans–and open her heart–for the kilt-wearing hunk who might just be the love of her life.
I read the teaser at the end of Well Played and when it ended I was both pumped and frustrated! Pumped because fake relationships are hot right now and after reading Well Met and Well Played I was beyond excited to see what Jen DeLuca would do with the couple I had been dying to see since about two thirds of the way through book one. Frustrated because how could she just leave me like that until the next book came out??? Jen puts her own spin on common tropes and I could not wait to see the magic she’d weave with this one!
What I Loved:
Oh…. You know… just everything!
First and foremost, I have yet to read another author that writes characters as relatable as those in Well Matched, in the whole series really. I find a little bit of myself in Mitch, in April, in Emily, in Simon, in Stacey, in Daniel, and almost every character that graces the stage, whether it is at the actual Ren Faire or just in the book in general.
Then…. Mitch and April! Wow, but their story was so much more than I anticipated. And so much of it was a journey to accept themselves.
Let’s begin with April. The emotion that runs within April is fascinating to see unfold on the page. Helping a friend forces her to let loose in a way she never imagined possible. She comes face to face with insecurities and a realization that Willow Creek means so much more to her than a nice place to raise her daughter. April battles herself throughout the story. Her tumultuous journey is made moreso when her daughter Caitlin adds a few bumps in the road and doesn’t adequately prepare her for said bumps. The bumps bring about some wild moments, but create situations that force April to let her guard down with Mitch.
And now Mitch. I fell in love with Mitch the moment I recognized all those facets of him that he couldn’t see in himself, beginning in book one when carefree Mitch provided the needed nudge for the bordering-on-too-angsty main characters. The teaser promised a fake relationship, but there was a genuine take on the trope that, while expected, was not foreseen. Mitch has much more depth than I would have fathomed possible and Jen DeLuca damn near shattered my heart a time or two… but don’t worry, she more than put it back together!!!
What I Didn’t Love:
So notice that I haven’t mentioned Ren Faire at all. It was there and it played a pivotal part, but it was definitely less prevalent in this book than the previous two in the series. While this made me a tad blue because the Renaissance Faire has turned out to be one of my favorite romance settings. However, the increased amount of Willow Creek that we get as April begins to really see the town she has always assumed she’d run away from after Caitlin graduates more than made up for there being less Ren Faire, on the whole.
Mitch and April are beyond perfect for one another and no one could have done their story justice like Jen DeLuca did. These characters managed to grow individually as they grew into their feelings and relationship with one another. Well done, Jen…. and please write a story for every person in Willow Creek so I can continue to return to this wonderful world you have gifted to us readers!