Reviews

Well Played by Jen DeLuca

*Spoiler free*

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’ve been looking forward to this book basically since I finished Well Met. I fell in love with DeLuca’s writing and this whole little world she has created, and was so looking forward to more books set in Willow Creek. Plus, I loved Stacey in Well Met and was so pumped to read a whole book dedicated to her story. Plus, online romance, mistaken identities, and Renaissance Faires just added to my already overwhelming list of reasons I was looking forward to this book.

Gosh, I love Jen DeLua books. I love Renaissance Faire books. I love these books so much as well. They’re just so good. They feel like fine spun candy, sugar melting in the heat of the sun, water washing the sugar off your tongue and the heat off your forehead. They feel like a hug and a like a bright spot of sunshine all at the same time. It’s such a good book.

I loved Stacey. I knew I was looking forward to reading a whole book to a character to seemed like she would just be “the best friend” when I was reading Well Met. I couldn’t wait to see more of her personality and what made her tick. And she was such a great main character. She felt like the same person from the first book and I loved seeing her insides; her hopes and fears and dreams and wants. I ended up falling in love with her a lot more than I thought I was going to.

I also loved Daniel a lot more than I thought I was going to too. He wasn’t someone who I had already formed an attachment to like Stacey, so I was wary about what I think of him. But, wow, was he awesome. He’s kind, and a little bit shy, and tentative, and an all around solid dude. He has a quiet kind of passion that I just really connected with. I really ended up loving the guy.

Another character I really liked was Benedick. He’s Stacey’s cat. YES THERES A CAT. The cat content was extremely stellar.

Also, it was super great to see characters that were in Well Met! Simon and Emily are still amazing. April is still a badass. Mitch is still a golden retriever puppy. Caitlan is still wonderful. I love them all so much.

The Renaissance Faire drew me in in Well Met, and it did the same thing in this book, especially since Stacey has this deep love for it. It was so awesome to see something I found so fascinating through the eyes of someone who loves it so deeply.

This book was also a lot more emotional than I thought it was going to be. It was about finding out where home is, what life you want to live, and how to get to that kind of life. There’s a fear in all of those things, and both Stacey and Daniel feel it. Their emotional journey felt quiet in a way, but no less touching and no less something that feels like it digs deeper than it seems.

My one qualm with this book is the cover. Reading Well Met, I thought Stacey was plus sized. Then, I the cover was released and I thought I had just read her character wrong. But, I found out that she actually is supposed to be plus sized. It’s both in the book and from fan art I’ve seen the author gush over (seriously, it’s GORGEOUS). Maybe it’s the angle of the cover, but I’m just frustrated that a plus sized girl wasn’t drawn on the cover. That’s more a qualm with publishing than the actual book, but I did want to mention it.

I know I already said it, but I’m going to say it again. I love Jen DeLuca books. I love this book so much, a book that feels like a hug and like sunshine warm on your back. It’s so, so good.

You can add Well Played on Goodreads and order a copy of your own!

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